Repurposed Lab Spaces

Lab buildings are the biggest energy users on the UC Davis campus.

This is mainly driven by the high ventilation requirements of lab spaces, where hazardous activities require bringing in outside air 24/7. 


Departments' needs for space evolve over time. Spaces that were originally designed to be used as labs are sometimes repurposed for non-hazardous activities such as office space, break room, etc. In those repurposed spaces, ventilation rates may be reduced to save energy and improve occupant comfort. To leverage this opportunity where appropriate, Energy Engineering collaborated with Environmental Health & Safety to create and manage the ECO Mode program, which allows some repurposed lab spaces to use less energy. 

This space was originally designed as a lab, but is now being used as an office and break room area
This space above was originally designed as a lab, but is now being used as an office and break room area.

What does it mean to operate in ECO Mode?

Repurposed lab spaces that operate in ECO Mode have:

  • Lower ventilation rates
  • Explicit signage indicating no hazardous materials or activities are allowed in the space
  • Fume hoods hibernated

The Principal Investigator (or in spaces where no PI is assigned, the Department Safety Coordinator) will be responsible for monitoring activities performed in ECO mode spaces and ensuring that they are compliant with ECO mode guidelines. There is no cost to the department for putting a space into ECO mode. The intent of ECO mode is to stay in place for at least 12 months.

What is the process for enrolling your space in the ECO Mode program? 

Facilities Management Engineering and Environmental Health and Safety work together to help enroll your repurposed lab space into the ECO mode program: 

  1. The lab's PI (or if none is assigned, the department safety coordinator or DSC) fills out the questionnaire linked at the bottom of this page. 
  2. A representative from Environmental Health & Safety will contact the PI or DSC to confirm that the ventilation rates can be safely reduced based on the current activities performed in the lab. 
  3. If the space can be put in ECO Mode, a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by the lab's PI (or the department DSC, if there is no designated PI for the lab), the department's Chief Administrative Officer, Facilities Management, and Environmental Health and Safety
  4. Facilities Management will implement the airflow reduction and will install signage in the space indicating that lab is in ECO mode, and that no hazardous chemicals or operations are allowed 
  5. The lab's PI will create an LHAT for the space through, named “[Name of PI or DSC] [Building Name & Room number] - ECO mode” 
  6. The PI or DSC will monitor the activities performed in the lab  on an ongoing basis, to ensure they are in line with ECO mode guidelines
What happens if we need to perform hazardous activities again in a lab after it has been enrolled in ECO Mode? 

If the scope of activities changes in the space, it can be reverted back to its original operation at no cost to the department.

As soon as the PI or DSC becomes aware of a change in scope (whether planned or already occurring) that involves hazardous chemicals or operations, they will email the ECO Mode list-serv (with their CAO cc’d) to request the lab be taken out of ECO mode. Facilities Management will then modify the space's HVAC system settings to operate as a lab again. 

ECO Mode are spaces where ventilation rates have been reduced and fume hoods have been hibernated.

Want to Sign Up? 

Follow the link to sign up for your lab to go into ECO Mode. CAS Authentication is required to sign up. 

Sign Up for ECO Mode