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University of Pennsylvania, Laboratory Building HVAC Retrofit

Burns led a high-efficiency overhaul of a university laboratory’s heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, reducing annual energy costs by 40 percent.

The University of Pennsylvania undertook a $42.5-million infrastructure renovation of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM). The project included a complete electrical and HVAC upgrade, as well as installation of a new sprinkler system.

Burns provided multidisciplinary engineering services for the 92,500-square-foot facility’s overhaul. The project’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing features include:

  • Variable air volume (VAV) air-handling units (AHUs)
  • Outdoor-air dilution ventilation system with energy recovery
  • 500-kw standby generator and emergency power distribution system
  • New 1MVA, 13.2kV, 480V-unit substation and a 500kVa secondary unit substation
  • Building-wide controls system

Penn took advantage of low interest rates to develop the university’s innovative Century Bond program, issuing $300 million in 100-year bonds to finance energy-efficiency upgrades such as the LRSM renovation.

The LRSM retrofit is forecasted to save the university $200,000 annually.

Burns assists colleges and universities to meet their carbon-neutrality-goals, providing custom solutions for energy and economic analysis; electrical, mechanical and structural assessments and design; and resilient power infrastructure design and oversight.

The LRSM upgrades are scheduled for completion in 2023.


Philadelphia, PA


University of Pennsylvania


Higher Education

Learn more about Burns’ higher education services.

Higher Education