Labs, Research

Case study: laboratory design

A lab expansion used IoT sensor technology to gather building data

By Tim King and Ray Mans January 21, 2021
Figure 4: Smart sensors located above and next to lighting provide data for motion, lighting levels, temperature and power with Bluetooth technology. Courtesy: CDM Smith

During the preliminary design of a new laboratory expansion project, several strategies were used to promote a healthy work environment through space use principles and “internet of things” sensor technology.

The lab needed a control entry point for arriving technicians and direct and frequent access to adjacent office desk space. The entry point for arriving staff and visitors will incorporate a skin temperature station tied into the building automation system for tracking through employee card or fob reader. Once in the facility, technicians frequently move between the lab and their desk area outside of and adjacent to the lab.

The design incorporated an additional circulation door to encourage a one-way circulation pattern, automatic door openers and motion sensors to reduce occupants touching door surfaces and to provide a clear path of movement. Wide circulation aisles and bench working space provides ample distance between those working at a benchtop equipment and those moving around. Smart sensors located above and next to lighting provide data for motion, lighting levels, temperature and power use with Bluetooth technology. The Bluetooth enables location-based services to be used to determine which technicians were in close proximity to other staff or visitors during the workday.

The smart sensors also provide data on occupant density within certain areas throughout the workday and allow management and operations to alter certain equipment locations and space use over time. The data also provide building operations with digital contact tracing information to be used if someone were to become ill or infected. If this occurred, the building operators would have the information they needed to quickly notify others who were in contact with the person.


Tim King and Ray Mans
Author Bio: Tim King is an architect and vice president at CDM Smith. He has 27 years of experience in architectural programming, planning, design and construction. Ray Mans is a mechanical engineer at CDM Smith with more than 20 years of experience designing building mechanical systems.