Changing Gears and Leading the Path in Laboratory and Vivarium Air Flow Controls for the Campus

Mark Labac, Edge Mechanical Systems, Inc.
Jay Campbell, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

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Laboratory and vivarium air flow controls maintain the critical environments required for experiments and research. These environments include the primary containment barrier at hoods and the secondary containment barrier which is the room. In larger animal vivariums, the room is the primary containment barrier.

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has experienced component failure, product end of life, and maintenance issues with the existing air flow control systems. One particular maintenance issue is having to blow out the pitot grid on a monthly basis with compressed air in the Research Tower 1 vivarium. With the upcoming construction of the Anschutz Health Science Building (AHSB), the facilities staff was open to explore newer technology to help reduce the current issues. Different types of air flow valve technologies include single blade dampers, dual-blade dampers, venturi valves, and hybrid single blade venturi valves. The available airflow measurement technologies used for these system consist of characterized valves (no airflow), pitot, and vortex shedding.

After exploring the available technologies, the University proceeded with a pilot project on the Pig Room located in Research Tower 1 Vivarium using a chosen technology. After this technology had proven itself over a period of time, the University selected this air flow control system that is currently being installed in the AHSB project for the vivarium in the basement, the Pharmacy on the 1st floor, and the Labs on 6th and 7th floors. This technology is also being installed for the Aquatics Vivarium Expansion in Research Tower 2.

This presentation identifies the issues with the existing air flow control system, explores the different technologies to reduce the existing issues, shows how the issues can be reduced using a different type of air flow control system, and the benefits of the energy savings and noise reduction with the new air flow control system.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the facility staff's current maintenance struggles and component failures with the existing air flow control system;
  • Compare the different type of technologies of air flow control systems;
  • Demonstrate how the selected air flow control system can help eliminate the existing maintenance issues; and
  • Explain the additional benefits of the new air flow control system to help reduce sound and energy savings.


Mark is President of Edge Mechanical Systems, a specialty Manufacturer's Representative. The firm specializes in energy efficient equipment such as Accutrol, Composite Air Designs, Ingenia, MeeFog, and MK Plastics. Mark has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University, a Professional Engineer License from Texas, and a LEED AP Accreditation. Mark is an active member of APPA, ASHRAE, CAHED, I2SL, ISPE, and is a Director on the Colorado I2SL Chapter board.

Jay Campbell joined the CU Denver | Anschutz facilities team in 2015, and leads a department of nearly 250 facilities professionals responsible for all aspects of capital construction, sustainability, campus housing, facilities support services, finance and administration, building maintenance & operations, engineering and utilities spanning two campuses, 150+ acres, 41 buildings, and 5 million gross sqft. He is active in industry associations, currently serving as President-Elect for the Colorado chapter of APPA (COAPPA). Jay enjoyed an 8-year U.S. Navy career and 14-years in the manufacturing industry prior to realizing that Higher Education is the place to be.


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