Public Health Ontario (PHO) | London, Ontario, Canada
Located in London, Ontario the new 20,000 sf CL2/CL3 laboratory represents Public Health Ontario’s largest regional facility and serves as the primary backup to the central laboratory facility in Toronto. The London laboratory provides clinical and environmental testing; related expert advice and research in support of the prevention and control of infectious diseases; and the protection and promotion of the public’s health in Ontario. Using a collaborative approach, Merrick Canada provided all CL2 and CL3 laboratory architecture and engineering services to accommodate for the usability and flexibility of its 30-year lifespan. Key design features include:
- The laboratory is in an occupied, commercial grade, multi-use building in a location adjacent to a single-family home residential neighborhood. The laboratory has been designed for construction, operation, and maintenance in this environment, including environmental impacts, biosecurity, and discretion in process, people, and waste flows.
- User focus through the provision of natural light, process, people, and waste flows that maximize efficiency, and open, collaborative spaces.
- Maximization of the usable laboratory space within a fixed footprint was designed using a stacked service space adjacent to the lab while ensuring maintainability of the equipment.
- Layout and program flexibility allows program sizes to adjust and change based on seasonality and emergent demands without need for additional construction. This reduced the size of the laboratory through increase in the utilization factor. This functionality has already been exploited to adjust for PHO’s ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response.
- In addition to the CL3 space, a flexible CL2-CL3 convertible space is included to deal with surges in demand for CL3 space. This space converts to CL3 with the touch of a single button, doubling the amount of CL3 laboratory available.
- Filtration and recirculation of laboratory air in order to recognize energy savings and reduce capital and operating costs while conforming to the requirement of the Canadian Biosafety Standard.
- Virtual PHAC Licensing: with the pandemic making PHAC’s availability to travel difficult, Merrick worked with PHAC and PHO to create a virtual laboratory licensing program. Through a structured combination of live streaming, video, and provision of additional data Merrick was able to get the CL3 licensed within required timelines without the regulator doing a physical inspection. This is the first time this has been accomplished in Canada.
The CL3 interfaces with the CL2 and non-containment area in several ways. The CL3 is equipped with a barrier, double interlocked door autoclave with all maintainable elements located outside of containment. This autoclave has been programmed to additionally allow it to function as a single door autoclave for CL2 waste, resulting in a higher utilization rate and significant savings to the project. Items not able to be autoclaved are removed from containment via the use of Pass Through Chambers (PTCs) on the containment perimeter. These units also have interlocked doors and the ability to use a gaseous decontamination agent within the units. The PTCs are also used to pass samples and supplies into the CL3 without the need to enter containment. Finally, rather than providing the CL3 with a dedicated equipment airlock to gaseous decontaminate and remove large equipment, the Dirty Change room is provided with this functionality. Based the expected usage of the equipment airlock, this dual use change room / airlock, increases the usage rate of the facility without sacrificing functionality. People flows between CL3 and lower containment areas are via interlocked doors equipped with access control and alarmed emergency overrides for use in emergency situations. A barrier shower on the containment barrier in the change area is provided for use in case of spills within the CL3 that occur outside a BSC, while biosecurity is ensured in fire alarm and other emergency scenarios through the use of single direction emergency egress.