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HOK offers guidance for reducing operational and embodied carbon in labs

Codes and Standards

HOK offers guidance for reducing operational and embodied carbon in labs

Pathway to Net Zero Carbon Labs report released,


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | March 10, 2022
Reducing Carbon
Courtesy Pixabay.

Global design firm HOK has released research providing lab owners and developers guidance for reducing operational and embodied carbon to meet net zero goals.
 
HOK’s initial analysis indicates that it is possible to build and operate labs in accordance with the sustainable design goals of the RIBA and AIA 2030 challenges, according to the report’s executive summary. “The approaches studied in this analysis can significantly reduce the whole-life carbon (operational carbon + embodied carbon × building lifespan) of a lab building,” the document says.
 
Modelling revealed little difference between vertical and linear lab building forms in achieving net zero. But linear labs’ expansive roofs provide an advantage by allowing for more solar panel arrays.
 
The analysis examined new lab buildings, but the most sustainable option is to reuse and adapt existing buildings, HOK says. Lab buildings are significantly more energy intensive to operate than commercial office buildings and their embodied carbon also is much higher than typical commercial space. Labs demand far greater ventilation than most building types and are home to highly energy-intensive equipment that is often in operation 24 hours a day. Labs also require robust structural systems to limit building vibration and support heavy building loads.
 
HOK’s analysis looked at numerous strategies to reduce carbon footprint in lab structures. The report provides technical details on these approaches.

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