Columbia Partners with Labs21 to Develop "Green" Laboratories - March 30, 2006

Columbia Partners with Labs21 to Develop "Green" Laboratories

March, 30, 2006

The design team for Columbia's new Northwest Science Building faced a daunting challenge: how to help fulfill the University's great need for more laboratory space while still building "green." After all, the typical laboratory uses far more energy and water per square foot than the typical office building, due to intensive ventilation requirements and other health and safety concerns.

So Columbia is collaborating with Labs21, a voluntary partnership program jointly sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) to improve the environmental performance of U.S. laboratories. The goal of the program is to encourage the development of sustainable, high-performance and low-energy laboratories nationwide.

As a Labs21 Partner, Columbia will set measurable energy and environmental performance goals for the seven floors of laboratories in the Northwest Science Building, benchmark performance using Labs21 tools, and share performance results.

"Partnering with Labs21 will provide opportunities for Columbia to receive technical assistance from nationally recognized experts to help create or meet energy and environmental performance goals," said David Carlson, Director of Project Engineering at Columbia University Facilities. "We will also have opportunities to network and share project results with peers from around the globe."

Columbia is already including numerous sustainable design features by registering the Northwest Science Building to reach LEED certification. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating SystemTM is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. With the guidance of Labs21, the design team also hopes to incorporate additional energy-efficient laboratory features such as occupancy sensors on fume hoods, which automatically increase or decrease the speed of the fans depending on the proximity of the user.

"Teaming up with Labs21 will give a major boost to the University's environmental stewardship efforts," said Nilda Mesa, Columbia's Director of Environmental Stewardship. "What we learn here will help us minimize greenhouse gas emissions in all future projects involving labs. Columbia University Facilities is to be commended for their leadership in setting up this partnership."

For more information on the Northwest Science Building, please visit the Neighbors Web site at: For more information on the Labs 21 program, please visit

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