Texas Research Lab Not The Usual Energy Hog

The smart folks conducting basic research on childhood neurological diseases at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston are doing so in a smart setting. The building, home to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI), has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s an especially noteworthy accomplishment given that labs are notorious energy hogs (though we’ve seen a few more LEED-certified examples in recent years, especially in the biotech sector).

The 13-story NRI facility was designed and constructed to incorporate key LEED principles aimed at achieving a high level of performance in terms of both human health and the environment. Completed in December of 210, the building incorporates several sustainable laboratory design strategies, among them an innovative, demand-controlled ventilation system, which has resulted in a 35 percent energy reduction off the baseline for lab buildings.

NRI at Texas Children's Hospital

image via Texas Children's Hospital

Another key green feature of the building is its extensive use of natural daylighting, with a comprehensive daylight harvesting system providing 98.5 percent daylight to all regularly occupied spaces.

In addition to its green features, the NRI building was designed to facilitate the multidisciplinary research approach favored by so many modern labs.  As per this approach, the building’s architecture emphasizes open labs that facilitate the free exchange of ideas, information and resources—in this case, with the goal of helping to speed discoveries in the complex study of brain development and function.

“The NRI building provides our multidisciplinary team with a facility that both meets our scientific needs and reflects our shared focus on collaboration with each other and with the world around us,” said Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the NRI and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.