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Courtney Fisk: Outreach is very important to us just because energy is a hot topic right
now, especially in the state of Kentucky, and we’re very much in the game.
Rodney Andrews: For a laboratory building with as many fume hoods, with a hundred percent
make-up air, all the demands for energy--getting LEED Gold is actually very ambitious.
Kevin Mussler: We can make some adjustments to the system so that we can continually reduce
that energy usage for the building. Not just for today, but for the life of the building.
Tim Murphy: As I think about this building, it is sort of a living machine. It has the
ability to adapt, to learn, to grow.
VO: From chemicals that capture carbon dioxide in flue gas, to algae that convert CO2 to
fuel, to a new kind of concrete that could save lives, CAER is leading energy research
in Kentucky. The new 43,000-square-foot laboratory building will significantly expand the center’s
research capacity in three areas: Batteries, Biofuels, and Solar and Electronic Systems.
With eleven-point-eight million in federal stimulus dollars, and additional funds from
the state and UK, the building sets the standard in energy efficiency. An additional three-point-five
million in state stimulus funds allowed the project to seek LEED Gold certification.
Courtney Fisk: Budget times are tight. We outgrew our existing facility. We needed the
space. However, with that comes bills. So it was very important to make sure we could
build this facility and use it to the best of our abilities, but also still be able to
pay for it and keep the lights on. Going forward with an energy efficiency attitude, and making
sure that we design this to the best that we could as implementing all the energy-saving
features, whether it be architectural or mechanical, was very important to us.
Tim Murphy: Kevin, our engineer, his firm CMTA, is one of the leaders around the nation
in some of the technologies that we put into this building.
Kevin Mussler: It really takes everybody being a part of it. It takes architects, engineers,
users of the facility, everybody to make these good decisions without sacrificing the importance
of what the building really needs to do, which is promote research.
Tim Murphy: Our intention from day one was always to get to LEED Gold. That did push
us, because a laboratory building, especially research, is a huge consumer of energy. So
from the very beginning we had to treat this as something different and a little bit unique.
Kevin Mussler: To achieve all of the potential points that are available in the energy and
atmosphere credit, we would need to reduce the energy in the building by 49 percent.
We were able to even exceed that level and actually save 54 percent.
Courtney Fisk: We’ve certainly implemented some new things for the university. We wanted
to see how certain processes and items function, and hopefully we can implement those in new
buildings, or existing retro-fitted buildings on campus to help improve our energy efficiency.
Rodney Andrews: Probably the most significant thing that we’ve done is worked with Environmental
Health and Safety to be able to demonstrate technology such as energy recovery wheels.
Kevin Mussler: Energy recovery wheels have been used a lot in a lot of buildings, but
they’ve been shied away from in laboratory buildings, and we wanted to challenge that
Rodney Andrews: Out of a laboratory, you have to have a hundred percent make-up air, meaning
the air goes straight out, new air comes in. Not recycled. So what we’ve done is put
in those lines a big wheel that recovers the heat and the moisture of the air going out
of the building and transfers it to the air going in.
Kevin Mussler: So when it’s hot and humid, which it is a lot of times in Kentucky, we’re
able to reduce that moisture and that heat that you feel from that humidity.
Rodney Andrews: But in order to do that in a laboratory, you have to be worried about
cross-contamination, and so we have air-quality testing in every laboratory. It’s tested
every 15 seconds.
Kevin Mussler: They’re monitoring all of the different particulates and TVOCs that
are occurring in the laboratories, and if any of those sensors then see a spike, all
of that air gets flushed out real quickly and protects the researchers.
VO: CAER is also saving money for heating and cooling water with 154 geothermal wells
under the parking lot. By using the earth’s constant temperature, geothermal is 6 times
more efficient than traditional systems.
Rodney Andrews: Geothermal works very well in Kentucky. We’re actually probably much
more familiar with it than other parts of the country.
Kevin Mussler: It’s a technology that has been proven to be very energy efficient. Instead
of using boilers and chillers, we’re using actually, the ground, to absorb the heat.
Rodney: Andrews: We also have process water loops within the building that are tied into
the geo-thermal system for cooling equipment.
Tim Murphy: A lot of the experiments require cooling water, and most of the time that water
just comes across the equipment, cools it off and then goes to a drain. Well, our engineers
figured out a way to recycle that cooling water and continually loop it through the
building so we’re not wasting gallons and gallons and gallons of water every day for
the life of this building.
Tim Murphy: Also to kind of help us reach those energy usage goals, we had to make the
building envelope very energy efficient. In most places we doubled-up the amount of insulation
that’s in the walls, as well as the roof. We put a white coating of roof on top of the
building that reflects the heat, the sunlight.
Tim Murphy: There is an insulated glass called a “nanogel.” That one-inch piece of glass
provides the same insulating value as a brick wall. So even though we’re getting light
through that, we’re not losing our energy efficiency.
VO: The scientists, lab technicians and graduate students who will benefit from these energy-efficient
technologies work in three areas.
VO: This building provides the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research & Development
Center with specialized facilities to produce and test the next generation of batteries.
Rodney Andrews: One of the great things that we were able to do by getting these awards,
is that we’re able to leverage funds that the state wanted to put into the Kentucky-Argonne
Battery Center. And so we were able to put in brand-new, much larger unique spaces for
battery manufacturing, prototype lines, for testing, and for materials development related
to energy storage.
There are two clean rooms in which you can do roll coating to make the cells. From there,
they can be taken into the dry lab.
Kevin Mussler: 2,000-square-foot dry lab. One of the largest in this region, if not
in the United States. When it’s 70 degrees, it needs to have 0.5 percent relative humidity,
which is a very, very dry space.
Rodney Andrews: That’s very important because then the next part of the project is to put
lithium, which will react violently with water in the air, onto these. This allows us to
really operate like a manufacturing plant would.
We also have then test facilities. These include fire-proofed cells that are away from the
building that we can use for doing initial cycling, if there’s going to be a catastrophic
failure, that’s when it will occur. They can all be monitored from inside this building,
greatly reducing any risks to the people doing the work.
VO: The biofuels laboratory, funded by the Congressionally directed Kentucky Biofuels
Program, tests fuel quality and develops new processes and products.
Rodney Andrews: It’s an open-access facility. Any of the researchers in Kentucky in biofuels
can get access to the equipment and to the personnel in the facility to help them with
their work. The same for industry within the state.
Rodney Andrews: Our work here is primarily in conversion technologies and fuel testing,
but this is a great step forward for the program in that this laboratory was designed specifically
for this sort of work, so it has the appropriate hoods, has large walk-in hoods for reactor
systems, then has a significant portion of the laboratory set up specifically for analytical
VO: In this new lab space, UK chemistry professor John Anthony’s team is developing materials
and making devices like low-cost, organic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Rodney Andrews: It incorporates a dedicated test area that allows you to test under controlled
environmental conditions, as well as a specialized dark room for testing performance. So there’s
four stations. Each a separate dark room that we can set up to simulate sunlight, and then
test cells both in light and dark for their behavior. Finally, there’s access to the
roof, and there’s an area on the roof that’s set up to hold cells, or arrays of cells,
outside and do real weathering tests and performance testing.
VO: State stimulus funds allowed CAER to share the unique energy technologies inside this
building with visitors.
Courtney Fisk: Outreach is very important to us just because energy is a hot topic right
now, especially in the state of Kentucky, and we’re very much in the game. This gives
us the opportunity to really showcase the excellent research we have going on here at
the center, and educate our students, and hopefully try to get them into the STEM careers
moving forward. We give a lot of tours in our existing facilities already. Not only
to school students, but other groups around the state and the country. It’s a very open-door
Rodney Andrews: So there are a lot of windows from the hallways that can look into the labs.
This allows us to take tours through without interrupting the activities of the lab, or
worrying about health and safety risks. Outside of every laboratory is a display monitor.
We’ve been able to put in a public education display in the lobby of the building, which
is interactive, and lets you explore the research of the groups that are going on, as well as
looking at all the energy usage for the building. You can compare this building’s energy efficiency
versus our 1978 laboratory building. It was made to the state-of-the-art that was known
then, and so you can see the difference in the technologies that have been implemented
Kevin Mussler: We’re going to be able to know if different parts of the building are
using more energy than what was anticipated. With that information, then, we can make some
adjustments to the system so that we can continually reduce that energy usage for the building.
Not just for today, but for the life of the building.
VO: The building itself is a living machine, one that will test technologies that will
impact the University of Kentucky’s energy usage for decades to come. And the research
happening inside will create the batteries, biofuels and solar cells to power our future.