Boulder, Colorado | Higher Education, Laboratory

University of Colorado Boulder
Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building

$116 M | 320,000 SF

Cator, Ruma & Associates provided the mechanical consulting services for the new biotechnology building at University of Colorado. This new Greenfield building is over 300,000 square feet, and consists of chemistry laboratories, chemical engineering laboratories, biology laboratories, core laboratories including NMR, spectroscopy, and vivarium.

  • LEED Platinum, designed to promote collaboration of multiple scientific disciplines, NIH funded and met NIH design standards



This building also houses classrooms and auditoriums. The building has a grand entrance with a café and a kitchen in the basement below the café. The main auditorium space is a single-story portion of the building. The south half of the main building is a five-story building including a basement, and the north side will be four stories and also include a basement. The top floors of both the north and south side are mechanical penthouses. The building achieved a LEED New Construction Platinum Certification.

The use of the following energy-efficient systems contributed to the required energy credits for the LEED Certification:

  • Low-flow, high-performance fume hoods
  • Variable flow lab air systems
  • Heat recovery run around loop
  • Heat harvester heat pump for additional heat recovery
  • Water cooled chiller plant
  • Direct evaporative cooling
  • Water side economizer system
  • Low pressure drop and 
  • distribution design
  • Wind tunnel modeling for optimizing efficient control and energy usage
  • Condensing heating water boilers
  • CO2 monitoring of high density spaces
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures (including 1/8 GPF urinal and dual flush toilets)
  • Process cooling in lieu of once-through domestic water cooling

The building is set up with four laboratory neighborhoods. Each neighborhood consists of either four or five stories of laboratories. Partially redundant air-handling units are used in each, such that if one air handler fails, the other will be able to provide 60% of the required airflow to that neighborhood. The ventilation system consists of variable volume supply and exhaust to the laboratories, using pressure independent volumetric offset type Venturi Air Valves. All of the fume hoods are low-flow, high-performance type hoods to maximize energy performance.

The office and classroom areas are supplied with air from a separate air-handling system dedicated to non-laboratory spaces that allows re-circulation of air for further energy performance. This building also houses a Vivarium Suite, which is supplied by its own air-handling system with backup supply air provided from one of the laboratory air-handling units should the main Vivarium air-handling unit fail.

The cooling system consists of a central chilled water plant (1,500-tons) in the basement, utilizing water-cooled chillers with a flat-plate heat exchanger for waterside economizer. The heating system is comprised of condensing boilers to supply heating hot water to the building. In addition, there is a steam boiler to provide process steam for sterilizers and other equipment. To increase efficiency between the heating and chilled water systems, a side stream heat pump is used between the chilled water return and the heating water return pipes to pre-heat the heating water return at the same time that it pre-cools the chilled water return, thereby always capturing energy recovery.

The plumbing system consists of standard potable domestic water and industrial water for the laboratories. The hot water generation is accomplished with condensing hot water heaters. Other plumbing services include a re-circulating DI/RO system, laboratory grade compressed air system, natural gas system, and a vacuum system.

Portions of this building were NIH funded and met NIH design standards.

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