University of California, Santa Barbara, Institute for Energy Efficiency

Santa Barbara, CA, USA

The new Institute for Energy Efficiency at the University of California, Santa Barbara is an interdisciplinary research facility committed to researching and developing solutions that will contribute to a sustainable, energy-efficient future.

Henley Hall will serve as the hub for energy research activity on campus, housing 17 laboratories, 34 faculty and post-doctoral offices, nine administration offices, ample group office space, and a lecture theatre.


Driven by the university’s ambitious energy efficiency goal, the project is pursuing the highest level of LEED certification for the laboratory. To achieve the platinum rating the project must meet a stringent set of standards and earn points in areas such as energy, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality. This is a particularly challenging imperative as laboratories are generally the most energy-intensive spaces on campus.

Exterior shot of the Institute for Energy Efficiency, University of California
The Institute aims to establish itself as a global leader in developing breakthrough energy technologies. Image: KieranTimberlake


Encouraging collaborative research was key to design in this building. Factors considered by our engineers included noise and light levels, humidity and temperature, and the space itself. Ensuring the correct balance in all these areas is key to engineering an effective collaborative space for research.

To support the university’s commitment to sustainability, Buro Happold is working with the wider design team to incorporate numerous technologies and design features. These include low-voltage LED lighting and intelligent energy monitoring and control systems with interactive displays. Our expert team is also applying tried and tested methods of improving the efficiency of each building by harnessing natural resources, such as daylight and fresh air, in new ways.


To achieve a low energy facility, and LEED certification, will be an extraordinary accomplishment, especially for a laboratory building that requires highly controlled environments in which to carry out energy intensive experiments.

The look and feel of this new research facility both encourages collaboration and learning, as well as giving the university the flexibility to adapt to future research needs.

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