Facility Operations

Laboratory Standards

Overview of Design Intent

In order to provide creative and informed laboratory design, research and discovery must be at the forefront of all design considerations; lab environments must support learning new principles of science, research, and equipment operation while at the same time allowing for collaboration and education.  It is a delicate blend of controlled environmental performance and a stimulating environment for education.

There are various lab types (research VS educational) that are required on the campus and the function of each lab is unique to the discipline it supports. The University Standards address an overall philosophy on environments but it does not relieve the design team of its responsibility to incorporate these strategies into each project and tailor a solution that best meets the programmatic and design intention of each lab type.

Spaces that transform science/research and collaborative education:

  • A careful look must take place at how the lab environment contributes to student and faculty engagement and interaction to assist building a strong relationship among them.
  • Natural Daylight not only promotes energy savings but also enhances the interior environment.  When deemed appropriate for the lab type, it should be carefully integrated into laboratory spaces based on the purpose and function of that space.
  • Open sight lines, energy efficiency and benchmarking, review of equipment loads and infrastructure requirements are essential factors that must be reviewed.
  • Open layouts, integrated huddle areas, visual connections within lab and also to the expanded corridor environment.

Lab environments of the 21st Century-LABS 21 demonstrates a valued process to how laboratory environments are assessed, planned and designed to respond to the environmental responsibilities of today. It is encouraged that this intricate process of energy demand critique and response be considered in the design and planning of appropriate lab projects.  Specific performance criteria will be reviewed on a case by case basis.


Design Principles

The following design principles have been considered but should be reviewed by the stakeholders of each project and appended as appropriate:

  • Emphasis on Active Learning Lab Environments-The laboratory environment is a Hands-on Laboratory rich environment. Lab planning and design should promote group activities-Students LEARN science by DOING Science.
  • Integration of Technology-The lab environment should consider the integration of A/V to enhance the education of science based learning.  Consideration of the “instructors demonstration stations” role and location within the lab and how it is integrated with A/V that can link the instructor actively to the students
  • Scientific Collaboration -Importance of Peer Learning, Outreach Opportunities, Places for Students to Interact, Study, Eat & Drink.
  • Science on Display, Celebration of Science-Activate corridors, communicate and expand function, engage building occupants and visitors, incorporate scientific art, put Science on Display and use art as an educational opportunity.
  • Sustainability-Responsible Design & Stewardship, Educational opportunities, Project recognition and Standards, Long  term energy and cost savings (Laboratory ventilation and ACR, Fume hood exhaust systems-low volume, Heat Recovery systems, plug and equipment loads).
  • Laboratory Programming-This process should be an interactive consensus building process.  For science and research labs verify and refine prior to any pre-design work. Develop the laboratory planning module, Prepare room by room program deliverables (RDS), Establish laboratory systems criteria, Conduct benchmark comparisons.
  • Laboratory Design-Lay out options, bench preferences (fixed VS modular casework), distribution of utilities, review of laboratory/lecture flexibility, hoods and sinks (locate at perimeter to encourage open site lines and improve teaching environment) accommodation of equipment and computers.
  • Benchmarking-Data base information (Critical ratios, Informing early programming decisions, Point of reference for program validation), Net/Gross area ratio (expectations VS. goals, impact on floor size and layout, trend towards interaction spaces), Laboratory support/Lab + Laboratory support ratio (proliferation of scientific equipment, influence of faculty-student research), Laboratory density: Total Laboratory NSF/Building GSF-(Higher density results in higher costs)
  • Room Data Sheets (RDS)-Review all lab requirements including but not limited to: Room Information, Room Function, Lab Type & Classification, Room finishes, Lab Casework, Acoustics & Environmental Issues, Structural, Security, HVAC (Temp/RH, Air Flow/Changes, Air Quality), Plumbing, Gases, Electrical (Power, Emergency Power, Lighting), Communications (Tele/Data, Monitors/Alarms), Fire Protection, Equipment (Include detailed equipment list and matrix), Hood Types, Chemical Inventory List.


Lab Planning Themes

  • MODULARITY- Making laboratory design as modular as possible is in important consideration, particularly in terms of HVAC design, specialized systems and structural loading designs. This is important because, given the increasingly fast pace of change in science disciplines and techniques, flexibility to modify and improve lab settings as science evolves and changes is required
  • FLEXIBILITY – While each lab is different and many specialized features are required, it is important to plan laboratory spaces as flexibly as we can both because of the changes in science mentioned above and also because research programs ebb and flow over time. Flexibility in design enables us to allocate additional space easily, as research programs grow or shrink. Often flexible planning enables us to co-locate similar laboratory programs, which furthers scientific goals and encourages collaboration.
  • SHARED LABORATORY SUPPORT AND RELATED SPACES- Sharing of laboratory support rooms and functions is becoming increasingly common. Continuing to develop shared support spaces is critical in constraining costs, using space efficiently, and being able to provide state-of-the-art spaces. It is important that these kinds of shared spaces are planned well from the very start, so that sharing can be accommodated.
  • ACCOMMODATE STORAGE NEEDS-It is important that the storage needs for the laboratories be carefully thought out and discusses so that the highest and best use of the laboratory space can be achieved.


Design Objectives

Wet Lab

  • DESCRIPTION Wet Laboratory space types are defined as laboratories where chemicals, drugs, or other material or biological matter are tested and analyzed requiring water, direct ventilation, and specialized piped utilities. Wet Laboratory space types do not include biohazards in Levels BL-2, BL-3, and BL-4 as defined by the 2007 NIH/CDC guideline.

Wet Laboratory space types are unique in that they must accommodate simultaneous and separate ventilation and utility connections at individual lab modules to ensure both the reliability and accuracy of results as well as occupant safety throughout the space. Typical features of wet laboratory space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below.

  • AESTHETICS-Resilient surfaces are in integral part of the Wet Laboratory space type design.  Wall finishes should be discussed for durability, cleanability and appropriateness for the uses of the specific lab. It may include epoxy paint for walls and seamless, chemical resistant flooring with integral coved base.
  • FUNCTIONAL/OPERATIONAL-Consider separate lab modules that contain individually controlled connections to HVAC, utilities and safety devices.  Provide constant and reliable HVAC temperature and humidity control to ensure equipment can perform properly and that experiments produce accurate results. Evaluate Dust control requirements.  Utility connections can include vacuum, pneumatic supply, natural gas, O2 and CO2 and distilled water-fittings and connections for each planning module are to be connected to the building distribution system.
  • SECURE AND SAFE-All Laboratory spaces should contain a hand-held chemical emergency fire extinguisher in an emergency equipment cabinet. There should generally be one fire alarm pull station by each egress point and an audible and visible (strobe) alarm in each occupiable space (not including closets, storage rooms, or coat racks). Also include toxic gas monitors in each lab module and a gas storage area with audio and visual (strobe) alarms both inside and outside the lab. Eyewash and deluge shower should be located at each module quad. REFER TO EH&S STANDARDS SECTION FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.


Dry Lab

  • DESCRIPTION The Dry Laboratory space type is a laboratory space that is specific to work with dry stored materials, electronics, and/or large instruments with few piped services. The laboratories defined by this space type are analytical laboratories that may require accurate temperature and humidity control, dust control, and clean power. Dry laboratory space types are designed to accommodate project-specific work patterns and scientific equipment. As such, they tend to include design features that provide reliable working conditions in a somewhat mobile environment.
  • AESTHETICS-Static dissipative surfaces are in integral part of the Dry Laboratory space type design.  Wall finishes should be discussed for durability, cleanability and appropriateness for the uses of the specific lab. Raised access flooring with static dissipative tile may also be a discussion for equipment intensive spaces to allow for flexibility, access and support.
  • FUCTIONAL/OPERATIONAL- As some equipment and experiments are temperature- and humidity-sensitive, constant conditions are required in Dry Laboratory spaces to ensure that equipment can perform properly and that experiments produce accurate results. Just as experiments and equipment may be sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so might they be to dust and other foreign particulates.
  • PRODUCTIVE- As working conditions will often change due to new projects and equipment, dry laboratories are usually fitted with mobile casework to allow for flexibility in the floor plan. This casework is generally a pre-manufactured laboratory casework system with cantilever support off of central service chase system. The chase system has metal channel support with a horizontal distribution of wiring. Due to the flexible nature of the Dry Laboratory, the distribution of critical wiring (power, voice data, and HVAC) should be clearly laid out, and easy to access and redirect.
  • SECURE AND SAFE-All Laboratory spaces should contain a hand-held chemical emergency fire extinguisher in an emergency equipment cabinet. There should generally be one fire alarm pull station by each egress point and an audible and visible (strobe) alarm in each occupiable space (not including closets, storage rooms, or coat racks).

General Provisions

  • Research and laboratory space needs and guidelines vary widely between schools and departments, type of research being undertaken, and special requirements.  There are a number of different types of laboratories that existing on campus, including (among others)-computational laboratories, wet laboratories, dry laboratories, teaching laboratories, special equipment or instrumentation laboratories.
  • While laboratory needs vary widely between disciplines, as mentioned above, Wright State University’s goal is to configure laboratory space in as flexible and modular a way as possible because of the fact that research needs and methods change and evolve over time. Laboratory space is typically configured in standard laboratory modules, which become space denominators that are designed to meet a variety of research needs. These modules allow for flexibility in planning the following: mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems; heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems; casework; laboratory support spaces; specialized functions; partitions; fume hoods; etc.
  • Electrical outlets are required within easy access for all students seating locations.
  • The most recent published version of the ASHRAE Laboratory Design Guide shall be used as a reference for the planning, layout, and design of laboratories. Laboratory ventilation shall be designed consistent with the most recent published version of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z9.5 Laboratory Ventilation standard.
  • Consideration and review of flexible benchwork should be discussed on a “case by case” basis
  • Utility distribution-overhead carriers VS in bench should be discussed on a “case by case” basis
  • Equipment matrix is to be provided to ensure space allocation needs and coordination of all utility requirements.
  • Lab separation requirements and negative pressurization shall be reviewed for each project.
  • Cleanability requirements of floor, wall and ceiling finishes should be appropriated for the specific use of lab space.
  • Handwash, eyewash/emergency shower locations should be reviewed.
  • Hood Types and all optional items for control of flow, sash operation, hood liner, cup sinks, utility requirements, monitoring and alarm requirements.
  • Safety cabinet types should be reviewed and located is required.
  • Lab waste protocol needs to be considered.
  • All primary piping and distribution ports quantity and location should also be reviewed.
  • All lab entrances shall have signage in close adjacent proximity.  All signage shall be by WSU Signage Shop with style, size, wording and colors selected by WSU FPD (adhering to current ADAAG and OBC).
  • If not specifically listed in this section, all applicable considerations from the EHS section shall be addressed.


Flooring selections will dependant on the type of lab that is under consideration.  Specific requirements based on the lab use will be evaluated on a “case by case” basis. Some preferred options include:

  • Seamless vinyl flooring with chemical resistance rating and integral self-coved base. Seamless epoxy should also be considered in some conditions.
  • Optional VCT chemical resistant floor may be acceptable but must be reviewed on a “case by case” basis.
  • Static dissipative floors will  be required in micro-electronics laboratories


  • Door material selection, operation and design will dependant on the type of lab that is under consideration.  Specific requirements based on the lab use will be evaluated on a “case by case” basis.
  • Laboratory doors shall be self-closing design for security reasons and to assist with keeping the lab air pressure negative to the hallways and in accordance with current building code.
  • Coordination of door frame prep


  • Clear or decorative glazing is to be adjacent to all lab entrances to allow for visual connection from corridor to interior of lab. This can be achieved with glazing in door(s) in limited space areas.


  • Indirect ambient lighting source via ceiling suspended linear system or lay-in fixtures with indirect source of light.
  • Dual level light switching required. Foot candle levels to be per code – refer to Division 26
  • Daylighting, or natural light, should be introduced into the lab environment whenever possible, unless projected images or computer screens are the intended lab use. Review specific opportunities on a “case by case” basis.


  • Furniture  selection should carefully be evaluated based on the type of lab and use.
  • All furniture within the wet  laboratory must be capable of undergoing decontamination in the event of a spill event (no cloth-coverings allowed).
  • All furniture with a dry lab that requires static dissipative flooring shall be on rollers.


  • Mounted projector (ceiling or wall) – Specifications  and projector by WSU CaTS.
  • Location of projector and screen(s) to be determined to maximize line of sight. (front of room or corners of the room) Screens must not cover whiteboard space.
  • Monitors/Smart Boards/Video Conference equipment will be project specific as approved by WSU FPD & WSU CaTS.


  • The whiteboard space in the laboratory is to be maximized and coordinated for optimized clarity of instruction. Locating on side walls is encouraged as appropriate to maximize coverage in overall design with projection locations. (Model: Claridge LCS Porcelain Enamel marker board with tray or equal with lifetime warranty)
  • Specified whiteboards shall be appropriate for the type of lab and not sensitive to chemicals/fumes when used within wet labs.


Fume Hoods

  • All newly installed, or renovated, fume hoods should be designed following current ANSI guidelines and shall be commissioned under a performance test following current ASHRAE Standards.
  • Fume hood location shall be designed away from doorways, high traffic areas, windows and not below or adjacent to supply/exhaust vents so the effectiveness of the hoods are not compromised due to airflow created by traffic patterns or other air flows.
  • All newly installed, or renovated, fume hood systems shall be equipped with an airflow monitor and an alarm system that will allow notification to the user that the hood is not operating as designed and the system shall be designed to report alarm conditions to Physical Plant’s building automation system.
  • Fume hoods must be identified with appropriate fan information to allow for the coordination of safe shutdown procedures during future maintenance activities.
  • Fume hoods requiring special equipment such as filters, washdown systems, etc… must receive approval from WSU Environmental Health and Safety prior to installation.
  • Hazard Communication signs for hazards shall be in consultation with EHS.