Skip to main content Skip to main content

Vivarium Designs, Trends, Benchmarks and Sustainable Elements

Jeffrey L. Heiken and John D. Neilson, Kling


This presentation will identify strategies and solutions for animal facilities in university, governmental, and private industry settings that promote sustainable design. We will examine a series of recent projects and highlight features of lab plan layout and system support. Optimization of room sizing will be benchmarked through the various owner types (utilizing approximately 10 recent vivarium designs taken evenly from the 3 different owner types) with a demonstration of different floor plan metrics, and material selections that promote operational energy and space efficiencies. An emphasis on sustainable design issues and unique features sensitive to the specialized vivarium environment will be featured, with a perspective of the Architectural Engineering and owners view on LEED™ point system. Items and systems such as cage washing robotics, chemical digesters, ventilated racks, and interstitial space will be highlighted as sustainable elements due to their impact on the operational function of the modern vivarium.


We hope to present a cross section of different vivarium owners, university, governmental, and pharmaceutical, and demonstrate some of the differences and similarities amongst the various groups. We can show from our recent and active projects, trends for corridor system type, robotic utilization, and service distribution. We further hope to demonstrate features relating to cage and rack densities in the various rooms for the various owners. Emphasis will be given toward highlighting sustainable elements within the vivarium environment. We hope to present the value seen in utilization of labor saving equipment and systems in the animal facility. System designed innovations from rack ventilation and airside balancing devices, to gray water reuse, to interstitial versus service chase mechanical spaces will be presented as 'sustainable' elements in their ability to improve operation and reduce labor.

Labs21 Connection:

We see a demonstration where the designs and features presented work to enhance the ergonomics and material selections of various modern animal holding facilities. We look to display where design implementations simultaneously incorporate building efficiency in the use of space, the different vivariums' material handling, post occupancy maintenance operations and performance tracking. Macro and micro-environmental provisions will demonstrate several innovative system approaches that serve to protect the well being of the research animals as well as the user groups and caretakers. Various energy and water conservation features will be detailed and benchmarked against the different University, governmental and private industry types of vivarium owner groups.


Jeffrey L. Heiken, P.E., is an Engineering Design Principal and head of engineering in Kling's Southeast region office in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has 17 years as a mechanical engineer working on a wide variety of research facilities. Mr. Heiken has presented on topics related to research laboratories, and animal rooms at Tradelines and Labs21 conferences. Mr. Heiken co-chairs the student activities committee for ASHRAE's Triangle chapter, and is co-chair of the legal committee for the exploratory group currently working to form a Green Building Council in Central North Carolina. Mr. Heiken holds a BS in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University.

John D. Neilson, AIA, is Director of Projects for Kling and specializes in the planning, design and construction of research facilities and vivariums. Mr. Neilson is a frequent speaker at conferences including Tradeline, AALAS, Labs21 and ISPE. His project work includes the EPA's research facility at Fort Meade, Maryland which incorporated numerous sustainable design principals.

EPA Home | OARM Home | DOE Home | FEMP Home

This page is no longer updated.
EPA gave I2SL permission to house this page as a historic record of the Labs21 Annual Conference.