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Community | Omar at the I2SL Annual Conference

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Each fall, Bailey Edward looks forward to the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) Annual Conference. Hosted in Raleigh, North Carolina this year, the I2SL Conference is an impressive training and exposition event for high-technology facility professionals.

Omar Bailey, Associate Principal and Branch Manager at BE’s Chicago office, was chosen to speak at the I2SL conference and present a case study of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL). The IBRL is located on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus and was a design / build project with CORE Construction to create a 42,000 SF bioprocessing research facility to be used by corporate researchers and the University. Omar was the project manager for IBRL and is intimately familiar with the inner workings of the project, most importantly research design for academia and corporations alike. The bioprocessing that IBRL facilitates will lead the way for discoveries that improve efficiencies, reduce water usage and increase biofuel production.

The conference itself placed a large emphasis on the sustainable design of laboratories. The topics discussed during the week are an indication of the direction laboratory design is moving, going green. There is a push for laboratory products to be more transparent about their composition and for these products to be sustainable from cradle to grave, meaning from production to going back in the ground the products aren’t causing significant harm to the environment. Furthermore, the use of green chemicals, chemicals that are not volatile, are on the rise. “As green chemicals become the standard, the design of a laboratory will completely change as the equipment to accommodate safety precautions for volatile chemicals, such as fume hoods, may not be necessary,” commented Omar.

Another way for a laboratory to remain sustainable is to measure the usage of the laboratory space and make sure that it is being utilized to its full capacity. Sometimes building a whole new laboratory is unnecessary if an existing lab is underutilized and can serve multiple purposes. By rejuvenating existing labs and combining functions, labs can serve more researchers using fewer resources, a concept tested in BE’s master plan for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Turner Hall.

BE has worked on over 250 laboratory and research facility projects, and just as researchers are making discoveries to improve their industry, we are working to make the facilities they use as efficient, sustainable, and useful as possible. Omar and our other laboratory planners stay on top of the trends, conversations, and events that could impact the design to make sure our clients are receiving state-of-the-art facilities. Furthermore, by participating in conferences such as I2SL, BE becomes a part of the conversation and drives the industry forward.
I2SL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the design, engineering, and operation of sustainable laboratories. Their mission is “To engage all stakeholders in advancing the safety and sustainability of laboratories and other high-tech facilities globally.”