Lab Environmental Controls

Sustainable Design and Operation

Research labs often use a large amount of outdoor air requiring a considerable amount of energy. This is driven by requirements to safeguard researchers and their work with 24/7 operation.

The benefits for customers of a smart lab design must include:

  • Researcher Safety – local and remote display of critical information
  • Room Pressurisation – correct airflow direction generally from clean to less clean spaces
  • Ventilation – correct air change rates and circulation
  • Comfort – temperature and relative humidity control

For more flexibility and efficiency in lab ventilation design, consider decoupling thermal and airflow control requirements with fan coil units or hydronic chilled beams. Also consider a diversity factor to downsize mechanical equipment.


Before considering control strategies, designers must first understand the types of devices that can be used for control and monitoring airflow at the zone level.

We have found the Phoenix Accel II venturi valve to be the best device available for airflow control. This durable valve has a mechanical pressure-independent cone and spring assembly that adjusts and compensates for fluctuations of duct static in under one second. The assembly moves in and out of the venturi orifice – increasing and decreasing the airflow in a very predictable manner.

Rather than measuring airflow directly the Phoenix valve meters airflow. Learn more

Fume Cupboards

A key component in many research laboratories is the fume cupboard. Selecting and maintaining proper face velocity at the fume cupboard particularly on a manifold exhaust can be a challenge for most control systems. The consequences of incorrect face velocity can lead to unsafe conditions with loss of containment when face velocity is too low and energy waste when face velocity is too high.  Learn more

Energy Savings

With precise variable volume control, many labs can often run safely down to two or three air changes per hour of outdoor air in operation.

98% of the time air quality is clean. It’s only a small amount of time that you actually need to increase airflow to purge the lab and keep it clean.

Lab personnel’s safety is enhanced by ensuring that air quality adheres to strict safety standards.

Continuous monitoring of the lab environment provides data on air quality 24/7.

Multiplex sensing technology: Reproduced with permission from Aircuity Inc.

Further Reading

International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories I2SL – an Australian Chapter is coming soon.

ASHRAE Laboratory Design, 2ND ED. Best practise guidance to reducing your lab energy’s footprint.