Problem: The University of Rochester was looking to rebrand itself and increase student enrollment, particularly in the Science and Engineering Department. The university’s president understood that in order to achieve this goal, they needed to improve the school’s attractiveness to undergraduate science majors. Although the university had been gaining well-deserved respect for their graduates, the lack of innovative and updated lab facilities was a serious factor in hindering undergraduate enrollment. The current chemistry lab had been regularly upgrading its equipment, but it failed to update the physical workspace. Long counters filled small rooms with drab-colored walls. The design was functional but it was far from a state-of the-art laboratory.
Although they had a sizeable budget, they were working with limited time and lack of existing space. The intent was that this new lab would be a prototype for future development. Hiring a local architect, preferably experienced in sustainable design that would work with the Chemistry Department faculty and be open to their input in regards to interior design was a must. The vintage building, Hutchinson Hall, which would house the 2,265 s.f. lab, was constructed in the 1960’s and the exhaust infrastructure was limited. Fume hoods are a central component in any lab and, knowing that the existing structure did not have the exhaust capacity to accommodate the number of traditional fume hoods the curriculum demanded, required the university to turn to new technology. This had to incorporate safety and reliability, complimented with “green” technology.
Four key elements to be incorporated in the new laboratory were:
- Safe working environment
Solution: The emerging technology of “green” fume hoods was researched by the contracted architectural firm of Bergmann Associates, who was familiar with Erlab, Inc., the company that invented filtered fume hood technology. Erlab’s GreenFumeHood® Technology is an allencompassing, standalone filtration system unencumbered by ductwork. It can be moved around and "re-installed" as the needs of a laboratory change. Fume hoods equipped with this technology yield significant energy savings because of their patented modular filtration column that is designed with back up filters and back up fans and they can be quickly and easily adapted to suit the needs of the new location and/ or application. The focal point of Erlab’s GreenFumeHood technology is its groundbreaking Neutrodine filters which are capable of filtering 98 percent or more of the chemicals commonly used in 99 percent of laboratories. Most of the remaining two percent of chemicals are non-toxic or rarely used in chemistry labs. The filter bank has two identical filters, stacked with an open space between them that contains a series of molecular detection sensors. When the main filter reaches saturation, any escaping molecules are detected by the sensor and adsorbed by the second filter, ensuring redundant safety, an alarm is sounded, and a notification is sent to the user’s laptop or smart phone. The hoods can accommodate liquids, solids, bases and solvents individually or together under the same hood. The addition of the optional HEPA module allows for the use of powders, giving the lab flexibility in research and experiments. These filtered fume hoods don’t require added air, thereby saving on energy costs, in both hot and cold seasons. These filtered fume hoods include G-guard, a “smart technology” integrated into the systems which monitors filter efficiency and alerts to potential spills outside the hood. The results are saving the university thousands of energy dollars a year per fume hood and by adding them to the new lab, they were awarded a $36,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant. Along with having a positive impact on the environment, increased safety features and cost savings, the ductless fume hoods provide students with a work environment that mirrors the way research is done in a professional laboratory.
For more information, visit: www.greenfumehood.com
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