Specialist contractor LJJ sheds light on the systems behind a new research facility at the leading viral disease centre.
The Pirbright Institute in Surrey is the UK’s national centre for the surveillance, control and prevention of viral diseases both of farm animals and of those that can spread from livestock to humans.
Following significant financial investment from the UK government via the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, development is under way to enhance the campus facilities.
One of these projects is a Containment Level 2 laboratory complex, for which LJJ is carrying out the M&E design and installation.
The scheme, designed by NBBJ Architects, includes the services for both 1,500 sq m of lab facilities and 1,500 sq m of office space, along with new service infrastructure works in preparation for future construction projects.
The site is on its own high-voltage power supply so the infrastructure works include an extension to the HV ring, with the addition of four new transformers.
“The lab areas will operate under negative pressure”
This will feed in to one low-voltage switch room in the new building, with two distribution boards per level for each of the two storeys.
Works to extend the services on campus also include the installation of a 500 m medium-pressure gas main, new water supply networks and an extension to the data cabling infrastructure.
Levels of containment
CL2 is a relatively low classification of containment (the highest being level four), but the project still requires a specialist M&E specification both in terms of the ventilation systems and the facilities required in the primary, support and specialist labs.
LJJ has designed a ventilation system combining class A, B and C ductwork to deliver a higher grade of ventilation capability that would be found in a standard lab, and the lab areas will operate under negative pressure.
The system is divided into two – east and west – but has been designed with future flexibility in mind so that space can be reconfigured at a later date if required.
A rooftop plant room will house supply and extract plant, with heat recovery for energy efficiency.
Air supply will enter the labs at ground and first floor level on either the east or west system.
The two systems are capable of being operated either independently or as a single ventilation system, so that the airflow can be balanced across the building in the event of a breakdown or routine maintenance.
Cryogenic and micro-bio briefs
The east and west ventilation systems are linked to the building management system to ensure they are shut down when the building is not in use.
This has been designed with a manual override to enable scientists to leave labs in ‘occupied’ mode if experiments need to be left running overnight or during a weekend.
“In the lab areas, to maintain the sealed environment, fan coil units will provide both heating and cooling”
There is also a small, standalone ventilation system for the cryogenic storage room and the ventilation strategy includes independent extract systems for each of the micro-biological safety cabinets in the labs.
In the lab areas, to maintain the sealed environment, fan coil units will provide both heating and cooling, while the office/write-up areas will be cooled by a natural ventilation system, with automated window opening linked to the BMS via temperature sensors.
Other specialist provision for the mechanical installation in the labs includes CO2 and nitrogen supplies and oxygen depletion sensors.
The lab installation also involves a purified water system and Vulcathene anti-corrosion pipework.
For the electrical installation, the building will be connected to the site’s standby generator for emergency power back-up, which, along with the Institute’s independent HV ring, provides security of electrical supply.
In addition, the cryogenics and autoclave systems will have their own isolated power supplies via dedicated distribution boards.
The lighting and small power has been designed for convenience, flexibility and energy efficiency, with underfloor busbar providing the infrastructure and dado trunking for ease of access to power outlets at desk level.
A DALI lighting system with zoned controls has been designed with manual ‘on’ switching and absence detection ‘off’, while daylight sensor controls will ensure the lumen level never falls below a minimum of 500 by switching lights on if required.
The electrical installation also includes CCTV, access control, intruder alarms and a fully programmable fire alarm system, all of which will be integrated with site-wide security to enable the new building to be monitored centrally.
Jason Burns is electrical contracts manager and John Daly is a director of operations at LJJ