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Labs21 Approach to Climate Neutral Campuses

Photo of the NREL Science and Technology Facility shows a concrete and metal structure sitting below a clear blue sky.

The NREL Science and Technology Facility serves as one Labs21 pilot project demonstrating approaches to reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions on research campuses.

Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21) was a former joint venture of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Member laboratories spanned the Federal Government, academic institutions, and the private sector.

Labs21 helped laboratory members reduce energy use. This included a whole-building approach to energy efficiency in laboratory buildings. This website takes that approach a step further in carrying out campus-wide energy- and carbon-reduction strategies.

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories has adopted all Labs21 resources and continues to develop new sustainable laboratory resources.

Laboratories: A Big Part of Campus Energy Consumption

As campuses conduct greenhouse gas inventories, they discover that laboratory buildings are typically the largest segment of campus energy and carbon impact. Laboratory facilities represent both a challenge to climate-neutral targets and a growing opportunity for testing low-energy technologies. Laboratory buildings, which have energy intensive ventilation requirements and other health and safety concerns, use far more energy per square foot than typical office buildings.

Instead of focusing on building components, the Labs21 approach tackles energy consumption at a laboratory from a whole-building perspective.