> FOCUS TRIAL BEFORE ERROR
ing systems, operations and training their facilities staff well in
Raising questions and discovering options
advance of occupancy,” Williams said. “We are working to help
deliver the facilities that they bought, paid for and expect. “
“It is not a panacea, but it does take away significant vari-
ables, allowing us to deliver a better space with less risk to the
owner before occupancy,” he said. “We will also discover how to
leverage what we’re learning on this project with future work.”
Selkowitz said Berkeley and Webcor created a representative
office space on the rotating test bed, equipped with building
controls either approved or being considered for the Genentech
building. By fall, both parties will have made the ultimate decisions as they work toward a building opening by summer 2015.
“On balance, we will learn how to optimize some systems,”
Williams said. This is a challenging project, as many of the
occupants will forgo fixed office spaces. Mobility will reign.
New questions then arise regarding design and infrastructure
as unexpected details emerge within the building mockup. To
help reveal operational performance differences between the
north and south sides of the office building, the rotating test bed
will effectively simulate the different exposures of the building.
“Some architecture decisions were made prior to FLEX-
LAB, so we’re exploring how those decisions impact energy
performance,” Selkowitz said. “For example, as automated
shading is being used, we are investigating when to raise or
lower shades in different parts of the building and by how
much. There’s even a question of what fabric density will work
best. Then there are questions of occupancy sensor operation.
When should they be used to dim or turn lights on or off? What
ballast considerations need to be worked through? Whether its
shading, daylighting and other lighting controls, we’re working
to capture the best energy savings.”
After the critical testing is done, Genentech is going to bring
in two different groups. One group will consist of operations’
managers, who will learn to use the building’s control systems.
Another group will be brought in to confirm the look and feel
of the lighting.
“All of this is being done so, when you put people in the
actual building, it works,” Williams said.
Other FLEXLAB capabilities
“Flexibility is in the name,” Selkowitz said. “We don’t want to
constrain a team. We’ve also given a lot of thought to running
the facility as efficiently and cheaply as possible for our research
partners. For instance, in our lighting and plug load test bed, we
can hang different fixtures into metered sockets for easy plug-
and-play change out. Plugs are metered every 2–5 seconds. We
can make performance comparisons between lighting sources,
such as LED and high-performance fluorescents.”
This 4,000-square-foot lighting and plug load test bed
features 17 interior office cubicles and 10 perimeter offices.
Twenty-five ceiling-mounted photo sensors can measure the
illumination distribution throughout the space. A power meter-
ing system measures as accurately as 2 percent for loads greater
than 25 watts (W) and 0.5 percent for most loads less than 25 W.
Clients can test different control algorithms for dimming elec-
tric lighting to balance the space daylight as well as control
automated fenestration systems. Different controls strategies
can also be employed for plug loads.
Many of the FLEXLAB test beds can be split in half to conduct
simulations that make “A” and “B” comparisons. Test bed ceilings can be raised to explore deeper natural lighting possibilities.
Commercialization and deployment are two other uses for
FLEXLAB. The lab facility becomes a third-party verifier, sometimes in unexpected ways. For example, utilities are turning to the
facility as they incentivize better technology such as LED. To do
that, they would like to discover how the technology truly performs. The facility is also inviting in code officials. In this instance,
FLEXLAB becomes a place to educate, not just develop, and test.
Perhaps it will help drive standards where they are lacking.
Through FLEXLAB’s Industry Partnership Program, the
building community, manufacturers, code officials and others
can follow the facility’s efforts, provide input on research projects
through periodic workshops, and attend an annual open house.
“FLEXLAB is an opportunity for pursuing true integrated
design, performance-based testing and its prove-out from the
owner’s point of view, the contractor’s, and the entire design
team,” Selkowitz said. “That’s work worth following.”
GAVIN, LEED Green Associate, is the owner of Gavo
Communications, a sustainability-focused marketing services firm
serving the energy, construction, and landscaping industries. He can be
reached at email@example.com. P H
“FLEXLAB is an opportunity
for pursuing true integrated design,
performance-based testing and its
prove-out from the owner’s point
of view, the contractor’s, and the
entire design team. That’s
work worth following.”
— Stephen Selkowitz, FLEXLAB
Visitors to FLEXLAB’s lighting and plug load
test bed await a light-level reading for a
simulated office workstation.