argonne national laboratory, cleanroom expansion

A sensitive new research facility was improved through thorough commissioning.

Argonne National Laboratory, cleanroom interior during construction

The Objective

As part of its research mission, Argonne created a 6,000-square-foot Class 100 cleanroom in an existing structure, the Center for Nanoscale Materials, including one new air-handling unit serving four cleanroom bays. As a subcontractor to the architect for the project, GBA commissioned the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and the building automation systems controls, including the new AHU, make-up air, zone dampers and reheats, and bay pressurization controls.


The Response

The project consisted of a new air-handling unit above a Class 100 cleanroom. The AHU served three cleanroom zones with reheat. Make-up air for bay pressurization control was provided to the new AHU by two existing 100% outside air units.

  • GBA was initially brought into the project and conducted a thorough design review, but the project then went through an extensive redesign and GBA was only brought in again at the end of the design. GBA still provided 171 design review comments and also was able to conduct three BIM reviews on coordination and maintenance accessibility. Seventy-three construction issues were identified during functional testing.
  • The system operates as constant volume, and there was no isolation between the zones, so no zone setbacks could be implemented unless at the system level. The owner could choose a critical zone for temperature and pressure control, but was limited by the pressure relationship to the existing cleanroom access aisle. The cleanroom exhaust was also not completed during the construction phase, so while the sequence of operation was tested, the cleanroom was left in a limited operation condition to reduce over-pressurization of the space.
  • Another issue identified during construction was that the AHU was designed for 50°F entering chilled water temperature, but the building operators set the temperature at 59°F. This could result in the site needing to lower the chilled water setpoint if the cleanroom loads required additional cooling.
  • A final systems manual was issued to ANL, providing a detailed system description as well as all the design review comments, pre-functional checklists and functional performance tests, and final project results.
  • Overall, the cleanroom expansion project was a complex design and required close coordination from the commissioning provider, controls and test and balance contractor, and site team.


    A pause between design review, redesign, and resumption added complexity

    73 construction issues identified through functional testing

    Detailed systems manual provided for the ANL facilities team

    A sensitive facility requiring close coordination among all team members

    Argonne National Laboratory, 31913D, CNM Exterior Facility: Building 440 including the new cleanroom expansion.
    Argonne National Laboratory, cleanroom during construction
    Argonne National Laboratory, cleanroom during construction