Washington Commits to Complete Electrification of Public Health Lab Facility
The Washington State Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratories (PHL) provides diagnostic and analytical services for the assessment and surveillance of infectious, communicable, genetic, and chronic diseases and environmental health concerns. These facilities must remain dependable and resilient. Commonly, such facilities are housed in older, inefficient buildings that are cumbersome to manage and produce significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The department’s Shoreline location utilizes a 50-year-old steam boiler plant that is nearing the end of its useful life. The heating system is also shared with another state facility, placing the system’s resiliency at an even higher risk.
The lab, one of the state’s most critical facilities, is taking action to decarbonize with the complete electrification of the building. The state is partnering with McKinstry to improve the lab’s infrastructure with a solution that upgrades systems, meets critical laboratory requirements, aligns with the state’s clean energy initiatives and preserves its budget. The department of health can focus on its mission of protecting and improving the health of all people in Washington State.
Design is underway on an innovative, ground source heat pump mechanical system that will provide the lab’s heating and cooling needs. The approach uses an on-site, groundwater aquifer as a source to heat and cool the lab in place of fossil fuels placing the facility in better harmony with its surrounding environment. The new system will increase reliability and reduce emissions by 85%. It will also eliminate one million pounds of carbon per year – the equivalent of removing 93 vehicles from the road.
Benefits of the project span beyond operational and environmental impacts. The project will bring 90 new jobs to the community for tradespeople, contractors, local permitting authorities and clean-technology engineers. This includes a commitment to 15% apprenticeship utilization to develop and upskill the workforce, creating pathways for future advancement. The Department of Health will also recognize annual savings by reducing energy costs and avoiding a yearly non-compliance penalty under the Clean Building Performance Standard legislation.