Testing and research laboratories are an important core discipline of any organization. Labs are active, heavily used spaces that cause a lot of wear and tear on plant and equipment. Dirty equipment and harsh, corrosive chemicals add their own measure of wear and tear on the facility and lab furniture. Rapid changes in research and processes today require constant design and remodeling efforts. Here are five things to consider before you start your lab renovation.
Keeping up to date with safety codes in your lab is important. There are different regulations on airflow and hazardous chemicals, depending on the type of research you do, and the types of materials you handle. For example, a pharmacy lab will need to be compliant with USP 800 standards.
Proper ventilation is also important for safety. Removing harmful fumes from the air protects your people and your research, and in many cases, is required by law. A fume hood ventilates the laboratory by drawing polluted air into the unit and away from the lab worker, then up the exhaust and out of the room, all the while diluting contaminated air by mixing in fresh air. This process requires a sufficient quantity of air in order to work at capacity. Newer generation fume hoods do a better job, saving you from harmful chemicals while also cutting down on energy costs.
One of the more common complaints among lab users is they do not have enough countertop space to perform required tasks. Does your lab renovation increase your work surface space? What can be done to get all services off the surface and out of your way?
When designing your lab, space matters—especially countertop space. Your team needs the proper amount of space to perform their required tasks, and to do so ergonomically. You also need to consider the type of countertop you will be using. For certain types of research, especially chemical testing, resin countertops are the best, most durable options. For bio-hazardous materials, sometimes non-porous steel countertops are the right choice. As always make sure you take proper care of your countertops after your remodel is finished.
Make sure your lab also follows all ADA requirements. Your space must be accessible for wheelchairs to navigate, and your countertops must be reachable (among other requirements). Depending on the age of your lab, this may significantly change the layout from what you had originally.
It is very important to assess what you are currently storing in your lab. Will these needs change, and how will storage possibly be affected? When looking at remodeling your lab, ask yourself these questions, as well as: Do you need more drawer space below counter tops? Do you need more drawer storage? What loads do you need to attain and how can you maximize your above work surface storage when creating a new lab layout? One last thing to think about is how much hazardous material you’ll produce. You may want to look into a way to better handle your hazardous material to keep your people safe when beginning your lab renovation.
Technology is constantly evolving. Do you have a need for a fume hood in your new lab layout? Are you aware of low flow fume hoods? Can you recover some of your costs by building in energy savings with your laboratory remodeling project?
Learn what it means to be a LEED certified laboratory.
Fume hoods in newer or recently renovated labs generally have variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods. For these hoods, vented air volume is controlled by the sash height. This means the lower the sash, the lower the amount of conditioned air exhausted. This means that shutting the sash reduces the total amount of conditioned air for the building and fans don’t have to work as hard to move that air, both of which result in big energy savings.
Read more ways to make your lab more energy efficient.
When considering flex vs fixed labs, the first thing you need to weigh is the type of research you’ll be doing in your lab.
What were you doing in your lab space 3 years ago? How has it changed today? What growth do you anticipate over the next 1, 3, or 5 years? By building flexibility into your lab, you can save on down time and construction costs now and in the future.
Wet sciences, which typically have a high concentration of services and plumbing, work best as fixed labs. Chemistry labs, for example, require fume hoods with ducts and other equipment that isn’t meant to be moved. If your equipment is heavy duty and you need stable platforms, consider a fixed lab for your space.
Engineering or physics labs work best as flexible labs. Flex labs are a great option for spaces that might be unpredictable or have changing research types. Flex labs typically contain movable tables and plug and play services that can be quickly connected and disconnected.
Have a multi-use space that needs to be converted from a lab to a lecture configuration? Then a flex lab might be the right fit for you. With height adjustable tables that can be used as benchtops or set at sitting height, and ductless fume hoods that can be relocated in the event of programming or space changes, flex labs are the perfect solution for a space that’s always innovating.
While there’s many things to consider when renovating your lab, the first step is to always contact an expert. An expert can help you determine what design fits your lab best and what products will fit your budget and vision. Contact H2I Group to speak to one of our experts before you begin.