Although there are large and identifiable differences in the cost of constructing different types of chemical laboratories, it is difficult to generalize about the cost of one laboratory building versus another. Each laboratory has thousands of factors that must be taken into consideration by the client and the design group for quality, performance, longevity, and availability. When facilities are used as a benchmark, these differences should be taken into account.
Central utility plants (CUPs) often generate steam and chilled water that provide essential heating and cooling for laboratory buildings. CUPs can provide electrical power through cogeneration for large campuses. Savings can be significant if a plant is constructed with spare capacity in anticipation of future new or renovated laboratory buildings. If a CUP does not have adequate capacity in one or more key utilities, clients then face two options: add equipment in the CUP to expand capacity or place new equipment in the new or renovated building for either stand-alone operation or connection to the CUP distribution lines.
In making this decision, initial cost, life-cycle cost, and redundancy of capacity of utilities should all be considered. Adding to the CUP is often preferable because the redundancy of the facility both enables loads between campus buildings to be balanced and provides backup equipment if any one piece of equipment must be shut down for maintenance or replacement. For many research and development laboratory buildings, continuity of service is essential.
When enlarging a CUP is not feasible, an alternate strategy to achieve at least some redundancy is to link the chilled-water and steam-generating equipment in as many buildings as is practical. This strategy budgets for each new building, or renovation, funds for building equipment and for connection to the site loop. Long-term energy savings are not as easy to achieve as with a CUP, but savings are higher than in typical stand-alone installations.
Long-range utility expansion and replacement capital plans are a necessary part of the life-cycle approach. Accurate documents of utility usage are vital for planning. If documents are not available, funds must be budgeted to study all utilities before the scope is developed. Lack of proper definition on this subject can greatly affect the project cost.
The very desirable characteristics of flexibility and adaptability in laboratory buildings can be achieved in many ways and at many scales. Options