Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Burnham Campus “Green” Design Fact Sheet

ORLANDO, Fla. , May 15, 2009

The Burnham Institute for Medical Research’s new research center in Orlando is the largest private research facility in the state that is tracking toward a gold level LEED certification.

“As a new citizen of the Orlando community, Burnham is proud to have participated in the design and construction of a state-of-the-art research facility that will require less energy and water than a similarly-sized scientific structure," said Dr. Daniel Kelly, Burnham's Scientific Director at Lake Nona.

LEED certification for the 175,000 square foot building will be formally awarded several months after construction is completed and the LEED credits are tallied. “Burnham has earned enough points to be certified LEED Gold, indicating that it’s been constructed at a high level of sustainable green buildings,” reports Mark Hefferin, Executive Vice President, BE+K Building Group.

The designing and construction of an energy-efficient scientific building in Florida offered unique challenges because of the lab’s extensive air supply and exhaust requirements. “We incorporated a high performance exterior glass to conserve energy and implemented an energy recovery system to efficiently condition incoming air,” said architect Gary Shaw, Principal at Perkins + Will.

The new Burnham Institute:

  • Diverted 1.8 tons or 95 percent of construction waste 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.
  • Saves 25 percent more on energy costs than a comparable building. The building’s white “albedo roof” is made of a 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. The lab lighting dims when sufficient daylight is available and all offices have motion sensitive fixtures that automatically turn off lights when no one is in the room. Burnham’s energy savings is equivalent to the average yearly consumption of 6,600 homes.
  • Saves water. 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.
  • Incorporates sustainable wood products. 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.
  • Utilizes recycled materials. 16 percent of construction materials contain recycled material.
  • 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.
  • Helps workers to “go green.” To encourage alternative forms of transportation, Burnham provides showers and bicycle storage and preferred parking for low-emitting and carpool vehicles.

Burnham’s “Green” designation also supports Florida’s economy. More than 20 percent of Burnham’s building materials were made within 500 miles of the site, thereby reducing gas emissions from long distance transportation. For example, concrete block is from Brooksville, Fl., lime is from Sumpterville, Fl., and sheet rock was manufactured in Apollo Beach, Fl.

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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