Best Practices in Designing Sustainable Vivariums: An Engineer’s Perspective

Alexei Zemskov, Setty & Associates, Ltd.

The health, safety, and welfare of both the staff and research animals are driving factors in the design of vivariums and animal research facilities. Maintaining optimal environmental conditions is paramount to ensure a safe environment within the facility.

While most facilities today are constructed to meet the requirements of the AAALAC's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, it is becoming more challenging in today's business environment to meet the operational costs of enhanced environmental performance facilities with fewer resources. To meet these challenges, it is incumbent on the engineering community to design more energy efficient facilities that will lower energy consumption while maintaining a safe environment for staff and research animals.

This presentation will present innovative strategies that have been implemented in the design of vivariums and animal research facilities. The presentation will focus on energy efficient mechanical infrastructure to minimize energy (utility) costs while providing a facility to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of both staff and research animals.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the critical design parameters for designing modern animal research facility.
  • Understand the factors that impact energy consumption in an animal research facility.
  • Understand the factors relating to the operation of an animal research facility.
  • Develop an understanding of innovative design strategies that can be implemented in animal research facilities.


Mr. Zemskov is the National Director of Engineering at SETTY, a full service MEP engineering and commissioning firm with offices and projects nationwide and specializing in institutional, science and technology, and high performance buildings. Projects range from a new $125,000,000 INOVA/UVA laboratory facility to an FDA White Oak facility to work with the CDC and to a new AG lab in Salinas, CA. He is a professional engineer who served on the technical review committee for the NIH Design Requirements Manual.


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