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Energy Efficient and High Performance Rodent Facility

Germain F. Rivard, DVM, Ph.D., MouseCare, Inc.

Equipment heat gain, animal heat loads and odors, as well as airborne contaminants are the limiting factors when operating a rodent facility. Barrier facilities use mainly heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) system, animal caging, and cage processing equipment to counter such factors. Costs of construction and energy consumption of ventilation, cooling plant, and plug load systems are directly related to HVAC requirements and equipment plug loads. Unfortunately, forced-fan devices in use are plug-ins that increase HVAC requirements and plug loads because they recirculate animal heat loads, generate their own heat loads, create large pressure drop, decrease ventilation efficiency, and consume a large amount of electricity (30 times more than a typical office building).

The researchers look at using single-pass ventilation for the building and room control of contaminants as well as exhaust ventilated, local exhaust devices (EV-LED) to eliminating heat loads, odors, and airborne contaminants directly at their source of generation, i.e. at animal caging and cage processing equipment levels. Choosing such energy efficient technologies could contribute to significant construction and energy consumption savings. It can

  • decrease HVAC requirements of recommended-ACH (air changes per hour) by 71 percent,
  • reduce plug load by 75 percent,
  • cut construction cost of ventilation, cooling plant, and plug load by 60 percent,
  • diminish energy consumption by 70 percent,
  • prevent the need of air balancing and moving air from clean to dirty areas,
  • avoid HEPA-filtering contaminated air, and
  • save on cleaning exhaust ducting system.

The analysis of a case study confirms these savings when using single-pass ventilation and EV-LED instead of recirculation ventilation and forced-fan equipment. Other savings would include 26 percent for acquisition costs of caging and processing equipment, 50 percent for operation costs of ventilation and husbandry, as well as a 125 percent increase of cage density.

Labs21 Connection:

The application of new contamination control strategies in lab animal industry is also consistent with the pursuit of sustainable, high performance, and low-energy animal facilities that:

  • Minimize overall environmental impacts
  • Protect occupant safety
  • Optimize whole building efficiency on a life-cycle basis

This poster shows issues related to energy consumption and summarizes key opportunities for energy efficiencies of mouse facilities. It provides opportunities to contain construction and operation costs, improve energy efficiency, and advance environmental performance of barrier facilities from a "whole building" perspective. It presents ways to reduce the HVAC requirements, the number of forced-air plug-ins, and the amount of energy required to conditioning and moving both central and local ventilation air. For example, using exclusively a motorless EV-LED caging eliminates both animal and equipment heat loads and airborne contaminants, thus lowering HVAC and energy requirements considerably. It makes possible reducing construction and operation costs of ventilation, cooling plant, and plug load systems significantly.


Dr. Germain Rivard is President of MouseCare, Inc. (MC), in Ithaca, NY. MC develops cost-effective, integrated contamination control solutions of safe, performing, energy efficient facilities and advises on rodent facility design, construction/retrofit, and operation to commercial, academic, and government research institutions worldwide.


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