Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne APCF achieves LEED Gold rating

By Diana AndersonFebruary 13, 2015

Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Protein Characterization Facility (APCF) has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. Construction of the APCF was funded by the State of Illinois.

“We have a good partnership with the State of Illinois,” said Karen Hellman, Argonne Facilities Management and Services Associate Division Director. “Illinois is interested in research and technical jobs, as well as jobs in the construction arena.”

The APCF is connected to Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), the brightest high-energy synchrotron in the Western Hemisphere. This is particularly useful to researchers who work on genomic and protein research.

“We do work related to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health including antibiotic resistance and new drug discovery,” said Argonne Distinguished Fellow Andrzej Joachimiak. “The APCF enables us to produce proteins and grow crystals that are essential for this research, right where researchers need them. Many crystals are so delicate and fragile that they could easily be damaged just by transporting them from one building to another.

"The new facility gives researchers clear and easy access to the materials they need to do ground-breaking science," he said. "The work we’re doing here will have tangible, positive effects for ordinary people.”

The new facility is expected to use 30 percent less energy and water than standard laboratory/office buildings, and the utility savings will be about $40K each year.

“One of Argonne’s main research and development focuses is clean energy solutions,” said Karen Kosky, Argonne Sustainability Program Manager. “We embody these principles in the way we design our buildings. We’re thinking long-term. Our new facilities enable world-class science while reducing energy and material use, minimizing operational costs and providing healthy workspaces.”

The APCF was constructed with components that have recycled content, from laboratory counters to steel support beams. The facility also has a cool roof that reflects heat from the summer sun, occupancy sensors that turn off lights when rooms are not in use and electrochromic glass windows that darken to block bright sunlight, eliminating the need for shades or blinds.

“The building has clear high windows running the length of the main corridor and this brings daylighting deep into the laboratory spaces,” said Hellman. “This type of design enables about 90 percent of the building, including interior spaces, to benefit from daylighting.”

Natural light helps keeps electricity costs down and building occupants are able to maintain a visual connection with the outdoors—one of the building’s main design elements.

The APCF is one of four facilities on Argonne’s site with LEED certification.