The new laboratories have to be built in a sustainable manner, which meets the needs of the present requirements without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
(World Commission on Environment and Development 1987)
In general, sustainability is a term that mostly evokes emotion in people about certain events and or practices that helps in the long term survival of those events. By their very nature almost all projects use and affect many resources throughout the life of the project. In the case of building new engineering laboratories, there would be many major issues to consider, and the issue is can their resolution be sustained for the life of laboratories (Watch. D, 2007). The resources required to sustain the new laboratory project for USQ may be physical (natural resources) or may be as simple as people (human resources). As a result in general there are many dimensions/aspects that need to be considered in a project environment.
Sustainable development can be described as a dynamic process that involves adaption, learning and action. For USQ to build new engineering laboratories is in itself a sustainable project (W. M. Adams). The more influence they have on the society the greater their responsibility to behave sustainably.
Sustainability Issues in Building Engineering Laboratory
In general a typical engineering laboratory currently uses five times as much energy water per square foot as a typical office building. Research facilities in the laboratory will require intensive ventilation system including “once through” air.
The key aspects of a sustainable engineering laboratory design for USQ should include
increased energy and water conservation and efficiency
reduction or elimination of harmful substances and waste
improvements to the interior and exterior environments, leading to increased productivity
efficient use of materials and resources
recycling and increased use of products with recycled content.
The University of Southern Queensland (2009b).
All the above mentioned aspects that need to be considered while building engineering laboratories in USQ will require a huge amount of funds, which in itself will be hard to obtain from senior officials. For such purpose either to revamp the old laboratory or to build a new one will be a key decision to think about.
In order to have sustainable engineering laboratories, it addresses civil engineering concerns as well as the design of mechanical, plumbing, and lighting systems. For civil engineering, designers and builders should consider transplanting existing trees instead of removing them around the building (T. M. Parris and R. W. Kates, 2003). They should also develop proper storm water management strategies in order to reduce erosion. Discussions surrounding sustainability can foster confusion thanks to terms like global
warming, carbon footprint, green products and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). For USQ to understand how sustainability issues should be evaluated, structured and staffed within their organization (Lisa.L. W, 2007).
Building laboratories have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment; mainly the buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generate waste and emit potentially harmful materials. People responsible for building laboratories are the Dean, HOD, designers and builders who could face a unique challenge in meeting demands for new and renovated facilities that are accessible, secure, healthy, and proactive while minimizing their overall impact on the environment (S. C. Rockefeller,1996).
In order to make sure that new engineering laboratories are sustainable, six fundamental principles persist that needs to be considered.
optimize Site/Existing structure
optimize Energy use
protect and conserve water
use environmentally Preferable products
enhance indoor Environmental quality
operation and maintenance Practice
While keeping the above mentioned principles in mind, it will be a lot easier for designers and builders to face the challenges and make sure that the best quality of work is delivered. However, a select few corporations viewed quality as an opportunity rather than a cost and their investment in total quality management (TQM) paid off handsomely (Lisa.L. W, 2007).
Analysis of the Project Environmental Context
As new standards are surrounding corporate sustainability in different projects, companies and organizations are beginning to weave sustainability capabilities more deeply than ever (Development and Conflict Management, 2003). For corporations there are various issues that needs to be looked after as they not only have to make sure that the quality of service they are offering is of high quality but at the same time the safety of their workers is of prime importance. That will include but not limited to the location of the laboratories, the overall design and products used in the building should be of high quality. Successful programs are championed by a CEO/ HOD’s or Deans who take full responsibility for maintaining sustainability as an ongoing discussion throughout the building of engineering laboratories. Rather than concentrating exclusively on environmental compliance, energy availability and costs, and other risks, main corporate issue would be to focus simultaneously on managing risks and leveraging opportunities.
In the process of building engineering laboratories that are sustainable, there will be various political issues involved within the university, as different departments will be involved for various small tasks (M. G. Marshall and T. R. Gurr, Peace and Conflict 2003). Political issues will take place in a situation where they are equally valid and reasonable goals and interests of two or more parties collide with each other. Small tasks like hiring a vendor to perform a specific task to purchasing different materials will be based on the decision of high level people.
Few issues to consider would be:
Who will report to whom?
Who will administer the whole project?
Who will be responsible to make key decisions?
In any project, regardless of their nature there are various sets of economic issues, concepts and analytical frameworks that can be used to make appropriate decisions at various stages in a project planning cycle (T. M. Parris and R. W. Kates, 2003). The feasibility of building engineering labs can be determined by basic issues such as the availability of inputs and regulatory of outputs; to make the project sustainable will require labor to be available at particular times during the production cycle.
One of the major physical issues to consider for the University is to look in to the physical aspects that involves the major decision either to retrofitting an existing building that might be more cost effective as compare to building a new facility. If USQ decides to renovate or retrofitting the existing building that include the sustainability initiatives reduces operation costs and environmental impacts and will result in increasing building resiliency.
Usability and revision issues
Other major sustainable issues to consider would be the direct energy management systems that will commissions the entire building to ensure that the new engineering lab systems will be operating as efficiently as possible. Laboratories should be designed with long term flexibility options that will include the module for all architectural and engineering systems. Computers that will turn themselves off during the non-working hours of the lab will help in reducing the energy use and costs by reducing the cooling loads other electrical demands.
Sustainable Lighting Design
By implementing sustainable lighting in the laboratories it will help in reducing the energy use while enhancing employee comfort and productivity. Along with the use of lighting system, having adequate access to the natural daylight is an important principle of sustainable design. As it will not only reduce energy use but it also increases comfort and enhance productivity. Design of the laboratory should be in such a way that it disperses the light in all major areas, so people inside the labs will be able to look outside and orient themselves according to the time of the day. Most importantly daylight should and must be the most important source of illumination.
The main objective for USQ in sustainable design of their engineering laboratory is to make sure that they avoid resource source of depletion of energy, water, and raw materials by building laboratories that liveable, comfortable, safe and productive.
In many cases some of the casework products which are manufactured now considered as “green”. Majority of the recycled products are usually obtained from old cars and other appliances, and the problem with such recycled steel is “greenness”. At the same time recycling steel raises a question whether energy conservation or resources conversation is the better environmental/sustainable strategy for building engineering laboratories in the campus.
This paper has discussed various issues that might be associated with commencing a new engineering program at a new regional University campus located in a lower socio-economic area. There are also many other issues involved: which include the promotion of the programs and their courses; targeting to the right target market. Liaison with schools and the community; and linkages with industry and engagement of suitable staff; that are beyond the scope of this paper. Making sure that the project of building engineering laboratories that are sustainable is in itself is a big task that needs extravagant leadership and decisions of people involved in it. This paper has described steps taken to better meet the issues arising during the project at the campus, including a detailed discussion of who will be responsible, who will respond to whom and so on. It has also described how issues associated with the provision of laboratory facilities are being overcome.
The engineering programs at the USQ Springfield campus continue to develop over time, with additional programs being proposed for the future. Given this, in combination with the continued growth in student numbers, the location of the campus in a developing urban environment, and the recognition by teaching staff of the particular student learning needs, the engineering programs at the campus are likely to continue growing strongly into the future.
Keeping in mind the nature of project there can a lot of recommendations that can be suggested, few most important one to consider would be:
Use products that are of good quality and green in nature.
Make sure that the location of the engineering laboratory should be easily accessible and must have a proper ventilation system.
The overall infrastructure of the laboratory should be of good quality.
Should and must have the capacity to increase the laboratory further if the need arises.
Immediate recommendations would be to include equipment improvements that may include locating and repairing compressed air leaks, installation of variable frequency drives on exhaust fans, proper conditioning of makeup air and process energy use where appropriate.
Building type Basics for Research Laboratories by Daniel Watch, New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. Inc, 2001, ISBN # 0-471-39236-7
University of Southern Queensland (2009b). Associate Degree in Engineering (ADNG) program. Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland.
G. Marshall and T. R. Gurr, Peace and Conflict 2003, (College Park, MD: Center for International
Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, 2003), http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/paper
L. W, 2007 ‘Corporate Sustainability Initiatives: The Next TQM?
M. Adams, Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World (London: Routledge, 1990)
M. Parris and R. W. Kates, “Characterizing and Measuring Sustainable Development,” Annual Reviews of Environment and Resources 28 (2003): 559–86
C. Rockefeller, “Principles of Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development: Summary and Survey,” unpublished paper prepared for the Earth Charter Project, April 1996.
M. Parris and R. W. Kates, “Characterizing a Sustainability Transition: Goals, Targets, Trends, and Driving Forces,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100, no. 14 (2003): 6.