The Energy Sciences Building at Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. The facility includes state-of-the-art lab space complete with energy-efficient fume hoods, floors made from post-consumer recycled content and countertops made from 100% recycled glass.
As a building type, labs have historically been the most energy-intensive facilities. This poses...
I recently returned from a trade show where a number of manufacturers showed me their high-...
This month's issue of Laboratory Design Newsletter features articles on commissioning labs for energy savings, next-generation engineering labs, fast-track project delivery, incubator lab design, fire alarms in animal facilities, forensic lab design and more. The issue also includes news notes, new products and new projects.
Not long ago a prospective client called and asked if it would be feasible to incorporate a state-of-the-art, full-body research magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite into a new building. After a review of the finished building plans, we quickly determined not only was the building design not ideal for MRI use, but it would be impossible without extensive and expensive design changes.
Compared to industrial and residential construction, labs are expensive as they are highly complex in nature. The end goal to constructing a functional lab is to provide valuable research results. At the heart of a lab is the research conducted and, as a result, lab owners can’t compromise research efforts by overlooking key aspects of the workspace—such as safety, comfort and sustainability.
Much equipment used in nanotech, physical and biological sciences can’t function properly if subjected to vibrations that exceed small threshold values. As a result, lab designers are faced with the challenge of developing designs where vibration disturbances are within acceptable limits to further science.
A well-designed lab facility will deliver a powerful combination of safety, functionality, efficiency and responsible use of resources. Most owners strive to achieve these goals in any new lab project or major renovation or addition. Performance can be documented by commissioning: third-party testing of the facility’s major mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems before a new or renovated project is turned over to the owner.
When done right, fast-track construction delivery methods can bring enormous benefits to the owner and the entire project team. They can significantly reduce the overall project design and construction schedule. Poor execution of a fast-track project will most certainly lead to problems, cost overruns, adversarial relationships and schedule delays.
Research science startups face similar decisions and crises any new business venture might. The volatile marketplace demand for breakthrough research and the rigors of nurturing a new business make early-stage decisions crucial, even perilous. The startup’s first dedicated research lab represents a major investment of capital, and to invest wisely, leadership should ask itself a few fundamental questions.
Creating an environment for optimizing the control of outside factors in vivarium facilities is critical to the success of reliable research outcomes. Animal responses are directly impacted by their environments—by air, access to food and water, light cycles and noise. Acoustic separation to isolate animal areas from noise and minimizing intrusive sounds into animal-occupied spaces is desired.
The Midwest can boast of a new 60,000-sf crime lab (which shall remain unnamed). Designed by Crime Lab Design (CLD), this facility has been a long time coming, and is a good reminder of the virtue of patience. Even in good economic times, the facility would’ve faced two significant challenges to begin with: First, justifying the project to a wary state government; and second, securing funding from that government.
Without substantial experience in Biosafety Level 3 work it can be easily underestimated just how much is involved in designing a BSL-3 facility. Design guidelines such as the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) list BSL-3/ABSL-3 design criteria that may appear as a deceptively simple upgrade to BSL-2; a good bit of reading between the lines is needed.
The 2015 Laboratory Design Conference is open for registration. Your opportunity to learn, network and participate in discussions about current and future trends in lab design is coming to Atlanta, April 27-29th. The countdown to the conference has begun, and here’s a countdown of reasons why you should be there.
A buzzword thrown around in lab design is commissioning. But truly how important is this process to meeting end goals? My answer: extremely. Building commissioning is the process of verifying, in new construction, all building subsystems to achieve an owner’s project requirements as intended by the building owner and as designed by the building architects and engineers.
Commissioning has become an increasingly common practice. It’s essentially a formalized functional performance test of an entire building’s systems—a process that validates, verifies and documents the builder’s project objectives have been fully met. Simply put, commissioning independently confirms newly built, renovated or existing buildings work the way they’re supposed to.
Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm, announced Carl Crow, PE, ASHRAE HBDP, has joined the firm in its Houston location as an associate principal mechanical engineer with a focus on healthcare and research facilities. Crow will be responsible for leading and growing the healthcare/health science design capabilities in the firm’s Houston office.
The idea of green and sustainable building isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea of using sustainable materials for building has been around for generations. But until recently, the goal of achieving LEED Platinum certification was retained for buildings that weren’t massively energy dependent.
Five years ago, it was revolutionary to put chilled beam heating and cooling in a lab; but now this hydronic form of sustainable HVAC is increasingly common in modern, sustainable lab settings. Chilled beams are operated where pipes of water are passed through a beam, or heat exchanger, either integrated into standard suspended ceiling systems or suspended a short distance from the ceiling of a lab.
The design of labs for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver in the A/E/C industry over the past 10 to 15 years. Most large academic, government and corporate lab clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum, and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.
Inadequate insulation is one of the largest causes of wasted energy, quickly allowing comfortable heating or cooling to disperse air outside. That’s why researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are collaborating with industry to develop a high-performance material that nearly doubles the performance of traditional insulators without a high cost premium.
One of the perennial questions in the lab design conversation is “what’s the future of the research lab?” One viewpoint on this issue is the research lab environment will become more “polarized”. In other words, the generic research lab will become more generic, and the specialized research lab spaces will become more specialized and idiosyncratic.
With the recent news about Ebola, MERS, extremely drug-resistant TB and other emerging and re-emerging diseases, the world-wide need for high-containment laboratories is at an all-time high. These laboratories are highly complex buildings that serve as a barrier between the dangerous pathogens handled in the laboratory and the surrounding environment.
The 50,000-sf New Technology and Learning Center for Bristol Community College, Fall River, Mass., brings together disparate programs—chemistry, biology, medical and dental education—holding energy-dense uses, including 18 fume hoods, high plug loads and specific ventilation and lighting requirements.
Most architects who design labs have considerable experience and knowledge, but some projects have special needs or functions, or require that a program be fully defined before an architect is engaged. There are also an increasing number of projects for which an organization wants a “signature” architect for the sake of marketability and institutional recognition, but these well-known architects aren’t necessarily experienced in lab design.
There has been much speculation about what the academic scientific workplace of the future will look like. As young scientists enter the post-doctoral and faculty ranks and recent college graduates enter graduate school, architects and lab planners will need to re-think the way we design research environments so these facilities will best serve the next generation of scientists.
With 48% of the world’s energy consumed by buildings, and labs near the top of the consumption range by building type, these power-intensive facilities are now viewed with much more scrutiny. Consider an average office building runs on 3 W/sf and 100 kBtu/sf/yr, whereas a lab can use 15 W/sf and 300 to 500 kBtu/sf/yr—five times that of other buildings.
Throughout the past 15 years, an emphasis on energy-efficient lab operations has become a major influence in lab design. This fact is driven by a number of forces, from practical considerations surrounding operational costs, to policy issues related to sustainable development and carbon reduction.
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