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University science labs require an abundance of energy and materials and therefore, and are not often thought to be environmentally friendly.  However, the examples listed below hope to reverse that impression.

In recent years, many universities have seized the opportunity to decrease energy costs and rely less on traditional energy sources by creating structures that are environmentally respectful and more energy efficient.  Science labs can be costly to retrofit and construct from scratch, but the operating payoff can be considerable.

To develop this list, we examined the following characteristics.

1. LEED Certification or BREEAM Certification (depending on location), and other examples of leadership in application of sustainable technology.
2. Outstanding visual aesthetics.
3. Projects at universities that show a general commitment to sustainable building practices.

30. Taylor University Euler Science Complex


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Located in Upland, Indiana, the Taylor University Euler Science Complex houses over 125,000 square feet and has achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Designed by The Troyer Group, the facility’s sustainability features include low-irrigation landscaping, a rooftop garden to insulate the building in the winter and cool it in the summer, and a central atrium to maximize the use of natural daylight. Completed in 2012, the building also incorporates a computerized monitoring room for students to track their energy use, and a rooftop heliostat to deflect sunlight and aid in structural cooling.

29. Rice University Bioscience Research Collaborative


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Rice University’s BioScience research Collaborative (BRC) is a 10-story LEED Gold certified structure that works in conjunction with Houston’s world-renowned Texas Medical Center. The 475,000 square foot facility provides cutting edge classrooms and a 287-seat auditorium, along with eco-friendly characteristics including a green roof to aid in storm water reduction, and energy-efficient heating and cooling. Builders recycled nearly 75% of the project’s construction waste, and condensation for the facility’s cooling system is collected and reused throughout the complex. A swath of windows across the façade allows for maximization of daylight, and the open interior design promotes collaboration between the wide varieties of disciplines housed inside.

28. Kennesaw University, Prillaman Hall


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By installing ample bicycle parking and shower facilities onsite, Kennesaw University’s newly constructed Prillaman Hall aims to reduce the number of cars used on campus by encouraging more energy efficient modes of transportation among students and faculty. Achieving LEED Gold certification, the 200,000 square foot structure was constructed from locally sourced materials including bricks and wood, and incorporates a rainwater harvesting system, which serves as the site’s primary means of landscape irrigation. Motion detection based lighting and low-flow toilets also contribute to the building’s sustainability features, and make it the third LEED certified building on the University’s Kennesaw, Georgia campus.

27. University of Pittsburgh, Chevron Annex


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Certified LEED Gold in 2013, the University of Pittsburgh’s Chevron Annex houses the University’s Department of Chemistry. Built as an addition to the existing Chevron Science Center, the completed renovation includes high performance ventilation hoods, which protect users from the chemicals used in the synthetic chemistry lab. The 8,650 square foot design, by Renaissance 3 Architects, P.C., focuses on safety and operator health above all else. Demolition of the existing internal structure allowed for a number of safety updates including fire protection and state-of-the-art chemical disposal systems. The building’s addition won the AIA Pittsburgh 2012 Excellence in Architecture Honor Award.

26. Columbia University Comer Geochemistry Building


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Columbia University’s Comer Geochemistry Building achieved a LEED Silver certification and was completed in 2007. Named Lab of the Year in 2009 by Research and Development Magazine, the structure’s 70,000 square feet houses labs for the study of climate science, and was designed specifically to conserve trees and green spaces onsite. The building’s sustainability features include high-efficiency fixtures, movement detection light and temperature control systems, and a natural ventilation system. Ninety percent of the structure’s occupied spaces have access to daylight, and ample bicycle parking and shower facilities encourage alternative transport to and from the building.

25. Harvard University FAS Sherman Fairchild Laboratory


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For Harvard University’s FAS Sherman Fairchild Laboratory, Payette Associates revitalized an existing structure for the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB) Department. Under Harvard’s Green Building Standards, the new lab was completed in 2012 and occupies nearly 100,000 square feet. The lab encourages communication and collaboration between disciplines through its open interior structure, and its eco-friendly attributes include the use of low-VOC paints, coatings, and sealants, and its commitment to providing daylight to 97% of the structure’s occupied areas. Ninety-one percent of the construction materials for the Sherman Fairchild Laboratory project were recycled, and a focus on natural light and open spaces helped this laboratory attain LEED Platinum certification.

24. University of Oregon Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building


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The Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building at the University of Oregon was completed in 2012 and is currently seeking LEED Platinum certification. Contained within the four-story, 100,000 square foot structure is a collaborative space, offices, and a light-filled atrium with glass walls that function as white-boards and encourage interaction across disciplines. Designed by THA Architecture, the design incorporates a green roof, solar panels, and temperature-controlled windows that rely on sensors to adjust the interior climate when windows are open or closed. The design also focuses on the protection of existing trees, and pathways onsite were constructed around existing root systems. A glass atrium allows for ample daylight throughout the structure, and a rain-harvesting feature provides water for the building’s bathroom facilities.

23. LaTrobe University Institute for Molecular Science


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Also known as the LIMS Complex, the LaTrobe University Institute for Molecular Science was awarded a 5 Star Green Star through the Green Buildings Council of Australia. The structure’s stunning façade incorporates a number of large cell-like shapes in blue and red, and is the home of the University’s chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics research departments. Designed by Lyons Architecture, the LIMS Complex includes a water-harvesting system to supply water for garden irrigation and toilet facilities. Sun shades control the building’s light and glare, and the mixed air-conditioning system incorporates a traditional cooling system with natural temperature control. The building also features a 200-seat auditorium and a DNA sequencing facility, making it one of the world’s most sought after research facilities.

22. University of British Columbia Beaty Biodiversity Centre and the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory


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Located in Vancouver, the Beaty Biodiversity Centre and the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory was completed in 2009 and received LEED Gold certification. Designed by Patkau Architects and located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, the site also occupies a natural history museum. Sustainability features onsite include an atrium with glazed windows to ventilate and bring light to the structure’s interior, photosensors to minimize the use of artificial light, and a concrete structure to impart a cooling effect during the warmer summer months.

21. Pomona College Richard C. Seaver Biology Building


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Winner of the Excellence in Design Award from the City of Claremont, California, Pomona College’s Richard C. Seaver Biology Building is LEED Silver certified. Recipient of the Sustainability Award from the City of Los Angeles Business Council, the facility occupies over 46,000 square feet, and incorporates eco-friendly features including solar panels, exposed concrete floors, low-VOC materials, and ample use of natural light. Complete with an electric vehicle charging station and native plantings that do not require additional irrigation, the structure houses offices, research labs, and student lounge areas to encourage cross-disciplinary integration.

20. Montana State University Cooley Laboratory



Originally built in the 1950s and designed by Sigvald Berg, the Cooley Laboratory at Montana State University experienced a complete renovation and received LEED Gold certification in 2013. Architects Design Group constructed a strategy to use American made and recycled materials in their vision for creating a more environmentally sustainable facility. With efficiency plumbing and energy-saving lighting fixtures, the Cooley Laboratory was paid for with the help of a grant from the National Institute of Health. The building was also updated with seismic retrofitting, and 90% of the wood used in its construction originated from certified sustainable forests.

19. University of Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory


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Winner of the 2012 American Institute of Architects Merit Award, the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa has achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Designed by OPN Architects, the structure incorporates the state public health and environmental labs and was completed in 2010. Ninety percent of the occupied spaces have access to natural light, and one-third of the structure is composed of recycled products. By using native plants, the landscaping requires no special irrigation, and one-third of the building’s construction materials originated locally.

18. Clemson University Advanced Materials Research Lab


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Located in Clemson, South Carolina, the Advanced Materials Research Laboratory was designed by IDC Architects with a plan to promote communication and scholarly exchange among students and faculty. Housing the departments of chemistry and nanotechnology, the facility is the first nanotechnology laboratory in the country to receive LEED Silver certification. Completed in 2004, the building’s construction incorporates energy efficient lighting, optimum employment of daylight, low-VOC materials and furnishings, and low-flow or dual-flush toilets. Eighty-three percent of the waste created during construction was recycled, and meeting rooms and student offices are filled with natural light.

17. Portland State University Science Building 2


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Originally built in 1971, Portland State University’s Science Building 2 was recently upgraded to receive LEED Gold certification. Containing nearly 250,000 square feet, and housing the biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science labs, Science Building 2 incorporates a number of structural improvements as well as eco-friendly updates. Also known as the Science Research and Teaching Center (SRTC), Science Building2 experienced seismic retrofitting improvements, new mechanical and heating systems, and a state-of-the-art hazardous waste facility. New laboratory fume hoods will reduce the building’s energy use by 30% and will save the University nearly $300,000 yearly.

16. University of Florida Biomedical Sciences Building


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The Biomedical Sciences Building at the University of Florida was designed by Hunton Brady Architects, and is the home of the departments of medicine, engineering, and public health. The design incorporates an open internal structure that includes wall-less classrooms and large windows to facilitate interaction between departments and nurture a cross-disciplinary environment. Included in the 165,000 square foot facility is a vivarium for plant and animal research, as well as the state’s largest biomedical enterprise. Comprised of eight stories, the LEED Gold certified structure cost over $90 million and is intended to help facilitate and develop medical research.

15. Carnegie Mellon Doherty Hall


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Designed by IDC Architects, Doherty Hall at Carnegie Mellon University recently underwent an extensive renovation and received LEED Silver certification for commercial interiors. Winner of the 2009 Historic Review Commission’s prestigious Preservation Award, the facility houses the materials sciences undergraduate program and was completed in 2007. Included in the update of the original structure designed by Henry Hornbostel in the early twentieth century, are low-energy fixtures, a rainwater harvesting system, and an open layout to facilitate collaborative learning. The design also incorporates a garden roof and a 20,000 square foot addition.

14. University of California San Francisco Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building


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Opened in 2011 and located along the edge of Mount Sutro, the Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building at the University of California at San Francisco was designed by Raphael Vinoly Architects of New York. The facility is LEED Gold certified and includes a renovation as well as construction, and also functions as the headquarters of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Sustainability features of the project include a green roof, low-VOC materials, and energy efficient fume hoods. Designed to maximize the comfort, health, and safety of the building’s occupants, 90% of the occupied areas utilize natural light and communal spaces lend to an environment of partnership across subjects.

13. University of Rochester Medical Center Saunders Research Building


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The Saunders Research Building at the University of Rochester Medical Center is the University’s first LEED Gold eligible building and was completed in 2011 for over $76 million. Designed primarily to enhance collaboration between departments, the facility includes glass-walled offices and an open floor plan. Windows wrap the top floors to maximize daylight, and the use of native and adaptive landscaping reduces the need for additional onsite irrigation. The parking lot is composed of porous pavement to capture storm runoff, and 10% of the project’s materials originated within 500 miles of the building site.

12. University of Virginia Physical and Life Sciences Research Building


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The Physical and Life Sciences Research Building at the University of Virginia was designed by Bohkin Cywinski Jackson architects of Pittsburgh, and received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Home to the biology, chemistry, and physics labs, the facility was completed in 2011 and includes green spaces and an interior design that promotes inter-disciplinary collaboration through the use of an open structure. Motion sensory lighting and temperature controls and ample use of daylight helped bring the project under budget by over $10 million. The research facility includes spaces to study sleep disorders and nerve regeneration, and the use of cutting-edge technology makes it one of the most eco-friendly buildings on campus.

11. University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences


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HOK architectural firm won a global competition to design the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building at the University at Buffalo. Projected to be completed in 2016, the facility will seek LEED Gold certification, and proponents hope to rejuvenate downtown Buffalo with this new $375 million structure. A six-story central atrium links two L-shaped buildings, and designers hope numerous common areas will promote collaboration between specialized areas and departments within the building. Eco-friendly features include a terra cotta rain screen, natural light and ventilation, and proximity to public transportation.

10. Yale University Kroon Hall


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Home to the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, Kroon Hall was awarded a LEED Platinum certification, the International Design Award by the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the Most Intriguing Green Building by the Connecticut Green Building Council. Opened in 2009 the 52,000 square foot structure incorporates a green roof that supplies grey water runoff to pump through toilets throughout the building. The structure also includes the 175-seat Burke Auditorium and landscaping which incorporates 25 native species. Fifty percent of the interior red oak paneling used within the building’s interior was harvested using wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and a majority of the construction materials were regionally sourced from recycled materials.

9. University of Nottingham UK Energy Technologies Building


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Located on the UK campus of the University of Nottingham, the new Energy Technologies Building received the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Educational Building of the Year for 2014. Part of the UK’s target to make all new buildings ‘zero carbon’ by 2018, the New Energy Technologies Building utilizes green features including ample use of daylight, low-energy lighting, sensory controlled temperature, and electric car-charging stations. The structure’s exposed concrete and enhanced insulation also cut down on energy costs, and the facility produces enough additional energy to heat the neighboring Mental Health Institute building.

8. Aberystwyth University Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)


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Designed by Pascall and Watson Architects, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University was given a BREEAM Excellent rating. The design incorporates natural sunlight and a green roof as well as a rainwater harvesting system and a ground source heat pump. Eighty percent of the project’s materials were responsibly sourced, and the building utilizes a natural ventilation system. Perhaps one of the structure’s most interesting features, sheep’s wool was used as the primary means of insulation for the building. Housing research facilities for students and faculty to study the impact of climate change on the world food, energy, and water supply, the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences truly is a model of sustainability.

7. University of St. Andrews Biomedical Sciences Research Complex


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Scotland’s only BREEAM rated building, the Biomedical Sciences research Center at the University of St. Andrews was designed by Boswell Mitchell Johnson Architects and was completed in 2012. Utilizing natural ventilation and large windows to increase the intake of natural light, the structure’s sustainability features also include a heat and power plant that uses 54% less energy than grid based electric and gas boilers. The building’s heating system is designed to contribute any unused heat it produces to the site’s adjacent structures, and the separation of offices from laboratory facilities enables more energy efficient ventilation. Project materials were responsibly sourced, and the complex acts as a model for sustainable building not only in Scotland, but also worldwide.

6. University of Liverpool Central Teaching Laboratories


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With a BREEAM Excellent rating, the Central Teaching Laboratories of the University of Liverpool won the S-Lab Award for Best New Laboratory Building in 2012. The facility houses the physics, chemistry, archaeology, and earth and ocean science departments, and the open floor plan, numerous common areas, and central atrium promote interaction between the sciences. The three-story building, completed in 2013 utilizes a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels, and a green wall to aid in building insulation. A state-of-the-art facility offers 15 teaching labs and a commitment to biodiversity that can be seen through the site’s landscaping as well as the many birdhouses that line the building’s facade.

5. University of Maryland School of Medicine Health Sciences Facility III


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Located in Baltimore, the Health Sciences Facility III at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is set to open in 2018. The proposed design, a collaboration between HOK and Design Collective Inc., includes over 330,000 square feet, and the University will be seeking LEED Certification upon project completion. Incorporating two towers with an adjoining central atrium, the building’s design will function as the central research facility for the University’s medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy schools, and will include high-end imaging resources and a five-story dry lab. A ten-story wet lab will contain animal research and nano medicine laboratories, and the site’s open design and numerous meeting spaces intend to promote scholarship and interaction inter-departmentally.

4. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology


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Located in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology was the first LEED certified project in the country, and was also named Lab of the Year by Research and Development Magazine in 2011. The facility houses over 2 million square feet of laboratory space across four buildings, and was awarded a LEED Platinum certification. An impressive design by HOK architects, the structures onsite provide facilities for the study of sustainable solutions for water, energy, and food, and the design incorporates maximized natural light, solar panels, and sun shades, which are essential to the location’s hot desert climate. Seventy-five percent of the construction materials were sourced from recycled resources, and all of the campus wastewater is recycled.

3. Madsar Institute of Science and Technology


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The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is one of the world’s most impressive and eco-friendly institutions. Dedicated to researching solutions for sustainability, the building was created in collaboration with MIT. Designed by Foster and Partners, the structure is the first of its kind to be powered solely by solar energy, and was completed in 2010. Sustainability features include low-energy light fixtures and solar screens for sun protection for the harsh desert sun. The building also complies with the cities car-free policy, which encourages alternative methods of transportation. With a strong commitment to finding alternative energy solutions, the Masdar Institute truly exists as a global model for sustainability.

2. Lehigh University STEPS


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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University recently opened a new building to house the Science, Technology, Environment, Policy and Society (STEPS) building. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the $62 million structure incorporates a green roof to provide insulation and glass walls to increase natural light and minimize reliance on artificial lighting systems. Built with the intention of increasing collaboration between science disciplines, the STEPS building houses both graduate and undergraduate research labs. The space’s open design helps bring elements of nature inside, and with low-flow and dual flush toilets and ample daylight, the University is seeking LEED certification for the project.

1. Arizona State University Biodesign Building B


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Winner of Research and Development’s 2006 Lab of the Year, Tempe, Arizona’s Biodesign Building B is the first LEED Platinum certified building in the state. Home to departments that study healthcare, sustainability, and security; the facility is on the cutting edge of bioscience research. Designed through a collaboration between Lord Aeck Sargent and Gould Evans Associate Architects, the structure is composed of locally sourced materials and contains 175,000 square feet of research space. The campus master plan calls for four buildings, and along with Building B, Building A was completed in 2004. Sustainability results include a 40% reduction in water usage and 50% of the building construction waste was recycled.