Tag Archives: Laboratory Design

Lab Design Tips that will Save You Energy and Money

HVACWhether you’re retrofitting an existing lab or constructing a new laboratory building, there are a number of elements which must be considered in every laboratory design project. One of these is how much energy the lab will consume, and what can be done to keep costs down without jeopardizing the work being done. Here are some energy-saving lab design tips that can impact the bottom line while allowing any lab to perform perfectly.

Getting a Lab Design Handle on HVAC

By far the most expensive energy guzzler in most labs is the HVAC system. In any lab design, the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system must provide comfortable, clean air to every room in the building at all times. This can mean completely changing out all the air in the entire facility as much as twelve times per hour—as opposed to the standard four times per hour of a more typical office building.

Naturally, doing this takes a lot of energy, but there are ways to decrease the cost. Most lab HVAC systems can be programmed for different volumes at different times, so if your lab doesn’t operate on a 24/7 schedule, you can decrease the air cycling rates when the building is unoccupied. More sophisticated HVAC systems can also perform real-time air quality testing, which allows the system’s computer to increase rates when air contaminants are present and decrease them when the air is testing clean.

Preventing all that Conditioned Air from Escaping

Another energy culprit in many labs is the fume hood. Because this piece of dedicated lab equipment vents air to the outdoors, it also whisks away that carefully cleaned and cooled (or heated) air from the HVAC system. Fume hoods themselves also take energy to operate—as much as three residential home energy systems, in fact. You can therefore save energy on both your HVAC system and your fume hood by training lab workers to always close the sash when the fume hood is not in use.

Factoring in the Human Element

As noted above, tackling energy savings is often related to addressing the attitudes and practices of lab technicians. For example, you can save up to thirty percent on the energy bill for your ultra-low temperature freezer by upping the thermostat by just ten degrees, but you may first have to address your researchers’ fears of sample damage. Teaching techs to use task lighting, and to turn out the lights at the end of the day, may seem insignificant, but it can reap major rewards when the energy bill arrives each month.

It’s also true that you often have to invest in your energy savings up-front, during the laboratory design process. When considering the cost of a lab design or retrofit, you may need to advocate for a more expensive, air-monitoring HVAC system in order to save energy costs in the long run. You should also invest in dedicated lab furniture that fully supports your lab equipment and allows it to run most efficiently. Our MS lab benches filter out vacuum pump noise, making for a quieter and safer lab, take up thirty percent less space and can even help with your HVAC costs in your new lab design. To learn more about integrating our dedicated lab furniture into your new laboratory design, contact us for a free quote today.

 

 

Lab Design with Soundproofing in Mind

Sometimes lab QuietBench_Shh1design and lab safety go hand in hand. This is especially true with noise. While dedicated lab furniture contributes to noise reduction, as we talk about often, so can lab design when it comes to soundproofing.

After all, it can be just as difficult to focus on your experiments when you’re able to hear instrument noises and voices from an adjoining lab coming through the walls, as it is if the sound is emanating from an unenclosed vacuum pump beneath the mass spectrometer you are using. As we often point out, it is critical to create a quiet lab environment for safety and the sake of the work being conducted.

Understanding Wall Design and Soundproofing

Many people think that insulation is the only variable that matters when it comes to soundproofing a wall. This is not the case, however. To understand why, we need to remember two basic physics lessons.

The first is that sound travels more easily through connected materials (aka “structural paths”) than it does through empty space. This matters because conventional or “standard” walls are constructed by nailing drywall to either side of a single row of studs. As a result, sound travels from the drywall on one side, through the stud, and out through the drywall on the other side—thus easily transmitting sound through the wall, from one room to another.

The second physics lesson tells us that the empty spaces between sections of drywall and the spaces between studs also transmit sound—although not as much as a structural path. This is why many lab designs incorporate insulation into those empty spaces between the walls. But insulation is usually insufficient because it’s just filling in the holes between the structural paths, which remain in place.

Laboratory Design with Soundproofing in Mind

A common solution in the past has been to add more insulation, creating thicker walls but not solving the problem because the structural paths remain, transmitting sound between rooms.

One of the newer solutions to come along in lab design is the idea of a staggered-stud or decoupled wall. In this case, two sets of studs are offset, and drywall is only nailed to one side of each stud. This allows for a continuous band of insulation to be woven between the studs within the wall. Since there is no structural path all the way through the wall, this approach provides a demonstrable positive effect in reducing noise transmission between different labs.

Not All Sound Travels the Same

Unfortunately, not all frequencies of sound are equally baffled by these methods. Insulation, for example, has a more positive effect reducing middle- and high-frequency sounds, but less of an effect on low-frequency sounds. As a result, additional barriers to sound should be incorporated into your laboratory design—like our MS Bench.

With its integrated vacuum pump enclosure, this dedicated lab furniture provides a 75 percent reduction in noise, with a guaranteed sound suppression of 15 dBA. By integrating our benches for mass spectrometers into your new lab design, you will create an additional sound barrier. Coupled with the insulation of modern staggered-stud walls, our dedicated lab furniture ensures that your new lab is as quiet as possible, with no sound carryover from mass spectrometry research taking place in adjacent rooms.

New lab design should always incorporate the results of proven research, whether it involves structural advancements, instrumental improvements, software or even furnishings. Dedicated lab furniture is worth the investment in a quieter lab; request a quote today to learn more.

 

Keeping Tabs on Trends in Laboratory Design

QuietBench DesignDesigning a new lab is an exciting adventure. Innovation is a constant in modern labs, so lab design must keep pace. Whether you’re constructing a new laboratory from scratch or transforming existing facilities, your design must take many things into account, from work styles and collaboration to building security, safety, and even the furniture used by different researchers.

Here are some of the latest trends in new laboratory design projects.

Getting Together

Long gone are the days when investigators labored away in solitude. Today, collaboration is the name of the game. This means you need to create “social buildings” that foster connection, with meeting spaces and break rooms where researchers can socialize.

While this once might have been a foreign concept—perhaps even anathema to managers who were afraid that researchers would not get as much work done—today we understand that successful scientists need to learn from what others are doing. Even a pair of window seats in an atrium can provide just the place for bouncing ideas off of each other.

Collaborating over research also means creating labs that allow entire teams to work together. For lab design professionals, interdisciplinary research units require attention to new kinds of concepts, including flow and circulation patterns of researchers. Offering group-based offices and write-up spaces also provides enhanced opportunities for the team to move forward.

Another way researchers are getting together is through “open” rather than “closed” laboratory layouts. This means creating a laboratory design that allows researchers to share dedicated lab furniture, equipment, and support staff, as well as space. When offices are moved over to one side, meetings can take place while others are working in the lab space itself. While not every type of research—or researcher—can handle such an open-concept workspace, most lab designs are no longer created around the constellation of a single principle investigator.

Preparing for Change

Of course, all this innovation and collaboration can result in a higher rate of change, which means laboratory design must be more flexible than ever. Whether the goal is easy expansion, being able to accommodate new equipment, or efficiently changing configurations in order to accomplish new tasks, labs are increasingly being designed for maximum adaptability.

As a result, they tend to be more generic, with flexible engineering systems (to address evolving safety issues), equipment zones that can be modified during the build-out phase (to keep pace with change in a typical three-year building process), and mobile dedicated lab furniture that can easily be transferred from one lab to another.

High-quality bench space is also critical in any lab design, because modern experiments are equipment-intensive. Safely stacking both equipment and supplies requires high ceilings and flexible shelving, while safely operating that equipment requires good lighting and attention to appropriate sprinkler system coverage.

Lab Design with the Computer in Mind

The pace of change in modern labs is due in large part to the exponential growth in computer usage. Thus any laboratory design must incorporate the use of technology. Building-wide wiring and cabling provide for collaboration, but must also retain sufficient flexibility to allow for configuration changes within individual labs. Virtual labs are also becoming more common. Whether you’re using telerobotics or virtual reality, modern lab design must be prepared to accommodate those evolving needs.

Within individual labs, specialized benches and workstations must maintain ergonomic standards even as they also support heavy and technologically sophisticated equipment. Dedicated lab benches such as ours include lockable hardware enclosures, monitor arms, and keyboard drawers to accommodate the technological needs of the modern lab.

Integrating Dedicated Lab Furniture into Your New Lab Design

Naturally, we’re keeping an eye on these lab design trends, because our goal is to create lab benches that will meet the need of any modern laboratory design now and in the future. And because IonBench lab benches reduce lab mass spectrometry noise, they also foster better communication and collaboration within the lab. To find out how our dedicated lab furniture can meet your lab’s needs, contact us today.