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The real estate market continues to demand “all glass” buildings often to the detriment of human comfort and thermal performance. For an office building typology, maintaining a low window to wall ratio is the most straightforward path to lowering the building’s energy consumption. However, for life sciences buildings, increased ventilation requirements mean the envelope has a smaller impact on the overall energy consumption than for an office building of the same design. With less direct energy use consequences, this can lead to sacrificing the basic tenets of high-performance envelope design in favor of market pressures. The same envelope that would not enable the project to meet energy code requirements for an office building can pass when applied to a lab building. Progressive energy codes are moving to restrict the quantity of vision glazing projects may use, but their adoption is yet to be widespread.
This paper explores the challenge to meet that market demand for full height views while performing above and beyond the energy code in the rapidly expanding bio-tech market of Philadelphia. The resulting case study delivers an “all glass”, LEED Platinum and WELL Gold lab that offers the spaces and views tenants are looking for without compromising on comfort or performance. The path of exploration lead us through an array of technologies and strategies to a relatively new technology; dynamic glazing. This paper will explore the journey through those technologies and the decision process that ultimately lead to dynamic glazing.
Laboratory buildings are a challenging typology, with more stringent requirements for air quality, humidity, and temperature control than office buildings. Adding to that an additional layer of planning rigidity required for appropriate lab bench layout and support rooms means the envelope is often a secondary or tertiary design consideration. Lab building envelopes are often little more than a static wrapper; a boundary between exterior and interior with performance requirements capable of achieving only the base code minimums. Façade innovations across the industry have made tremendous strides in the last decade due to three primary drivers: enhancing user well-being and indoor environmental quality, reducing carbon consumption for the protection of the overall environment, and improving operations and marketability for building owners. Each of these drivers are valid for laboratory buildings yet the facades often fall short.
The skin can be more than a static barrier; it is a medium to control daylight, capture views, provide natural ventilation, reduce heat transfer, enhance occupant well-being, and provide a dynamic extension of the overall building systems. Prioritization of all these opportunities may not be possible within a project budget, and there is no specific formula to achieve the outcome of high performance. It is therefore imperative to begin the design process with the definition of what a successful outcome will look like. By defining success at the outset of a project, understanding the challenges in the design process, and the specific requirements of the lab typology, this case study proves it is possible to arrive at a solution that exceeded the performance outcomes of the baseline despite an increase in the window to wall ratio.
Laboratory mechanical systems are so energy demanding it can seem that there are diminishing returns in addressing energy within the façade. Conditioning the large volume of air exchange required to
The energy code cannot be the only driver for high-performance because energy use is not the only lens with which to define performance. An enhanced occupant experience is ultimately the
Energy use, occupant comfort, and the nature of laboratory work all push towards an envelope design with less glazing. This is in direct conflict with market demand. Developers are still
3151 Market is designed as a LEED Platinum and WELL Gold lab in the rapidly expanding Bio-Hub of Philadelphia. These certifications denote that the project has achieved a certain level
To go beyond the reliance on the energy model as standard, a project needs to define success. A successful project can be viewed through a variety of lenses, from low
The baseline assumptions laid out for the project were determined by the energy model and ease of constructability. Concept design assumptions for the energy model tested an overall 55% WWR
Yes, less glass is typically the most direct path to improved performance, however, on this project (and others) the market is continuing to demand floor to ceiling glazing. The 50%
The team tested solutions that were figuratively “too hot” and “too cold” until arriving at a strategy that met all the criteria of a successful façade for this project, dynamic
Dynamic glazing will not be the appropriate method to achieving high performance for all lab facades. For this project, the high prioritization of views, the challenging orientation, and the team’s
Thanks to Brandywine Realty Trust for letting us share this case study. Also thanks to View, Sage and Halio for guiding us through the world of Dynamic Glazing.
Neill L.Sbar, Lou Podbelski, Hong Mo Yang, Brad Pease. 2012. "Electrochromic dynamic windows for office buildings." International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment 125-139.
Hedge, A. and Nou, D. (2018) "Effects of electrochromic glass on computer vision syndrome". Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 62(1), 378-382, Oct. 1-5.
Meister, J. (2018, September 5). The #1 office perk? natural light. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 13, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-...
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