Tips on commissioning a lab

September 01, 2003 |

In sensitive life-science research facilities, even the tiniest alteration to the lab environment can drastically affect research results. In order to prove the accuracy of research results in a new or renovated lab facility, most companies and institutions require a commissioning process to confirm the performance of the lab. When planning for a commissioning of a facility’s structure, design, and equipment, consider the following:

Commissioning plans should start in the design phase.

It’s important for owners to review and share their commissioning requirements during the design stage of a construction project to ensure the Building Team’s plans for the facility match expectations and needs. It’s during the design stage when plans are made to develop systems that are integral to achieving the performance functions needed for research projects.

Be specific about what equipment and areas need to be commissioned.

There are several levels of commissioning, and every item in a facility can be tested through the commissioning process. Therefore, it is important to identify the specific areasand equipment items that require review, to keep costs down.

Commissioning should be conducted throughout the construction process.

Because life-science labs are so sensitive, even the smallest details, such as how windows are sealed, can affect research performance. It is important that these items be individually tested as they are completed throughout the construction process, so potential problems can be addressed before construction continues on other parts of the laboratory.

Owners need to keep everyone informed of changes in their research needs or performance requirements.

Because there are often a number of decision makers involved in the development of a lab, it can take several months for changes in research performance requirements to gain final approval. The owner must let the Building Team know of any potential changes early on, even before they’ve been through the entire approval process. In many cases, the Building Team can modify the construction schedule to work on other areas of the facility while changes are being cleared, eliminating the need later for large modifications to parts of the facility that have already been completed. BDC

Jaime Perera is VP of MEP services with McCarthy Building Cos., St. Louis.

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