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facilities that accommodate both life and
physical science disciplines introduces
more complexity since physical science
research—including chemistry, engineering
and physics—typically requires much less
lab support, with a lab-support-to-lab ratio
of approximately 0.25:1.00.
In addition to flexibility, interdisciplinary research facilities must respond to the
variety of significant pressures other science
buildings must address, including high
utilization and provisions for collaboration,
that are reflected in diverse area allocations.
The variety of solutions exhibited by international interdisciplinary research facilities
are as diverse as the programs they serve.
An analysis of various contemporary
interdisciplinary research facilities in
the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and India,
revealed some similarities and some
Movable lab benches, under-counter movable cabinets with castors and overhead lab services easily
accommodate reconfigurations of labs or removal of lab benches for large instruments and equipment.
• Type of casework (fixed or flexible,
metal or wood).
• Soil conditions and their effect on
• Extraordinary degrees of vibration
• Use of sole-source manufacturers.
• Restrictive site conditions.
• Lab finishes (vinyl composite tile and
epoxy paint versus synthetic flooring and
high-build epoxy finishes).
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH
Sustainable design features and prac-
tices continue to grow with respect to
research facilities (despite the fact that
no formal LEED standard has yet to be
established by the U.S. Green Building
Council for this building type). This
has resulted in increasing numbers of
examples and data points with which to
develop metrics and base trends. Based on
our experience and analysis we offer the
following response to the question most
often asked by clients: “What is the cost
The answer depends on a variety of key
factors, which vary significantly from proj-
ect to project, including:
• What are we comparing “green” to?
Depending on individual client standards,
project location and local customary
building techniques, the project used as
the basis of comparison might already be
well on its way to a LEED specification
status. In certain areas, compliance with
enhanced building codes has already
raised the bar on many projects.
• What costs are included? Capital
costs are classified into direct, indirect
and soft costs. There are direct costs
related to the LEED registration and certification process. Prerequisites include
fundamental commissioning, which
may entail as much as a 1% project cost
increase. However, commissioning for a
research facility isn’t only good practice,
but common practice.
• When is sustainable design considered? Good design should incorporate
sustainable principles. This works best
if begun at the very early stages. Issues
such as building orientation and massing don’t typically cost any additional
money to analyze properly in the design
stage, but can be costly if considered later.
When initiatives overlap, synergies occur,
enhancing their impact.
Based on selected analysis, the step
from basic responsible lab building
design to a LEED Version 3.0-certified
level (minimum of 40 to 49 points) may
represent a construction cost premium
ranging between 3 to 5% above usual
predictable costs. As we reach for higher
levels of certification, assuming these
can be achieved, the premiums grow.
However, the beneficial impacts on
lifecycle costs (total cost of ownership)
should be recognized as a valuable initial
capital investment. These initial costs
represent a fraction of the total lifecycle
costs for ownership. Research facilities
consume extreme quantities of energy
(for example, water and electricity).
Therefore, more efficient design and
equipment, though perhaps more costly,
quickly become cost benefits.
Please see further cost construction
outlooks on renovation and refurbishment
in our digital edition and online at
John Gering, AIA, is managing partner,
and Carlie Campesi is senior associate,
Dir. of R&D Design both with HLW
International LLP, New York, N.Y. (www.
hlw.com). Additional information was
provides by Christopher Baxter, VP, and
Ed Bullwinkle, technical director, both
with consulting firm Faithful+Gould
2015 lab construction
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