When you’re tackling a remodeling project, — whether it’s a simple redesign, a complete overhaul, or a complex relocation — you want to design for the future. Laboratories should fit the needs of occupants, workers, and the surrounding community.
To ensure these standards, two major design certifications were established: LEED and WELL.
Today, we’ll examine these standards and how they impact the way OnePointe Solutions designs and manufactures laboratories.
What is a LEED Certification?
The goal of any truly sustainable building is a platinum LEED certification.
The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
This score, which is assigned by nationally accredited experts, deems the building to be beyond eco-friendly. A platinum certification often means that a building gives back to the environment and improves its surroundings.
This may be a lofty goal for laboratories, which require vast amounts of heavy equipment and high electricity use. However, it is possible.
LEED Certification Values
When taken in the context of LEED vs. WELL, LEED certification has a distinctly environmental focus.
A LEED-certified green laboratory will be efficient and sustainable, particularly in key areas such as:
- Energy Use: Natural light and renewable energy are heavily used in LEED buildings
- Material Use: Many LEED-certified buildings use recycled materials
- Pollution: Filters, air treatment, and policies in LEED buildings reduce pollution
- Sustainability: Local factors should be considered when constructing LEED-certified buildings
- Water Quality: LEED buildings should have proper water treatment abilities
These factors are aggregated as a numerical score of 0–110. Platinum buildings achieve a score of at least 80, while gold-level projects fall between 60–79 points.
To be more specific, the LEED scoring system values:
- Energy and atmospheric impact
- Interior environmental quality
- Material use
- Regional priority and community impact
- Sustainable locations
- Water use and efficiency
Each of these qualities is assigned a weighted score. Innovation and regional priority have the lowest weight (respectively, 6 and 4 points); the energy and atmospheric impact is the most heavily weighted category (35 points).
How to Obtain LEED Certification
Anyone hoping to have their building certified must complete a variety of forms on the LEED website. These papers will tell experts how a building operates and what sort of specifications are in place for each of the LEED requirements.
Submissions must be accompanied by requisite dues, which can be calculated with the US Green Building Council’s price check tool.
What Is a WELL Certification?
Comparatively, a WELL Certification focuses on the health of a space’s occupants and employees. Sustainability is a central tenet of the WELL Rating System, but it is not the primary concern.
WELL Certification Values
A WELL-Certified building will uphold the system’s values of personal wellness.
While the LEED system is geared toward environmental impact, the WELL rating scale is based on human reactions to a space. Ideal WELL-designed spaces will have a mix of fantastic interior layouts, functional designs, and built-in support systems for occupants and workers. Outside of the building, these projects will give back to their community with jobs, usable spaces, and educational events.
WELL has ten major categories for its scoring system:
- Air quality
- Materials (both sustainable sourcing and safety)
- Mindfulness (occupants have support systems)
- Movement (ample opportunities for occupants to exercise)
- Nourishment (providing healthy food to occupants)
- Sound and sound pollution
- Thermal comfort
- Water quality
Like the LEED system, WELL certification is based on predetermined numeric values; the WELL scale ranges from 0–80 points.
How to Obtain a WELL Certification
Any project seeking a WELL certification must submit appropriate documentation and relevant fees to the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The fees vary depending on a project’s scope and size.
How Do LEED and WELL Scores Impact Laboratory Design?
Both of these systems exist to improve the quality of a building’s design, functionality, and environmental impact. Neither of these scores is compulsory, and it’s perfectly acceptable to follow the principles without obtaining certification.
Regardless of which system is followed, — or, in some cases, a combination of both design ideas — the outcome will be a dramatically improved space for workers and the surrounding community.
Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Material Choices
One of the biggest challenges for lab designers is material acquisition.
Many contractors buy prefabricated construction materials and furniture. This negatively impacts the LEED score by reducing a building’s sustainability. Depending on where this furniture is from, it may also impact the WELL score.
At OnePointe Solutions, we manufacture all of our products in-house. We can easily recycle salvaged materials and use them to create gorgeous, functional new furniture for any laboratory or office space.
We also offer multiple options for sustainable countertops. Low-impact environments may utilize sustainably sourced maple block countertops. However, with most labs requiring plenty of heavy lifting and movement, a more appropriate option will be LEED-certified epoxy resin, repurposed stainless steel, or stylish WilsonArt® solid surface countertops.
Interior Designs and Layouts
To achieve optimal scores on the WELL scale, designers must think about a space’s functional layout. While movement is one of WELL’s ten principles, this fact fails to excuse inefficient layouts.
Properly designed laboratories will have an efficient flow, enabling free information exchange and plenty of space for multiple projects at once.
Sometimes, pre-existing construction hinders a designer’s ability to craft truly modernized spaces. The WELL system accounts for this and awards points for innovative workarounds.
For example, spatial use can be optimized with multi-functional surfaces and accessories. Casters and anti-vibration add-ons turn static steel tables into adaptable workplaces, and innovative FLEX systems balance comfort with functional movement.
The LEED system does not have these built-in safety nets, although the innovative design and creative solutions can mitigate any negative impacts that safety may have on a building’s score.
Safety and Ventilation
Finally, designers will need to consider a laboratory’s functional safety.
In some cases, these requirements will negatively impact a building’s LEED and WELL scores. White rooms and clean rooms, for example, require a network of energy-heavy ventilation. Fume hoods are unavoidable safety fixtures, yet they pose the potential to leak undesirable materials into the surrounding environment.
This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to obtain LEED or WELL certification. However, it does make the accomplishment more difficult.
Need Help With Your Lab Design?
At OnePointe Solutions, our designers have worked with plenty of laboratories. We’ve improved the designs of old spaces to accommodate future growth, and we’ve found plenty of ways to achieve environmentally friendly results in the most unlikely of places.
A great deal of expertise is required to achieve these results, which is why site managers should turn to experts. An optimized LEED and/or WELL-certified laboratory will require a mix of ingenuity, flexibility, and creativity. Spaces must often be redesigned from the ground up, which necessitates trained contractors.
At OnePointe Solutions, we know all about eco-friendly green laboratory design. Our team has worked with countless companies to create updated labs with low environmental footprints. If you’re ready to see the future of green laboratory design, get in touch with us. We can discuss your needs and investigate all of the options available.