AS THE PERFORMANCE OF GREEN BUILDINGS increasingly is being monitored, tracked and studied, it has become abundantly clear that the work doesn’t end at design or construction. The building must be properly operated and new opportunities for increased efficiency and overall improvement must be sought.
More owners are taking this philosophy to heart with their existing structures. Originally built and occupied in 1986, the Wallingford Research Facility represented an opportunity for its owner, New York-based pharmaceutical company Bristol- Myers Squibb, to demonstrate its commitment to environmental stewardship, as well as create a healthy, productive and efficient laboratory. In late 2006, a planned renovation of one wing morphed into what would become the continuous improvement initiative for the entire 1-million-square-foot (92,000-m2) laboratory. “The facility has been very proactive in looking at the items that fall under the sustainability category, specifically the energy-focused items,” says Donald Harwood, associate director of operations with Bristol-Myers Squibb. “The project drivers of the sustainability effort include water efficiency, energy savings, air-change-rate management, wildlife habitat and things that are important to the site.
We wanted to quantify those efforts and work toward establishing a baseline we could build further from, looking forward to future improvements.” “It’s a whole different world dealing with existing-building programs,” explains Gregory Bergmiller, LEED AP, lead project coordinator, S/L/A/M Collaborative Inc., Glastonbury, Conn. “It’s about how a project is managed from an owner’s point of view and the operation and management of a building. You have to look for opportunities for implementation and things that need to be retrofitted, changed or modified.”
Although greening any existing building presents challenges, a laboratory carries many unique considerations. Labs are, by nature, energy-intensive structures with very tight requirements for indoor environmental quality. It traditionally has been difficult to match a lab’s qualities to many of the current green-building rating systems, so the Wallingford team sought something new to apply to their facility. “This is not a typical office building. It is not a building easily benchmarked against its peers in the way that [the Washington-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s] Energy Star has for commercial office buildings that are similar in size, use and systems,” Harwood explains. To encourage the ongoing process of finding efficiencies and decreasing the environmental footprint of buildings, the Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative recently instituted a new component to its Green Globes green-building rating system. Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings is designed to offer practical guidance to owners looking to benchmark and identify potential areas to improve the environmental performances of their buildings. (For more information about Green Globes, see the sidebar on page 35.) The Wallingford Research Facility’s improvement team decided to use the Green Globes CIEB as a tool in their approach to the building. Ultimately, the project earned 2 Green Globes out of a possible 4. “We have been proactive in working in many areas and the Green Globes CIEB program was a quantification of those efforts,” Harwood recalls.
“We didn’t do things to earn points. We backed into it differently.” “The Green Globes program gives you credit for project management and emissions tracking; that wasn’t being recorded under the [Washington- based U.S. Green Building Council’s] LEED program,” Bergmiller says. “One of the things I like about the Green Globes program is that [the program] seems to address and understand things a bit more holistically on a project and works within the structure. The 1 through 4 Globes rating is based on a percentage of points that actually apply to your project. [GBI is] trying to have one, all-encompassing program that gets customized to your project as things get worked out.” The rating system’s online survey component also was helpful in the process. “Going through and using the online survey, filling in the questionnaire, and identifying the targets and directions we were implementing on the project, and then walking through the facility with the verifier saves a considerable amount of time,” Bergmiller explains. “We had a meeting with everybody and went through the online component, and then the Green Globes folks reviewed the project and asked for additional information where they needed it.”
LIGHTENING THE LOAD
Because laboratories are such unique structures, there wasn’t much of a basis for comparison. Without a clear benchmark, the Bristol-Myers Squibb team set out simply to make the best improvements they could to their facility. “There are some advantages to the Wallingford Research Facility,” Harwood says. “The facility has building- automation systems operating lighting and HVAC, so it can be operated by temperature and use, as well as time of day. We can incorporate shutdowns and tap into areas that are defined by the building-automation system. For example, the cafeteria is broken into 10 or 15 zones of lighting, so we can pick zones, separate with the local relays and bring them back to a photocell to control them. That can’t be done as easily for older facilities where the lighting control is just a switch on a wall.” Energy was a major component of the continuous- improvement project.
“We did a daylighting, photocell project to take advantage of the ambient light we have,” Harwood says. “We have a fair amount of clerestory and atriums, as well as skylights and window walls, so we put in photocells and handled the foot-candle levels based on exterior ambient light. Even on a cloudy day, there’s typically enough ambient light to meet or exceed the [New York-based] Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s standards for foot-candles in quarters and common space. That reduced our light run time by about 80 percent in significant areas of the building.” Beyond the use of natural daylight, occupancy sensors were installed to better control the use of light throughout the facility. Studies of various building systems have provided many opportunities to limit the use of energy. The air compressors have been optimized, and the building-automation system has been set to operate the HVAC systems in line with space-occupant loading. Lighting in the parking lot is controlled by the building-automation system and a photocell. In addition, the lights in the lot are segmented into zones, which allow for optimizing use based on ambient light, time of day and occupancy. This significantly enhances the facility’s ability to minimize light trespass. More than two-thirds of the parking-lot lights are off on a daily basis. “We’ve done energy-recovery and variablefrequency drives so we’re only drawing the power that we need to turn motors at a specific time,” Harwood says. “We control vending machines so they’re only running when there is occupancy, and the lighting in the machines has been removed because typically you have light within the space.”
KEEP IT FRESH
Other important project considerations focus on the quality of air and conservation of water resources. “In any laboratory facility, managing air-change rates is key,” Harwood explains. “Airchange rates are going to be significantly higher than in an occupied office building, thus managing occupancy is critical to reducing air-flow consumption. Reducing air flow during unoccupied periods reduces energy consumption and favorably impacts the facility’s environmental footprint. In addition, CO2 control systems have been added in numerous areas throughout the facility and are used as a measure to determine the need for fresh air.” “When working with a lab building, it’s a challenge because you have to balance what the [Atlanta-based] American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers Inc. asks you to do and what the [Atlanta-based] Environmental Health and Safety folks want you to do,” Bergmiller says.
“You have to manage air flows and contain devices that have high ventilation and energy needs because the EHS wants to know that if anything goes wrong, no one will be hurt.” An ambitious water-efficiency program was implemented at the facility, as well. Along with the use of low-flow fixtures in the building and surrounding wooded areas to control storm-water runoff, great care was taken to manage and conserve the water that falls on the entire site. “We physically capture rainwater from the roof of our central utility plant, which represents approximately 50,000 square feet [4645 m2],” Harwood explains. “Additionally, rainwater that lands on the surrounding impervious pavement areas is also captured, processed through a gross particle separator and stored in a concrete vault. The stored rainwater, which has represented more than 2 million gallons [7.6 million L] of water per year, is used for our cooling towers.
“We’ve been extremely blessed with lots of talented and energized people,” Harwood remarks. “We have brainstorming sessions to determine what opportunities are available, which are capital- intense and which are operation-parameter changes. Just doing time-of-day start/stop or system optimization doesn’t normally result in capital-dollar expenditures, but the results are huge. They’re probably the easiest and most effective ways to make immediate changes to the facility that result in energy savings.” Earning the Green Globes CIEB rating hasn’t caused the Bristol-Myers Squibb team to rest on its laurels, however. The improvements continue. “Although we can look at simplistic tracking data and be comfortable with the fact that we’re driving down energy consumption, which obviously has a favorable impact on associated emissions and cost of operations, we’re trying to be competitive and productive,” Harwood says. “Establishing a baseline gave us a point to look forward to and ask ourselves how we can go up another notch on the assessment. We know there are elements we can refine and operate differently to be even more sustainable.”
Green Globes is a green-building guidance and assessment program from the Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative. Environmental impacts are assessed on a 1,000-point scale in categories that include energy, indoor environment, site, water, resources, emissions, and project and environmental management. Third-party assessment is required for a Green Globes rating and certification. Qualified assessors interface with project teams by reviewing building documentation and conducting site walk-throughs. By achieving at least 35 percent of the 1,000 available points, new and existing commercial buildings can be certified and assigned a rating of 1 to 4 Globes. Once a building is certified, automated reports provide the opportunity to improve its rating and performance. In addition to Green Globes for New Construction, GBI has introduced Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings.
It is designed to evaluate, rate and improve the environmental footprint of existing commercial buildings. Its online tool allows the integration of best practices for building management and operations, as well as offers improvement suggestions and Web links to green-building technology. These suggestions are intended to help building owners save energy, minimize greenhouse-gas emissions, conserve water resources and reduce other forms of pollution. CIEB follows the same areas of assessment as Green Globes NC but does not include site impact. For more information, visit GBI’s Web site, www.thegbi.org.
OWNER / Bristol-Myers Squibb, New York, www.bms.com