The Vagelos Laboratory for Energy Science and Technology (VLEST) is the newest laboratory building in the University of Pennsylvania. This new $173 million facility will house existing and emerging energy research programs with state-of-the-art laboratory space.
The new VLEST is a testament to Penn’s leadership and innovation for a sustainable future, acting as an instrument of the very research it serves with a design that pursues both energy efficiency and sustainability concepts aligned to Penn’s University Climate Action Plan.
Transsolar worked to integrate sustainability in the design, not only as a technical engineering exercise but as the result of deep integration between architectural design and engineering systems. The resulting design emphasizes passive low-energy design strategies supported by sophisticated technical equipment. The VLEST building also provides a high-quality indoor and outdoor environment to attract faculty and students and maximize learning potential, research productivity, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
A key design feature of the all-electric building is the high-efficiency façade and exterior shading, which allows for radiant cooling and heating while maximizing the daylight availability indoors.
The overall design effort can be summarized in these four key outcomes: (1) beyond the state-of-the-art laboratory efficiency, by looking specifically at ventilation rates, an exceptional energy recovery system, best fume hood performance and operation, stop the use of non-renewable energy sources, and a long-term operations plan and plug load assessment; (2) exceptional user comfort and controllability, by maximizing daylight availability in occupied spaces, providing user control over natural ventilation and light, a high-efficiency façade, and design for holistic thermal comfort indoors; (3) celebrating the performance of the building by reinforcing the commitment of sustainability with both regular occupants and visitors to the building through user interface platforms; and (4) meeting the team’s performance goals by achieving LEED Gold certification or higher, achieving carbon neutrality in operations before the 2042 university goal, and meeting Penn’s Sustainability Plan and Green Building Standards.