A Guide to Navigating Building and Fire Codes for Laboratories: Enabling Demand-Based Ventilation and Optimized Minimum Air Changes per Hour

Craig Wray, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Chemistry laboratory ventilation primarily involves exhausting air from rooms and exposure control devices such as fume hoods to contain, dilute, and remove hazardous gases as well as to remove heat generated by processes within the lab. To replace the exhausted air, conditioned outdoor air is supplied to the spaces as make up air. The objective is to maintain acceptable air quality for occupants, to prevent fires and explosions, to maintain indoor temperatures, and to maintain desired pressure differentials between building spaces. Because the process involves moving and conditioning large volumes of air, ventilation systems are often the most energy intensive systems in a lab.

Recent changes in lab ventilation technologies have created new opportunities for conserving energy while maintaining a safe work environment. A new guide, recently prepared by the Laboratory Technology Solutions Team for DOE's Better Building Alliance, provides an overview of these opportunities and how they are related to building and fire codes generally used in the United States.

More specifically, the guide addresses safety and energy issues related to chemistry-driven lab ventilation, provides an overview of current codes and standards related to lab ventilation rates, and describes lab ventilation systems and opportunities to reduce related airflows. It then describes a process to enable airflow reductions using demand-based and optimized ventilation to ensure safe working conditions for occupants, to protect property from damage, and to do so as energy-efficiently as possible. A case study is also included to illustrate the potential energy savings from optimizing ventilation systems.

The guide is available at http://www.i2sl.org/elibrary/documents/bba_building_and_fire_codes.pdf.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify ventilation-related safety and energy issues in chemistry labs.
  • Summarize U.S. codes and standards related to lab ventilation.
  • Describe lab ventilation systems and opportunities to reduce related airflows.
  • Discuss how to enable airflow reductions using demand-based and optimized ventilation.

Biography:

Craig Wray has over 30 years of experience as a consulting engineer and scientist addressing energy, airflow, pollutant transport, and commissioning issues in buildings. At Berkeley Lab, his current efforts focus on air-handling system experiments, modeling these systems and their interactions with building components, developing related diagnostic methods, and assessing the benefits and risks of improvements. He leads the Laboratory Technology Solutions Team for DOE's Better Buildings Alliance.

 

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