When it comes to laboratory sustainability, efficient energy use in fume hoods plays a crucial role. However, the terminology and definitions surrounding high performance fume hoods can be confusing. In this article, we aim to clarify the key concepts and shed light on how to achieve lab sustainability through efficient fume hood energy usage.

How Sustainable Lab Air Usage Works:

Fume hoods create a negatively pressurized environment by drawing air through them using a blower. The velocity of the air, known as face velocity (measured in feet per minute – fpm), is critical as it determines the amount of air pulled through the hood. This face velocity is influenced by the volume of air (measured in cubic feet per minute – CFM) demanded by the blower and the size of the hood’s opening, primarily the height of the sash.

Multiple Definitions of High Performance:

High performance fume hoods may go by various names such as low velocity, low flow, low exhaust, high efficiency, or energy efficient, depending on the manufacturer. All these terms indicate that the hood meets the minimum standard for high efficiency set by the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA). SEFA defines high efficiency based on ASHRAE 110 testing requirements, which include face velocity scans, smoke visualization tests, and sulfur hexafluoride containment tests.

What Does “High Performance” Really Mean? For a fume hood to be labeled as high performance, it must meet the SEFA-defined test results, demonstrating its efficiency and containment capabilities. However, not all high performance hoods are equally efficient. Face velocity alone does not provide the complete picture, as it can vary based on hood design, air balance, and real-life conditions in the lab.

Achieving Lab Sustainability:

Lab planners aspire to ensure user safety while promoting energy efficiency for lab sustainability. High performance fume hoods are vital in achieving these goals. By operating fume hoods with lower face velocity set points, significant energy savings can be realized. Some high-performance hoods can even pay for themselves through efficient energy use in a short period. Collaborate with hood manufacturers to estimate your annual savings and return on investment specific to your installation.


Efficient energy use in fume hoods is a key factor in sustainable lab practices. Understanding the terminology and SEFA-defined standards helps ensure that high performance fume hoods deliver the desired energy efficiency and user protection. By selecting the right fume hoods and optimizing face velocity set points, you can achieve substantial energy savings without compromising safety.

Let Dyna-Tech Sales Corporation Be Your Lab Design Partner:

From comprehensive design and quotes to casework, cabinets, fume hoods, and more, our experienced team provides tailored solutions. With competitive pricing and a proven track record working with major universities and government agencies, our accredited sales engineers await your call and are ready to listen and answer your questions.

Give us a call at 908-541-1010 or click on the (contact us) link at the bottom of the page. Our sales engineers are ready to answer your questions and discuss your needs.