Effective Date: June, 2023

Last Updated: July 2023


In today's rapidly evolving research landscape, laboratories play a critical role in fostering innovation, discovery, and the advancement of knowledge. As we venture into new frontiers of science and technology, the need for safe, efficient, and well-designed laboratory spaces has never been more apparent. Recognizing this need, the Campus Development Office (CDO), Campus Management Office (CMO), and Health, Safety and Environment Office (HSEO) have concertedly prepared a Laboratory Standards and Design Guide to serve as a valuable resource for designers, architects, project managers, faculty, and laboratory users.

This Laboratory Standards and Design Guide covers various topics, including furniture layout, ventilation, fire safety, exhaust/containment equipment selection, ergonomics and waste management. It also addresses critical safety considerations, such as chemical storage, emergency response facilities, and hazard communication. By providing clear, concise, and actionable recommendations, this document aims to empower designers, project managers, architects, faculty, and users to create and maintain laboratory environments that meet or exceed the highest standards of safety and efficiency. However, this is a general guideline only, specific detailed requirements of lab equipment and highly specialized and unique laboratories require consultation with CDO, CMO and HSEO. These departments must be consulted in all laboratory projects, from design to construction and occupation.

In addition to providing guidance on best practices, this document also serves as a testament to HKUST’s unwavering commitment to the well-being of our staff and students. Safety is not just a priority but a core value that drives our research endeavors and defines our institutional culture.


Good laboratory designs allow researchers to conduct their work more efficiently and safely in physical, biological and radiological laboratories that comply with international standards and relevant local health and safety regulations. The laboratory design guide covers laboratory layouts, laboratory ventilation systems, laboratory safety and emergency response facilities, and special services for emerging technologies in research laboratories.

  1. Builder’s Works
    1. A typical laboratory would have a minimum 2800 mm above the finished floor level to false ceiling height.
    2. False ceiling tiles should be used unless specified otherwise. Tiles should be smooth, non- friable, impervious, and washable.
    3. Reputable and commonly used false ceiling brands (such as Rockfon or equivalent) are suggested.
    4. False ceiling tiles with various features can be chosen based on usage and/or occupants such as hygienic, cleanable and low particle emission tiles for cleanrooms and wet laboratories (e.g. Life Science) or cleanable and sound-absorbing tiles for dry laboratories (e.g. Physics or Engineering)
    5. Wall should be painted with latex or polyurethane paints. The painting should be easy to clean, smooth, impervious and resistant to chemicals used in the laboratory.
    6. The floor and cove skirting (generally min. 100mm high) should be finished with vinyl sheets/strips respectively. The slip-resistant vinyl sheet should be easy to clean, smooth, impervious, resistant to chemicals used in the laboratory, and compatible with the nature of the laboratory operations and operator comfort. All seams should be heat welded with a complimentary colour.
    7. Laboratory doors should be well sealed, self-closing and have vision panels for viewing laboratory activities and for fire egress purposes. Laboratory doors must be openable without needing to use keys/ access cards in case of emergency.
    8. Laboratory doors should swing into egress pathways whenever feasible and should be recessed to keep the required clear width of egress corridors.
    9. Glass doors or panels should be made of tempered/ toughened glass for safety.
    10. Laboratory sewage should be separated from other types of sewage.
    11. Cast iron drainpipes with appropriate chemical resistance inner coating should be used as stack pipes to withstand exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals and materials.
    12. Reputable and commonly used cast iron drainpipes (such as PAM-SUM Plus from Saint- Gobain or equivalent) are suggested.
    13. Polypropylene drainpipes with appropriate chemical resistance should be used as branch pipe pipes to withstand exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals and materials.
    14. Reputable and commonly used polypropylene drainpipes (such as Vulcathene or equivalent) are suggested.
  2. Laboratory space and dimensions
    1. Pantries or rooms for the consumption of food & drinks and/or their storage should be provided separately as eating and drinking in laboratory areas are strictly prohibited. The AC control unit should be independent from the one used for the lab area. Potable water supply should be used if sink units are to be installed.
    2. Write-up areas can be set up in the laboratories if necessary, however, it is important to note the differences between the write-up areas and office workstations as consumption of food and drinks in write-up areas is not allowed. Write-up areas should also be as far away from the experimental areas as practicable.
    3. Aisle widths, corridor widths as well as escape distances should comply with local building regulations for fire safety and egress and must be free from obstruction (such as equipment, furniture, storage boxes or any other items).
    4. Fire escape travel distances should comply with local building/fire service regulations for fire safety and egress. Lab equipment, furniture, consumables, boxes or other miscellaneous items should not obstruct the function of the overhead sprinkler heads. a minimum of 500mm clearance is required. Protective cages should be considered in storerooms or areas where there is a high probability of accidental contact with sprinkler heads.
    5. The number and locations of exit routes shall be in accordance with relevant local building codes and regulations.
    6. A minimum distance of 1000mm is required from work bench or equipment to where space is not normally required for other persons to pass.
    7. A minimum distance 1200mm is required from work bench or equipment to where space is required for a second person to pass.
    8. A minimum distance 1050 mm is required for a passageway between benches, furniture or equipment without workspaces on either side. (allowing passage of one person at a time).
    9. A minimum distance 1400 mm is required for two workers back-to-back where space is not normally required for a third person to pass.
    10. A minimum distance 1500 mm is required for two workers back-to-back where space is required for a third person to pass.
  3. Floor loading
    1. Typical uniformly distributed load and concentrated load of the floor system are 5 kPa and 3 kN over 25 sq. mm respectively. Prior to the procurement of heavy equipment, consultation with the Campus Development Office or the Laboratory Services Section of the Campus Management Office is essential to ensure the designed loading capacity of the lab building is not exceeded.
  4. Laboratory Furniture
    1. The worktops shall be a minimum 25mm thick lab grade solid phenolic resin with pro-formed high-pressure laminate (default) or chemical resistance ceramic with marine edge. The loading capacity of each table shall not be less than 220kg/running metre. For the installation of certain heavy equipment such as a scintillation counter, consultation with the Laboratory Services Section of the Campus Management Office is essential to ensure the designed loading capacity of the standard lab bench is not exceeded.
    2. The lowest level of the over bench unit shall be approximately 1500mm (for 900mm (H) table) and 1300mm (for 750mm (H) table) above the finished floor level (AFFL) unless specified otherwise. The overall height of the over bench unit/spine module shall be no more than 2400mm for ease of access.
    3. All units shall have a flat-top design and secured to prevent tilting or toppling over and all under bench units and over bench cupboards shall be provided with locks.
    4. Ceramic worktops (optional) shall have high resistance to most chemicals used in synthetic research chemistry laboratories and shall be made from industrial ceramic (chemical stone ware), non-toxic and free from solvent material, produced in accordance with the DIN EN 12916, part 1.
    5. The upholstery of chairs and stools should be vinyl or other suitable impervious material, such as acid-resistant polyurethane to prevent from absorbing the spills of hazardous substances. The surface of the upholstery should be smooth, non-porous and easy to clean. Upholstery materials shall not be easily ignited (conforming to EN1021, Fire Services Department Circulars or other similar standards).
    6. The chairs and stools should be height adjustable and ergonomically suited to the task. Backrest should be padded for lumbar support and used materials shall be fire retardant.
  5. Room pressure and temperature
    1. A gauge displaying the differential pressure should be provided at the entrance of the laboratory for those areas requiring critical room pressure control such as cleanrooms.
    2. Negative room pressure relative to the public corridors and non-laboratory areas should be maintained for wet laboratories (LVDL-2, BSL-2) or for laboratories with fume cupboards to prevent contaminants from flowing outwards. Minimum -5 Pa negative room pressure is suggested. consult HSEO for suitable LVDL classification.
    3. Room pressure regime is not required for dry laboratories or for those laboratories where chemicals are NOT used.
    4. Positive room pressure regime relative to the adjacent areas can provide cleanliness. Anterooms or air locks are suggested for positive room pressure laboratories to act as the air flow buffer for both containment and cleanliness. The doors to the anteroom or air locks of high containment laboratories should be provided with self-closing mechanisms and interlocked so that both doors cannot be opened at the same time.
    5. Room temperature is designed to be 21-25°C (summer) when occupied and not exceed 26°C when unoccupied unless specified otherwise.
    6. Room humidity is designed to be 70%, maximum, unless specified otherwise.
    7. Environmental conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, pressure, etc. should be monitored and actively controlled by the building management system (BMS) for ensuring system performance is in line with design criteria.
  6. Noise and Vibration Criterion
    1. Vibration Criterion for typical laboratories of zone K, L, J &H is VC-B, some floors at ground level or Vibration Free Floor (VFF) lab, such as optical, laser and electron microscope laboratories are strong floors and VC is up to VC-D. Vibration Criterion for typical laboratories of EC and CYT is close to A.
    2. Optical tables would need to be installed to reduce the effect of vibrations on the vibration-sensitive equipment.
    3. Vibration-sensitive equipment is suggested to be located on the ground or a lower level to reduce the vibration due to the buildings.
    4. Vibration Free Floor/isolator or optical table would need to be set up if a highly steady and stable environment such as VC-E level is needed.
    5. Noise-generating equipment such as vacuum pumps, centrifuges, deep freezers, etc. should be enclosed or segregated from the general work area.
    6. NC-35 to NC-40 shall be maintained in laboratories.
  7. Ventilation
    1. The minimum requirement of fresh air change rate should be in accordance with ASHRAE standard 62.1-2022 (Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality) unless specified otherwise.
    2. The minimum requirement of outdoor air rate should be 5 x no. of occupants + 0.9 x area (m2). 2.6 air change per hour is considered to be a minimum requirement for all laboratories.
    3. Occupancy of furniture and equipment should be considered. 40% occupancy (0.6 x net volume) is suggested.
    4. Laboratory Ventilation Design Level (LVDL) should be used as a reference but not a requirement. It should be noted that the air exchange rate is not considered as a critical factor for hood performance and personal protection but to reduce odours.
      • LVDL-0: Both occupied and unoccupied minimum exhaust ventilation rates should follow ASHRAE standard 62.1-2022.
      • LVDL-1: Both occupied and unoccupied minimum exhaust ventilation rates should follow ASHRAE standard 62.1-2022.
      • LVDL-2: Occupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should be 4-6 air changes based on sufficient information for hazard review. Unoccupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should follow ASHRAE standard 62.1-2022.
      • LVDL-3: Occupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should be 6-8 or more air changes based on sufficient information for hazard review. unoccupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should be 4 air changes or lower if validation of the effectiveness of ventilation suggests sufficient dilution and contaminant removal.
      • LVDL-4: Occupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should be 8-10 or more air changes based on sufficient information for hazard review. unoccupied minimum exhaust ventilation rate should be the same as LVDL-3
    5. 24-hour ventilation and air conditioning could be provided upon request and review.
    6. When there is no occupancy detected at a certain zone (between lab bench to lab bench), the zone’s VAV box will be adjusted so that the damper position will reduce the airflow rate to around 30% of the VAV maximum flow rate. Once occupancy is detected, the damper will be reverted back to the position as current room temperature set point flow rate.
  8. General Lighting
    1. LED with 3500-4000K colour temperature should be installed to illuminate to a level of 500 Lux without task lighting and 300 Lux with task lighting at 900mm above the finished floor level.
    2. T8 LED lighting tubes at 4000K colour temperature are recommended.
    3. Zigzag pattern should be provided for better light pattern and ease of furniture installation.
    4. On/off switch, dimming switch and occupancy sensor should be provided. Energy saving should be applied to lighting controls by limiting the duration the lights are on, the power they draw or both.
    5. Zonal control (between lab bench to lab bench) are preferred.
    6. Task lighting, coupled with an occupancy sensor, could be installed in addition to general room lighting. The time delay for turning off general room lights should be 20 minutes (default).
    7. If there is no occupation for a certain zone, zonal lighting can be dimmed in 3 stages - from 80% to 30% to 0% (off). Once occupancy is detected, lighting should resume to 80% lighting condition.
    8. Lighting occupancy sensors can be overridden by a bypass switch – lab users can override the sensor to switch the lights on/off manually for cases where the dimming system fails or during maintenance work.
  9. Task Lighting
    1. Task lighting (on workbench) should be controlled with occupancy sensors (DC connection) or manually by users. Colour temperature is around 4000K.
    2. When turned on at 100%, the actual lumens should be over 500 Lux measured at the working surface when combined with room lighting.
    3. The time delay for turning off task lighting should be 18 to 360 seconds (adjustable).
  10. Power
    1. Electrical sockets and data outlets should not be placed near water sources or flammable gas cylinders/valves.
    2. All socket outlets should be fitted with residual current protection devices.
    3. Emergency and UPS power should be considered if the facilities or equipment require an uninterrupted power supply.
    4. Clean or separated earth grounding could be provided upon request and review.
    5. Waterproof socket outlets should be provided for damp laboratories such as Coastal Marine Laboratory or the socket near sink units.
    6. The route of the high voltage or current cable should be carefully planned and avoid passing through sensitive equipment such as Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) or any other special equipment sensitive to electromagnetic (EM) interference. Shielding should be considered if the electromagnetic (EM) interference is high.
  11. Security 
    1. Door access control should be installed to prevent unauthorized access.
    2. CCTVs should be installed in high-risk areas and centrally managed by the security team of the Campus Management Office.
  1. Hazard Warning Placard
    1. All laboratories with significant hazards shall be identified clearly at each entrance, including the display of the name (i.e. the laboratory entity), the person in charge, emergency contact person(s), nature of hazards and protection requirements.
  2. Emergency Safety Showers and Eyewashes
    1. Emergency safety showers and eyewashes should be in accordance with ANSI Z358.1-2014 or BS EN15154-2019.
    2. Emergency safety showers and eyewashes should be required and installed in laboratories where chemicals will be used.
    3. Emergency safety eyewashes are acceptable for laboratories with mild chemical usage such as Life Science (LIFS) and Ocean Science (OCES) laboratories.
    4. Emergency safety showers and eyewashes should be situated in a prominent position, clearly visible, with clear signage, well-lit and free from any obstructions.
    5. Emergency showers should be located in areas that are accessible within 10 seconds (roughly 16 metres) on the same level.
    6. Emergency showers should deliver a minimum of 76L per minute of potable water for up to 15 minutes in the required spray pattern.
    7. Both the shower head and eyewash receptor shall be from ABS plastic, or equivalent, which are resistant to damage from alkalis, salt solutions, oils and most acids.
    8. Eyewashes should deliver 11.4 L per minute of potable water for up to 15 minutes.
    9. Eyewashes should be connected to drainage piping.
    10. The installation of a floor drain is not recommended. A floor drain shall not be installed in the chemistry and radiation laboratory to avoid contaminating the drainage system with hazardous materials.
    11. The clearance between the shower head and the nearest obstruction (wall, vertical supply pipe or similar) shall be a minimum radius of 38 cm (15 in.).
    12. An emergency eyewash and shower shall have a minimum clearance of 48 inches in depth and 30 inches in width.
    13. Electrical apparatus, telephones, thermostats, electrical control panels, or power sockets should not be located within 0.5 m of the emergency shower or eyewash unit.
    14. Water temperature of the eyewash station should be within 16°C - 38°C.
  3. Fire Services Installation
    1. The fire sprinkler system shall not be obstructed and at least 500mm clearance shall be maintained between the top of any stored material and the sprinkler heads.
    2. Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, fire sand and fire blanket should be provided near the laboratory exit.
    3. Dry powder fire extinguishers should be provided in laboratories with pyrophoric metals/chemicals, especially in chemistry laboratories.
    4. Equipping dry laboratories with solely fire extinguishers is acceptable.
    5. Wireless smoke detectors should be installed in laboratories with potential fire risks.
  4. Gas monitors
    1. Areas used for the storage of liquid nitrogen or other cryogenic liquids should have sufficient fresh air supply to prevent a build-up of asphyxiants. Risk assessment should be conducted and oxygen monitors/sensors with alarms, either portable or fixed, should be installed when there is a risk of asphyxiation.
    2. Toxic gas sensors should be installed based on the risk assessment result.
  5. Emergency Ventilation (EV)

    Emergency ventilation (EV) mode must be set up for LVDL-2 or above laboratories or laboratories with fume cupboards:

    1. Approximately 10 air changes per unit should be provided during emergency ventilation mode.
    2. During EV mode, the Air Handling Unit (AHU) should run at 100% fresh air with no recycled air.
    3. Fans will run at full speed.
    4. Fans at the roof will be no change.
    5. Laboratories are divided into different zones based on the AHUs. EV mode will affect the laboratories under the same AHU.
    6. If more than one AHUs are serving the same laboratories, all related zones will be affected.
    7. Buzzing sound should be generated after EV mode is activated to alert people from inside the room to evacuate. The alarm is installed right above the EV button.
    8. The buzzers within the same zone will also be triggered.
    9. Amber lights are installed above the door of the rooms with EV button to alert and prevent people from entering the room or to evacuate.
    10. When EV mode is activated in the rooms, only the amber lights for the affected room will flash. Other amber lights in the same zone will not be triggered.
    11. When EV mode is activated in the public corridor, all the amber lights in the same zone will be triggered.
    12. Sirens are usually installed in the public corridor to alert people.
    13. When EV mode is activated, all sirens in the same zone will be triggered.
    14. Sash and the control valve of the fume cupboards will fully open to help with the ventilation (newly installed fume cupboards).
  1. Central Laboratory Provisions

    The following central laboratory provisions could be provided upon request and review:

    • Equipment cooling water
    • BBQ local exhaust system
    • De-ionized water (DI), Compressed Air (CA) and nitrogen gas (N2)
  2. Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs)
    1. Biological safety cabinet could be provided upon request and review for wet laboratories.
    2. Biological safety cabinet should comply with NSF/ANSI 49 and the manufacturer’s Type Test Certificate to certify that the BSC has been satisfactorily tested as required.
    3. According to Laboratory Biosafety Manual (Fourth edition) by the World Health Organization (WHO), biological safety cabinets could be classified into Class I, Class II and Class III based on their protection feature:
      1. Class I (user protected, product not protected):

        Room air is drawn in through the front opening, passes over the work surface and then discharges through a HEPA filter into the laboratory. The usage of chemicals should not be allowed for Class I BSCs.

      2. Class II (User and product protected):

        Allowing only air from a HEPA-filtered supply to flow over the work surface by balancing inflow and downflow air (laminar flow). Class II BSCs can be further divided into A1, A2, B1, B2 and C1 based on the percentage of air recirculation and exhaust (exhaust back into the laboratory or outside the building). Limited usage of chemicals could be allowed in some Class II BSCs.

      3. Class III (Gas tight):

        All penetrations are sealed gas-tight. Access to the work surface is by means of heavy-duty rubber gloves. Supply air is HEPA-filtered and exhaust air passes through two HEPA filters. The cabinet interior is under negative pressure by a dedicated exhaust system exterior to the cabinet.

    4. Sound level should not be higher than 60 dB(A) measured at 380mm above the work surface and 300mm from the leading edge of the BSC.
    5. The cabinet should be located away from traffic patterns, doors, fans, ventilation registers, fume hoods and any other air-handling device that could disrupt its airflow pattern.
    6. BSCs not connected to an exhaust system should have at least 12 inches (300 mm) clearance from the filter face to any overhead obstructions when the cabinet is in its final operating position, to allow for testing of the exhaust HEPA/ULPA filter. At least 12 inches (300 mm) clearance is required if the use of a thermal anemometer exhaust velocity measurement is needed when calculating cabinet inflow velocity.
    7. Site Planning Requirement for Biological Safety Cabinet - NSF49:
    8. All BSCs should be placed in a laboratory at a location that provides a minimum of
      1. 6 inches (150 mm) from adjacent walls or columns.
      2. 6 inches (150 mm) between two BSCs.
      3. 6 inches (150 mm) space on both sides of the cabinet and 6 inches (150 mm) behind the BSC to allow for service operations.
      4. 40 inches (1020 mm) of open space in front of the BSC.
      5. 60 inches (1520 mm) from opposing walls, bench tops and areas of occasional traffic.
      6. 20 inches (510 mm) between BSC and bench tops along a perpendicular wall.
      7. 100 inches (2540 mm) between two BSCs facing each other.
      8. 60 inches (1520 mm) from behind a doorway.
      9. 40 inches (1020 mm) from an adjacent doorway swing side. and
      10. 6 inches (150 mm) from an adjacent doorway hinge side.
    9. UV lighting
      1. Germicidal (or UV) lamps are often installed as an adjunct to surface disinfection. UV lighting is not recommended in BSCs. If installed, they should be tested by the manufacturer during the assembly of the unit.
    10. Town gas/LPG
      1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “open flames are not required in the near microbe-free environment of a biological safety cabinet”. For the sterilization of loops or needles, a Bacti-Cinerator sterilizer should be used.
      2. If flame must be used inside a biological safety cabinet, a town gas tap with a solenoid valve for shut-off purposes shall be installed. Touch-o-Matic Bunsen burner must be used.
      3. The rubber tubing connecting the gas taps should be approved by the EMSD.
    11. A certification label must be affixed to the biological safety cabinet stating the cabinet’s identification and the next certification date.
  3. Fume Cupboards
    1. Fume Cupboard should be provided upon request and review for the wet laboratory.
    2. Fume Cupboards should comply with DIN EN-14175 or ASHRAE-110.
    3. Fume Cupboards should not be installed near the AC supply outlets to prevent short circuit.
    4. Fume Cupboards can be classified as normal flow, low flow and extra low flow based on the face velocity:
      1. Normal flow: 0.45 m/s face velocity.
      2. Low flow: 0.3 m/s face velocity.
      3. Extra low flow: 0.2 m/s face velocity.
    5. The low-flow or extra low-flow variable air volume (VAV) fume cupboards are suggested and should be self-contained or equipped with a flow control system and valve to control the flow rate. Constant air volume fume cupboards should be equipped with a venturi valve or damper to control the flow rate. The venturi valve or damper installed above the false ceiling should be accessible for repair and maintenance by using ladder platforms.
    6. All fume cupboards should be equipped with an auto sash function for energy saving. All fume cupboards should be connected to the emergency power supply.
    7. Fume cupboards can be equipped with vertical (default) or combination sash, where the latter can be opened both vertically and horizontally. Vertical sash position is to interface with the VAV system to control the flow rate. Fume cupboard controls shall be compatible with the existing Variable Air Volume Control Building Management System (BMS) at HKUST.
    8. All fume cupboards should be equipped with occupancy sensors interfaced with the BMS.
    9. Site Planning Requirement for Fume Cupboards – DIN EN-14175-5.
      1. Fume cupboard should be located away from heavy traffic, doors, fans, and ventilation supply that could disrupt its airflow pattern.
      2. Any room air supply diffuser should not be within 1.5 m of the sash and shall not affect the fume cupboard performance. Laminated-type diffusers are to be provided, especially for the extra low-flow fume cupboards.
      3. Fume cupboards should not be installed face to face or opposite to another fume hood or biological safety cabinet unless the distance between them is at least 3.0 m.
      4. The distance from the sash to any part of the laboratory frequently used by other personnel in moving from one part of the laboratory to another should be at least 1 m.
      5. The distance between the sash and a bench top opposite to it and used by the same operator should be at least 1.4 m.
      6. There should be no opposing wall (or other opposing obstruction likely to affect the airflow) within at least 1.4 m of the sash.
      7. The distance between the side of the fume cupboard and a wall or large architectural obstruction projecting beyond the plane of the sash should be at least 0.3 m.
      8. No doorway frequently used by personnel should be within 1 m of the sash or within 0.3 m of the side of fume cupboard. This requirement does not apply to doorways exclusively used as an emergency exit.
    10. A certification label must be affixed to the fume cupboard stating the fume hood’s identification, the type of fume cupboard, acceptable face velocity, the certification date and the measured average face velocity.
  4. Ductless Fume Cupboards
    1. Ductless fume cupboards should comply with ANSI Z9.5-2022, DIN 12927:1995 or AFNOR NF X15-211:2009.
    2. The filters of recirculating ductless fume hoods must be appropriate for the types of materials used or produced. Suppliers shall provide written documentation (e.g. third-party test report and certificate) for the filter certifying the filtration efficiency and the types and quantities of chemicals that can be captured by the specified filter.
    3. A backup safety filter with the same sorbent materials as the main filter should be installed.
    4. Ductless fume hoods should be equipped with a breakthrough alarm or detection system to alert breakthrough of filters.
    5. Flow indicator or face velocity indicator with an audible alarm or visual warning indicator should be installed to signal the airflow has drifted out of the safe range as specified by the manufacturer to alert users of improper exhaust flow and insufficient face velocity.
    6. Refer to part (i) of section 3.03 for the site planning requirement for ductless fume cupboards.
    7. A certification label must be affixed to the fume cupboard stating the fume hood’s identification, the type of fume cupboard, acceptable face velocity, the certification date and the measured average face velocity.
  5. Glove Boxes
    1. Space for the placement of gas cylinders and the associated gas delivery systems to be connected to the glove boxes should be planned and allocated.
    2. Local exhaust ventilation systems should be installed in the vicinity of the glove boxes to allow venting of gases from the glove boxes during operation and other processes such as purging and regeneration.
  6. Ventilated Enclosure Hoods
    1. The purpose of the ventilated enclosure hood is to provide physical separation of the equipment from the rest of the lab and to provide circulation of external air through the enclosure to remove excess steam, heat or odor generated by the equipment.
    2. Sliding doors shall be installed at the front for access.
    3. Openings should be provided in the ventilated enclosure hood for make-up air to be infiltrated into the hood from its surroundings.
    4. The design volume flow of ventilated enclosure hoods should not be less than 100 L/s.
  7. BBQ Local Exhaust Ventilation
    1. A receiving hood such as a canopy is recommended if the process generates gas or vapor from a hot process with strong thermal buoyancy such as steam generated by autoclaves, ovens and furnaces.
    2. A slot hood which are located next to the emission source is recommended if the process generates fume, particulates, dusts or fibers at high velocity into a very turbulent airstream.
    3. For receiving and capturing hoods, the hoods should be installed with suitable flanges or baffles to reduce the flow rate required to achieve a given capture velocity and located as closely as possible to the airborne contaminants to maintain the desired capture velocity.
    4. Ducting should be in an appropriate size, circular in sharp with smooth corners, and minimal bends so that the transport velocity within the duct should be sufficient and contaminants will not settle in the ducting.
    5. Balancing dampers should be installed to balance airflow in ventilation systems.
    6. The exhaust flow rate should not be less than 40 L/s.
    7. A label must be affixed to the exhaust duct stating the exhaust fan number.
    8. Plastic components of the extraction hood/arm (such as joints) shall be made of shatterproof- chemical resistant polypropylene (PP). any metal components are to be made of anodised aluminum.
  8. Toxic Gas Cabinets for Special Gases
    1. Gas cabinet shall comply with the Code of Practice for the Storage and Use of Special Gases in the Micro-electronics Industry such as
      1. Cylinder storage cabinets should comply with EN 14470-2. The cabinet should be designed and constructed to ventilate minor gas leakage within the cabinet.
      2. The cabinet must be 12-gauge cold rolled powder-coated steel.
      3. The cabinet shall be designed and constructed to ensure that, in the event of a fire, the contents of the cabinet do not contribute any additional risks or spread the fire for at least 15 minutes.
      4. The cabinet must have self-latching windows (having view glass) and/or self-latching doors. Windows and glass should be Georgian wire safety glass.
      5. Cabinets shall be equipped with openings for inlet and exhaust air, which allows for the connection of a BBQ local exhaust piping to the cabinet. The BBQ exhaust flow rate should be around 5L/s.
      6. The ventilation system shall maintain a lower pressure in the cabinet than the surrounding atmosphere. Ventilation shall take place on the top and bottom of the cabinet. Design of the air circulation system within the cabinet shall ensure adequate purging for minor leakages.
      7. Cabinets should have the provision for attaching gas detection sensors.
      8. For ventilated cabinets in which ventilation is taking place, with the doors closed, latched and locked, at least 10 air changes of the cabinet's volume per hour is required when using flammable and fire-supporting gases.
      9. In the event of a fire, the inlet and exhaust vents shall close automatically.
  9. Flammable Cabinets
    1. Flammable cabinets are to be designed and constructed in compliance with BS EN 14470, OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106 and NFPA Code 30 specifications such as
      1. Bottom, top and sides must be of at least 18-gauge sheet iron and double-walled with 1.5 inches of air space.
      2. Joints must be riveted, welded, or made tight by equally effective means.
      3. The cabinet door must be provided with a three-point lock.
      4. If exhaust needed to be provided, exhaust outlets shall be provided with flash arrestors and cabinets connected to the main exhaust ducting by screw thread fitting.
      5. All cabinets shall have built-in grounding connectors.
      6. All cabinets shall be installed so that it rests firmly on the floor without any tendency to topple over.
      7. All cabinets to have bi-lingual hazard warning labels.
      8. All cabinets shall have double-skin galvanized steel with epoxy coating. All internal lining and fittings shall be of corrosion-resistant or equivalent material.
  10. Corrosive Cabinets
    1. The cabinets and hinges are recommended to be made of polypropylene to prevent rusting or corrosion. All interior seams are to be welded to provide a liquid-tight seal for secondary containment and in full compliance with OSHA or equivalent EN standards. All cabinets to have a 50mm liquid-tight trough to contain spillage and bi-lingual hazard warning labels
    2. If exhaust needed to be provided, exhaust outlets shall be provided with a female thread cap at the back panel of the cabinet.
    3. All cabinets shall be installed so that it rests firmly on the floor without any tendency to topple over.
    4. All cabinets are to have bi-lingual hazard warning labels.
  11. Refrigerators
    1. Domestic refrigerators and freezers must not be used for storing flammable chemicals due to the exposed electrical components that can become ignition sources.
    2. Spark-proof or explosion-proof refrigerators and freezers in compliance with NFPA45 and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.307 or the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU shall be used for storing flammable chemicals in laboratories.
  12. Boilers and Pressure Vessels
    1. Boilers and pressure vessels such as autoclaves and air compressors shall be registered and inspected in accordance with the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance.
    2. Boilers and pressure vessels shall be enclosed or segregated from the general work area.
    3. A certification label must be affixed to the boiler/pressure vessel stating the equipment’s identification and the certification date.
  13. Wall-Mounted Brackets for Gas Cylinders
    1. Gas cylinders shall be wall-mounted on support brackets with robust straps and metal chains.
    2. Each individual restraint should have two separate anchorage points to the wall and at about 2/3 the height of each gas cylinder.
  14. Cryogenic Liquid Gas Containers
    1. Areas for storage of cryogenic liquids should have sufficient fresh air supply to prevent build- up of asphyxiants. Risk assessment should be conducted and oxygen sensors/monitors with alarms (either fixed or portable) should be provided when there is a risk of asphyxiation.
    2. All liquid oxygen, liquid nitrogen, liquid argon and liquid carbon dioxide gas containers shall be approved by the Fire Services Department.
    3. Cryogenic liquid gas containers should be properly secured to prevent toppling.
    4. All system vents such as the vent valve and pressure relief valve must be directed away from personnel or designated work areas.
    5. Use only transfer tubes designed for use with the liquid gas cylinder.
  1. General Requirements for BSL-1 and BS-2
    (per Laboratory Biosafety Manual Sixth Edition)
    1. The international biohazard warning symbol and sign should be displayed on the doors of the rooms where microorganisms of Risk Group 2 or higher risk groups are handled.
    2. Ample space should be provided for the safe conduct of laboratory work and for cleaning and maintenance.
    3. Bench tops should be impervious to water and resistant to disinfectants, acids, alkalis, organic solvents and moderate heat.
    4. Laboratory furniture should be sturdy. Open spaces between and under benches, cabinets and equipment should be accessible for cleaning.
    5. Storage space should be adequate to hold supplies for immediate use and thus prevent clutter on bench tops and in aisles. Additional long-term storage space, conveniently located outside the laboratory working areas, should also be provided.
    6. Space and facilities should be provided for the safe handling and storage of solvents, radioactive materials, and compressed and liquefied gases.
    7. Facilities for storing outer garments and personal items should be provided outside the laboratory working areas.
    8. Hand-washing basins should be provided in each laboratory room, preferably near the exit door.
    9. All waste bins with biohazard warning signs shall have closable lids.
    10. Stand-by generator or UPS is desirable for the support of essential equipment, such as incubators, biological safety cabinets, freezers, etc., and for the ventilation of animal cages.
  2. Ventilation suggestion for BSL-1
    (per ASHRAE, 2011 Handbook-HVAC Application, Laboratories

    No specific HVAC requirement is needed for BSL-1.

  3. Specific requirement for BSL-2
    (per Laboratory Biosafety Manual Sixth Edition)
    1. On top of the BSL-1, an autoclave or other means of decontamination shall be available in appropriate proximity to the laboratory.
    2. On top of the BSL-1, biological safety cabinets shall be installed for procedures likely to generate aerosols.
    3. On top of the BSL-1, a separate waste stream shall be provided for potentially contaminated wastes.
  4. Ventilation suggestion for BSL-2
    (per ASHRAE, 2011 Handbook-HVAC Application, Laboratories)

    No specific HVAC requirement is needed for BSL-2. However, the following criteria are suggested:

    1. 100% outdoor air systems shall be applied.
    2. 6 to 15 Air Changes per Hour shall be provided.
    3. Directional airflow into the laboratories shall be provided.
    4. An assessment of the research equipment heat load in the room is required.

This specification is intended to restrict the exposure to ionizing radiation, as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP), by means of engineering controls and design features.

  1. General Radiation Laboratory for Handling Unsealed Sources
    1. Benches must be capable of supporting the weight of necessary shielding such as lead bricks for gamma rays.
    2. Adequate space must be available for the storage of radioactive wastes generated within the laboratory.
    3. A locked cabinet shall be available for the storage of radioactive sources.
    4. Hand-wash basins, preferably with elbow- or sensor-operated taps, should be provided near the exit door as far as possible.
    5. Negative pressure should be maintained to allow an inward flow of air into the laboratory.
    6. A radiation warning notice both in English and Chinese shall be posted at the entrance.
  2. Medical, Dental and Veterinary Diagnostic X-ray Facilities
    1. The laboratory design should comply with the Guidance Notes on the Design of Protective Shielding for Medical, Dental and Veterinary Diagnostic X-ray Facilities published by the Radiation Health Division, Department of Health.
    2. A red laser warning light shall be installed outside the entrance that activates when the equipment is in use.
    3. A radiation warning notice both in English and Chinese shall be posted at the entrance.
  1. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facilities / Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facilities / Electron Spin Resonance Facilities
    1. The location of the laboratory and the sitting of these instruments should be carefully planned in order to minimize the stray magnetic fields in the nearby areas including the upper and lower floors.
    2. The 5-gauss line shall be drawn around the perimeter of the main magnet of the NMR/MRI/ESR, specifying the distance at which the stray magnetic field is equivalent to 5- gauss (0.5 mT).
    3. Areas for storage of cryogenic liquids should have sufficient fresh air supply to prevent a build-up of asphyxiants. Risk assessment should be conducted and oxygen sensors/monitors with alarms (either fixed or portable) should be provided when there is a risk of asphyxiation.
    4. An appropriate discharge mechanism shall be provided to exhaust cryogenic gases from quenched superconducting magnets to the outside to avoid creating an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.
    5. Doors of the laboratory that may be subject to the effects of gas expansion during a quench shall open outwards to ensure that they are still openable during pressurization.
    6. Readily visible warning sign for persons with cardiac pacemakers as well as other prosthetic devices shall be posted on laboratory doors to identify such areas.
  1. Wall and ceilings should be made non-reflective.
  2. A red laser warning light shall be installed outside the entrance to the laser laboratory that activates when the laser is in use.
  3. A red laser warning light for individual laser system perimeter sectioned off by laser curtain shall be interlocked with the power of the laser system.
  4. The vision panel in the door shall be covered by permanent opaque material to avoid the escape of scattered laser beams to the outside or be viewed by a passerby.
  5. Sufficient head clearance for the suspended shelves over optical tables should be provided.
  6. Sharp edges of the suspended shelves should be protected.
  7. The fabric of the laser curtain for enclosures or perimeter guards around the optical set-up should
    be fire-resistant.
  8. A laser hazard warning sign shall be posted at the entrance.
  1. Power cables and electrical wires should be arranged/installed with labels tidily and placed inside the server rack if appropriate.
  2. A stand-by generator or UPS is desirable for the support of essential equipment, such as cryogenic systems, scroll pumps, ion pumps, etc.
  3. Chilling/heat exchanging efficiency should be designed according to equipment requirements in compliance with heat exchangers or chillers.
  4. Pipelines with appropriate pressure gauges, regulators, and vent valves shall be designed and installed according to the specifications of the vacuum system.
  5. Unobstructed space between equipment and pipelines should be accessible for operations, cleaning and maintenance.
  6. Crane and lifting appliances larger than 1000kg can be installed in the laboratory for moving or building heavy chambers or equipment. Lifting appliances must be examined and tested before use and periodically inspected and reported by a competent examiner during services. The certified SWL (safe working load) of the crane shall be marked in English on each side of the crane and shall be legible from the ground or floor and the crane shall be marked with the manufacturer’s identification information, on a plate or label attached to the crane.
  7. Crane and lifting appliances larger than 1000kg shall come with an automatic Safe Load Indicator (ASLI) to give warnings and indications of loads on the crane which have reached the pre-determined load settings (e.g. the ASLI shall give a clear and continuous warning when the load of the crane approaches 95% with a tolerance limit of ±2% of the SWL).
  8. Crane and lifting appliances larger than 1000kg shall be equipped with a brake release mechanism to allow manual lowering of the load in the event of power failure.
  9. Step-platform should be provided for access to the top of the chamber.
9.0 References
  1. A Guide to Application for Dangerous Goods License and Approval, Hong Kong Fire Service Department

  2. ANSI/ASHRAE 110 - 1995 Method for testing performance of laboratory fume hoods. American National Standards Institute, Inc. / American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air- conditioning Engineers.

  3. ANSI/ASHRAE 62.1 - 2022 Ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality. American National Standards Institute, Inc. / American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers.

  4. ANSI/ASSP Z9.5 - 2022 Laboratory Ventilation. American National Standards Institute, Inc.

  5. ANSI Z136.1 – 2014 American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers. American National Standards Institute, Inc.

  6. ANSI Z358.1 - 2014 Emergency eyewash and shower equipment. American National Standards Institute, Inc.

  7. Biosafety in Microbiology and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 6th edition. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  8. BS EN 14056: 2003 Laboratory furniture – Recommendations for design and installation. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization

  9. BS EN 12469: 2000 Biotechnology. Performance criteria for microbiological safety cabinets. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization.

  10. BS EN 14175-2: 2006 Fume cupboards – Part 2: Safety and performance requirements. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization

  11. BS EN 14175-5: 2006 Fume cupboards – Part 5: Recommendations for installation and maintenance. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization

  12. BS EN 15154: 2019 Emergency Safety Showers – Plumbed-in Eye Wash Units. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization.

  13. BS EN 60825-1: 2014 Safety of laser products – Part 1: Equipment and requirements. British Standards / European Committee for Standardization.

  14. Classification of Laboratory Ventilation Design Levels – 2018. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.

  15. Code of Practice for Owners of Boilers and Pressure Vessels – 2016. Occupational Safety and Health Branch, Labour Department.

  16. Code of Practice for the Storage and Use of Special Gases in the Micro-electronics Industry – 2005, Fire Services Department

  17. Guidance Notes on the Design of Protective Shielding for Medical, Dental and Veterinary Diagnostic X-ray Facilities (2004). Radiation Health Series No. 7. Radiation Health Unit, Department of Health.

  18. Laboratory Biosafety Manual 4th Edition (2020). World Health Organization.

  19. Laboratory Design and Maintenance 2020. World Health Organization.

  20. Laboratory Design Guide 2013. The University of Hong Kong.

  21. Laboratory Design Guideline 2020. Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.

  22. Laser Safety Guidance Notes for Industry, Display and Entertainment – 2005. Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.

  23. NSF 49 – 2020 Biosafety Cabinetry: Design construction, performance and field certification. National Sanitation Foundation.

10.0 Note

Refer to the current versions of any regulations, guidelines, codes and standards cited in this document.

11.0 Glossary

BBQ Local Exhaust Ventilation

Local lab exhaust (affectionately referred to as "BBQ local exhausts" at HKUST) ventilation systems are specifically designed to capture and remove hazardous substances, fumes, and dust generated during laboratory operations. Examples of local exhaust ventilation systems used in laboratory settings include canopy hoods, capture hoods and snorkel exhaust arms. These systems are designed to maintain a specific airflow rate and capture velocity to effectively remove contaminants from the work area. They are typically connected to a dedicated exhaust system that is separate from the general room exhaust and it removes captured contaminants from the lab and discharges them safely outside the building.

Biological Safety Cabinet

A biological safety cabinet (BSC) is a primary containment device designed to provide protection to laboratory personnel, the environment, and the experimental material from exposure to infectious agents or other biohazardous materials. The BSC is designed to maintain a negative pressure within the cabinet, which prevents the escape of airborne contaminants. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has established a standard for biological safety cabinets, known as NSF/ANSI 49 and it defines three types of BSCs based on their design and level of protection. Type I BSCs are designed for personnel and environmental protection but do not provide product protection. Type II BSCs provide personnel, environmental, and product protection, and are further divided into four subtypes based on their airflow design. Type III BSCs are designed for maximum containment of hazardous materials and provide personnel, environmental, and product protection through a gas-tight barrier.

Biosafety Level

Biosafety level refers to a set of biocontainment precautions and procedures that are implemented to protect laboratory workers, the environment, and the public from exposure to potentially hazardous biological agents. There are four levels of biosafety, ranging from BSL-1 (minimal risk) to BSL-4 (maximum risk), with each level requiring increasingly stringent safety measures and containment practices. The specific level of biosafety required for a given laboratory depends on the type of biological agent being handled, the potential risks associated with exposure, and the nature of the laboratory work being conducted. Please note that there are no BSL-3 or BSL-4 laboratories operating or allowed for on Campus.

Clean room

A clean room is a highly controlled environment within a research laboratory that is designed to minimize the presence of airborne particles, dust, and other contaminants. Cleanrooms are typically constructed with specialized materials and equipment that are designed to minimize the release of particles and contaminants into the environment. These may include, depending on the class of clean room and specific requirements, high-efficiency air filtration systems, positive room pressures, and specialized clothing and equipment for workers. Cleanrooms are classified based on the number and size of particles present in the environment, as determined by air sampling and particle counting. The classification system is based on the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard 14644-1. The ISO standard specifies the maximum allowable concentration of particles in the air, based on the size of the particles.

ISO Classification

Maximum Particles/m 3


















Not specified

Ductless Fume Hood

A ductless fume hood is a type of ventilation device that is designed to capture and remove airborne contaminants from a laboratory setting without the need for ductwork connection to the lab fume exhaust system. Instead of exhausting the fume hood air, ductless fume hoods use filters to remove contaminants from the air before recirculating the clean air back into the laboratory.

Electromagnetic Interference

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) considerations are an important aspect of laboratory design, particularly for laboratories that use sensitive electronic equipment or perform experiments that require precise measurements or control. EMI can be caused by a variety of sources, including radio frequency (RF) radiation, electromagnetic fields (EMF), and electrical noise from nearby equipment. EMI can cause interference with electronic equipment, leading to inaccurate measurements, data corruption, or equipment failure.

Emergency Eyewash and Shower

An emergency eyewash and shower is a safety device that provides a quick and effective means of rinsing off hazardous materials or chemicals from the eyes, face, and body in the event of an emergency.

Emergency Ventilation System

An emergency ventilation (EV) system is a critical safety feature in certain research laboratories that are designed to protect laboratory personnel and the surrounding environment in the event of hazardous materials spills or releases. Upon activation of the EV mode (signified by the activation of EV sirens and warning lights) The EV system cuts off the return air from the laboratory to the Air Handling Unit and supplying 100% fresh air to the laboratory, which enables the contaminants to be diluted. In parallel, exhaust fans situated on the roof top operate at maximum capacity to remove the contaminated room air from the fume hood for release at roof top level. This fast-acting response aids in restricting the spread of hazardous materials, decreasing the risk of exposure to laboratory personnel and emergency responders, and preserving the surrounding environment.

Floor Loading

Floor loading requirements for research laboratories refer to the amount of weight that a laboratory floor can support without causing damage or structural failure. It is important to consider the floor loading requirements of the purpose of the laboratory or equipment that will be used in the space. The floor loading of existing buildings are listed as below:


Floor loading (kPa)

Main Laboratory Building

(Zone J 1/F and Zone H 2/F)


Main Laboratory Building (other areas)


Entrepreneurship Center


CYT Building


In general, laboratory floors are designed to support a minimum of 3kPa, which is sufficient for general laboratory equipment. However, certain types of equipment may require higher floor loading requirements, such as for cold rooms and clean rooms, which can require up to 5KPa or more. The structural integrity of the laboratory floor should be evaluated by a qualified structural engineer to ensure that it can safely support the anticipated loads. If necessary, the floor may need to be locally reinforced to meet the required floor loading requirements.

Glove Box

A glovebox is a type of containment device to provide a controlled environment for handling air or moisture-sensitive materials. The glovebox typically consists of an enclosed chamber with gloves attached to the front or sides of the chamber, which allows the user to manipulate the contents within the chamber without exposing it to the external environment. The glove box is designed to maintain a controlled environment, such as a low oxygen or low humidity atmosphere, and may be equipped with various monitoring and control systems to maintain the desired conditions.

Hazard Warning Placard

The Hazard Warning Placard System is a system implemented by the Health, Safety, and Environmental Office (HSEO) to communicate the hazards present in a laboratory to all staff, students, visitors, and emergency responders. The placards are placed at the entries to laboratories and provide information on the hazards present in the laboratory, as well as any protective equipment or procedures required for safe entry. Accurate labelling of the placards is essential to ensure the safety of the campus community and emergency responders. HSEO periodically reviews the placard system, and any changes in the hazard status of a room should be reported promptly to ensure that the placards accurately reflect the current state of affairs within the laboratory.

Laboratory Fume Hood

A fume hood is a ventilation device that is designed to remove or capture airborne contaminants generated within a laboratory setting, such as toxic gases, vapors, and particulates. The fume hood works by creating a negative pressure zone within the hood, which draws contaminated air away from the user and towards a dedicated fume exhaust system that removes the contaminants from the laboratory environment.

Laboratory Ventilation Design Level (LVDL)

Laboratory Ventilation Design Level (LVDL) refers to the set of design specifications, components, and operating procedures for a laboratory ventilation system that are intended to effectively manage and control the levels of airborne chemical hazards that can be produced during laboratory-scale procedures.

Noise Criterion

Acoustic requirements in a research laboratory refer to the specific standards and criteria that must be met to ensure that the laboratory environment is free from excessive noise. Noise Criterion (NC) system is a standard for measuring and specifying the noise level of a space, and is commonly used in laboratory design and construction to ensure that noise levels are kept within acceptable limits. In general, research laboratories should meet NC values of 35 to 40, which is considered to be an acceptable level of noise for laboratory environments. NC-35 to NC-40 refers to a range of noise criteria that correspond to a maximum allowable noise level in decibels (dB) at various frequencies from 63Hz to 8000Hz.

Noise Criteria



























However, laboratories that use sensitive equipment or perform experiments that require extremely low levels of noise may require lower NC values.

Risk Group

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies biohazardous materials into four risk groups based on their potential risk to human health or the environment. Each risk group requires specific safety measures for handling, transportation, and disposal, with Risk Group 4 requiring the highest level of biosafety containment.

Room Pressure

Room pressure in a research laboratory refers to the difference in air pressure between the laboratory and adjacent spaces. Maintaining proper room pressures are important for a variety of reasons, including controlling the spread of contaminants, preventing cross-contamination between different laboratory areas, and ensuring the safety of laboratory personnel. Some laboratories (such as chemistry labs) are designed to maintain a slightly negative pressure relative to adjacent spaces to prevent the spread of contaminants and ensure that potentially hazardous materials or substances are contained within the laboratory environment. The negative room air pressure required will depend on the specific needs of the laboratory and the types of experiments or procedures being performed. In addition to negative room air pressure, some laboratory areas may require positive pressure to prevent the entry of contaminants from adjacent spaces. For example, cleanrooms or areas where sensitive experiments are being performed, may require positive room air pressure to prevent the entry of contaminants that could interfere with experimental results.

Slab Thickness Requirement

Slab thickness requirements for a research laboratory refer to the minimum thickness of the concrete slab used in the laboratory floor construction. The thickness of the slab is an important factor in ensuring the structural integrity and stability of the laboratory floor, particularly in areas where heavy equipment or machinery will be used. The slab thickness requirements for a research laboratory will depend on several factors, including the weight and distribution of the equipment, the type of flooring system being used, and the anticipated loads on the floor. In general, laboratory floors should have a minimum thickness of 4 inches, which is sufficient for most laboratory equipment and standard loads. However, certain types of equipment or specialized laboratory functions may require a thicker slab.

Ventilated Enclosure Hood

A ventilated enclosure hood is an enclosure that can connect to an exhaust system to provide the internal negative pressure needed to safely remove hazardous fumes from the work area. Air is supplied into the enclosure from the surrounding lab environment.

Vibration Criterion

Vibration requirements for a research laboratory refer to the maximum tolerable levels of vibration that can be present in the laboratory environment without interfering with sensitive equipment or experiments. Vibration can be caused by a variety of sources, including nearby construction, mechanical equipment, and vehicular and pedestrian traffic. These external factors can have a significant impact on the accuracy and precision of laboratory measurements. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed vibration criteria standards including five vibration criteria, known as VC-A, VC-B, VC-C, VC-D, and VC-E. These criteria are based on the maximum allowable vibration velocity in micrometers per second (μm/s) for frequencies between 1 and 80 Hz.




260 µg between (4 and 8) Hz; 50 µm/s between 8 and 80 Hz.


130 µg between (4 and 8) Hz; 25 µm/s between (8 and 80) Hz.


12.5 µm/s between (1 and 80) Hz.


6.25 µm/s between (1 and 80) Hz.


3.12 µm/s between (1 and 80) Hz.

The vibration criterion used for a specific laboratory will depend on the sensitivity of the equipment and experiments being conducted in the space. Laboratories that use sensitive equipment or perform precision measurements may require the use of VC-A or VC-B, while laboratories that use more sensitive equipment may be able to use VC-C, VC-D, or VC-E.

Write-up areas

Write-up areas is a designated workspace within a laboratory where researchers can record and analyze experimental data and write reports. It is important to note that some write-up areas within a laboratory zone may share the same ventilation system as the rest of the laboratory. This means that any hazardous materials or contaminants that are present in the laboratory can potentially be present in the write-up area as well. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that food and drink are strictly prohibited in the write-up area to prevent accidental ingestion or exposure to these hazardous materials.