The Joseph B. Whitehead Biomedical Research Building at Emory University in Atlanta is one of only 24 facilities in the nation, and is the first building in the Southeastern United States, to achieve LEED certification.
The $81-million, 325,000-sf facility, completed in late 2001, features eight floors with a mechanical penthouse. Six of the floors are used for research and office space, and two are used to provide 57,000 sf of space to house animals and robotic cage-washing facilities.
Collaboration and interaction are accomplished with an open floor plan and shared support spaces that include environmental rooms, glassware washing and autoclave facilities, darkrooms, tissue culture suites, and equipment rooms. A 150-seat auditorium has been provided with high end audio visual integrated systems for viewing presentations and sharing research information.
Faculty office space is situated away from the labs on both sides of the research floors to provide quiet work areas. Administrative offices are also located away from the labs near the elevators and most workstations are along the perimeter of the building. Visitors are circulated to reception areas for security purposes. More than 90 percent of the regularly occupied spaces including laboratories and offices have natural daylight into the spaces to enhance productivity of the occupants.
The labs are designed with shared areas, such as microscope rooms, fume hood alcoves, and equipment zones. The 20-by-36-foot lab units are combined in groups of five, called neighborhoods or pods, so the configuration can be changed without major renovations to suit future needs. Each lab unit is provided with its own shut offs for power, gasses and utilities to allow them to be modified without affecting the operations in the adjacent units.
Each lab also has six multifunctional prep rooms used for microscopy and cell culture projects, procedure rooms with biological safety cabinets, and additional office space that can be used for a variety of purposes. Small mechanical closets, located in the hallway outside each lab, house the valves that control all of the utility feeds.
Each floor is designed with a 173-sf Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) suite, which can accommodate two different research groups. A double-door autoclave unit in the BSL-3 antechamber room is built through the wall into nearby common equipment space. This allows multiple researchers to share its use. All of the BSL-3 suites, although currently used for tissue culture work, have been safety tested to ensure they meet required guidelines.
The Whitehead Building demonstrates a commitment to energy efficiency with its large windows in 90 percent of the labs and offices, sensors that regulate lights, glazing that reduces solar gain and ultraviolet transmittance, and enthalpy wheels designed to use the air being exhausted from the building to preheat outside air in the winter and to pre-cool outside air in the summer. The enthalpy wheels can significantly reduce the cost of heating and cooling a building. It is estimated that approximately $100,000 in savings will be realized each year at Whitehead as a result of using the enthalpy wheels. The perimeter lighting of all six floors of labs is tied into a photoreceptors that allow them to be automatically turned off when natural light from the windows meets the lighting levels for the space.
Water conservation efforts are also important to achieving the LEED certification in the Whitehead facility. Rainwater is collected in a retention vault and used to irrigate the landscaping with a low-volume irrigation system. Condensate water is collected from the building’s air-handling unit and sent to a chilled water plant for later use. The water-recovery efforts are expected to save over 2.5 million gallons of water annually.
Indoor air quality is also taken into consideration during the LEED certification process. The indoor air quality is enhanced with natural lighting and low VOC finishes.