In the next three years, new construction is planned in 24.8% of facilities, according to an October 2013 survey conducted by ALN World™, while 21.2% of respondents plan to renovate an existing structure during that same time period (Figure 1).

Adaptability/flexibility, biosafety, cost to operate, safety and security were chosen by respondents as the most important criteria considered when building or renovating an animal facility (Figure 2). Features such as cost efficiencies in construction, design and operations, energy efficient systems, functionality and safety were ranked as a high priority for design and renovation projects. The economy and increased regulations will have the largest effect on future facility designs.

Figure 1

Figure 2

In the survey, ALN World asked those surveyed for some of their ideas of what an animal facility will look like in the future. Some of their ideas included:

  • Live video surveillance, including cameras that monitor animal room status
  • Reduced heat, chemicals and water used in cagewash systems
  • Robots that monitor animal rooms using a camcorder
  • Moveable/collapsible walls to make labs bigger or smaller when necessary
  • More automation
  • Housing that allows for great mimicking of the natural environment
  • Increased storage
  • Alternative energy reserves and increased green initiatives
  • More use of natural daylight/ability to see outside in animal rooms without affecting research
  • Bi-directional communication systems that allow for easy audio/visual collaboration between researchers and client
  • The ability to isolate a single room for decontamination

Elizabeth Doughman is the Editor-in-Chief of ALN Magazine and ALN World., +1 973-920-7662.