Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Burnham Institute for Medical Research Wins Gold for Green Design

ORLANDO, Fla. , December 16, 2009

Burnham Institute for Medical Research at Lake Nona has received a gold level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ®) certification by the Green Building Certification Institute. The award recognizes the Institute’s innovation in design, eco-friendly building construction and commitment to sustainability. With this achievement Burnham ranks as the largest gold certified independent scientific facility in Florida.

”Establishing an environmentally-conscious facility and a healthy work environment is particularly important to Burnham. This is consistent with our mission to make scientific discoveries that will benefit mankind, as well as improve the lives of our employees,” said Dr. Daniel Kelly, scientific director and professor, Burnham at Lake Nona.

The design and construction of an energy-efficient scientific building in Florida offered unique challenges because of the lab’s extensive air supply and exhaust requirements. To accomplish the task, several unique features were installed in the 175,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility so that it utilizes less energy and water than a similarly-sized scientific structure. The building’s “high albedo roof” is made of a white, reflective membrane that reflects heat to lower the air conditioning requirements. Glazed windows transmit more than 50 percent exterior light while blocking 75 percent of the solar heat.

“We incorporated a high performance exterior glass to conserve energy and implemented an energy recovery system to efficiently pre-condition incoming air,” said architect Pat Bosch, design principal at Perkins + Will. The Burnham facility saves 25 percent on energy costs as compared to a similar building, an energy savings that is equivalent to the average yearly consumption of 6,600 homes.

The building is oriented East/West with overhangs and shading devices on exterior walls to minimize heat and sun reflection. At the same time, more than 90 percent of interior spaces have a sight line to the outside, thereby decreasing the energy needed to light interior spaces while providing the staff with views to the outdoors.

The sustainable design also promotes efficient water consumption. Burnham will use 40 percent less water than a building of the same square footage. By using drought resistant and native plant materials, water needed for landscaping was reduced by 51 percent and all irrigation is done with recycled or rain water.

“Burnham earned enough points to be certified LEED Gold, indicating that it’s been constructed at a high level of sustainable green buildings,” said Mark Hefferin, executive vice president, BE& K Building Group. During the building stage, 95 percent of construction waste was diverted away from landfills. Metal was recycled, concrete waste was crushed and used for road base and wood was chopped into mulch. Even leftover drywall scraps were ground into fertilizer for area sod farmers. Sixteen percent of construction materials contained recycled material and more than 50 percent of the wood in the building (such as doors) is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures that the wood comes from forests that are sustainably-farmed with new trees planted in excess of those that are harvested.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

Sanford-Burnham can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @sanfordburnham.

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