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Deerns spearheads Biocontainment at CReSA

Deerns is engineering biocontainment services for a new state-of-the-art laboratory building near Barcelona for CReSA.

The primary focus of Centre d’Investigació en Sanitat Animal (CReSA), is research into animal health, particularly diseases that have the potential to transmit to humans. Located within a vibrant research campus near Barcelona, the CReSA laboratory is part of a larger ecosystem dedicated to scientific exploration and knowledge dissemination. The research deals with pathogens capable of causing severe or lethal diseases via inhalation. Laboratories must therefore meet stringent safety measures and need specialised infrastructure and protocols to protect both personnel and the surrounding environment. This is where biocontainment engineering comes into play.

Here’s where Collaboration builds Confidence

Xavier Zanón, Life Science Advisor at Deerns Spain, explains that, when the tender for the CReSA project was announced, Deerns was approached by three construction firms seeking to incorporate advanced biocontainment designs into their proposals. This acknowledgement of Deerns’ expertise underscores our standing as a trusted authority in the field.

Crucially, Deerns’ collaboration with the client has been characterised by a high level of knowledge-sharing and confidence. CReSA, already well-versed in biocontainment practices, brings valuable insights to the partnership, facilitating seamless cooperation and trust between the two entities.

The collaborative nature of the biocontainment design process is further exemplified by the partnership between the CReSA’s biocontainment manager and the Deerns counterpart. Together, they establish design parameters, conduct comprehensive risk analyses, and ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.

Deerns’ Biocontainment Services in Focus

The overarching objective of biocontainment is to protect both people and the environment. This involves several key priorities including:

  • the protection of laboratory personnel
  • the prevention of environmental release
  • compliance with relevant regulations and standards.

Biocontainment measures correspond to the risk associated with the pathogens being handled, stratified into Biosafety Levels (BSL). The CReSA laboratory is designed to meet the stringent requirements of Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3), which is necessary for working with microbes capable of causing serious and potentially lethal diseases through inhalation.

Context and Commitment to Safety

The structures surrounding the CReSA laboratory house facilities focused on microelectronics development, veterinary sciences, and agricultural economics.

The CReSA facility spans three levels, each approximately 900m² in size. The ground floor is dedicated to laboratories and service areas; the first floor houses laboratories and common rooms; and the second floor accommodates all necessary technical services required to maintain the laboratories. The design allows for potential rooftop additions, such as meeting rooms, dining facilities, seminar rooms, and a roof garden.

In the domain of laboratory biocontainment, there is a notable departure from conventional design principles, namely that safety outweighs budgetary concerns as well as design considerations like aesthetics.

Zanón says, “We are fortunate to collaborate with an architect who understands the intricate design methodologies specific to biocontainment facilities. Eduardo Talon’s extensive experience in this domain, along with our prior successful collaborations on projects, greatly enhances our collective ability to deliver optimal solutions.”

The sustainability of biocontainment practices is another important consideration for the CReSA laboratory. While safety remains the top priority, efforts are made to integrate sustainable solutions wherever possible. This includes early integration of sustainability concepts into the design phase and adherence to certification guidelines such as BREEAM and LEED.

Three Barrier Systems

There are three different barrier systems which are employed to ensure biocontainment:

  • Personal Protection including cabinets and isolator systems.
  • Air Handling Systems, designed with several pressure cascades from laboratories to surrounding rooms.
  • Sterilisation (e.g. chemical or thermal) for all the areas where people or samples move between labs.

Incorporating redundancy into system designs is essential to always guarantee safety. Backup systems are in place to mitigate the impact of any unforeseen failures or malfunctions, ensuring uninterrupted operation and protection against potential hazards.

Waste Decontamination

Additionally, all waste matter leaving or being discharged from the facility has to be decontaminated. This is done in three ways:

  • Liquids are chemically treated.
  • Solids are held in ultra coolers until being chemically treated.
  • All air and gas exhaust systems are treated with double filtration.

Timeline and Team Dynamics

Deerns is engaged with the basic design, construction licenses and detailed design of the project, a process that is expected to take six months. Once a date is established for the build, our construction management work will take about two years.

A dedicated working group, comprising engineers with extensive experience in biocontainment projects, has been established for the CReSA laboratory. Furthermore, each design decision undergoes thorough review by a panel of three Deerns experts in quality assurance, based in the UK, the Netherlands and Spain respectively. This process guarantees the highest standards of safety and compliance.

Deerns Spain’s approach to the CReSA laboratory project represents our commitment to excellence in biocontainment engineering. Through collaboration, expertise and dedication to safety, Deerns is poised to deliver a state-of-the-art facility that will advance scientific research while protecting both people and the environment.

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