UTSW Medical Center – Animal Resource Center’s (ARC) Vivarium and Research Facilities

UT Southwestern Medical Center - New Vivarium Facility

The EAB Team provided TAB and Building Commissioning services during the new construction of the Animal Resource Center’s (ARC) vivarium and research facilities at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The 61,486 square foot project would provide UT Southwestern with the capacity for future research growth. The new Vivarium facility is a five-story building with four levels of animal labs, holding floors, and a mechanical penthouse.

TAB Scope

EAB performed TAB procedures on all the equipment located on each floor including lab tracking verification and measuring air change rates for each animal holding room. Early in the project, our team noticed that there was a flexible connection on the inlet side of the exhaust boxes, preventing the box from controlling the proper airflow setpoint. To properly regulate the space, our team correctly adjusted 120 exhaust boxes after coordinating with the mechanical contractor to remove the flexible connection and replace it with the hard duct. Without the airflow being controlled, the differential pressures would swing from positive to negative. Without the proper testing that our team provided, this could have gone undetected until late in the project phase and would have been a critical disruption to the needs of the vivarium.

Another challenge that became evident to our TAB team was the issue of temperature stratification in the animal holding rooms. Essentially, “hotspots” were identified in the room using a digital temperature probe and thermal camera. Upon locating these hotspots, our team suggested a cover to put over the thermostat, shielding it from the direct airflow of the adjacent supply diffuser resulting in hot and cold temperature swings, ensuring comfort to the animals in the space.

Building Commissioning Scope

The building commissioning scope included mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. EAB reviewed the start-up documentation, developed, and performed pre-functional checks, and verified calibration and point integrity of all BAS points and sensors from the field to the operator’s graphical interface. During the Acceptance Phase of the Commissioning Process, EAB performed the Functional Performance Testing (FPTs).

The project began before the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. However, during COVID-19, worker shortages, covid restrictions, and workflow issues presented an unexpected new challenge for our team. Since social distancing was required for collaboration on-site, the best approach was to move to an online platform to conduct meetings. While this platform presented its own unique challenges, it allowed our team to connect with all members of the project team, and effectively manage activities.

As the project progressed, we continued to lead the commissioning team in providing solutions for project challenges. Our biggest challenge was an issue discovered during Integrated Systems Testing between the Electrical and Mechanical systems serving the building. Some sequencing for the Mechanical equipment had to be updated to accommodate different loss of power scenarios. The solution recommended by EAB was what ultimately led to a successful resolution to the problem.

“It was a long project with unexpected challenges along the way. Our team was always “at the ready” and available to assist the UTSW team. We were thankful to be a part of this project and create a comfortable and optimally operating space.” – George Teasdale

EAB proudly helped UTSW Medical Center feel the difference on this project. We utilized the project documents in conjunction with working with the animal resource center personnel to overcome comfort condition issues and provide a stable pressure tracking lab. When it was time for the owners to move into the building, our commissioning team managed the contractor team to ensure that projects were resolved, and an optimum operating facility was delivered. Our team was dedicated to the project, worked closely with the USTW team, identified issues, and found solutions.

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