BOX 2.1 Steps in Benchmarking
several reasons. Benchmarking information may not be expressed in the same terms as the information developed for the existing or proposed research facilities (e.g., occupied area can be expressed either as net square feet (NSF), which may include corridors but not mechanical rooms, rest rooms, etc., or as net assignable square feet (NASF), which most likely excludes corridors and other unassignable areas). In addition, while the total building area is typically expressed in terms of gross square feet (GSF; all occupied and unoccupied areas including mechanical shafts and all wall thickness), the occupied area identified as the research facility may or may not include offices, conference rooms, or lounges, for example. If the benchmarking information includes costs, the cost figures for additions, renovations, and new buildings may be expressed as construction costs or project costs. (For a discussion of costs, see the "Research Laboratory Costs" section of Chapter 3.) Before benchmarking information is used, the basis of the information (e.g., NSF versus GSF, construction costs versus project costs, presence or absence of a central utility plant) should be confirmed to ascertain that the information is comparable to the information developed as part of the facility inventory. Possible steps in benchmarking are shown in Box 2.1.
If the basis of the benchmarking information can be established, the information should be used to compare similar research facilities. For instance, the size of the area typically allocated for synthetic chemistry laboratories may be substantially different from that allocated for physical chemistry and will most likely be very different from the size of the area allocated for biological chemistry research facilities.
If the proposed project is to include an addition to and/or renovation of an existing laboratory facility, the predesign phase should include an existing-conditions evaluation, which is needed to generate a description and preliminary cost estimate for renovations required to bring the facility up to current stan-