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Forensic Science Laboratories: Planning & Designing for Sustainability

Wednesday, October 22

In recent years, our society has faced many challenges. Among the most significant are the protection of our citizens and the protection of our natural resources. When we talk of protecting individuals, we often refer to the study of forensic science, a field that has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, including the design and construction of modern crime laboratories. This is not surprising, given that personal safety remains one of our nation's key concerns.

The evolution of forensic science impacts not only how the work is performed, but also how the laboratories are designed and operated. Forensic science laboratories are now among the world's most technically complex facilities. The level of public interest in this field has exploded into American pop culture. (Has anybody watched the television series CSI, or read a novel by Patricia Cornwell?) What many, both in and out of the industry, are beginning to realize is that many of the best practices to meet the needs of forensic science and law enforcement happen within the laboratory.

When we talk of protecting natural resources, we often refer to sustainable design. That is, to create facilities that will endure. Facilities that will meet the needs of today, without sacrificing the next generation's ability to provide for their own needs. Sustainable design seeks to provide building occupants with a comfortable, safe and productive environment. It also strives to provide a building infrastructure that supports the laboratory function, in an energy efficient manner. When our natural resources are squandered, we all suffer the consequences.

This breakfast session explored the field of forensic science, and offered a better understanding of ways to protect both our citizens and our natural resources. Forensic laboratories were examined from the planning and design perspective to provide insight into achieving superior laboratory capability and performance, while maintaining unwavering environmental responsibility. Numerous laboratory projects, including the new Los Angeles Regional Crime Laboratory (currently under design) were referenced to help illustrate important concepts.

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