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 Workers Compensation Building (WCF) is no ordinary space, it’s owners set out to build a structure which both satisfies the needs of short term cost, long term energy and maintenance costs, as well as provides optimum comfort for building occupants and the 198,000 square foot, six story, Workers Compensation Office building achieves just that.

VBFA participated as part of the team effort in designing and constructing the very best system which would integrate together for optimum performance and price. Given the unique and innovative approach, the WCF building presented design challenges and a fresh perspective to the office building world.

WCF has internal stair and atrium that connects three floors of their building. In the old facility, workers almost never connected unless required for business via an arranged meeting. With the Gathering Area for food preparation and dining and the internal stair, people meet, greet and work informally with better communication and less need for meetings. This is an important culture change that they wanted the building to bring about. Radiant panels wash the windows with gentle heat in the winter, and the shade from the panels reduces the heat from the sunlight in the summer.

Many key mechanical innovation elements were used when designing the building from the three stage cooling system pioneered years ago by VBFA, which involves a complex set of considerations and calculations to properly size to the placement of boilers and chillers in order to provide a noise and vibration free working environment.

This state of the art building includes at its core 95% efficient sealed combustion modulating gas condensing boilers, a variable speed drive water cooled chiller plant, a three-stage fan array central air handling system and VAV reheat terminals.

The owner’s charge from the project was to build a comfortable, energy efficient, and long lasting building with mechanical systems which balance both long and short term goals. These goals were readily met by VBFA and the building achieved a coveted LEED gold rating. This building is a testament to the good sense of installing mechanical systems which consider and properly balance first cost, long term efficiency and maintainability.


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