Challenges in Designing Flexible Clean Room/Laboratory Facilities

Dave Tash, AECOM
Edward Weaver, AECOM

Cleanrooms and laboratories are energy intensive spaces, with significant opportunities for improved efficiency. However, their inherent complexity creates unique challenges to maintain the required environmental performance when combined in a single facility. Some of these challenges include:
Special environmental considerations and high ventilation rates, which can consume from 4 to 100 times more energy per square foot than conventional buildings;
High air recirculation for maintaining a clean environment versus single pass air as makeup for chemical lab exhaust systems. These are competing requirements that require careful planning and close collaboration with the users;
Research environment mandates for flexibility to accommodate various forms of research, which can be costly to incorporate and escalate the operational cost;
High ceiling elevations are often required to allow for installation of some unique and specialty research equipment. Higher ceilings in laboratory and cleanroom environments have direct impact on the amount of air circulation within these spaces;
Variations in program diversity in a mixed research environment, as well as allowing for uncertain future build-out or additional process equipment, makes accurate estimation of process/plug loads and HVAC system capacity difficult.

This presentation reviews these challenges and discusses how they were addressed in 100,000/10,000/1,000/100 cleanroom classification lab environments. This new state-of-the-art facility will house critical NASA scientific cleanroom laboratories, with a program consisting of six types: Laser/Calibration/Sensor, Chemistry, Electronics, Prototyping, Clean Rooms, and Special, which includes a Machine Shop, Mechanical and Electrical Fabrication Labs, and a High Intensity Radiated Fields Lab. This facility in Hampton, VA will play a major role in NASA Langley's mission and contributions to aerospace, atmospheric sciences and technology commercialization, to enhance our understanding and improve lives.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will learn about the challenges associated with planning and designing 100,000/10,000/1,000/100 class cleanroom laboratories with many programmatic complexities.
  • Participants will learn about the planning, engineering and operational approaches to establishing the right balance between providing a clean environment and providing safe laboratories for the researchers.
  • Participants will learn about the specific strategies to providing cost effective and energy efficient facility while including the appropriate level of flexibility to accommodate future unknown research programs.
  • Participants will learn about the engineering options considered during the early project planning stage and the rationales used for selecting the ultimate option.


Dave Tash is a principal at AECOM. He leads the HC & life sciences engineering practice at the DC office and is the AECOM North America Lab & Pharma Market Sector leader. Mr. Tash has led numerous projects for US government such as NIH, USDA, NASA, GSA and DoD among others. He holds MS and BS in M.E. from the University of NC at Charlotte. His registrations include PE in several states and LEED AP, BD+C. He is a member of I2SL and co-founder and president of the I2SL National Capital chapter.

Edward Weaver is Vice President at AECOM and an Architecture Practice Leader in the National Capital Office in Arlington VA. His 30-year portfolio stretches from government agencies and higher education, to justice, aerospace, corporate and defense projects. He manages the firm's work at the NASA Langley Research Center, the Goddard Space Flight Center, and for various other defense, institutional and private sector clients. He is licensed in several states and holds B.Arch from Virginia Tech.


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