UC Irvine Smart Labs technologies were built into the Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute, making it one of the most energy-efficient buildings on campus Download image

Laboratory energy-savings program earns green leadership award

Awards highlight California institutions’ sustainability efforts

Irvine, Calif., April 29, 2013 – UC Irvine’s Smart Labs Initiative, which safely reduces energy consumption in both new and retrofitted research laboratories by as much as 60 percent, has been recognized with a 2013 Green California Leadership Award. The designation acknowledges outstanding environmental achievements by cities, state agencies and other government entities in California.

“I’m very pleased that our Smart Labs Initiative was among the programs recognized,” said Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor of administrative & business services, who accepted the award at the Green California Summit in Sacramento on April 18. “We feel strongly that this approach to energy savings is a game-changer for research universities worldwide and for any other organization that operates research laboratories”

The Smart Labs Initiative grew out of the campus’s need to make a sizable reduction in its carbon footprint to meet the University of California’s goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions systemwide. The integrated approach to energy management employs variable ventilation rates and digital controls that are integrated with advanced air-quality and occupancy sensors.

Laboratory buildings use 100 percent outside air for ventilation, and an enormous amount of energy is required to supply, heat, cool, humidify, dehumidify, filter, distribute, and exhaust this air. Prior to the introduction of Smart Labs, treated air was exhausted into the atmosphere every five to eight minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether the laboratory was fully occupied or vacant. Using Smart Labs technologies, this number can be reduced to two times an hour in unoccupied laboratories to four times an hour in occupied laboratories, and to an even higher number of air changes when needed to meet safety requirements.

UC Irvine has retrofitted 10 laboratories with Smart Labs features, and has observed an average total energy savings of 61 percent. The features were designed into a new laboratory completed in 2010, the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, which is now acknowledged as one of the most energy-efficient laboratories in the country.

The annual Green California Summit seeks to further California’s leadership in sustainability. It is organized by Green Technology with guidance from an advisory board whose members include Anna Caballero, secretary of the California State & Consumer Services Agency, and Matt Rodriguez, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

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