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Delivering State-of-the-Art Laboratories Emerging from the Shadow of the Soviet Union

Keith R. Cockerham, PE, CUH2A

As part of a joint U.S., Host Nation, and International initiative on diagnosis and detection of diseases and threat agents worldwide, the Republics of Georgia and Uzbekistan will be building new Central Reference Laboratories for both Human Public Health and Veterinary Health for diagnostics and research, emerging from the more stagnant times following the fall of the former Soviet Union ("FSU"). The design and delivery of a state-of-the-art laboratory presents new challenges in areas of the world, such as Central Asia and the FSU nations, where familiarity with the use, design, manufacturing, and construction of even basic, let alone advanced, technologies in mechanical, electrical, controls, and building systems does not exist.

With building functions of Biosafety levels 2 and 3 and other research and diagnostic capabilities, the facilities will require strict systems performance to maintain safety, security and operational protocols. The design and procurement processes require something other than "business-as-usual." Many of the utilities we take for granted in the West, such as water, gas, steam and even electrical power, required careful evaluation to determine the source, the supply and the availability of these critical utilities.

The design team was faced with taking a look at the industry's largest "energy hog" and to balance performance with sustainability, maintainability, and energy efficiency. Additionally, the team was faced with the complexities of implementation including obtaining suitable materials and technically qualified labor. Delivery of "state-of-the-art" facilities built in regions that are not accustomed to such a level of technical advancement is challenging. In order to assure that personnel will be able to operate these new facilities, utilities and systems were selected for reliability as well as operational simplicity.

The presentation will address the design process, including

  • Developing an international—U.S. and Host Nation—design team
  • Developing a compliant design for both scientific activity and regulations
  • A case study of research and systems selection
  • The delivery of an end-product within the context of each nation's capabilities.

Labs21 Connection:

Building a state-of-the-art research facility in a politically unstable area of the world, where scientists have only worked in antiquated facilities, presents its own set of challenges, both in the construction process as well as in the operations and maintenance of the facility.


Keith Cockerham, PE, has 22 years of experience in HVAC engineering, and has been with CUH2A from 1986 through 1989, returning in 2002. Keith's experience includes all phases of engineering involving mechanical systems design and engineering management. As a project manager, Keith brings LEED™ 2.0 Certification. He is an accredited professional by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. An active member of many professional organizations, including the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), attaining his Certificate in Energy Management (CEM) in 1995, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) where he served as president of his local chapter three years ago. Keith is a 1982 graduate of Union College with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He also received an MBA in Business Administration from Rider University in 1995.


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