VBFA provided the mechanical engineering services for this project that adds test, research, design and administrative areas. The laboratory space in the expanded facility will be roughly 60 percent Biosafety Level 2 (BSL 2) and 40 percent Biosafety Level 3 (BSL 3). The testing facility offers one of the only locations that can safely evaluate collection, detection and decontamination technologies utilizing aerosolized agents, including bacteria, viruses and toxins.


The mechanical designs provided by VBFA for the L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Research Building included many innovative and unique engineering solutions to address the unique needs of a teaching and research lab that was meant to be a show piece at the gateway to the University’s Health Sciences Corridor. The design includes numerous energy saving strategies, a few of which are listed here.





The University of Utah James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building is home to the Brain Institute, the Nano Institute, the Bioengineering Department, as well as numerous USTAR researchers and students. The 208,000 square-foot building features clean room space, materials characterization suite, wet lab and computing space, as well as meeting and public areas. VBFA provided mechanical engineering services for this structure, which includes multi-stage evaporative systems that include energy recovery and ventilation for class 100, 1000, and 10,000 clean rooms.


The ASU Student Health Services Building Expansion and Renovation project achieved LEED Platinum Certification. We evaluated the building systems for the entire facility, which was constructed in 1968, for maintenance and upgrade purposes that included mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire alarm / suppression systems.

The Campus Health Service (CHS) provides community health needs at the Health Services Building. The building includes areas for primary, specialty-consult, urgent ambulatory care, clinical laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and a complementary medicine wing. The addition/renovation separates urgent, specialty, and primary care into distinct areas plus adds a fast-track area with its own exterior access and includes a new women’s health area.

ASU, as a state agency, is required by the Arizona Revised Statutes to comply with the State Historic Preservation Act. Therefore, the design of the addition was required to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and needed to be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

The primary historic preservation concern for this project was the relationship of an addition to the Alumni Lawn and the two National Register-listed properties, Old Main and the University Club to the west; and Palm Walk to the east.


VBFA provided the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing, fire protection and process piping for the new , 110,000 gsf USTAR Life Sciences Research Building on the Innovation Campus of Utah State University in Logan, Utah. VBFA also performed the Energy Modeling and the LEED Planning and Documentation for the mechanical work and assisted in the Mechanical Cost Estimating. One wing of the building houses research laboratories and another wing houses a 13,000 sq. ft. Vivarium and 5,000 sq. ft. of Bio-Safety Lab Level 3 (BSL-3) enhanced suites where research with select agents will be conducted. This area is intended to function as a “box within a box” and will have strictly controlled access, individual room monitoring and special security measures. The building has a number of safety features including redundant mechanical systems.

The Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease USTAR team, the Center for Advanced Nutrition and several other groups will be housed in this facility.  Each BSL-3 room in the biosafety suite has its own HEPA filters and the mechanical design includes an individual decontamination system for each room.

The design includes numerous energy saving strategies including:

Energy Recovery System

Indirect Evaporation for Inexpensive and Efficient CoolingThree-Stage Cooling

Reduced Fan Static Pressure

Reduced Exhaust and Make-Up Air Rates

Large Grilles Ensure Safe Air Velocities

Innovative Atrium Air Handler Application

Atrium Smoke Control

Water Conservation

Reverse-Osmosis System

Chilled Water Loop for Lab Processes


Caris is a medical testing and research development company that conducts medical testing for diseases such as cancer and DNA and prescription drug research. We provided the complete mechanical, plumbing, and electrical design for this 63,000 sq. ft. research lab. The project includes multiple lab areas, office support space and a complete central plant with chillers, cooling towers, boilers, pumps and emergency generators. A security system was also included.

This project was moderately complex due to chiller plant and laminar air flow requirements, close tolerances on temperature control, efficient/sustainable heat recovery, high efficiency indirect lighting, special lighting controls, security systems and a generator/emergency UPS back-up power system.


Arizona State University Posner Laser Optics Laboratories and Micro Fabrication Cleanroom project was designed and constructed in an existing 5-story building. It was not the most conducive location for a clean room; however, it was the location available at the time of the project. We were to utilize four small, separate spaces and repurpose them into the Micro Fabrication Lab and the adjoining Cell Culture Lab, two Laser Optics Labs and a general Research Lab area. The Fabrication Lab is a class 10,000 cleanroom that includes three exhaust hoods in the lab. Most cleanrooms are positive pressure to ensure against particulate migration. This cleanroom grade lab is negative pressure due to the chemicals the research students use to construct and conduct experiments.

The Optics Labs and the general Research Lab areas are positive pressure. The Cell Culture Lab is a negative pressure environment that is 100% exhausted to the outdoors. Each of these rooms have requirements for nitrogen, vacuum and compressed air in each of the lab hoods and it is also required that pure water systems be available at all bench top locations.


VBFA provided the mechanical and plumbing engineering for this project. The building is a 72,000 sq. ft. research laboratory with support administration areas. The design incorporates energy efficient systems, commissioning, ozone friendly refrigerants, increased metering, indoor air quality monitoring, chemical and pollution controls and thermal comfort features.

Energy and Atmosphere:

  • optimized energy efficiency through a 74.1% energy reduction compared to ASHRAE 90.1-1999.
  • additional systems commissioning
  • HCFC and Halon free HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment
  • Plan for sub-metering water and energy usage
  • Use of Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) for optimization of energy use
  • Thermal comfort compliance with ASHRAE 55 – 1992 for relative humidity and temperature

It has been awarded a Silver LEED Certified rating. The facility includes instrument rooms, laboratories and chemical storage spaces. It also provides support areas such as offices, six conference rooms, an educational/training room that will seat 140 and a data center.

Special System Characteristics:

The mechanical design incorporated highly efficient HVAC equipment that uses no SFC refrigerants. Use of low-flow and water efficient fixtures contributed to the sustainable design.

Fume Hoods:

  • Approximately 30 chemical fume hoods
  • Approximately 6 biological safety cabinets
  • One perchloric acid hood with water wash features

The Center includes instrument rooms, laboratories, chemical storage, offices, conference/education spaces, data center and support spaces. It houses some of the most sophisticated and technically advanced equipment — including robotics — to provide extensive tests and analysis of samples collected from work sites throughout the country.

The laboratory analyzes over 400 chemicals and maintains OSHA’s on-line Chemical Sampling Information (CSI) File that provides method and sampling information. The OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center laboratory (ID 101575) is accredited by the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs (AIHA-LAP), LLC in the Industrial Hygiene accreditation program for the Chromatography [Gas (GC), GC/MS, GC (diffusive samplers), Ion, and Liquid], Spectrometry [Atomic Absorption, Inductively-Coupled Plasma, X-ray Diffraction, and UV/Vis], Asbestos/Fiber Microscopy [Polarized Light and Phase Contrast], and Miscellaneous [Gravimetric and Ion-selective Electrode] Fields of Testing as documented by the Scope of Accreditation Certificate and associated Scope.

Laboratory staff provides analytical investigation support in:

  • Material Failures – failure of valves, cables, scaffolding, etc.
  • Explosibility Testing – dusts (grain, metal, organic, etc.)
  • Soils Classification
  • Carboxyhemoglobin back calculations to environmental CO levels
  • Mass Spectrometry – pyrolysis and unknown identification