Fort Collins, Colorado | Higher Education

Colorado State University Bioenvironmental Hazards Research Facility Expansion Phase III

$7.5M | 26,000 SF

Consolidation of Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) programs for containment purposes, requiring critical mechanical design strategies.

  • BSL-3 laboratory, Insectary space



The Bioenvironmental Hazards Research Facility Expansion Phase III at the Foothills Campus of Colorado State University is a state-of-the-art Bioscience Laboratory built to consolidate university programs requiring Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) containment. The 19,500-square-foot facility contains two separate BSL-3 laboratory containment suites, a full interstitial space housing mechanical and electrical lab services, and a full basement for plumbing and mechanical system access.

The mechanical design is a very critical part of the laboratory containment strategy. The exhaust air from each room is HEPA filtered, with bag-in/bag-out filter housings. N+1 redundant air-handling units for the building conditions 100% outside air, delivering constant volume supply air through pressure independent terminal boxes. Exhaust air quantities are controlled similarly, balanced to provide proper room pressure relationships.

A wind tunnel study was performed to determine optimal air intake and exhaust locations, exit velocities, and resulting exhaust air dilution levels.

A medium-pressure steam boiler was added to the Regional Biocontainment Lab (RBL) boiler plant to accommodate this building and to also interconnect to the Bioenvironmental Hazards Research Building (BHRB) and BHRB Discovery buildings. This provides steam for building heat, domestic water heating, humidification and autoclave sterilization. System reliability is maximized with redundant heat exchangers.

Cooling is provided by two redundant air-cooled screw-compressor water chillers, serving air-handling unit cooling coils.

The building’s plumbing system design is also configured to support biohazard containment.  Building-wide cross contamination control, and plumbing vent HEPA filters are some of the considerations designed into the plumbing systems. A waste pretreatment system is provided for the insectary suite. A successful approach to the three (3) insectary spaces was to use controlled environmental rooms that can sustain high humidity without mold concerns. Other plumbing services include laboratory gas services, point-of-use deionized water systems, and services to autoclaves, glass washers and sterilizers.

Electrical distribution design extends the existing 480-volt distribution provided under the RBL to this new addition. The design connects to the existing switchgear installed under the RBL to panelboards in the new addition. The facility is intended to utilize backup power from the 2 MW diesel generator located at the RBL. Distribution branch panels are designed to be centrally located outside the labs for quick access when needed.  Penetrations into all lab spaces are routed through one access panel into the room at ceiling level and sealed to ensure no cross contamination between lab suites.

A cable tray is designed for the attic space to accommodate both voice and data cabling. The cable tray design is to have distribution from the attic down to the existing telecommunications room installed in the BHRB Discovery Suite Addition. Proximity readers are provided at all lab entrances and the main entrance.

High efficiency fluorescent luminaires with electronic ballasts were mounted in the sealed interstitial space with access only from above. Most labs were designed to be lit to 100 foot-candles.

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