Sep 30

Unveiling the Science Behind Life Science Facilities: Key Construction Considerations

Life science and biotech facilities play a critical role in advancing research and innovation. We live in a dynamic world where science and technology have the power to turn our lives upside down on a daily basis. In order to support these initiatives, the right type of buildings and structures must exist. That’s where companies like Gidel & Kocal come in.

As a leading general contractor in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, Gidel & Kocal has specific experience constructing life science facilities. We understand the unique challenges and nuances that come with this type of construction and have the team, knowledge, and resources necessary to complete such projects beyond our clients’ satisfaction.

Unveiling the Science Behind Life Science Facilities_ Key Construction Considerations_

Scientific and technological development requires cutting-edge life science spaces. Gidel & Kocal knows how to bring those buildings to fruition.

Pioneering the World of Life Science Facilities

What are life science facilities? In the simplest of terms, these are buildings that support the activities required for scientific development and innovation. Whether as offices or chemical laboratories, life science construction differs greatly from traditional commercial construction. Pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, biotechnology research laboratories, medical device manufacturing facilities, and more all fall under the life sciences umbrella. Cleanrooms, labs, specialized infrastructure, modified HVAC systems, chemical storage areas… all of these contribute to building and/or converting life science spaces. The type of work that occurs within these buildings would not be possible without such specialized systems in place.

Other elements of consideration include layout, building codes and regulations, and efficient construction scheduling. Only a trusted life science builder can meet these high standards.

Specialized Infrastructure: The Heart of Life Science Facilities

There are several integral components to building any life science facility. The level of precision and customization required for research and experimentation is such that this infrastructure must be in place. Otherwise, operations may be either unsuccessful or unsafe.

Gidel & Kocal has a proven track record of developing state-of-the-art life science spaces with the required infrastructure. This includes:

  • Clean Rooms, controlled environments with a low level of airborne contaminants like dust, microbes, and chemical vapors.
  • Cleanroom Equipment. Specialized infrastructure such as laminar flow hoods, isolators, and bio-safety cabinets promote cleaner, more sterile environments.
  • HVAC Systems. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that are specifically designed to control temperature, humidity, and air quality are integral to life science facilities.
  • Air Handling Units (AHUs). This form of specialized infrastructure in HVAC systems helps filter, condition, and circulate air within clean rooms and other controlled environments.
  • HEPA and ULPA Filters. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and Ultra-Low Penetration Air (ULPA) filters further remove particles and microorganisms from the air.
  • Positive Pressure Rooms, which are special clean rooms that maintain higher air pressure than others to prevent external contaminants.
  • Specialized Wall and Flooring Systems. Life science facilities may require smooth, non-porous surfaces to prevent the buildup of particles and enhance easy cleaning.

Regulatory Compliance for Life Science Facilities

Within each type of commercial building is a set of regulatory codes that must be upheld. Life science facilities have their own compliance codes and standards that ensure the safety, quality, and integrity of their structures. Among these codes are:

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) of the FDA: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a set of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) by which pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing plants must abide for product quality and safety.
  • International Building Codes (IBC): The International Building Code has specific guidelines for the design and construction of life science buildings.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA compliance is of utmost importance in laboratory and manufacturing settings to prevent occupants from hazardous conditions.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): EPA compliance is critical for managing and safely disposing of chemicals, waste materials, and other potentially hazardous materials that may be the result of operations performed within life science buildings.

Additional regulatory compliance considerations that pertain the construction of life science facilities include the International Fire Code (IFC), ISO Standard 14644, ISO 9001, the National Electric Code (NEC), Pharmacopoeia Standards (USP), Local Building Codes and Zoning Regulations, and the various industry standards established by organizations like the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE).

Tailored Solutions for Life Science Facilities

As a life sciences builder, Gidel & Kocal specializes in designing facilities that accommodate the evolving research requirements of companies and organizations in and around the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Some of our most accomplished life science conversions include:

Mammoth Biosciences, an office building conversion to a life science facility.

Nitrome Biosciences, a pre-construction engagement that turned into our company being awarded the actual construction. This included complex modifications to the building core MEP infrastructure and floor by floor Lab Tenant improvement build outs.

Every biotech facility and life science conversion comes with its own set of commercial construction considerations. It’s up to the general contractor to rise to the occasion and meet both the regulatory compliance aspects of such a job while also satisfying client expectations.

There’s an art and a science to a successful life science construction endeavor. With cutting-edge technology, proven construction methods, and a team of professionals to support our work, Gidel & Kocal is here to help your life science facility drive progress.

To learn more about our approach to life science building construction as well as general commercial construction, please contact us today.