lems with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are particularly frequent upon start-up. Commissioning should be done by an independent agent, not the design engineer, construction manager, or contractor, in order to obtain an objective, unbiased evaluation of building systems. Many institutions strongly believe that commissioning should be part of the design engineers' or general contractors' basic services. This arrangement is the ideal, but complex buildings such as laboratories really deserve a second, objective inspection. Fees for commissioning services range up to 1.5 percent of the construction cost.

Installation and Calibration of Scientific Equipment. The budget for a laboratory construction or renovation project should include realistic and adequate costs to provide for installation and calibration of all major scientific equipment moved into any temporary facilities and finally into the completed new building or renovation. Surveys of scientific equipment give clients an indicator of the scope of the installation effort. Some scientific equipment can be installed either by the construction contractor or by the vendor or service agency for the equipment. The installer should be selected according to the value or sensitivity of the equipment, or both, not just according to lowest cost. If some of the instruments are installed by the contractor, most will still require calibration.


To address the technical issues in a laboratory design, construction, or renovation project, the committee recommends the following actions:

  1. Appoint an environmental health and safety technical advisor. An experienced EH&S professional is needed to advise the client team in all phases of a laboratory construction or renovation project.

  2. Establish communications with regulatory authorities. Early in the project the institution should develop a working relationship with regulatory authorities whose approvals are necessary for various aspects of the project.

  3. Consider design alternatives. Explore alternative solutions for fulfilling needs.

  4. Complete predesign before committing to a budget. If possible, defer setting the budget total until completion of the schematic design phase, when the scope, concept, and special conditions of the project are determined.

  5. Obtain cost estimates. Construction cost estimates should be obtained from at least two separate, experienced sources, and the estimates should be reconciled at the end of each phase. Develop a list of project cost items as early as possible. Carefully review all bids, and compare them to design-phase estimates.

  6.  Set adequate contingencies. Even with the best planning, some changes will be necessary. 

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