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Abbotsford CL3 Laboratory - The Challenge of Adding and Integrating a New CL3 Laboratory Into an Existing Diagnostic Laboratory Facility

R.A. (Bob) Henry, RPT (Eng), and Wilfred Lach, , Stantec Consulting Ltd.

The current need to provide suitable facilities for the investigation of Risk Group 3 pathogens creates significant challenges for a non-containment facility. This poster will illustrate a unique case study, The Abbotsford CL3 Laboratory, that demonstrates the challenges and strategies undertaken to add a Level 3 bio-containment laboratory to an existing diagnostic facility.

The lab is designed to Canadian Containment Guidelines and Standards, which define strict design, physical and operational requirements. The design submission includes a checklist, issued by the regulating agency, to be completed by the designers and users, serving for the Agency design review and as the basis for the inspection for certification.

The lab is a diagnostic facility serving the agricultural community, encountering highly pathogenic Avian Influenza, West Nile Virus, and TSE Prion diseases. The lab is positioned to address outbreak situations and is to consider emerging pathogens. Canadian regulations require effluent sterilization systems for the secondary effluent from sinks, showers, toilets, and autoclaves.

The challenges encountered with development of the lab include the following:

  • Incorporating CL3 laboratory environments into an existing non-containment facility.
  • Users definition of operating procedures.
  • Development of a process flow diagram to detail specimen, sample, and people flow in the facility.
  • Regulatory authority definition to determine separation between farm and lab protocols.
  • CL-3 Lab location for integration with existing lab areas and processes.
  • Prion disease agents in the sampling process, lab and secondary effluent sterilization system.
  • Air quality in rural environment and treatment for use in laboratory environment.
  • Exhaust dispersion modeling with respect to existing and new exhaust sources and intake receptors, dilution requirements.

Success of the lab development is in the detail, demanding enthusiasm and dedication from the users, the Government Building Corporation, the regulatory agencies and the designers.

Labs21 Connection:

Unique/noteworthy aspects of this case study include:

  • Incorporating the benefits of an integrated design approach including participation of regulatory agencies (CFIA in Canada), owners technical advisory team, commissioning agent, laboratory user group to minimize risks and ensure a successful outcome.
  • The development and use of a blended sustainable design worksheet combining LEED®, Labs21, and Green Guidelines for Health Care to target LEED certification.
  • Harnessing local natural resources to support the laboratory environment including the study of geothermal energy for building process heating and cooling.
  • Introduction of waste management systems to prevent the release of organisms (including non-indigenous pathogens) presenting serious risk to individuals and local economic systems.
  • Development of a design checklist to track conformance to regulatory documents including: Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), with responsibility for human pathogens and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with responsibility for animal pathogens.
  • Comparable regulatory documents include: The World Health Organization Laboratory Biosafety Manual, the U.S. Biosafety in Microbiological & Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL). The PHAC Guidelines correspond to the CDC/NIH BMBL publication for BSL-1 to BSL-4. The CFIA standards address the ABSL-1 to ABSL-4 and the U.S.D.A Publication 242.1M-ARS.


Bob Henry is a senior HVAC designer with more than 40 years experience in building mechanical systems design and project administration as an engineering consultant for multi-unit residential, commercial, recreational, institutional and industrial facilities. He is responsible for establishing the definition of project scope, providing the experience base and guidance for detailed design, drafting, and preparation of contract documents by engineering and technical personnel. Bob's approach to projects is to define the project requirements in cooperation with the users, develop the solutions for approval by the client, and work with the engineering team to ensure that the contract documents reflect the direction and cost constraints required for the facility construction.

Bob Henry's education includes:

  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Edmonton, Alberta, Diploma, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, 1965.
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary, Alberta, Mathematics of Finance, Statistics (Continuing Ed), 1977.
  • Health Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Ontario, Containment Level 3: Design and Operation Certificate of Training, 2003.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Ontario, Operational and Design Considerations for Working with Large Animals in Containment Level 3 Facilities, 2003.

Wilfred Lach is a Principal at Stantec and has been actively involved in the design, contract documentation, and contract administration of research, healthcare, education, civic, and commercial projects for the past 20 years. In recent years his interest and work have been focused on research facilities for public and private organizations. He is a regular attendee at conferences on laboratory design including the 2003 CALAS Symposium, 2002 PITTCON Conference, and the 2002 Cahner's Lab Design Conference. He is currently engaged in preparation as a LEED Registered Professional. He is also active in Construction Specifications Canada.

Wildred's education includes a Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a Master of Architecture, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1983

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