Sustainable Lab Design

In today’s ecologically-minded society, sustainability has become one of the top concerns of companies across the globe—laboratory facilities included. In most cases, the extra costs attributed to purchasing and installing sustainable components will eventually be absorbed by the savings from reduced energy costs.¹ From the first steps of design planning through long-term operation, here are a few elements you can incorporate to create an efficient, sustainable laboratory.

Appropriate, Properly-Functioning HVAC Systems

While it may seem like a better idea to have too large a component than too small a component during planning, an over-sized HVAC system can mean you’re paying energy costs for more than your lab really requires. Because ventilation and appropriate temperature are important aspects to consider in laboratory design, it’s important to really consider what is appropriate for your laboratory size and setup. Proper planning and regular maintenance will improve overall efficiency and sustainability.

Fume Hood Efficiency

An inefficient fume hood is another drain on energy and lab function. To ensure that your fume hood, ventilation systems, and lab output quality are long-lasting, it’s important to install high-quality fume hoods that function at optimal (or near-optimal) efficiency and are designed to last. In addition to being more sustainable, a good fume hood supports quality R&D results.

Water Usage

Taking steps to conserve water wherever possible is another way to lower costs and reduce your lab’s ecological footprint. Beyond simply trying to reduce overall water usage by implementing various best practices, there are a number of other conservation options. For equipment that requires liquid cooling to function properly, try to connect the system to an existing cooling system, if possible. You can also process your lab’s wastewater for use in cooling and other systems that don’t come in direct contact with materials.²

Sustainable Lab Design

Efficient Lighting

Reduce electricity usage by employing energy-saving technology and architectural design. One of the easiest ways to reduce the need for electric lighting is to employ the practice of “daylighting” and use appropriate windows to increase the availability of natural light, as is reasonable based on the building’s exposure, geographic location, specialized lab needs, etc.

When selecting lab-appropriate windows, it’s also important to opt for models with the right properties and glazing to keep the lab’s heating and cooling efficient.

Other solutions include the use of CFL or LED bulbs and installing automated lighting systems that can turn off automatically when the lab is already well-lit by daylight or not in use.

Waste Reduction and Management

It’s also important to design your lab with good waste stream management from the very beginning. A sustainable lab design will make it easy to reuse and recycle materials as needed, as well as dispose of waste properly and efficiently without risk of pollution. By combining easy access to appropriate disposal with waste management best practices and regular monitoring, your lab can continue to function for years to come without expanding its ecological impact.

Make Your Lab Resilient with Equipment and Lab Planning Services from Genie Scientific

At Genie Scientific, we aim to help our customers create the best possible laboratory to suit their needs, all while keeping responsible building practices and sustainability at the heart of the project. With the help of our professional lab planning experts and high-efficiency fume hoods, you can design an ecologically friendly, sustainable, cost-saving laboratory to meet all your R&D needs.

To learn more about our laboratory planning services, custom fume hoods, and long-lasting lab furniture, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.

Sources

1. https://www.rdmag.com/article/2014/06/sustainable-laboratory-design-and-construction-sustainability-basics-and-design

2. http://lsdm.ucop.edu/sections/water-conservation-recovery-and-recycling

How Do You Know When to Upgrade Your Fume Hood?

Older lab equipment doesn’t last forever. Equipment typically gets replaced every now and then or when something breaks. It’s easy to look at a big machine or a counter top and think it was built like a truck, but this is erroneous and dangerous, especially when it comes to fume hoods. A recent survey of laboratories showed that roughly one-fifth of them were going to replace their fume hood; a whopping one-third of those replacements were due to old age!

If you’ve recently completed a safety checklist but aren’t sure if the issues you found require the equipment to be replaced, use this guide to keep your lab safe.

Failed Safety Tests

Upgrading your custom fume hood isn’t just about getting a new shiny piece of equipment. It’s all about keeping you safe. The moment you realize your fume hood isn’t doing enough to keep you safe is when you should look into a replacement.

A big red flag is if your hood fails to pass its annual filtration test but the filters are new or in good condition. This sometimes happens due to other variables, but, more than likely, it’s your 30-year-old fume hood breaking down. The fact of the matter is that older fume hoods don’t have the technological or safety features modern-day hoods have.

Material Degradation

Material degradation is another reason to replace a fume hood. Obvious signs of this include discoloration of the material inside the hood, etches or scratches, or fogging of the windows that can’t be (or isn’t easily) cleaned off.

If the interior doesn’t physically look like it’s made of one material throughout, then its structure may be weakened and becoming unsafe. This can get bad enough to the point where the internal parts of the hood start degrading and corroding.

One sign of this is a loud fan that makes noises or inconsistent spinning speeds. These signs are due to prolonged exposure to chemicals, in general, or an exposure to a wide variety of chemicals that older hoods were not designed to handle.

Old Age

Replacing something by virtue of its being old may seem like an unimportant condition and a bit like excessive spending, but it’s important to note how much technology has changed over the last few decades. Older fume hoods don’t keep pace with newer chemical applications.

Laboratory space is at a premium; you may need more time or space with your fume hood than you can feasibly get with your current setup. If you’ve hired on more staff or are running more experiments, the hoods you have may not be able to keep up.

Older hood hardware can be an issue, too. It may be too expensive to upgrade, too difficult to adjust, or simply impossible to bring up to code. It will degrade faster if you’re using the hood with chemicals it wasn’t designed for. Using these chemicals can create buildup on the viewing glass, scratch and corrode the interior, and corrode the internal parts of the hood and ducts.

Material Degradation

This can all lead to the hood not working as intended or potentially breaking completely in the middle of an experiment.

Need to replace your fume hood? Genie Scientific offers a broad range of hoods to serve many laboratory needs. Shop for parts, hoods, supplies, and more right from your laboratory, now, by browsing our extensive catalog located on our website.

 

Things to Consider When Purchasing Lab Furniture and Equipment

There are several different things you need to consider when you are purchasing lab furniture and equipment for a new or existing lab. Unlike traditional office-type furniture and equipment, which is not resistant to chemicals, spills, and other materials you use in a lab environment, the furniture and equipment you select will need to be durable and meet the demands of your type of work.

Aside from the various demands the equipment and furniture will have to withstand, the next things to consider are both your current and future needs. Just because you are doing one type of work today, this does not mean your lab’s objectives and work will not change in the future. Take a moment to brainstorm with your staff to consider the potential future needs so you select the most appropriate pieces.

Now that you have a general idea of your current and future equipment and furniture needs, you are ready for the next step: deciding how the furniture and equipment are going to fit into the space you have available. It would be unfortunate to order and install a huge lab workbench and not have room for other vital equipment and furniture.

The best way to ensure all of the new equipment and furniture will fit correctly is take measurements. A good rule of thumb is to measure everything twice and have someone also take the measurements twice to guarantee they are correct. Even being off an inch or two could affect the whole layout of the lab and how pieces are going to fit.

Laboratory Cabinets

Secondary Considerations

In addition to the above, there are several other specific and secondary considerations you should take into account, as follows:

•    Aesthetics – The general appearance of the lab is sometimes important in certain environments, so you will want the pieces to complement each other and not look out of place.
•    Warranty – Ask the manufacturer or supplier to provide you with a copy of the warranty terms and conditions ahead of time so you can understand what is covered, what will void the warranty, and other such details.
•    Ergonomics – You need to verify the equipment and furniture provide good ergonomics for your employees. You do not want them hunched over a table or not be able to sit or stand correctly, as this can lead to accidents and injuries.
•    Unique Uses – Are there any special functions the equipment or furniture will need to provide which could be of benefit to your lab? For instance, pullout drawers or shelves underneath a lab table could be beneficial and provide extra storage areas and work surface extensions.
•    Price – Price should never be your first consideration. If you are only replacing a few pieces, then the price is not always a big concern. On the other hand, for entire lab setups, then prices should be considered, using various analysis tools like the return on investment, the total cost of ownership, and the total benefits of ownership.

For assistance in selecting the right furniture and equipment for your lab, lab planning, and installation, please feel free to call Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Airflow Requirements for Laboratories

Part of lab planning and design is including the proper equipment, hoods, tables, benches, cabinets, and other such items that will be needed to perform the desired work. Whether you are part of the design team or leading the project, one rather important aspect you need to remember is the lab will have to meet various state and federal regulations and requirements.

It is important to find out what these are for your type of lab environment to ensure it is designed correctly with sufficient ventilation and plenty of vent/exhaust hoods. Unfortunately, each regulatory agency has their own recommendations, requirements, or regulations depending on the specifics of the environment. In regards to air changes per hour (ACH), which is the number of times per hour the air in the entire lab is replaced with fresh air, they vary from one agency to the next.

American National Standards Institute/American Industrial Hygiene Association (ANSI/AIHA)

This agency does not have a specific requirement for airflows, but rather a generalized recommendation, which is between 4 ACH and 10 ACH, based upon the needs of the lab environment. ANSI/AIHA does not provide any strict requirements for airflow because the standards and conditions of each lab can and does vary, so each lab must determine the appropriate design for proper ventilation.

U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The only standard requirement this agency prescribes is in cases where chemicals are present. The standard simply states exhaust, fume, and vent hoods will be run continuously while chemicals are present.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA also has a broad recommendation for airflow rates that range from 4 ACH to 12 ACH and only provides a generalized recommendation on adequate airflow rates. Their recommendation does mention that ventilation should not be solely relied upon for protection when working with toxic substances being released into the lab’s air.

Safety and Health Administration

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

This agency is the one most people refer to when establishing standards for proper ventilation and indoor air quality. When it comes to labs, there is some ambiguity about the recommended ACH. For instance, the recommendation refers to “educational science labs” but not laboratory work environments.

Previously, there were two different listings, one for science labs and another for educational facilities. Currently, the recommend ACH for educational science labs is 1.2 ACH. In the previous versions, from 2006 and earlier, the recommend airflow rate for science labs was 6 ACH.

AHRAE also publishes specific books that are used by the HVAC industry. Within these are specific chapters that contain minimum recommend airflow rates for laboratory environments. For environments where animals are not present, the current minimum is 8 ACH, with a maximum of 12 ACH. In cases where animals are present in the lab, a minimum of 10 ACH and a maximum of 15 ACH is recommended.

As you can see, each agency has different recommendations without any currently mandatory regulations. It is your responsibility to determine the most appropriate ACH for your lab to help keep your employees safe. For assistance with planning, design, and lab furniture, hoods, and accessories, please feel free to contact Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Laboratory Chemical Fume Hood Safety: Good Housekeeping Tips

Chemical fume hood workstations are designed to help vent airborne particles out of the laboratory and through ductwork and exhaust vents. The overall effectiveness and venting capabilities of the hood are affected by various workplace and general housekeeping practices.

Before starting tests, experiments, or other such work that requires the use of chemical fume hoods, take the time to verify the following good work practices are put into place and are used at all times.

1.    Organize the workspace and bench top. Larger equipment should be placed in the back, with progressively smaller items placed in front of one another, for easier access.

2.    Keep all glass items and containers full of chemicals away from the front of the workstation. Store these items toward the back or in a cabinet or drawer underneath the bench.

3.    Leave plenty of space to perform work processes safely. If you are having to reach over items or find the space too cramped, then your workstation is not set up correctly.

4.    Never reuse disposable items. Most disposable products are designed for single-use applications and should be discarded immediately afterward.

5.    Discard disposable items in the correct disposal containers. Your lab should have multiple waste containers for various items, and each should be labeled for what items/materials can be placed inside.

6.    Inspect glass items for any chips, cracks, or damage prior to using. Discard damaged items promptly.

7.    Verify all containers are properly labeled. If you find any containers without labels, remove them from the workbench. Your lab could set up a specific area to place unknown containers filled with chemicals and other materials.

8.    Make sure access to showers, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment is easily accessible. If there is equipment or other clutter in the way of these items, clean up the area.

9.    Test the fume hood to verify it is working correctly. Turn on the hood and make sure airflow is flowing correctly using various testing methods.

10.    Confirm the average face velocity on the hood is sufficient for the chemicals/materials you will be working with. There should be a certification sticker somewhere on the side or above the hood sash with this information. For general purposes, fume hoods are normally set to a velocity of 115 fpm (feet per minutes).

11.    Raise bulky equipment an inch or two of the workbench surface. This allows air to flow underneath items, such as hot plates, and helps increase the effectiveness of the fume hood.

12.    Verify all panels, baffles, and sashes are in their proper places before starting work. If any of these items are missing or not working correctly, do not use the hood.

13.    Once you start working, make sure to clean up spills, powders, and other materials promptly to avoid chemical reactions.

 

Laboratory Chemical Fume Hood Safety

By following these good housekeeping tips, not only do you keep your workspace clean and organized, but you also lower the risks of causing accidents. For all of your fume and exhaust hoods and laboratory furniture needs, contact Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today.

This Earth Day There Will Be a Science March on Washington

With the recent shifting winds in politics, the notion of activism has begun to spread into more generalized territory; the Women’s March, a Day Without Immigrants, a Day Without a Woman, and other widespread events have already played their parts. On April 22nd, 2017—Earth Day—scientists and science supporters from all regions of the political spectrum will raise their own voices in a march on Washington.

A Nonpartisan Event Born Online and Spread Through Social Media

The initial idea of holding a science-based march on the nation’s capital was first floated on discussion site Reddit. The idea gathered momentum quickly, eventually leading to the creation of an official website, Facebook group, and Twitter account. From there, support for the march has continued to grow into a proper, organized event.

The march is intended to be a completely nonpartisan event, with scientists, educators, parents, and other science-supporting Americans hailing from all sides of politics. Though there are certainly some aspects of science that have been embraced by certain groups and parties more than others, the march and its tenets are not aimed at any particular political leaning. Science, of course, belongs to everyone (and, by the same token, can face attacks from anyone).

Why a Science March?

Recent concerns about the fate of the EPA, the nation’s energy policies, plans to address climate change, etc. have culminated in a very real desire for science to play a larger role in informing U.S. policy. “Publicly funded and publicly communicated science,” the group’s website holds, is a “pillar of human freedom and democracy.”

Perhaps the simplest, most all-encompassing concern of the science march is that of creating an understanding of empirical evidence, statistical significance, reproducibility, peer review, the scientific method, and other basic concepts that make proper research reliable and repeatable.

Detractors of the march have argued that the event is an overreach, as science is apolitical. However, it is because science is inherently apolitical that others support the march; by supporting the basis of empirical evidence-based policy, say supporters, the U.S. can avoid the manipulation of science concepts for the benefit of a particular political bent.

The planned science march is expected to make an impact on both the science community and the global community at large, in that it’s one of few public outcries the U.S. science community has made in modern history. The mere organization of this event has signified to the world that Americans are not deaf to science, and that thousands of science professionals and private citizens feel strongly about its value as a public good.

Genie Scientific Strives to Meet Your Research Needs

In the search for empirical scientific evidence, it’s of the utmost importance that your research laboratory is properly outfitted for efficient, reliable function. Genie Scientific provides industry and academic customers with top quality fume hoods, laboratory benches, cabinetry, powder-coated steel furniture, and more. Plus, our professional lab planning specialists work one-on-one with client teams to make sure that the final design passes all regulations and meets the needs of laboratory staff.

To learn more about Genie Scientific’s custom laboratory equipment and/or lab planning services, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.

Everything You Should Know About Fume Hood Operation

Like any other piece of laboratory equipment, it’s important that everyone in your laboratory knows how to properly operate your fume hood. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most important things lab staff need to know about using a fume hood.

1. Know What Your Fume Hood Is For
Fume hoods aren’t one-size-fits-all pieces of equipment—you always need to make sure that the protection needs for your work match up with the type of fume hood you are using. A carbon-filtered fume hood pulls contaminated air through the filters, then recirculates the clean air into the room, thereby protecting only lab personnel. A laminar flow hood, by comparison, protects only the product, while a biological safety cabinet protects both the product and the personnel.

2. Never Operate a Fume Hood Without Appropriate Training
Though it might seem simple enough to use in concept, it’s important that all who use the fume hood are appropriately trained in its use and safety requirements. It’s not only a laboratory best practice, it’s also the best way to make sure no one is injured in a related accident.

3. Always Know What You’re Working with (and Have the MSDS Nearby)
Even with the protective benefit of the hood, it’s an important best practice to always know which chemicals you’re working with, as well as their risks and potential interactions. Be sure to keep the appropriate MSDS nearby for easy reference.

4. Keep the Sash Closed When the Hood Is Not in Use
Just like Mom always said, close it/put it away when you’re not using it. Not only does this ensure the safety of everyone working in the lab, but it also prevents excess energy expenditure. In laboratories using a variable air volume system with sash sensors that adjust the volumetric flow of air, a great deal of energy and money can be saved by lowering the sash and reducing the volume of air flow.

5. Fume Hoods Are Not for Storage
It should go without saying, but nothing should ever be stored inside a fume hood when it’s not in use. This is a common error in labs that don’t have sufficient storage space, but keeping chemicals and equipment inside an unused fume hood can lead to spills, equipment damage, and more. If you need more storage, consider investing in a new set of Genie Scientific steel storage cabinets.

Get a Genie Scientific Custom Fume Hood to Suit Your Needs

For a high-quality, reliable fume hood designed specifically to fit your laboratory’s functions, turn to Genie Scientific. For three decades, we’ve been building and installing custom UL Listed and ASHRAE 110 tested fume hoods with a broad variety of features. From floor-mounted walk-in fume hoods to explosion-proof materials and convenient bench tops, each of our hoods is built to last through experiment after experiment.

To learn more about Genie Scientific fume hoods and other custom laboratory fixtures, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.

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