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Current PDF Version of This Guideline


UNC-Chapel Hill has a continuing need to modernize and upgrade its facilities. The resulting construction projects often have significant health and safety requirements due to regulatory oversight. Since these requirements can impact the design of a project, the Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) prepared this EHS Laboratory Design Guide to aid the campus community with planning and design issues. EHS believes that the Guide, in conjunction with EHS’s plan review and consultation, improves design efficiency and minimizes changes. The main number for the UNC-EHS Office is 919-962-5507.


The Guide is a resource document for use by faculty, staff, and design professionals for use during the planning and early design phases of a project. The Guide applies to construction projects for all UNC-Chapel Hill facilities, including leased properties.

Format of Guide

The Guide is formatted to address laboratory design issues pertinent to General Laboratories (e.g.: chemical laboratories) in Section II through VII, with additional requirements for Radioactive Materials Laboratories and Biosafety Level 2 Laboratories presented in Sections VIII and IX respectively. Within the sections, specific design criteria are provided.


Please note that if any Design Guidelines are less stringent than the current NC Building Code, Mechanical Code, Fire Prevention Code etc., it should be brought to the attention of the EHS Department for discussion and revision as necessary. The Design Guidelines are not intended to preempt NC Code without State approval of Alternate Methods and Materials, where these Guidelines are found to be less stringent.

Design criteria are designated in the following ways:

Criterion is typically mandated by applicable regulation(s). The user of the Guide is required to include the design feature.
Criterion is based on well-established consensus standards/guidelines. “Must” is used to reflect a UNC requirement, although not required by a regulation.
Criterion is advisory in nature, based on good engineering and safety practices. It is the discretion of the user of the Guide to include the design feature.

Limitations of the Guide

The EHS Laboratory Design Guide is not “all inclusive.” It does not cover all regulatory issues nor does it cover all design situations. It is important to note that use practices must be considered during the design process, as they can directly influence how the laboratory will be designed (e.g. how hazardous materials are used impacts how they are stored, which is a design issue). In all cases, EHS should be consulted on questions regarding health, safety, and the environment.