University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) required the design and construction of a new ABSL-3/BSL-3 laboratory. A biocontainment consultant was required to ensure the proper design, construction and commissioning of the BSL-3 laboratory to met the 5th Edition of the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), NIH Design Requirements Manual, and NIH BSL-3 Certification Requirements and Checklist. The facility also had to undergo HVAC failure scenarios to ensure that directional airflow could be maintained to achieve third-party certification from CRC. Biosafety and biocontainment experts with intimate familiarity with the CDC Select Biological Agents and Toxins Regulations was required to ensure that the ABSL-3/BSL-3 laboratory construction was built to proper specifications. The ABSL-3/BSL-3 laboratory required an expert review throughout the design process from reviewing drawing submittals to the 100% Construction Documents. The CRC team of professional engineers and biosafety subject matter experts review design documents and issue comments to the A/E firm to ensure that the laboratory is constructed to meet all applicable guidelines and regulations. WBHT’s Biosafety Professional advised UTEP on the compilation of the Biosafety Manual. The review identified the strengths and areas for improvement by benchmarking the Biosafety Policies and Procedures against successful programs supporting similar missions and evaluating the program in relation to best practices. Throughout the project, CRC participated in design and construction meetings and consulted on certification criteria to ensure operational status upon the completion of the endurance period. Construction was inspected regularly by CRC. Commissioning testing was witnessed by CRC and test results were also evaluated by CRC. Recommendations to meet certification were provided by CRC to the commissioning agent. To achieve certification CRC’s biocontainment engineer completed the following:
  • Conducted directional airflow challenges to address airflow reversals  
  • Witness the operation of the Building Automation System (BAS)  
  • Tested HVAC and exhaust systems failure responses 
  • Tested the emergency power system under load conditions and effects on the ventilation system were recorded.  
  • Evaluated the noise levels  
  • Evaluated and tested the bioseals  
  • Measured lighting levels 
  • Tested the accuracy of differential pressure monitors 
  • Conducted thermal imaging assessment for penetrations 
  • Observed airflow and airflow patterns and measured and spatial pressure relationships  
  • Evaluated laboratory operations and equipment
  • Inspected of the mechanical equipment operation 
Part of the certification required an assessment of biosafety requirements. CRC’s leading Biosafety Professional conducted the following:
  • Inspected the building material conditions and finishes 
  • Evaluated the process flow concerning personnel, animals, materials, equipment, waste, disinfection and decontamination  Observed the laboratory’s  ability to be decontaminated 
  • Observed occupants’ knowledge of decontamination methodology 
  • Reviewed biosafety cabinets and HEPA filter housing certifications  
  • Verified autoclave logs and test reports 

Upon successful completion of the certification, CRC has returned to the facility annually to certify the ABSL-3/BSL-3 laboratory.