In early 2023, Labcorp will say farewell to its clinical research unit (CRU) site in Springfield House, Leeds, and open its new CRU in Drapers Yard, Leeds, U.K. The facility offers expanded space for clinical beds and cGMP pharmacy and has also been fit for purpose with several sustainable, energy-saving measures—starting with the decision to refurbish a landmark building rather than construct a new building from scratch. Choosing to refurbish reduces the embodied carbon emissions otherwise generated by demolition, production and transportation of new construction materials.
“There are lots of opportunities to occupy a brand new space, but taking the choice to refurbish a building is the most carbon-saving choice,” said Vicky Dootson, environmental and sustainability manager at Overbury, the company overseeing the CRU’s fit out. “The regeneration of the area as a whole is fabulous, and the social value that’s been added is immense.”
Owning corporate social responsibility
Labcorp’s corporate goals include growing its sustainability impact through participation in the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). With the SBTi, Labcorp commits to improving environmental health with measurable outcomes by 2025, including:
- 25% increase of renewable electricity
- 10% increase of waste reclamation rate
- 10% reduction in water consumption
- 5% reduction in generation of regulated medical waste
To ensure the new facility upholds Labcorp’s SBTi goals and realizes its sustainability potential, a rigorous Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) assessment was completed last year for both the CRU’s base build and office fit out. A holistic environmental certification system in the U.K., BREEAM analyzes a building’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance in everything from air control and construction materials to water consumption and waste disposal. Here are just a few of the ways the new Leeds clinic is helping Labcorp meet SBTi objectives and BREEAM’s Very Good certification rating.
Promoting occupant well-being
From construction materials to indoor lighting, everything about a building’s built-in features can impact the quality of work performed inside its doors. To foster the best working environment possible in the new CRU, the Labcorp Drug Development team made several sustainable decisions designed to maximize occupant well-being, drive volunteer engagement and build positive clinical trial experiences.
To promote a responsible construction process, for example, the building’s chosen site materials have been sustainably harvested and are durable and heat-retentive for optimal thermal comfort. A glare control strategy has been implemented to avoid problematic glare and maximize daylight throughout the building and an implemented indoor air quality plan minimizes indoor air pollution during the design, construction and occupation of the building.
Beyond these amenities, a beautified rooftop terrace is set to provide a tranquil recharge space for clinicians and volunteers to enjoy. Native species of plants will be situated throughout the terrace, supporting and conserving the local ecosystem.
“I think the rooftop is going to be a signature feature,” said Dave Simpson, VP of global clinical trials and European operations lead. “It’s going to be joyous. It really stands apart from other investments in the city and sector and makes environmental sense.”
Providing energy-efficient solutions
One of the most effective ways proven to reduce energy consumption is through monitoring current energy consumption and identifying areas where energy can be conserved. With that in mind, energy meters have been installed on distribution circuits throughout the CRU to help drive down overall energy consumption. BREEAM sets standards for the number of meters required within a space and Drapers Yard designs are conforming to these requirements.
Improving water conservation is an additional energy-saving measure the Drapers Yard Leeds CRU is implementing. A leak detection system has been put in place to avoid excessive waste in mains water supplies. Besides this, the facility’s water-consuming components (i.e., showers, toilets, taps, etc.) have been assessed to conform to BREEAM’s 40% improvement over baseline goals.
Proffering alternative transportation solutions
In support of a citywide goal to reduce carbon emissions, air pollution and car mileage—as well as Labcorp’s own SBTi targets—the Drapers Yard Leeds clinic will be taking steps to be carbon neutral by 2030. To that end, cyclist facilities will be available at the new CRU, encouraging not just overall wellness but also greater health equity and recruitment possibilities for volunteers with limited transportation options. Cyclists will benefit from secure bicycle storage, as well as shower rooms, changing spaces and lockers. In addition to cycle storage, the Drapers Yard CRU will have 14 charging stations for electric vehicles and provision for 12 motorcycles.
Inside the building, volunteers and Labcorp employees can take advantage of energy-efficient lifts that are programmed to operate in a standby condition during off-peak times. After a prescribed length of idle time, the power side of the lift controller—and other operating equipment such as lift car lighting, user displays and ventilation fans—will automatically switch off. The lift car lighting and display lighting provide an average lamp efficacy (across all fittings in the car) of more than 55 lamp lumens/circuit watt. The lift uses a drive controller capable of variable speed, variable voltage and variable frequency control of the drive motor.
A meticulous level of care has gone into every aspect of the new Leeds site construction, which is expected to reach completion in early 2023. With its unique design, energy-saving measures and carbon-neutral transportation options, the clinic aims to drive greater volunteer engagement and health equity for future clinical trials.