When the economy was rolling, constructing a high technology building with all the bells and whistles was commonplace. In today’s age of tight belts and clamped wallets, however, newly constructed cleanroom space may be financially unattainable for many facilities.
A renovation project at Duke University has demonstrated that conventional office space can be converted into clean laboratory space with complicated high technology needs. All it takes is a good plan, and upfront and creative thinking from an integrated team.
Duke University was looking to add current Good Tissue Practice (cGTP) manufacturing space with a Class 7 (10,000) cleanroom in its CT2 facility. The ninth floor of the North Pavilion building had available space, but was a sea of open office cubicles. The solution: Part with the cubicles and place the cleanroom on that floor, which was close to the roof and allowed for direct access to a new, dedicated air handling unit.
For utilities, carbon dioxide gas was needed to serve the incubators. To keep the tank farm footprint to a minimum, liquid carbon dioxide was used in place of multiple gas tanks. The carbon dioxide was connected at the ceiling with quick disconnects to limit areas for particles to build up. The walls were smooth and free of any services except the power and electrical wire mold.
A tight seal
Pressure differential is critical for the CT2 suite. Within the cleanrooms, the air recirculates through ultra low penetration air (ULPA) filters every two minutes. The metal stud/drywall wall construction methods were modified to carefully seal the space tightly.
Silicone sealant was used extensively at corners, from stud to drywall face and at the floors and deck above. Any potential location for air to travel at seams and openings was sealed.
Dashboard overview allows for on-the-fly business case adjustments. Figures: Perkins+Will
The 18 gauge metal studs provide a stiffer structure with less movement and are spaced 12 in on center. This provides for a more rigid construction that creates an airtight seal.
Aluminum flashing was installed at all corners to receive sealant. This reinforced the corner condition and provided a surface to apply the sealant.
All existing and new penetrations in the walls above the plenum space were detailed with flashing, sealant, backer rods, and Acrovyn (Construction Specialties). Special consideration was given to the existing ducts. Portions of the wrapped insulation were removed and replaced with rigid insulation to provide a surface to which the new walls could be sealed.
Multiple dashboard inputs allow for a greater understanding of long-term operating costs.
All wall outlets were sealed with sealant or neoprene gaskets. A majority of leaks are typically found in these areas, including the actual opening into which a device is plugged.
In essence, the space was constructed to be airtight. During commissioning, the door sweeps were raised to allow for airflow, as the space was constructed too tightly. This allowed the air balancing to be done without increasing operating costs by running the AHU at higher speeds.
This state-of-the-art CT2 facility provides the opportunity to find cures and heal those in need, while occupying space in an office building.
Securing funds for a large scale project is always one of the top priorities in the planning process. For the CT2 facility, the budget was very limited, even with funds provided by a donor. Other potential locations for the projects would have been over budget. By leveraging existing space, the project costs were within the range needed for the projects to go forward.
The dashboard advantage
When considering choices through the design and budgeting process, an interactive visual tool or dashboard can be used to help realize cost drivers and benefits, and assist teams in making decisions and achieving consensus in real time. As questions and challenges are raised, the team can make adjustments to the dashboard and immediately see the effects. In the long run, it may be the operating cost, not the construction cost, that is the driver for the project. These decisions need to be determined early and receive buy-in from the team.
In the Duke University North Pavilion office building, a cGTP cleanroom suite was created in a former cubicle farm space. Here, a clean corridor features views to the campus on the left. Photos: Mark Herbet
For the Duke case, the team had the choice of selecting a stick-built cleanroom system versus a pre-manufactured one. Through the use of the dashboard, the team could see how the stick-built design option was not the most economical choice. The cost upfront was less, but once the expense of the special architectural sealing details and yearly maintenance costs was factored in, the pre-manufactured option was more economical in the long term. Ultimately, the stick-built approach was selected.
Perkins+Will Planning + Strategies group customizes the dashboard for each project. It can be used with Microsoft PowerPoint and gives the facility owner the ability to drive the software on their own. Values can be modified to show how the cost affects the bottom line and the overall cost of the project. If a team member identifies another fee, they can add it in with the other expenses.
The materials prep lab includes incubators with quick carbon dioxide disconnects on the right.
With multiple charts and graphs to visualize the impacts, team members are able to understand the results. Multiple scenarios can also be pre-loaded to show the team what options they will have and help them come to a consensus on the final outcome. More importantly, the team will have full understanding of the process and control of the decision making at each step of the project. In many cases, this can be almost as important as the final cost.
Mark Paskanik is a project manager and laboratory planner. He has diverse design experience across a range of lab environments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Controlled Environment.