New build

Issues we've found with a proposed new build:
  • The fume cupboards need to be on circuits that are not killed by the emergency shut-off buttons, so you don't end up with a room full of bromine or whatever if somebody hits it.
  • If you have any radioactives, make sure there's suitable storage. We heard a lot of "it can just go in the prep room" and "what about this cupboard backing on to a classroom?". (And get proper CLEAPPS/SSERC advice before handing any radioactives over to a third party moving company!)
  • We initially had standard sink taps listed, which you can't attach tubing to for distillation etc.
  • Make sure the chemstore and preproom are adequately ventilated.
  • Can you black the labs out? Physics at least, but we do plenty of S1-S3 stuff that needs blackout too.
  • As above, at least one ducted fume cupboard is usually required.
Good luck! I'm having nightmares about our move already.
good idea about the blackout. Our physics labs have a wind down screen that covers the windows to darken the room. the rest of the labs have normal black venetian blinds which are just rubbish - wish I had insisted on the wind down screens for all the labs.
 
We have had 2 labs converted from classrooms recently and it was a nightmare, mainly because the work overran. Unfortunately I wasn't involved at the planning stage as I didn't work here then but my main issues are

Firstly, sinks and sockets are not close enough to each other to set up distillation so I have to get out extension leads when we want to do this. HOF is a physicist and didn't think of that!

Secondly we had cupboards installed in the classrooms for storage. All the cupboards had individual locks and there was no master key. I ended up with 30+ keys on a bunch which was a complete nightmare when trying to find the right key for the right cupboard. I made the fitters replace all the cupboard locks with the same one so 1 key now fits all.

Thirdly we have a lot of wasted space where the fitters have made it look nice by leaving big gaps between cupboards so its all nicely symmetrical but they have boxed the gaps in so we can't access the space. Were a small school and every inch of space is valuable.

Lastly make sure you have a separate hand washing sink, it will make your life much easier. We don't have this and when the kids wash their hands in the lab sink the water just goes everywhere.

I would definitely ask for as much as you can in terms of fixed fume hoods, at least one in prep room, one in A level chemistry lab, autoclave, dishwasher, washing machine, still, lots of racking for storage. Are you going to have labs dedicated to specific subjects? if so get classroom storage especially for physics kit so you don't have to haul it around. We have all our physics kit in one lab and its so much easier just being able to pull everything out.
I would also opt for a chem store which is off the prep room but an external building (if that makes sense) so you can build in lots of ventilation and lots of throught needs to be put into where your radioactive sources are to be stored. You can contact your RPO for advice on the best place to situate this. Ours was in a classroom cupboard under a sink, next to a water heater and a bottle of conc ammonia when I arrived here. I nearly died from shock!

I hope it goes well! Good luck
 
1) STORAGE SPACE. Insist on having enough. STORAGE SPACE. Insist on having enough. STORAGE SPACE. Insist on having enough.
2) chem store ventilation At my last school the installed fan system that only ran when the room was above a certain temp, and had no air inlet grill at my current school the extract system vent hole is so small the system has "no detectable air flow"
3) Big enough science water tank. Our water supply keep running out as the tank is too small (12 labs & 1PR running of a 1 lab tank)
4) in the chem labs we cannot run more than 5 heating mantles at a time by sinks. All of the sockets by the sinks are on one breaker. So we have buckets and water pumps for reflux etc
5) do not have the gas cutouts connected to the buildings AHUs have to connected ONLY to Co2 sensors. When the AHUs change mode all the gas was cut off in he science labs.
5) all of the cookery rooms have drains in the floor science labs need this as well!!!!
6) see JeanS above for fridges & freezers and the Geoff for fume cupboards also the fume cupboard sockets need to be reachable without a stepladder!!
7) at my last school the chem store was build small floor area and tall. The still have chem bottles on shelves 2.75 m off the floor

If you are a member of cleeps read:- GL091, PS015, G014 & G9. (please sit down before reading GL091 it is worse than this )
Then try to get the docks to the architects as of course technicians are not qualified to take part in the design process.
 
Ps to my las post
eye washers need to be run off the building water supply and not the labs break tank
 
I have hear do f a fancy new school with underfloor heating - and it was at it's hottest in the chem store.

I agree with draining boards and lots and lots of hooks and display boards - we don't have a single hook - it's driving me nuts waiting for site to pop them up - I even bought the hooks myself.
 

Nick Mitchener

COMMITTEE
I have hear do f a fancy new school with underfloor heating - and it was at it's hottest in the chem store.

I agree with draining boards and lots and lots of hooks and display boards - we don't have a single hook - it's driving me nuts waiting for site to pop them up - I even bought the hooks myself.

who thought heating the chem store was a good idea?
 
  • We initially had standard sink taps listed, which you can't attach tubing to for distillation etc.
Just make sure the hand-washing sink doesn't have lab taps unless you like have all the benches and children and books splashed with water. For 11-16, you might only need a 'science' tap where a teacher would do a demo.
 
There are some useful comments here, I may print them and pass on to my HoF. We should have broken ground on our new build in 2017, but here we are in 2022 and the planning permission has just be denied yet again. We're going from a 70 year old building with 10 labs and 2 prep rooms to a new build with 12 labs and 1 prep room. We've raised concerns about things on the plans numerous times in particular storage, sinks and gas supplies, but we haven't seen the latest plans to see if we've been listened to.
The new location is about a mile down the road so we've got to get things packed up this end ready for a company to come in and move it all to the new build. We'll be on the first floor there so hopefully the lift is a decent size.
 
We are getting a new build in the next couple of years. We are currently split site (separate sixth form) and will all be on one site. This is my brain dump so far that I have given to the member of SLT coordinating the new build. He is a scientist which helps but not taught for a few years and doesn't think like we do so he asked me to capture my thoughts and send them to him as I had them so they could be addressed hopefully before they become an issue. he also said we would be involved in the fit out meetings.....


https://science.cleapss.org.uk/Resource/G014-Designing-and-Planning-Laboratories.pdf

https://science.cleapss.org.uk/Reso...and-refurbished-school-science-facilities.pdf

referral made to the above CLEAPSS documents and issues identified from other technicians on science technician forums

We need heat alarms and NOT smoke alarms in labs/prep rooms and corridors outside labs/prep rooms
Consideration of appropriate ventilation/window openings (ideally without having to climb on benches to reach window handles)

Especially in prep room but all labs need ability to open windows and increase ventilation as experiments require.

E.g running the still or autoclave in the prep room we need to open the windows as gets very hot and steamy

Or a class experiment using bunsens will increase CO2 in the lab much quicker than a class just doing written work so ability to open windows to increase air flow is important
Plug sockets have enough clearance for moulded plug leads
What gas taps are we getting?
What lab stools? Need spare plastic feet as they get lost and then the floor gets damaged.
What taps are we getting on sinks?

Is there an option in either the chemistry specialist lab &/or prep room for one extra tall tap for burette cleaning (we have one currently at sixth form and very useful)

Need to consider sink and socket placement for things like distillation practicals - especially important for specialist chemistry lab
What still(s) are we getting? Are we just planning to relocate existing still(s)? Possibly a chance to look at other options like reverse osmosis for production of water for making up chemicals. RO uses a LOT less water and energy so better for the environment and cheaper to run but do have to change filters periodically so cost there (something to consider anyway)
https://www.eastmidlandswater.com/reverse-osmosis This company has been used by lots of other schools and recommended by other technicians
Fume cupboards - how many, where, vented (not mobile) preferably especially important in prep room and specialist chemistry lab.

Also - the fume cupboards need to be on circuits that are not killed by the emergency shut-off buttons, so you don't end up with a room full of bromine or whatever if somebody hits it.
Prep room….
  • What are the dimensions of the proposed prep room in the new build?
  • Any mechanical ventilation (needed for chemicals)?
  • What are we planning for
    • General chemical storage
    • Specialist chemical storage (with ventilation and lockable/restricted access - not just main prep room key) for dangerous goods eg conc acids/alkalis, bromine, toxics, oxidisers, Secure Your Chemicals chemicals etc
    • Gas cylinders storage
    • Flammable storage (we have recently purchased a new flammable cupboard that G8 organic flammables can be rehoused in)
    • Radioactive sources
  • What shelving/racking is being considered - we are potentially going from 7 prep rooms to one so would be good to know asap what we’ll be working with so we can plan accordingly.
  • Needs gas supply
  • If we're getting rolling racking is the floor suitably reinforced as there will be a lot of weight in one location?
  • What sinks - need to be at least one (preferably two) much bigger sinks that fit washing up bowls (Belfast sink size) for washing up and must have piped hot water (not water heater hot water) and proper draining boards/draining grooves in the worktop next to them.
  • Need at least two dishwashers (currently have 4 across both sites)
  • Need room for fridges and freezers
  • Need room for oven/incubator
  • Need room for autoclave
  • Need filing cabinets/paperwork storage
  • Lights in prep room on switches not motion sensor please
  • We currently have a small work station in one of our prep rooms for our fixed drill and saw for the making and mending of equipment - will there be room for this in the new prep room?
  • Will there be a phone in the new prep room - H&S implications if not
Lab cut off switches for gas/electricity by teachers desks not by exit to lab (kids tend to hit them off as they leave especially if leaving for RTL reasons or similar) which then means resetting the system. Gas and electricity on separate shut offs. A lot of new systems auto shut off after ‘x’ amount of time (often 90 mins). Not a huge problem for gas but don’t want electricity to shut off when the gas does or halfway through the next lesson and turn off the teacher's computer
Labs need decent black out blinds. Especially important for A level physics specialist lab
Are we getting fresh drinking water from mains or will there be a header tank for water or both?
Every lab needs a separate hand washing sink with normal tap and room above for hand towels and soap
If cupboards in labs &/or windows have keys please can all the cupboards &/or all the windows in a lab have the same lock so only 1 key required per lab for all cupboards &/or windows not one key per cupboard/window so a dozen (or more) keys per lab
Electrical system robust enough to run a class set of powerpacks (or similar) without tripping
 
We have had 2 labs converted from classrooms recently and it was a nightmare, mainly because the work overran. Unfortunately I wasn't involved at the planning stage as I didn't work here then but my main issues are

Firstly, sinks and sockets are not close enough to each other to set up distillation so I have to get out extension leads when we want to do this. HOF is a physicist and didn't think of that!

Secondly we had cupboards installed in the classrooms for storage. All the cupboards had individual locks and there was no master key. I ended up with 30+ keys on a bunch which was a complete nightmare when trying to find the right key for the right cupboard. I made the fitters replace all the cupboard locks with the same one so 1 key now fits all.

Thirdly we have a lot of wasted space where the fitters have made it look nice by leaving big gaps between cupboards so its all nicely symmetrical but they have boxed the gaps in so we can't access the space. Were a small school and every inch of space is valuable.

Lastly make sure you have a separate hand washing sink, it will make your life much easier. We don't have this and when the kids wash their hands in the lab sink the water just goes everywhere.

I would definitely ask for as much as you can in terms of fixed fume hoods, at least one in prep room, one in A level chemistry lab, autoclave, dishwasher, washing machine, still, lots of racking for storage. Are you going to have labs dedicated to specific subjects? if so get classroom storage especially for physics kit so you don't have to haul it around. We have all our physics kit in one lab and its so much easier just being able to pull everything out.
I would also opt for a chem store which is off the prep room but an external building (if that makes sense) so you can build in lots of ventilation and lots of throught needs to be put into where your radioactive sources are to be stored. You can contact your RPO for advice on the best place to situate this. Ours was in a classroom cupboard under a sink, next to a water heater and a bottle of conc ammonia when I arrived here. I nearly died from shock!

I hope it goes well! Good luck
Not for ages yet. But we need to plan ahead. I know the school person involved with architects & planning & he's not great at communication & think he knows best...about pretty much everything!
 
Prep room….
  • What sinks - need to be at least one (preferably two) much bigger sinks that fit washing up bowls (Belfast sink size) for washing up and must have piped hot water (not water heater hot water) and proper draining boards/draining grooves in the worktop next to them.
Be wary of Belfast sinks as they're usually fitted from below into a cut-out and if, like ours, they're jacked up too much the whole worksurface flexes enough that all the water drains away from the sink. The grooved worksurfaces are rubbish too, all 40cm-worth of them. My main problem with a sink fitted from below is that there's a chunk of worksurface between the edge of the sink and me (15cm in our case), meaning that I'm leaning forward to use the sink - really poor ergonomics. Although stainless steel has its problems, I reckon the ones marketed as 'catering sink' are better - do you have food tech rooms? Might be worth asking your colleagues there what they're asking for.
 
Be wary of Belfast sinks as they're usually fitted from below into a cut-out and if, like ours, they're jacked up too much the whole worksurface flexes enough that all the water drains away from the sink. The grooved worksurfaces are rubbish too, all 40cm-worth of them. My main problem with a sink fitted from below is that there's a chunk of worksurface between the edge of the sink and me (15cm in our case), meaning that I'm leaning forward to use the sink - really poor ergonomics. Although stainless steel has its problems, I reckon the ones marketed as 'catering sink' are better - do you have food tech rooms? Might be worth asking your colleagues there what they're asking for.
Thanks @Phil_C :)
 
Be wary of Belfast sinks as they're usually fitted from below into a cut-out and if, like ours, they're jacked up too much the whole worksurface flexes enough that all the water drains away from the sink.
on ours the metal frame the sink is on is on the bottom of the MDF cupboards which gets wet and sags with the gap between the sink and the worktop increasing.
 
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