November 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 19)

Benefits of Sustainable Laboratory Design Extend Beyond Cost Savings and Environmental Impact

The doors to Eli Lilly and Company’s new biotechnology development campus were opened to attendees of the recent “Labs21” conference, which focused on sustainable solutions for new and renovated R&D facilities.

Sustainable laboratory design can spark interest in scientific inquiry, help companies attract scientists looking for an employer with a social and environmental conscience, and provide a safe and efficient work environment, according to John Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president, and CEO of Lilly.

Lilly’s environmental efforts between 2003 and 2007 have reportedly yielded a 50% decrease in hazardous material purchases and a 2.4% reduction in absolute energy use. Greenhouse gas emissions and volatile emissions were also reduced by 33% and 40%, respectively.

The new biotech development campus, known as Building 362, is situated on the firm’s corporate campus in Indianapolis where Lilly makes bioproducts such as teriparatide (Fortéo™) for osteoporosis, drotrecogin alfa (Xigris®) for sepsis, somatropin (Humatrope®) for growth disorders, and human insulin (Humulin®), exenatide (Byetta®), and insulin lispro (Humalog®) for diabetes.

The campus encompasses the 477,500-sq-ft R&D building, a 180,000-sq-ft GMP pilot-plant facility, and an administration building. Activities supported in the development facility include mammalian cell and yeast culture of recombinant DNA based biopharmaceuticals, cell banking, isolation and purification operations, analytical and biophysical characterization studies, drug formulation, and fill/finish operations.

One of the concepts underlying the campus design was to bring the people who work in these various R&D areas in closer proximity to foster collaborative opportunities. The development facility took two years to plan and three years to build. Chris Harp, representing Flad Architects, said that 300 design engineers worked on the project for a total of 200,000 man-hours. Construction required 1.7 million man-hours and the joint effort of 3,000 craftspersons.

Building 362, Lilly’s new biotech development campus, was designed to bring in as much natural light as possible.

Support and Design

Several key design features of Building 362 are notable—for example, the desire to blend indoor and outdoor environments and to promote human interaction. To bring in as much natural light as possible the architects “pulled away the building corners,” said Harp, and created glass enclosures that encase the open staircases separating the building wings.

Adjacent to the window-lined staircases are open spaces with seating areas to serve as gathering places. More formal meeting rooms and presentation spaces are scattered throughout the building. There are also rooms reserved for the use of nursing mothers.

To improve the traffic flow of people and materials, the design of each floor of the building incorporates two separate walkways and sets of elevators—one for people and a separate service corridor and elevators for equipment and supplies. The laboratory space is situated between these two hallways and is accessible from both.

Another design strategy moved the researchers’ offices out of the laboratories. The personnel walkway separates the lab space from the office cubicles. A desire for increased transparency led to direct views from the office space into the window-lined labs.

The building supports multiple scales of development work, from 1 mL to 2,500 L bioreactors. Analytical operations are centrally located, as they support R&D, fermentation, and purification. The planners had to decide early in the process what parts of the building should be able to support GMP operations, whether initially or at a later date, and what level of GMP certification might be needed, in order to determine the need to design in space for airlocks and anterooms.

In 2003, before the start of construction, a mock-up of a single laboratory module was built, and the researchers were invited to try it out—they could set up equipment and study flow and space; the researchers were encouraged to suggest modifications and make specific design requests for their labs.

Efficiency and Sustainability

Building 362 has four stories, a basement, and a penthouse/roof structure. It was completed in March 2007. Each laboratory module is 11 feet wide and 33 feet deep.

The service corridors have open ceilings for ease of access to mechanical and electrical systems. The HVAC units are also located in the service corridors so they can be maintained and repaired without entry into the laboratory space. Waste collection pipes that traverse the facility maintain separate flows for solvent waste streams, from HPLC operations, for example, which are sent out for incineration.

The designers built redundancy into the air-handling system such that during normal operations it operates at reduced total air-flow capacity, and even if part of the system were to go down, the facility could continue to operate safely and efficiently. Notably absent are energy-recovery systems largely because electricity rates are so low in Indianapolis compared to other regions of the country that the cost would be difficult to justify economically.

During the facility tour, the Lilly design team highlighted environmental-control systems and technological advances intended to enhance the indoor ecosystem and save labor and money. To monitor and improve indoor air quality, Lilly installed Aircuity controlled environmental systems composed of wall-mounted air-sampling ports positioned throughout the lab and office spaces. The systems allow for demand-based control of ventilation.

Built into maintenance and record-keeping operations are automated and computerized processes for enhanced economy. For example, components of the steam system, including steam valves and traps, are tagged and barcoded for ease of monitoring and data management. Predictive maintenance includes procedures such as vibration analysis, thermal imaging, oil analysis, speed monitoring of instruments, and temperature tracking.

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