Like what you see? Share this page

2016 Lab of the Year engineered by KJWW


Thu, April 28, 2016


R&D Magazine has named the University of Illinois' Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) building the 2016 Lab of the Year. KJWW provided engineering design and services for the facility, which is the first on the university’s campus and among the first in the state to pursue a "net zero ready" design approach.


According to ECE architect SmithGroup JJR, the international Lab of the Year competition "recognizes the best new and renovated laboratories that combine all aspects of the building into a superior working environment. It showcases new and emerging thinking, sustainable practices and creative responses to challenges in the design, construction and operation of modern laboratories."


KJWW provided MEP, fire protection, and technology design, along with construction administration and energy modeling for the ECE. The building's innovative design is modeled to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent, achieving as close to net zero as was feasibly possible for the university. The facility’s design and construction is on target to achieve LEED Platinum and receive an EPA Energy Star rating of 99 on a 100-point scale.


The 230,000-square-foot facility opened in 2014 and houses high-tech instructional classrooms, 21 labs, student lounges, an instructional clean room, student organizational offices, 11 teaching assistant meeting rooms, study rooms, faculty offices, and a 400-seat auditorium – one of the largest gathering spots on campus.


By receiving the Lab of the Year award, the ECE was recognized for its status as a teaching and research facility designed to promote interdisciplinary interaction in a net-zero ready facility, according to SmithGroup JJR. Through the design and construction of this facility, the architect states that the university "was determined to set new standards in building energy use and invested in strategies that could enable the building to supply its own energy."


Energy-saving infrastructure and strategies include displacement ventilation in classrooms, auditorium and atrium; chilled beam cooling system for offices, labs, and corridors; airside economizer; energy recovery wheels on ventilation air; variable frequency speed drives; heat recovery chillers with net metering (excess hot and cold water is sold back to campus systems); reduced lighting density; energy-efficient LED and fluorescent lighting; occupancy and daylight sensors to control artificial lighting; occupancy sensors for ventilation; low flow plumbing fixtures; high reflectivity white roof, passive solar heating, and sun shades.


The design allows for the future addition of a 300 kW photovoltaic solar array on the rooftop, which, along with a future solar array on a nearby parking structure, will provide electricity and enable the building to reach net zero energy.


Judges for this year’s competition included architects, engineers, equipment suppliers, researchers and the editors of R&D Magazine and Laboratory Design Newsletter. The award was presented at the 2016 Laboratory Design Conference April 26 in Houston.


"We are truly honored by this recognition. Not only is it a really beautiful building, but it's a building that allowed us to live what we really believe," said William Sanders, department head at the ECE.


For more information, read the ECE case study or the SmithGroup JJR news release.