Optimizing Ventilation Using Low-Cost Sensors to Improve Health, Safety, and Energy Efficiency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Air is the primary carrier of hazards within a space, whether it be hazardous byproducts of laboratory research activities or airborne pathogens. As a result, building ventilation is a primary defense against unseen airborne hazards. Critical laboratory facilities require effective mitigation of exposure to research-related, airborne hazards, providing a proving ground for effective ventilation strategies that optimize safety of occupants and reduce energy use. The heart of smart laboratory building operation is dynamic, analytics-based ventilation, which requires an in-depth intimate knowledge of building environmental conditions achieved through contaminant-detection systems. Unfortunately, currently many contaminant-detection solutions are expensive, elaborate systems that raise barriers for building managers. Through the successful deployment of a novel low-cost, modular sensor technology, we have developed a demand-control ventilation protocol effective in improving safety and reducing energy in critical laboratory environments. In this article, we will highlight best practices and lessons learned through this deployment that can be applied beyond laboratories. This article describes a low-cost sensor to support providing a safe, healthy building environment and reduce energy use through effective and efficient ventilation.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)34-50
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5R00-81123 for related conference paper

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5R00-81894


  • dynamic management of indoor air quality
  • indoor air quality
  • laboratory air quality
  • laboratory facility management
  • laboratory ventilation strategy
  • modular sensor technology
  • smart laboratory


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