ranging from modular, generic laboratories to plug-in/plug-out or replacable modular casework can contribute to useful, long-term adaptability. The key issue, however, is that the utility distribution (ventilation, electrical/data, and plumbing systems) must have commensurate flexibility and adaptability. The value of providing additional capacity, adequate and accessible shutoff valves, capped "T" joints in utility mains for future connections, and accessible electrical and data panels cannot be overemphasized. Laboratory renovations occur more frequently in utility distribution than in any other feature. The ability to easily access the utility infrastructure for modifications and repairs often influences satisfaction with a laboratory.
Flexibility is the key to effective life-cycle costing. Built-in adaptability reduces renovation costs over the entire life of a laboratory. If an institution or organization has a record of undergoing frequent renovations and adaptations, initial costs to ensure flexibility can be quickly recouped. Flexibility also applies to programmatic flexibility: the ability to reallocate space. Because a small space is easier to reallocate than a large one, the inclusion of a few small modular laboratories per floor can be cost-effective.
Sustainability or green design is an international trend in the chemical industry and in both architectural and engineering disciplines. Hundreds of options in laboratory design improve and conserve the inside and outside environments. Selection of energy-control systems, materials and methods of construction, and pollution-control mechanisms during construction and their proper use during occupancy are critical aspects of sustainable design. The cost feasibility of sustainability should be evaluated in the context of life-cycle costing, whereby the (sometimes) increased initial cost may be reclaimed by long-term maintenance and energy savings, or reduction of regulatory burdens.
Sustainability is much more than energy efficiency. Other aspects include the use of water, the impact on the environment when the building materials are produced, the air quality of the building, and so on. For example, the landscaping can be done with water-efficient, low-maintenance plantings that limit the use of water and pesticides, and the pollution from mowing. Water demands within a laboratory can be reduced through the use of central vacuum systems that replace the need for water aspirators if used. The reduced load on the laboratory waste system can reduce the size of the waste system components.
Although prevalent in small-scale applications, sustainability on a large scale is a particular challenge for laboratory buildings. At present, little information is available about construction premiums and operating savings in the few large-scale sustainable laboratory buildings that have been designed. It may take another decade to recognize the most cost-effective strategies for achieving sustainable laboratories. However, one common practice applicable to laboratory