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Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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3
Technical Issues

All building renovation or construction, and especially laboratory renovation or construction, involves many issues that must be resolved and many decisions that must be made. Although it is possible to delegate these tasks to the design professional, the active participation of an informed client in the resolution of these issues and in related decision making greatly enhances the probability that a superior result will be obtained.

Some of the details and issues, such as those dictated by environmental health and safety (EH&S) regulations, are highly specialized and should be left to the experts. Others, such as design alternatives or considerations affecting construction costs, need to be reviewed, discussed, and resolved jointly by members of the client group—such as the client team and user representative—and the design professional. The client team and the user representative should therefore be familiar with these issues so that they are able to make informed decisions. Although an experienced design professional can usually be relied on to inform the client of all possible design alternatives, there are, unfortunately, exceptions. Not only can an informed client interact more satisfactorily with the design professional, but knowledge of design considerations also better enables the client to evaluate the design professional's competence. If in-house architectural staff are experienced in laboratory design and construction, they can help carry out some of these roles.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

Throughout the planning, design, and construction phases of a laboratory renovation or construction project, careful attention to EH&S issues is essential

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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to ensure that the facility can be built and occupied. EH&S issues influence every major decision—from site selection to suitability of the building for occupancy. Further, careful attention to these issues is important in interactions with the neighboring community, which may be passionately concerned about the local impact of a chemical facility. Community relations issues are discussed in Chapter 1.

Careful consideration of EH&S issues will enable the project team to comply effectively with the complex and sometimes conflicting array of federal, state, and local regulations, codes, and ordinances that affect construction and operation of laboratories. It is important to recognize that codes and regulations governing the construction, renovation, and operation of laboratories and the undertaking of a building project by an institution have a common objective—to guarantee that the building and the environment surrounding it will be safe. This common ground can make it possible to reach practical solutions to problems that may arise in the highly intricate regulatory setting that governs laboratory design and construction. When there is conflict, the good judgment of knowledgeable individuals should prevail.

This section summarizes the legal bases for, and prudent responses to, the multiple regulations, codes, and ordinances that affect the construction and operation of laboratories. The committee emphasizes that every major building project team should have the support of EH&S professionals throughout all phases of the laboratory facility design and construction process. Expertise provided by these professionals will help the client team set health and safety objectives for the project, select appropriate engineering criteria to meet those objectives, and identify soundly conceived strategies for achieving compliance with regulatory requirements. EH&S professionals should also be involved in the commissioning process that precedes occupancy of a newly constructed or renovated facility to help ensure the operational integrity of all engineering systems that protect the occupational health and safety of the laboratory users. A knowledgeable member of the institution' s EH&S program should serve as a technical advisor to the client team. This person should be well informed about the program of requirements for the facility; have expertise in laboratory safety, environmental protection, and pollution control; be experienced in working with the cognizant regulatory authorities; and be familiar with facility engineering systems that can create effective, safe, and compliant laboratories.

Codes and Regulations

Construction or renovation of a laboratory building is regulated mainly by state and local laws that incorporate, by reference, generally accepted standard practices set out in uniform codes. Box 3.1 lists the kinds of codes that affect most laboratory construction projects. The codes are usually administered at a municipal or county level but some locations may be administered at a regional

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

BOX 3.1 Types of Code Requirements That Affect Most Laboratory Construction Projects

  • Ventilation—to maintain comfort and occupational health

  • Fire prevention—to detect and suppress fires, in part by limiting quantities of flammable and hazardous chemicals

  • Emergency power supply—to maintain operation of vital life-safety systems such as egress lighting, fire detection, and protection systems during electrical interruption

  • Control of hazardous gases—to reduce the risk from and to control accidental releases of gases

  • Building height—to limit the height of laboratory buildings based on chemical usage

  • Seismic requirements—to reduce the hazards posed by earthquakes

or state level. Scheduling the obtaining of permits required for construction will help prevent unnecessary delays in a project.

It is important to give permit-granting agencies early notification of significant construction projects within their jurisdiction so that they can anticipate their workload and staffing needs. Agency professionals can offer guidelines and insight into unique local needs that could influence a building project. Agencies in some jurisdictions like to set up a single point of contact between the agency and representatives of the project team, usually the client and architect project managers, to facilitate and coordinate the exchange of important information and to establish a good working relationship. One benefit of this structure is that it minimizes the number of people who have to spend time learning the unique processes and procedures of the organizations involved, thus optimizing communication. When an agency has clear and sufficient information about a complicated research facility construction project before actual plans are submitted, it can move more quickly through the required approval and permitgranting process.

Generally, a project must comply with building, fire, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical codes at the local level that may be prescriptive or performance based. Because agencies have widely varying levels of experience in evaluating complex facilities like research buildings, outside experts can be a valuable investment toward timely inspection of plans and construction site activities. Some codes allow hiring mutually acceptable outside experts for plan review and construction inspection, should the agency need the added expertise or personnel to expedite a project.

Local codes often include nationally recognized standards developed by organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). These organizations often adopt standards by consensus of a committee of nationally recognized experts. Many institutions and professional associations have members on a standards committee, who could be a valuable resource to a laboratory construction project team.

Both codes and the national standards evolve over time. Additions and revisions are based on advances in science and technology and on knowledge gained from accidents or incidents involving significant loss of life or property, or environmental damage. A summary of codes existing as of 1995 is contained in Mayer (1995).

As this current report was being written, the three regional code organizations—the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA), and the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCC)—were drafting one uniform national code. Adoption of this building code is projected for the year 2000. Even when there is a uniform national code, however, some large cities may still have their own codes or amendments to the national code to deal with local concerns and circumstances.

Environmental Issues

Four major acts of Congress that set the national agenda on environmental protection have a direct bearing on the operation of laboratories. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses waste disposal and reduction. The Clean Air Act (CAA) concerns air quality and its effects on human health. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act covers the improvement and protection of water quality. Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) ensures a community's right to know what hazardous materials are present in facilities in their community, which enables community emergency response authorities and local fire departments to protect themselves when responding to a fire, explosion, gas or chemical release, or other emergency. Communities are rightfully concerned about what is occurring in their neighborhoods. A laboratory construction project team must become familiar with the requirements associated with relevant environmental regulations to ensure that the completed project achieves compliance.

A major objective of much of this legislation is pollution prevention. SARA Title III is intended to enhance communication between facilities that use hazardous chemicals, the communities in which the facilities are located, and the emergency response organizations of those communities. Laboratory facilities should develop excellent programs in pollution prevention, emergency response planning, communication, and public outreach. This means going beyond regulatory compliance to ensure constructive responsiveness to community concerns. Doing so will foster good relations with the community and will ease conflict that too often arises in the construction of new laboratory facilities. Means to encourage support are discussed in the "Community Relations" section in Chapter 1.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×
Managing Hazardous Waste

Under RCRA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for promulgating and enforcing prescriptive regulations for controlling hazardous waste at all stages, from generation to disposal. The regulatory philosophy of the EPA is to treat laboratory and industrial-scale waste generators in the same way, although there are significant differences between the two in terms of waste volume produced and number of chemicals handled, as well as in the associated potential environmental risks. Universities, in particular, have had great difficulty in implementing an industrial-scale regulatory model to manage hazardous chemical waste generated in individual laboratories.

Management of hazardous waste must be considered by the project team in planning and designing a laboratory facility. The team must understand the life cycle of chemicals within the facility; how they are purchased, delivered, centrally stored, moved to individual laboratories, used, converted to waste, further treated, and packaged for disposal. The establishment of a system to handle this process is important for the safe operation of the facility and to ensure regulatory compliance and cost containment.1

Controlling Chemical Vapor Emissions

The 1990 amendments to the CAA require the EPA to vigorously regulate emissions of sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and ozone-depleting chemicals. Large institutions with laboratories are affected by these rules if they have the potential to emit one or more of the EPA-listed HAPs in amounts greater than 10 tons per year for a single HAP or 25 tons per year for total HAPs. These quantities include emissions from all sources in a contiguous area and under control of a common authority, such as an institution's power plant and boilers and its laboratory facilities. For these reasons, the chemical vapor emissions from individual fume hoods at larger institutions may be required to meet emission standards that the EPA designates based on "maximum achievable control technologies," a sliding scale that changes as technology changes.

The 1990 amendments also require the EPA to establish a separate category covering research or laboratory facilities as necessary to ensure the equitable treatment of such facilities. The result may be a regulatory model for laborato-

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Users can assist by attempting to identify opportunities to reduce waste generation through substitution of less hazardous chemicals or adopting procedures that require smaller quantities of chemicals; recycling, reusing, or recovering chemicals before they become a part of the waste stream; and implementing bench or facility waste treatment. Additional suggestions for working with chemicals are given in Chapters 4, 5, and 7 of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (NRC, 1995). The publication, Less Is Better: Laboratory Chemical Management for Waste Reduction (ACS, 1993), addresses micro-scale experimentation that promotes waste minimization.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ries that recognizes the differences between laboratories and major industries, although it is unlikely to provide relief for major institutions with laboratories that already exceed the limits on quantity of controlled materials emitted.

The potential need for treatment of air exhausted from fume hoods is a major environmental issue affecting laboratory design and presents a daunting challenge for the laboratory designer. Technology for maximum achievable control will increase cost and space requirements. Uncertainty about the requirements of a revised EPA regulatory model for laboratories may justify providing additional space to accommodate future emission control technology, should it be required, to reduce retrofit costs. Current hood use practices should be reviewed by the user representative to explore ways in which air emissions could be reduced. For example, experiments and other operations conducted in hoods should be planned so that they never involve the intentional discharge of hazardous emissions, and control apparatus such as condensers, traps, or scrubbers (to contain and collect waste solvents, toxic vapors, or dusts) should be incorporated into the experimental process. Thus, hazardous materials should be vented from the fume hood only when, in an emergency, a chemical is accidentally released within the hood. Such planning will simplify the problem of treating fume hood exhausts.

Controlling Liquid Effluents

Liquid effluent discharge from laboratories is less difficult to handle properly than is vapor exhaust. Requirements controlling the discharge of pollutants are set by the local sewer authority or publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Sinks are no longer used to dispose of hazardous laboratory waste. Waste water from laboratory sinks must flow through an acid neutralization system that adjusts the pH of the effluents prior to their discharge into the POTW. In new construction this requirement is generally met by installing a central building dilution tank with a monitoring system that measures pH and automatically adds acid or base to ensure compliance with effluent standards. Early communication with the POTW about the intentions of the institution to install such systems in a new laboratory facility will help maintain the good record of compliance that laboratories have in this area of environmental protection.

Health Issues

Under the Laboratory Standard promulgated in 1990 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an institution or employer with laboratories is required to develop its own program to protect the health and safety of its employees. This standard represents a welcome and significant departure from the conventional approaches of regulatory agencies that issue detailed prescriptive standards. An institution-developed program, called the Chemical Hy-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

giene Plan, must meet performance standards set by OSHA. Information in the plan will help guide the development of a healthful and safe laboratory environment. The project team should be familiar with its institution's Chemical Hygiene Plan—the centerpiece of the regulatory program—and refer to it throughout the design process.

Laboratory Chemical Hoods

The fume hood is the principal device used in a laboratory facility to protect the health of workers. The selection, placement, and installation of the fume hood collectively constitute the most important health-related issue the project team will consider. Decisions affecting the entire building's ventilation system, which is perhaps the major cost component of any new laboratory construction or renovation project, will be influenced by hood-related choices. Poor selection and installation of fume hoods will create a serious problem that either endangers the health of workers or drastically curtails the use of the laboratory for potentially hazardous experiments. The design group must accept responsibility for ensuring that the facility fume hoods and ventilation system are properly designed to provide a healthful and safe laboratory environment.

The selection of the proper fume hood requires specific information about the intended use of the hood and the institutional policies that may limit the choice of hood. Kinds of user information that should be obtained in the predesign phase are shown in Box 3.2. Some relevant aspects of institutional policies affecting hood use and design are in Box 3.3.

The number and size of necessary hoods will vary considerably with the type of laboratory. For example, biochemistry laboratory experiments involve minute quantities of chemicals and are usually performed on the open bench. A single hood that provides 6 linear feet of working space may be sufficient to support the needs of several bench scientists who occupy 600 square feet of biochemistry laboratory space. For general chemistry laboratories, one hood providing 5 to 6 linear feet of working space at the face would be the minimum requirement for every two workers. There will be an even higher requirement for hoods in organic and inorganic synthesis laboratories, where a single chemist

BOX 3.2 Information Needed for Hood Selection

  • Equipment and activities that require containment within a hood

  • Properties of materials that will be used in a hood

  • Quantity of materials that will be used in a hood

  • Number of people who will use a hood and the frequency and duration of use

  • Anticipated changes in future use

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

BOX 3.3 Elements of Institutional Policies Related to Hoods

  • Requirements for performance and containment

  • Density of hood use

  • Requirements for limitations affecting the ventilation system

  • Cost

  • Requirement for fume hood controls—occupancy sensors

may require 8 linear feet of working space to contain equipment and other experimental apparatus. The density of hood use in synthetic laboratories could approach a single hood that provides 6 to 8 linear feet of working space at the face of the hood for every 100 square feet of laboratory space. Benchmarking hood use in comparable institutions can be a valuable guide in selecting the type and the number of hoods.

Laboratory Ventilation System

The density of hood use will have a significant impact on the design of the ventilation system because of the large quantity of air that will be exhausted to the outdoors by properly functioning hoods. The ventilation system in chemical laboratories must satisfy two principal health-related objectives: occupational health, which is achieved through the proper installation and operation of chemical laboratory hoods, and occupant comfort, which is achieved by heating and humidifying the general laboratory air in the winter and cooling it in the summer.

A secondary function of the laboratory ventilation system is to prevent the migration of contaminants caused by incidental and accidental release of chemicals from the laboratory into other areas of the building. This is accomplished in part by providing single-pass air (air discharge from the laboratory directly outdoors) and in part by controlling the direction of airflow. The ventilation system should be designed so that air will flow from the areas with the least potential for contamination toward areas with the highest potential. Caution in setting system design parameters is important to ensure that safety considerations do not significantly increase cost. For example, a design requirement that the system should maintain designated pressure differentials rather than simply satisfy the objective of unidirectional airflow may substantially increase the cost of the project.

An enormous amount of energy can be consumed in conditioning the quantity of air that is delivered to laboratories to maintain comfort and ensure safe operation of the chemical hoods. Since laboratory air is not recirculated but instead is discharged as single-pass air, much energy is wasted. This problem is significantly exacerbated as the magnitude of hood use increases.

Fiscal responsibility provides a strong incentive to implement energy con-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

servation in the design of laboratory ventilation systems so that utility cost savings can be achieved. Energy-efficient systems will most certainly be required for laboratory buildings with high hood use. Technical details of different hood designs are outlined in the ''Laboratory Configuration" subsection of the "Design Considerations" section in this chapter and are discussed in Chapter 8 of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (NRC, 1995).

The principal approach to conserving energy and reducing operational costs is to reduce the quantity of conditioned air that flows to the outdoors through laboratory chemical hoods. The project team should recognize the inherent conflict between the objectives of conserving energy and preserving the health of laboratory users. Reducing the airflow to hoods can increase the hood users' risk. Nevertheless, it makes sense to reduce airflow during times when the number of hoods in use is significantly reduced. Changing airflow characteristics in an operating ventilation system without compromising occupational health is an achievable, but daunting, engineering and operational challenge. Selecting a competent and experienced mechanical engineer to design an energy-efficient ventilation system will help ensure that operational reliability is achieved and that energy conservation and occupational health are compatible as objectives. Such design solutions are complex, and their initial costs will be high. Operating costs, conversely, will be lower than the cost of using conventional hoods. The institution must also recognize that continued operational reliability will be an essential requirement for maintaining a healthful environment. The completed system will require a sophisticated staff of facility engineers and a dedicated preventive maintenance program. While planning for a healthful, energy-efficient ventilation system, the project team must ensure that cost considerations never take precedence over the institution's moral and legal obligation to protect the health of the worker and the environment. If there is a question, EH&S professionals should be consulted.

Unique and Particularly Hazardous Operations

It is important for the project team to identify operations or processes that involve highly hazardous chemicals or that may present unique hazards. A useful first step would be to review the types of operations, protocols, and experiments that are not allowed to be performed without the prior approval of the institution. The Chemical Hygiene Plan is a good resource for this information as it describes the circumstances under which administrative controls would be put into place. Both scientists who carry out these operations and EH&S professionals should be consulted in developing any design strategy to control risks associated with these types of operations. It is important to ensure that the controls are relevant to the risks, are practical to implement, and comply with regulatory requirements. User input in these decisions will afford higher levels of operational compliance in the completed facility.

Processes presenting unique hazards will require careful consideration by ex-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

perienced users and consultants. Chemistry is becoming the universal language of science, and the planners of new chemistry buildings should anticipate that space requirements in some situations may differ considerably from those associated with traditional chemistry laboratories. For example, mutual scientific interests among combinatorial chemists, synthetic chemists, and molecular biologists have encouraged the placement of modern biology laboratories in close proximity to organic and inorganic synthesis laboratories to facilitate collaboration.

Future chemistry laboratory buildings may likely have requirements for laboratory space appropriate for experiments involving human pathogens. If a requirement such as this arises, the project team will need to become familiar with consensus standards for the design and operation of safe biological laboratories. An authoritative reference on biological safety is Richmond and McKinney (1993). Guidance for facility safeguards is provided according to four levels of risk that are based on the potential for occupationally acquired infection and the severity of disease.

Areas that can present unique hazards—such as high-pressure facilities; radiochemistry, x-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and high-energy laser laboratories; and laboratories for research in which the risk of explosion is high—are likely to be included in the program of requirements for new facilities or major renovation projects. Other potentially hazardous areas include those that contain large volumes of chemicals, such as chemical storage or hazardous waste accumulation areas. Each of these areas will present special hazards for which expert consultation will be required to ensure that appropriate criteria are identified to achieve a safe design.

Access Control

The concept of controlled access is relevant in all areas that may be hazardous to health. The objective is to protect persons who are not assigned to the laboratory from exposure that may compromise health. The degree of control over access should correspond to the level of risk. For example, in high-risk areas, access should be limited to individuals specifically trained and assigned to work in the area. In low-risk areas, it may be sufficient to design laboratory corridors so that they are not perceived as public thorough fares.

The configuration of space so as to control access merits careful consideration, particularly for laboratory areas that require limited access. It is important that both the controlled areas and the access points to these areas be easily recognized as such. There should be a way to inform the visitor of appropriate entry procedures or prohibitions against entry. The location of a controlled access area should be convenient for the laboratory staff. It is equally important that access control measures be no more restrictive than the potential risks require; otherwise, they will be quickly abandoned by the assigned laboratory staff.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

Safety Issues

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 19702 established two principal duties for each employer covered by the act. The first duty requires that each employer "shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." The second duty requires that each employer "shall comply with Occupational Safety and Health Standards promulgated under this Act." These duties underscore the need of an employer to insist that a new or renovated facility promote, rather than hinder, safe occupancy. The initial Occupational Safety and Health Standards promulgated under the act addressed workplace safety hazards that were known to cause physical injury to workers. OSHA continues to emphasize an employer's responsibility to safeguard workers from electrical, mechanical, and fire hazards, as well as from exposure to flammable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic chemicals. All of these physical hazards have relevance to the design, construction, and operation of chemical laboratories.

Several safety issues that need to be addressed by the project team are briefly described below. They are intended to highlight the importance of addressing physical hazards that could cause injury to workers as a result of the poor design of chemical laboratories.

Emergency Egress

The most important safeguard for preventing serious personal injury that a building can provide is a means of egress that will permit the prompt escape of building occupants in case of fire or other emergency. The means of egress consist of three separate and distinct parts: the pathway of exit access, the exit, and the pathway of exit discharge. Local fire codes and OSHA standards require that a means of egress be a continuous and unobstructed route from any point in the building to a public way.

In chemical laboratory buildings, the exit access comprises the hallways and corridors that lead directly from a laboratory module or work area to the entrance of a designated exit. This part of the means of egress must provide an unobstructed path of travel both to promote the fast and orderly exit of building occupants and to allow emergency responders to gain safe and efficient access to the emergency scene. These functions can best be preserved if the corridors are designed so that they do not encourage misuse. For example, if a laboratory corridor that serves as an exit access is designed with a greater width than is

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P.L. 91-596, Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 section 5, codified at 29 USC 651 et seq.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

necessary to provide for efficient travel of staff and movement of supplies and equipment, it is inevitable that a portion of the corridor will be used for storage of equipment and supplies. In the absence of rigorous administrative controls, obstructions will occur and safety will be quickly compromised. Another occasional design deficiency that invites corridor misuse is the placement of columns that project into corridor spaces. Extending the laboratory wall to the corridor side of the column solves the problem and provides more space for laboratory use.

Emergency Equipment

Safety showers and eyewash fountains are essential emergency equipment in chemical laboratory buildings. Design requirements are specified in national consensus standards, such as ANSI Z358.1-1990, that by rule have been promulgated as OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Safety showers and eyewash fountains should be available in areas where chemicals are handled. Safety showers should be located in the corridor near the exit doors from each laboratory module or in the laboratory on the hinged side of the exit door. It is preferable that all safety showers be placed in a standard location throughout the laboratory building to facilitate occupants' awareness of their location. The safety showers should be equipped with a rigid pull-down delta bar. Chain pulls are not advisable because they can hit the user and be difficult to grasp in an emergency. While vanity curtains should be discouraged as they interfere with efforts to provide emergency treatment, the inherent conflict between modesty and safety needs to be addressed.

Eyewash fountains should be placed in a dedicated and standard location. Travel time from any potential source of exposure to the eyewash fountain should be less than 10 seconds. While the laboratory sink appears to be an obvious choice for placement of an eyewash fountain, normal sink functions often obscure the presence of the fountain or obstruct access. A dedicated place close to or part of the emergency shower is therefore more desirable. The location of eyewashes and safety showers needs to be coordinated with laboratory security provisions. An eyewash fountain should provide a soft stream or spray of aerated potable water for at least 15 minutes. Fountains that flush both eyes simultaneously should be installed.

Dedicated Storage Space

The safety of occupants in a chemical laboratory building and compliance with environmental regulations can be improved by providing dedicated and appropriately designed space for storage of chemicals, hazardous waste, and emergency equipment. The requirements for storage of chemicals in stockrooms and laboratories will vary widely depending on local code; the quantity, hazard-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ous nature, and characteristics of the chemicals; and the nature of the laboratory operations. A careful review of all requirements by the project team is needed to ensure an adequate design for chemical storage space and to safeguard this space against reappropriation to other functions. Special attention should be given to storage requirements for flammable and combustible liquids, gas cylinders, highly reactive substances, toxic materials, and controlled substances.

Dedicated space within or near the laboratory is desirable for the accumulation and temporary storage of hazardous chemical waste materials. These areas could also be used to foster and support recycling and reuse programs. Safety considerations should be a primary concern in the design of these spaces. For example, the areas should not interfere with normal laboratory operations, and ventilated storage may be necessary. In larger accumulation areas, it may be necessary to consider fire suppression systems, ventilation, and dikes to avoid sewer contamination in case of spills. Requirements for such space should be specified by the EH&S program staff.

A central storage area for emergency equipment will improve the effectiveness of emergency-response functions. Space should be provided for storing self-contained breathing apparatus, blankets for covering injured persons, firstaid equipment, personal protective equipment, and chemical spill cleanup kits and spill-control equipment. The need and requirements for this space should be coordinated with the EH&S official responsible for managing the facility's emergency-response program.

Workers with Disabilities

The well-designed chemical laboratory should provide, or be capable of being easily modified to provide, reasonable accommodations for qualified workers with disabilities. Reasonable accommodation may include making laboratories readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities and by acquiring or appropriately modifying equipment for use by individuals with disabilities. Most laboratory designs that allow simple rearrangement of casework—i.e., laboratory cabinetry—can be easily adapted to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. Many accommodations will also improve the safety of occupants without disabilities. For example, keeping aisle space clear of obstructions to accommodate workers with impaired mobility will enhance everyone's safety. Special hardware that makes it easy to open and close doors can benefit all laboratory workers who carry supplies and materials from one laboratory to another. In considering reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities it is necessary to ensure that the accommodation will not result in a significant risk to the health or safety of other workers. Qualification statements for workers with disabilities who seek employment in chemical laboratories should include a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the laboratory.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×
Space Layout Issues

Laboratory worker safety is an important consideration when determining the specific layout for laboratory equipment, casework, and work desks. Worker safety issues, for example, should take precedence over program needs in determining the appropriateness of open laboratories for chemical operations, the location of chemical laboratory fume hoods, the location of entrances and exits, and whether student work desks should be included within the operational area of a working laboratory. Other aspects of these issues are discussed in the section on "Sociology" in Chapter 1.

Open laboratories have had a positive effect on improving laboratory occupants' compliance with safety requirements. Peer pressure can be persuasive in elevating the standards of individuals whose commitment to safety falls below the standards set by the group. But open laboratories are not appropriate for laboratory operations that present moderate to high risks or for laboratories where the level of safety practice appropriate for the work conducted by individuals in the laboratory varies considerably. Generally it is not advisable to adopt an open laboratory design concept if the potential risks associated with laboratory operations require formal access control measures.

The placement of laboratory fume hoods should allow alternate routes of egress so that laboratory personnel do not pass in front of the face of the hoods in emergency situations. A desk or seated workstation should never be located directly across the laboratory aisle from a hood. Hoods should be placed in low-traffic areas away from doors and air supply grills to prevent air turbulence that could compromise hood performance.

Generally student desks should not be located in working laboratories that present moderate to high occupational risks. Desks may be provided for students in low-risk laboratories, but the placement of the desks should be carefully considered by the laboratory supervisors and the project team's EH&S professional. For example, student desks should be placed near an exit door so that students will not have to move through a hazardous area to reach the exit, but the desks should also be located such that they do not create a barrier to emergency egress.

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

Laboratory users involved in the predesign or design phase of a research laboratory project often have preconceived impressions of what features their future laboratory must have. However, laboratory users often lack experience in laboratory design and so may be unfamiliar with design issues, possible design alternatives, or methods of evaluating those alternatives. The design considerations described in this section are unique to laboratory buildings. While some of the design approaches discussed in this chapter may increase construction and

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

BOX 3.4 Examples of Large-to Small-Scale Design Considerations

1. Building and site issues

 

• Renovation versus new construction

• Building site

2. Floor planning

 

• Adjacencies

• Traffic flow

3. Laboratory configuration

 

• Individual laboratories

• Support spaces

4. Building services and structure

operation costs, they are critical to the functionality of the facility and the safety of the building users and surrounding community. Users' familiarity with alternative approaches to specific laboratory design issues will most likely lead to a more efficient, cost-effective, flexible, safe, and environmentally appropriate laboratory facility. Although an experienced and knowledgeable design professional can assist in the identification of design issues to consider and can evaluate appropriate alternative approaches to laboratory design, this is not always the case. Even when an experienced and knowledgeable design professional is available, it is advantageous for the user representative and the client team to become informed consumers of the design professional's services.

The design considerations presented here range from those requiring large-scale decisions, such as constructing a new building versus renovating an existing building, through intermediate-scale options, such as floor planning, to small-scale issues, such as laboratory configuration. They also include considerations related to structural as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems (Box 3.4). Administrative policies should be considered throughout, since many institutions have defined practices or standards that affect many design issues. Many of the design considerations are interdependent. Decisions regarding larger-scale issues, which should be made early in the design process, can limit or preclude many of the smaller-scale design decisions. Knowledge of these dependencies, often provided by the laboratory design professional to the client team, will help streamline the design process and maximize the potential for a cost-effective and optimum design solution.

Some of the design considerations discussed in this chapter include specific alternative approaches. What is acceptable as an alternative in laboratory design may differ according to scientific discipline. This report focuses primarily on chemical, biochemical, and molecular biology laboratories, but it is also relevant

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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to laboratories in related disciplines such as food science, agricultural science, pharmacy, materials science, some engineering sciences, and physics. However, the requirements of highly specialized laboratories, such as animal facilities, are covered in other guides such as the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (NRC, 1996). Richmond and McKinney (1993) provides design details for laboratories using identifiable infectious agents.

Acceptable design alternatives also differ between organizations on the basis of their goals, geographic location, governing authorities, and other factors, The goals for a new research laboratory building or renovation should be determined in the early stages of planning as they will influence the development of appropriate design alternatives. Geographic location may influence the acceptability of a particular design alternative; for example, the more stringent seismic requirements of building codes in southern California, as compared to New Jersey, will influence the overall height of the laboratory building in California both because of the increased structural costs associated with the applicable building codes and because of building height restrictions. Similarly, the authority of local governing authorities to interpret zoning regulations, building and fire codes, and other local regulations can influence the design of the laboratory facility.

Choosing between the different alternatives is a complex process that must strike a balance between benefits and costs. The latter include construction, total project, operation, and lifetime costs of the building; these costs are discussed in the section on "Research Laboratory Cost Considerations" in this chapter. When choosing between the different alternatives, other factors besides costs and benefits also need to be considered (see Box 3.5).

Of all the criteria noted in Box 3.5, flexibility is the one that often pervades all the design considerations discussed in this chapter. Flexibility, which is also referred to as adaptability, is the ability of a building site, building design, or individual laboratory to meet both current and unforeseen future needs. Future laboratory additions, renovations, and modifications can be implemented cost effectively, in a timely manner, and with less disruption to other users if the laboratory facility is designed to be flexible. Flexibility may come at a modest increase in the initial construction cost; however, because numerous changes will be made to a laboratory over its lifetime, the cost incurred to design and

BOX 3.5

Criteria for Evaluating Design Alternatives

• Present versus future costs

• Operating versus capital costs

• Tangible and intangible benefits

• Functionality

• Zoning environmental requirements

• Aesthetics

• Schedule and time to completion

• Flexibility

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.6 Building Design and Site Selection Issues

• New construction/addition/renovation

• Building air intake and exhaust

• Campus interactions

• Building site

• Access to the building

• Zoning and regulations

• Total environmental design approach

• Building height and footprint

build a flexible laboratory building will be more than recovered over the lifetime of the laboratory.

Building Design and Site Selection

Designing and siting any large building involves many considerations, some of which are given in Box 3.6. Siting a laboratory facility requires attention to all those listed and others. Some issues, such as new construction versus renovation, must be resolved before others can be considered. Others, such as building height and number of floors, are interrelated. The resolution of some, such as desired interactions, depends on the sociology of the institution. Others, such as zoning, require the participation of specialty consultants. A master plan and a facilities program should be successfully completed before any decisions are made about building design and site selection.

The resolution of these issues requires a large number of participants. The design professional should assist the client team to understand the dependencies of some of these issues, and expert consultants should be engaged where necessary. The process discussed in Chapter 2 should be used.

Renovation Versus New Construction

The predesign phase of the laboratory project often includes a recommendation to renovate an existing facility, build an addition to an existing facility, build a new facility, or combine the three approaches. The recommended renovations may involve an existing laboratory building, or the conversion of a nonlaboratory building to laboratory use. The primary advantage of renovating an existing building is the potential savings that result from reuse of the existing structure, enclosure, partitions, and MEP systems and equipment. However, for large renovations or additions, the potential savings may be minimal because some or all of the building components may require modification or rehabilitation. For example, the building structure may require reinforcement either to accommodate programmatic requirements related to loading or vibration-free environments or to comply with current building codes. Programmatic require-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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ments may also necessitate modifications to the building enclosure or demolition and reconstruction of existing partitions, or both. Changes may also be needed to facilitate repairs. The existing MEP systems and equipment will most likely require replacement or substantial modification to extend their useful life or to meet programmatic requirements. On the other hand, it may be necessary to renovate if the existing building is designated as historical.

One advantage of building an addition is the potential for reducing costs by simply extending the existing MEP systems. Such savings are most often realized if the existing MEP systems and equipment were initially designed with future additions in mind. If the MEP systems were not designed and sized to be extended, the necessary modifications to the existing system will reduce the potential savings. Another advantage to building an addition versus a new freestanding building is its proximity to existing facilities; connecting adjacent facilities could support the trend towards collaboration, interaction, and interdisciplinary research.

Building Site

If the predesign recommendation is to construct an addition or a new building, a building site must be selected. While the selection process for a building site is complicated by many factors and can be difficult, the decision regarding the building site should ultimately be based on a total environmental approach. How does the building fit into the campus and community? What demands are placed on the natural and man-made environment? (See Box 3.7.) Construction of a laboratory building, as with any large building, places demands on the local infrastructure of roads and utilities. Improvements to the infrastructure are often required, and the cost has to be borne by the project, the sponsoring institution, or the local community. For example, electric power, telephone and communications lines, and sewer and water connections may have to be upgraded. For corporate and academic campuses with other centralized utilities, such as steam

BOX 3.7 Demands Made on the Environment by Laboratory Facilities

Natural Environment

Man-made Environment

• Air quality

• Transport of hazardous materials

—Building emissions

• Additional vehicular traffic

—Traffic emissions

• Space for parking

• Water quality

• Fire protection

—Building effluents

• Access for emergency response

—Storm water runoff

 

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.8 Elements of the Regulatory and Legal Environment Affecting Laboratory Renovation and Construction

• Laws

• Pedestrian access

—Clean Air Act

• Historic designation

—Clean Water Act

• Required permits

—Americans with Disabilities Act

—Occupancy

• Zoning requirements

—Sewage

• Fire codes

—Building

• Access and parking requirements

—Use

for heating and cooling water, expansion of or upgrades to the central power plant and cooling towers may also be needed.

Zoning Laws, Codes, and Regulations Affecting Building Design and Site Selection

The zoning, permit, and regulatory process can influence the design, use, construction start-up, progress, and occupancy of the research laboratory facility. A laboratory building must comply not only with the laws, codes, and regulations to which any building must conform but also with additional legal and regulatory restrictions specific to laboratories and the work conducted within them. Many of the kinds of restrictions and considerations affecting the use and design of laboratory buildings are listed in Box 3.8, and some of these are discussed in the ''Environmental Health and Safety" section above in this chapter. Requiring permits is a routine aspect of the regulatory process. Building, occupancy, use, air rights, storm water, and sewage permits may all be required in a laboratory construction or renovation project.

Zoning regulations often dictate the acceptable use of the proposed building site and can place severe restrictions on the siting and design of a laboratory building. They may restrict or regulate the building height, footprint size, users' parking, service requirements, building appearance, landscaping, and even the intended use of the building. Zoning regulations and building codes governing the use, storage, and disposal of potentially hazardous materials, which are common in laboratory facilities, can influence the location of a new laboratory building or an addition to a laboratory building. Zoning regulations and building and fire codes can restrict the conversion of an existing nonlaboratory building and the renovation of an existing laboratory building.

The zoning and building permit processes in many communities may require public hearings and interagency reviews. A municipality's call for public comment can politicize proposed construction if appropriate community support

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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is not sought. Methods for engaging community involvement are discussed in the "Community Relations" section of Chapter 1.

Building Height and Footprint

The maximum allowable building height in a given locality is commonly limited by zoning regulations and local building and fire codes based on the nature of the activities conducted in the building and the potential fire hazard created by the use of flammable materials. The height of each floor is influenced by programmatic requirements related to MEP systems and the desired ceiling heights in laboratories. A floor-to-floor height of 15 to 16 feet is common, although in some types of laboratories 12 feet suffices, and in buildings with interstitial floors a greater floor-to-floor height is necessary. Interstitial floors are service floors between the laboratory floors that provide dedicated space for MEP equipment and air and water distribution systems to the laboratories.

The combination of the maximum allowable building height and the floor-to-floor height will limit the number of floors that may be built on a site. If a specific gross square foot area is wanted, a building with fewer floors will require a larger footprint to obtain that amount of gross square foot area. Zoning regulations, however, can also restrict the maximum allowable footprint. Restrictions imposed by zoning regulations concerning the building footprint and height can exclude certain sites from further consideration based on the amount of gross square feet needed in the proposed building.

Regardless of the restrictions on height and footprint size, the overall size of the proposed building or addition should strike a balance between programmatic requirements and the scale of the surrounding campus or community. Footprint areas of 20,000 to 30,000 gross square feet are not uncommon and have the potential to accommodate a number of research groups. Footprint widths of 80 to 100 feet are also not uncommon and provide sufficient dimensions for a variety of contiguous laboratory and laboratory support functions. However, academic campuses or surrounding residential neighborhoods may not have many multistory buildings with footprints of these dimensions. Therefore the scale of the surrounding campus and community should be considered when determining the building footprint.

Building Air Intake and Exhaust

The siting of a laboratory facility and the location of its air intake systems and exhaust stacks require careful consideration to minimize the possibility of contamination of the incoming air by neighboring buildings or activities, exhaust from vehicles on nearby streets, or exhaust from vehicles in the building loading area. The local prevailing winds as well as building exhaust and other sources of pollutants, such as vehicle exhaust, all need to be considered when locating the

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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air intake for the building. Similarly, the location of the building exhaust must be considered to avoid contamination of neighboring buildings via their air intake, windows, or other openings. Equally important, the exhaust stacks must be located so as to prevent exposure of people outside the building to potential exhaust hazards. A more detailed discussion of the design considerations related to the fume hood exhaust system is provided below in this chapter.

Campus Interactions

In selecting the building site for a laboratory facility, planners should consider desirable campus interactions that should be encouraged and maintained. An academic or research campus is a dynamic environment where researchers in one building routinely interact with colleagues in other buildings. Interdisciplinary research is commonly promoted, encouraging chemists to interact with materials scientists and engineers, biologists to interact with agricultural scientists and environmentalists, and project teams to interact with academic and planning committees. In additional to collegial interactions, researchers interact with individuals who provide campus support services, which vary from campus to campus but may include machine shops, graphic arts, instrument repair shops, libraries, accounting offices, central stores, and many others.

In the predesign phase, a diagram of interactions is commonly developed to rate the relative importance of interactions between laboratory users and individuals or groups outside the laboratory building. The same approach can be used to rate different siting alternatives based on how each promotes or discourages important interactions; the siting of an addition or new building should consider and, if possible, support the interactions identified as most important. The location of entries to a laboratory facility as well as public and private amenities can all affect the interactions between building users and outside parties.

Access to the Building

The site of a laboratory addition or a new laboratory building must allow unrestricted access by people and vehicles. Access to the building itself must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant laws and regulations. Because people will arrive by car, by bike, on foot, in wheelchairs, and by public transportation, provisions for dropping off and picking up people by car and requirements for access to public transportation all have to be considered.

Research is a 24-hour-a-day activity, and so the safety implications of providing 24-hour access need to be considered when a building site is selected. For example, a building located on the edge of a campus may be more accessible to visitors from outside the institution, but such access could possibly create a safety risk to building users, particularly at night. A building located in the

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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center of a campus may reduce access for uninvited visitors and encourage interactions with other campus occupants but may also require visitors and users to walk from possibly unsafe perimeter parking lots day and night. The risks posed by the proposed building location, whether it is on a campus, in the center of town, or at any other location, need to be assessed as part of the siting decision. Once the site is selected, appropriate site lighting and accessibility features, such as ramps, should be designed to minimize risks, improve personal safety, and maximize access.

Access to a laboratory building by large vehicles, such as tractor-trailer trucks, is required for delivery and pickup of materials and supplies. Proper access to and design of the loading dock are also required for the safe handling of materials that may present chemical or biological hazards. Equally important, a laboratory building must be accessible on multiple sides by large fire protection vehicles and other emergency response equipment and vehicles.

Total Environmental Design Approach

Ultimately, the design and siting of a laboratory facility should incorporate a total environmental approach based on knowledge of all aspects of the building's function and environment. The issues include both natural and man-made environmental elements, as well as legal and regulatory requirements.

Floor Planning

The planning of the laboratory floor is influenced by the building's site, building and fire codes, security concerns, laboratory users, the culture of the organization, and other design decisions made during previous phases. The laboratory floor layout and the resulting traffic flow can reflect or change the culture of an organization. For example, the building can promote interaction by centralizing or clustering research offices and by locating conference rooms or other meeting spaces to allow ready access from the laboratories and offices, or it can isolate researchers by placing small, closed laboratories along a lengthy circulation corridor.

Interaction diagrams can be used as a method to identify desirable and undesirable interactions within the building as well as critical interactions between occupants of the building and the surrounding campus and community. These interactions should be considered when alternative floor layouts are evaluated to identify appropriate adjacencies.

In a corporate research facility, the research laboratories may need to be located in areas of the building that are not readily accessible to the general public. In that case, meeting rooms are needed so that visitors can interact with the building occupants without having to enter the secure area of the building. A reception area with adjoining conference rooms, augmented by the necessary

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

security measures, is a common solution to the need for providing spaces accessible to invited guests while restricting access to other portions of the building. The building can be designed to clearly define the entrance and the areas within the building intended for use by the general public.

The design group can help the client develop a systematic approach to identifying intended interactions, security levels, and functions of the building. The planning of the various spaces on each floor should reflect the established interaction criteria.

Modular Approach to Laboratory Floor Layout

A modular approach to laboratory floor layout is generally recommended by design professionals and often used. The single laboratory module is the starting point for the floor layout. Larger laboratories, which can support group research activities, sharing of support facilities, and the larger area required for teaching laboratories, can comprise multiple laboratory modules. When a floor layout is modular, partitions to separate laboratory units can easily be added to the larger laboratory units to define space for different activities if the need arises.

The size of the laboratory module and the grid configuration are often determined at the same time—one typically informs the other. In turn, the number of modules and the grid configuration determine the overall size of the building footprint. The structural grid is defined by the structural column and beam locations. Thus for a building with a structural grid of 24 feet by 30 feet, a single laboratory module would typically occupy one-half of the width of the grid, or in this example an area 12 feet by 30 feet, or 360 square feet. The area of the laboratory module may be reduced, however, by the configuration of the circulation corridor. For example, the area of the laboratory module would be reduced to 12 feet by 24 feet if a 6-foot-wide peripheral circulation corridor were used. Mayer (1995) discusses typical laboratory module sizes and standard work area layouts for them.

Planning a floor layout by the modular approach and standardizing the sizes and shapes of the individual laboratories will create a flexible floor plan that is space efficient and less costly to construct than one with fixed assorted-sized laboratories. Developing a generic laboratory design with features that accommodate the majority of the researchers' requirements can also result in a highly efficient research laboratory facility. Customized configurations of the laboratory and its support spaces can be less flexible, less space efficient, and more costly to construct. Some customization, however, is necessary to accommodate the specialized requirements of individual research laboratories. On the one hand, customization in laboratory support spaces can provide necessary unique facilities without compromising the integrity of the generic approach to the research laboratories. On the other hand, inessential personal customization of research laboratories or laboratory support spaces can delay the progress of the

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

design and documentation phases and escalate project costs. Highly customized laboratories limit the ability to move research activities from one laboratory to another, and highly customized features desired by one researcher may represent an encumbrance and safety hazard to other researchers. Minor changes to a generic laboratory are easy to accomplish at a modest cost, whereas changes to a highly customized laboratory can be costly.

Laboratories, Offices, and Support Space Adjacencies

The relationship of the laboratories, offices, laboratory support spaces, and other support spaces in a building is critical to the functionality of the building and the efficiency of the research facility. For instance, the functionality of the research facility can be maximized if laboratory areas are configured contiguously, and the efficiency of the research suite can be maximized if the laboratory support spaces are located adjacent to the research laboratories. But some laboratory facilities may require particular activities to be separated. For example, in a university environment, research laboratories are most often separated from teaching laboratories and classrooms. Teaching laboratories and classrooms that support introductory science courses may generate considerable pedestrian traffic, which can inhibit the movement of researchers, supplies, and equipment between laboratories and laboratory support spaces. Further, increased security problems may result if research laboratories are located adjacent to public access corridors. Other laboratory settings may require separation for technological reasons. For instance, researchers using vibration-sensitive equipment often need to be physically separated from those whose use of large motors or impact devices creates vibrations. And, as pointed out in the section "Environmental Health and Safety" above in this chapter, controlled access may be required for health and safety reasons.

Laboratories are the most expensive space in a research facility. They should be organized with appropriate proximity to laboratory support areas, storage space, offices, and building support areas in an effort to maximize the costefficient use of all spaces of the building. Laboratory support spaces, storage space, and, to the extent possible, offices should be designed to facilitate possible future conversion to laboratories. The modest increase in project costs incurred as a result of designing for this future adaptability will be saved many times over during the building's lifetime through savings in future laboratory renovations and minor alterations. Research laboratory buildings designed without adaptability in mind may require major renovation for a minor alteration to a laboratory as a result of inaccessibility to laboratory services or unavailability of appropriate space for expansion.

During the planning of the laboratory floor, researchers commonly request offices located adjacent to the laboratories. Decentralized offices located adjacent to and interspersed with laboratories allow researchers to circulate between

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

office and laboratory with minimal effort. However, centralized offices may encourage researcher interaction. Further, because offices can use recirculated air, they can be served by a dedicated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system if centralized. Laboratories, which in most cases cannot recirculate the exhaust air, can then be served by a separate HVAC system sized only for the laboratories. Using the less costly, recirculated-air HVAC system for offices and minimizing the size of the costly HVAC system serving the laboratories can reduce operating costs. Finally, creating laboratory zones composed of many contiguous laboratory modules is generally considered a more flexible arrangement than isolated laboratories because it allows research groups to grow and shrink without costly renovations to the space they occupy.

Laboratory support functions, including instrument rooms, equipment rooms, tissue culture rooms, glassware wash rooms, and storage rooms, are also often centralized in areas or zones. Sometimes laboratory support zones flank a central circulation corridor with research laboratories located on the periphery. In these instances, offices are often clustered and located at the corners of the laboratory floor to ensure that each office has an exterior window. This configuration also ensures that laboratories are adjacent to rooms housing laboratory support functions. Other configurations locate laboratory support spaces in a central zone separated from the peripheral laboratory zones by a racetrack circulation corridor. A service corridor may bisect this laboratory support zone. The various types of corridor configurations are more fully discussed below in this chapter, in the section on "Corridors."

The size and location requirements for storage space—a laboratory support function—should be carefully considered, as should expectations for short-or long-term use. Appropriate and adequate storage areas should be included in the planning phases, particularly for storage of potentially hazardous chemicals that require unique environments. Supervision and management of the storage areas can be as critical as the provision of adequate, well-designed storage spaces and should also be considered in design specifications. Storage space should support the research and other activities within a laboratory building and should not be used to house defunct equipment or unusable chemicals.

Strategic design and use of storage areas, particularly those for chemicals, can have many safety, environmental, and health-related benefits, as discussed in the section "Dedicated Storage Space" in this chapter. Conversely, storage of chemicals and flammable materials in a laboratory can increase users' exposure, increase the fire load in the laboratory, exacerbate a fire or other incident, and increase the cleanup cost after such an incident. Laboratory storage rooms should therefore be located adjacent to the laboratories they support and equipped with storage cabinets built to house flammable materials and ventilated cabinets for the storage of toxic and noxious materials. Equipment storage rooms should be included in the design of a laboratory facility to minimize the storage of unused equipment in the laboratory.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.9 Common Floor Layouts

  • Central circulation corridor

  • Off-center circulation corridor system

  • Peripheral or racetrack circulation corridor

  • Peripheral or racetrack circulation corridor with exterior offices

  • Central service corridor

  • Open laboratory suite concept

Laboratory floors are often designed around building service cores that centralize building support areas such as stairways and elevators, utility shafts, communication equipment rooms, rest rooms, and other shared functions, such as MEP equipment.

Corridors

The layout of circulation corridors should support efficient access to all adjoining spaces and encourage interaction. It should also support efficient emergency egress as described in the "Environmental Health and Safety" section of this chapter. Long, uninteresting circulation corridors and circuitous circulation pathways can inhibit interaction of the building's occupants.

The arrangement of corridors in research laboratory buildings can take several different forms (see Box 3.9). The "central circulation corridor" layout has laboratories located on either side of the corridor. The "off-center circulation corridor" layout has laboratories on one side and offices or support spaces or both on the other. The "peripheral'' or "racetrack" layout has a circulation corridor on the periphery with laboratories located in the interior of the building. A common variation on the peripheral circulation corridor layout has offices on the exterior of the building with the circulation corridor separating the offices and laboratories, which are then centrally located. A disadvantage of the peripheral or racetrack corridor design is the lack of natural light into and views out of the laboratories located on the interior of the building.

In larger laboratory buildings, service corridors and freight elevators are included in the design to facilitate the movement of supplies and equipment throughout the building without using the circulation corridors and elevators. Service corridors typically serve as pathways for deliveries and MEP systems and as limited storage areas for equipment. A service corridor that combines these functions may require a width of 12 feet and should include typical interior finishes on the walls, ceiling, and floors. A service corridor that serves a single function may require only a 6-foot width and may provide storage space for the adjoining laboratories for cylinders and limited supplies. Valves serving labora-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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tory systems can be located in the service corridor, thus enabling access to service controls if repairs or an emergency shutdown are required. A service corridor may also provide a secure area for pickup and delivery of materials without requiring entry to the laboratories.

For floors configured with peripheral circulation corridors, the service corridor is typically located in the center of the building at the interface of two laboratory zones. For floors with a central laboratory support zone flanked by corridors in a racetrack configuration, the service corridor may bisect the laboratory support zone. The peripheral or racetrack corridor configuration typically results in a building with a footprint exceeding 100 feet. Research laboratory buildings with footprints of this width, though not uncommon, often require careful consideration during the site selection process as discussed above.

Traffic Flow

A laboratory building is a dynamic environment. Hundreds of people from different professions use the building and maintain the operating systems and equipment. These people include researchers, technicians, students, customers, secretaries, and maintenance staff, at a minimum. Specialized service technicians are also needed to keep both the building and the instruments and computers within the building in good operating conditions. The ability of these various individuals to move as required throughout the laboratory facility needs to be considered during the design phases of a renovation or construction project.

The flow of supplies and equipment throughout the building also needs to be seamless. Special considerations are needed to address the quantity, size, and weight of supplies and equipment moved within the building. Large instruments such as NMR spectrometers, mass spectrometers, and laser optics tables, and equipment such as mixers, extruders, walk-in refrigerators, and ovens are used in a typical laboratory building. Other large items such as gas cylinders, cryogen cylinders, and photocopiers also are moved through a laboratory building.

The people, equipment, and supplies all need to enter and move smoothly within the building. Entrances for people should be separate from loading docks for receiving supplies and equipment. Inside the building, people and supplies may share circulation corridors and elevators or, in larger buildings, separate freight elevators and delivery service corridors may be provided. While corridors must be designed to optimize the flow of people, equipment, and supplies, they should also be carefully designed to discourage inappropriate uses, such as storage of equipment and supplies.

In addition to the various users and occupants noted above, chemicals, supplies, instrumentation, and furnishings will need to be safely and efficiently transported to and throughout the building. Safe and appropriate paths for hazardous and nonhazardous materials should also be considered during the design phase. Some building and fire codes restrict or prohibit the transport of hazard-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ous materials in circulation corridors, requiring noncirculation corridors for such use. Corridor and door widths and elevator cab sizes and capacities should all be considered with these special needs in mind during the design process.

Access

Points of access to research laboratories, teaching laboratories, and laboratory support areas have to accommodate people and also large, bulky, and potentially hazardous materials. Large items require wide corridors, wide doors, large elevators, and specially designed corners to permit a wide turning radius. Transporting extremely heavy items within a building may be restricted or even prohibited if the building was not designed to support extremely heavy loads. If only part of the building is designed to support extremely heavy loads, the circulation corridors and elevators used to access that pan of the building must also be designed to support the heavy loads.

A 36-inch-wide door is standard for laboratories and laboratory support areas; however, commonly used laboratory equipment and large instruments may require a wider door opening. Door widths of 42 or 48 inches should be considered in these instances. If a single door leaf of 42 or 48 inches is heavy, it may require special hardware to meet ADA access requirements. Double doors could also be used, but a common solution is to use two doors of unequal width. Typically a 36-inch door, called the active leaf, is used with an 18- to 24-inch door called the inactive leaf. The 36-inch door, the minimum size required to comply with ADA requirements, is used on a daily basis to access the laboratory. The smaller door can be opened easily in the infrequent instances when the extra width is needed to move a large item into or out of the laboratory.

For similar reasons, corridors 6 feet wide or wider are common in research laboratory facilities. Narrower corridors do not permit the movement of large items and can obstruct the bidirectional flow of traffic. Even corridors 6 feet wide may not provide a turning radius sufficient for some large items to turn a comer through a door along the corridor.

Elevators pose similar problems. The width and height of the elevator doors, the size of the cab, and the capacity of the elevator all are critical to the efficient movement of large and heavy items throughout the building. Where large pieces of equipment must be moved, high ceilings and doorways are required. Corridors often must have ceiling heights greater than 8 feet. The movement of tall apparatus may require doorways taller than 7 feet. These standards, regularly used for other building types, should be reexamined when planning a research laboratory facility. Corridor ceiling heights of 9 or 10 feet and door heights of 8 or 9 feet may be required in parts of a building where large equipment is used and moved.

The entry to the building and the pathways within the building for movement of large equipment start at the loading dock and must be clear of any low obstructions. During the lifetime of a building, large pieces of equipment will

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

need to be replaced in the building equipment rooms, and provisions for their replacement should also be included in the initial design of the building.

Egress

Laboratory egress requires all the physical specifications detailed above in the section on "Access" but is also regulated by codes. Dual egress—i.e., two exits—for all laboratories is often required by fire and building codes, and dual egress for other areas is often encouraged. Storerooms or laboratory preparation areas with flammable materials, water and electrical hazards, and chemical hazards should also have dual egress. In addition, there must be a continuous and unobstructed path from any point in the building to an outside exit. This requirement is further discussed in the section "Environmental Health and Safety" in this chapter.

Special Features

Atrium. An atrium can make a strong statement about the ideology of the research laboratory facility. An atrium can serve many functions, such as a reception area, a meeting area, or an opening to bring daylight into the center of a large building. However, atriums can create additional ventilation requirements as a result of additional solar gain or code-mandated smoke evacuation systems. Shading or filtering the solar gain in the atrium can minimize the additional ventilation requirements. An atrium in a laboratory building can create additional complications associated with the balancing of the HVAC system. A proper evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of an atrium should be completed during the design phase.

Loading Dock. The loading dock is the primary point of entry for supplies and equipment to the building. In addition to an area for receiving and shipping goods, the loading dock is also a staging or collection area for a laboratory building. Many laboratory buildings have storerooms, gas cylinder holding areas, waste collection facilities for both office and hazardous laboratory wastes, storage facilities for flammable materials, and refrigerated storage all located adjacent to or easily accessible to the loading dock. Once the materials are in the building, the network of corridors and elevators must support their safe transport throughout the building. Factors determining the location of the loading dock have been considered in the "Building Air Intake and Exhaust" and "Access to the Building" sections of this chapter.

Elevators. Elevators facilitate the safe movement of people and materials throughout a building. Elevators are needed even in a two-story building to move large and heavy items between floors and to comply with ADA require-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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ments for accessibility. In a smaller building, a single elevator may serve for both passengers and freight. A larger building may have passenger elevators accessible from the main pedestrian entrance and separate freight elevators accessible from the loading dock and the service areas.

In a laboratory building, larger elevators with increased capacity may be needed to move the large, bulky, and heavy equipment and supplies throughout the building. Entry areas adjacent to elevators need to be sized to permit large items to easily be loaded into and unloaded from the elevator. If an elevator opens directly into a 4-foot-wide hall, the turning radius may not be sufficient for loading the elevator with large equipment.

Materials Distribution. Larger quantities of materials and supplies are moved within a laboratory building than in an office building. Orderly movement of the materials is accomplished by a well-designed network of hallways, service corridors, elevators, and a loading dock with adjacent areas for receiving, storage, and staging. In larger buildings, a dedicated network of service corridors and freight elevators can be used to minimize the congestion in the pedestrian circulation corridor and passenger elevators of the building. Service corridors with designated freight elevators provide an additional margin of safety for the building users. People using pedestrian circulation corridors are physically isolated from the movement of large, heavy, bulky, and potentially hazardous items through the service corridors. The delivery personnel, using the service corridors, can focus their attention on their task and are less likely to be distracted or startled by a person stepping out of an office into the path of an oncoming, fully loaded delivery cart.

Security. The building design, especially the means of access and egress, should take personal security and the need to protect property from theft into consideration.

Laboratory Configuration

A laboratory with fume hoods, benches, and a sink may be the generic image of a laboratory, but the specific needs of different laboratory activities or scientific disciplines require highly specialized facilities (see, e.g., DiBerardinis et al., 1993, pp. 123–342). In general, research laboratories require special ventilation, are utility intensive, and require special furnishings that can withstand instruments, equipment, and potentially caustic and damaging chemicals. In chemistry laboratories, a fume hood usually provides the special ventilation needed. In molecular biology laboratories, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and biosafety cabinets may be required to meet the special ventilation requirements. These and other features (Box 3.10) of laboratories and many of the related issues that must be considered when designing a laboratory are discussed in this section.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.10 Laboratory Features and Furnishings

• Laboratory desks

• Bench tops

• Fume hoods

• Flooring

• Special ventilation

• Lighting

• Laboratory casework and furniture

• Accommodation of special environments

• Laboratory utility services

 

The modular approach to laboratory floor layout is discussed above in this chapter. It is often more cost-effective to also use standardized laboratory design throughout the laboratory modules for layout, utilities, furnishings, and other features. The standardized or generic laboratory design can be modified to accommodate specific research requirements. Necessary modifications are those that enable laboratory occupants to do their work safely and efficiently.

Laboratory Desks

The location of desks for researchers and support staff should be determined based on considerations of safety and efficiency but should also reflect institutional or departmental preference. The extended exposure of laboratory occupants seated at desks to chemical and other laboratory hazards and the common occurrence of eating food at desks are the most frequently given safety-related arguments against desks in the laboratory. The consumption of food and beverages should be strictly prohibited in laboratories where any hazardous materials are used and can be discouraged if the laboratory floor layout includes lounges designed for eating, drinking, and interaction (NRC, 1995, pp. 82, 94). Previously, smoking was an additional argument against desks in the laboratory, but as a result of changing social practices smoking has been banned in laboratories and in many buildings.

Locating desks for researchers and staff in the laboratory is generally more area-efficient than locating desks in adjacent shared offices. In addition, researchers seated at desks in the laboratory are able to closely monitor the progress of ongoing experiments. Alternatively, some institutions require that the laboratory floor be planned with adjacent shared offices rather than desks in the laboratory. Windows in the wall separating the shared offices from the laboratory allow researchers in the adjacent offices to monitor laboratory activities.

Laboratories with adjoining shared offices may be more difficult to expand for larger research groups without expensive renovations. However, researcher and staff interaction may be encouraged when desks are located in a shared office.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Fume Hoods

Laboratory fume hoods are costly to purchase, install, and operate, but for chemistry laboratories, fume hoods are essential for laboratory safety. Fume hoods are necessary for most chemical research activities, and the use of personal fume hoods in academic chemistry teaching and research laboratories is becoming more common. Many academic institutions believe that both undergraduate and graduate students should be trained in the proper use of laboratory fume hoods. The safety aspects of the hoods are discussed in "Environmental Health and Safety" in this chapter.

In many research disciplines, the area covered by the fume hood is the primary location of all laboratory experimentation. The primary function of the fume hood is to protect the researcher and other building occupants from the hazards of the experiment. Proper selection of the fume hood features and proper design of the entire HVAC system are required for the fume hood to function properly and to provide the protection for which it was installed.

Many features of a laboratory fume hood should be considered when planning a research laboratory (see Box 3.11). The research to be conducted in the fume hood, as well as environmental, fire protection, and safety issues, must all be considered when specifying a laboratory fume hood.

Performance. A discussion of the aerodynamic design of a laboratory fume hood cabinet is beyond the scope of this report and is best left to the fume hood manufacturer. Manufacturers typically specify a fume hood face velocity for optimal performance of their products. Face velocities of 90 to 100 feet per minute (fpm) are typical but can range from 60 to 120 fpm. The capabilities of a building's HVAC system will dictate whether the specified face velocity is obtained and can be maintained. Face velocities too high or too low are detrimental to safety and to the performance of the fume hood. Fume hoods with too high a face velocity are also less energy efficient, which contributes to higher operating costs.

Fume Hood Utility Services. In addition to air supply and exhaust systems, many other utilities typically required for experimentation must be readily available in the fume hood. Typical utility services include running nonpotable wa-

BOX 3.11 Features of a Laboratory Fume Hood

• Performance

• Base cabinets

• Utility services

• Construction materials

• Dimensions

• Location in the laboratory

• Sash type

• Special characteristics

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ter, laboratory waste removal, electric outlets, and lighting. Other utility services can include the supply of natural gas, compressed air, nitrogen, argon, vacuum, steam, and chilled water as discussed in the section "Building Services" below in this chapter. As with the design of generic laboratories, it is advantageous to standardize the design of the fume hood used in most research laboratory facilities that require numerous hoods.

Dimensions. Common exterior widths for fume hoods are 4, 5, 6, and 8 feet with 5 and 6 feet the most commonly requested lengths. The standard exterior depth is 3 feet with an interior depth of about 30 inches. Larger fume hoods are more expensive to operate because of the increased volume of air needed to maintain the specified face velocity. Fume hoods less than 5 feet long can be confining and difficult to use. Some small, narrow, custom-designed fume hoods are used in academic teaching laboratories where laboratory space is at a premium. Fume hoods more than 6 feet long allow researchers to set up more than one experiment in the fume hood or use part of the fume hood for storage. Both practices are forms of misuse that may create a hazardous situation and may increase the potential for an accident. Some academic and corporate laboratories, particularly those whose work involves synthetic and organic chemistry activities, require that each researcher be provided with an 8-foot-long fume hood.

Sash Type. Vertical, horizontal, and combination fume hood sashes are commonly used and are typically composed of tempered glass. A vertical sash is guided up and down in track rails attached to the hood and to the sash sides. The weight of the sash is balanced with counterweights in the back of the fume hood. Periodic inspection and adjustment are needed to maintain an easy, effortless movement of the sash. Horizontal sashes consist of multiple panels, with or without frames, which slide independently and horizontally in tracks at the top and bottom of the sash. Some fume hoods are designed to allow the horizontal sashes to be easily removed, reducing obstructions during experiment setup. In a combination sash, the panels of a horizontal sash are mounted in a vertical sash frame. The sashes can be moved in a horizontal direction as in a horizontal sash, and the frame can be moved up and down as in a vertical sash. The cost of sash type increases from vertical to horizontal to combination. Fume hoods with horizontal sashes generally require less air to maintain the specified face velocity because of the smaller opening created by the multiple panels. These fume hoods are therefore generally less costly to operate. Fume hoods with horizontal sashes, when correctly used, provide a safety barrier of tempered glass for the researcher reaching around the centered panels. However, some researchers find the horizontal sash fume hoods awkward to use correctly and often remove the sash panels or slide them up if combination sashes are provided.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Base Cabinets. Storage cabinets for flammable solvents and for acids are commonly placed beneath the fume hood, a convenient location because the solvents and acids are routinely dispensed in the fume hood. In addition, such storage cabinets frequently require connection to the exhaust air system. Base cabinet drying ovens are occasionally used but may pose a safety risk because of the location of a heat source in an area where flammable-solvent vapors may be present. Fume hoods with no base cabinets may be used to comply with ADA requirements.

Construction Materials. Fume hood construction materials should be selected for durability and suitability for the required task. The construction materials, types of finishes and surfaces, and the type of research all need to be considered. Epoxy-coated metal is typically used for fume hood and base cabinet enclosures. Nonferrous fume hood enclosures are also available for specialized research applications. The interior cabinet enclosure is typically made of an inert, nonflammable, nontoxic, synthetic material. The working surface is typically molded epoxy resin or stainless steel.

Location in the Laboratory. Although experts may disagree on the best location for a fume hood in the laboratory, all agree that the fume hood should be located so as to minimize researcher movement in front of the fume hood. The movement of people and equipment creates eddy currents of air, which decrease the efficiency of the fume hood and can expose the passerby to potentially harmful vapors drawn from the fume hood. Fume hoods should be located away from doors because doors also can create eddy currents. In the event of an accident in the fume hood, one located by the door could block the primary path of egress from the laboratory. A dual-egress design for all laboratories can minimize this problem.

Face-to-face configurations of fume hoods should be avoided due to complex air currents that may be generated by two opposing fume hoods. If a face-to-face arrangement is required, the minimum dimension separating the fume hoods should equal the length of the fume hood but should not be less than 5 feet. Fume hoods should be located as far from researcher desks as is reasonably possible. Beneficial air currents can be created if makeup air (for description see "Exhaust and Makeup Air" below in this chapter) is delivered at the end of the laboratory opposite the fume hoods.

In some research disciplines and for some laboratory activities, such as solvent distillations, researchers prefer that the fume hood be isolated in a room separate from the primary laboratory.

Special Characteristics. Many different, highly specialized fume hoods, such as explosion proof, corrosive resistant, or with filtered exhaust, are manufactured either on a routine or custom basis. Special fume hoods are required when

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

working with radioisotopes, perchlorate, and pathogens. Height-adjustable fume hoods without base cabinets are available for ADA compliance.

Ductless Fume Hoods. Many academic institutions are investigating and starting to use ductless fume hoods in their undergraduate teaching laboratories. Technically, they are not fume hoods because they do not exhaust air from the enclosure to the outside. There is currently insufficient information to recommend them as substitutes for ducted fume hoods (NRC, 1995, p. 185).

Special Ventilation Devices

The laboratory fume hood is the most commonly used device for removal of odors and vapors from a laboratory building, but other devices are also used. Canopies are used to ventilate odors from weighing activities at a balance, ozone and other toxins from plasma emission spectrometers, and excess heat from an oven or other equipment. The exhaust from many instruments, such as gas chromatographs and atomic absorption instruments, should be exhausted from the laboratories. For many instruments, the exhaust venting can be accomplished with a small flexible duct from the instrument to a larger building or fume hood exhaust duct. Numerous special ventilation requirements of instruments and common laboratory activities are frequently overlooked in the planning and design of laboratory facilities.

Laboratory Utility Services

Utility services must be provided to each laboratory. These are discussed in detail in the section "Building Services" below in this chapter.

Laboratory Casework, Furniture, and Bench Tops

Laboratory casework includes cabinets of various configurations above and below the laboratory bench. Casework comes in several different types including built-in, modular, and freestanding. Built-in cabinets below the laboratory bench typically support the bench top. Modular casework is constructed as a system of modular units typically composed of a supporting frame that independently supports the laboratory bench, upper and lower bench cabinets. Some modular casework systems also integrate the laboratory services. A ventilated reagent cabinet adjacent to a hood can be substituted for similar under-hood cabinets. The modular design has a slight initial cost premium but provides substantial savings for organizations that frequently reconfigure laboratories. The modular system allows bench heights to be changed from a standing (36 inches) to a sitting (30 inches) height without major renovations. Base cabinets can also be changed without major disruption to the laboratory.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

Laboratory furniture includes freestanding tables, desks, and file cabinets that are not physically connected to the building and do not have built-in services. Furniture can also include rolling base cabinets that can be put under fixed casework or freestanding tables. For laboratories with the services mounted on the wall or on superstructures, conventional freestanding furniture can provide laboratory flexibility at a minimal cost.

Laboratory casework, furniture, and bench tops come in a broad range of quality and materials of construction. Commonly used materials include wood, metal, plastic laminates, and combinations of these types. Within each type of material a broad range of quality is available. Selection of the type and quality of material is determined by the image the institution wants to project, the type of research conducted in the laboratory, the anticipated useful life of the laboratory, the frequency of renovations, and the project budget available for laboratory furniture. Corrosives can damage the finish and material on a metal cabinet and decrease its useful life. Many laboratories require surfaces that are nonporous and easily cleaned, disinfected, and decontaminated. In these situations, metal or laminates are preferred. Solvent resistivity of materials and finishes should also be considered in selecting laboratory furnishings.

Flooring

The selection of the laboratory flooring should be based on the type of laboratory and the scientific discipline. The flooring should be easy to clean and maintain; it should prevent water penetration and withstand damage from harsh chemicals such as strong acids and caustic and organic solvents. If damaged, the flooring system should permit simple repair or complete replacement. Seamless vinyl, epoxy coatings, or painted concrete are commonly used laboratory flooring materials. Antislip and antistatic mats, pitched floors, and gratings may also be required in special situations.

Lighting

Lighting design is a specialty in itself. Lighting in laboratories, offices, and other interior spaces; control of ambient light; emergency lighting; and illuminating the outside of the building at night all require care in their design, installation, and operation. Lighting levels of 80 to 120 footcandles are common in laboratories and typically exceed lighting levels in other building types such as office buildings. A significant portion of the electricity consumed in a building goes to lighting. Energy-efficient lighting products should be considered, and local power companies may offer incentives for their use. The expertise of a lighting design specialist is required for most laboratory construction and renovation projects.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.12 Building Services and Structure

Services

  • Utility distribution

  • Exhaust and makeup air

  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning

  • Fume hood exhaust

  • Laboratory and fume hood services

  • Special electrical power requirements

  • Communications and data equipment

Structure

  • Structural grid

  • Vibration

  • Floor loading

Accommodation of Special Environments

The list of highly specialized laboratory requirements is endless and varies by discipline. Some commonly encountered requirements include radio frequency shielding, magnetic shielding, isolation from vibrations, constant temperature, humidity control, and particulate control. In general, accommodating these specialized needs is costly, and satisfying a specialized need on a case-by-case basis is more cost-effective than trying to satisfy the need universally throughout the building.

Building Services and Structure

The building services, the configuration of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services and equipment, and the structural system (Box 3.12) are typically determined in the design phase.

Building Services

Laboratory buildings require robust HVAC systems to handle the additional demands placed on the equipment by laboratory fume hoods. In addition, building services may include laboratory-grade, potable, nonpotable, and cooling water; laboratory and sanitary waste removal; and the supply of natural and specialty gas, vacuum, and other specialized services. Many laboratories require special electric services; their electrical circuit breaker panels need to be in the laboratory or immediately adjacent to it. All utility shutoffs need to be easily accessible and strategically designed so that service to localized areas, such as a laboratory

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

or a wing, can be shut down for routine maintenance, for renovation, or in an emergency. Seemingly minor incidents in a laboratory building can have significant financial consequences for want of a readily accessible service shutoff. For example, if a water pipe breaks and water runs for several hours, it may cascade through several floors of a building, damaging ceilings, flooring, wall finishes, and scientific equipment. Water damage, electrical fires, and flammable gas leaks can easily be prevented with strategically placed shutoff valves. The services to each laboratory and to each wing or floor should be isolated and easily shut off. Small laboratory installations, maintenance, or minor repairs become major incidents when the entire building must be shut down to change one washer in a valve that would not close. Shutoffs on deionized water systems are commonly overlooked.

Utility Distribution. Utility chases and interstitial spaces are used to distribute utility services throughout a building. Since laboratory buildings are much more utility intensive than are office buildings, routing the utilities throughout the building is more difficult.

Use of interstitial spaces can simplify utility distribution in a laboratory building and can provide greater flexibility over the building's lifetime. Housing utility services and equipment between occupied floors permits routine maintenance and modification with minimal disruption of the activities of laboratory users. Designing a laboratory building with interstitial space may significantly increase the construction cost, but that cost likely will be recovered over the lifetime of the building through decreased maintenance costs, decreased cost of modification and renovation, and decreased disruption of the primary activities for which the laboratory building was built.3

Utility chases for ventilation ducts, plumbing, and electrical services can run vertically or horizontally, in a wall or along the ceiling. When distributed at the ceiling, ducts and pipes can be left exposed as an intended design element or concealed with a drop ceiling. Servicing or modifying utilities distributed at the ceiling will frequently disrupt the activities of the laboratory staff and other building users.

Box 3.13 lists a variety of locations for placement of utility chases. A utility service corridor, which is very much like an interstitial space except that it can be horizontal or vertical, is a passage within the building with utilities running along its walls either vertically or horizontally. A horizontal utility service corridor is for use by building maintenance personnel and is not intended as a circulation corridor for other building users. DiBerardinis et al. (1993) includes an

3  

Reported in presentations to the committee by P. Richard Rittelmann, Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates, April 13–15, 1998.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.13 Options for Location of Utility Chases Within Laboratory Buildings

• Utility service corridor

• Between laboratory modules

• Rear laboratory wall

• Central utility shaft

• Exterior wall

• Central shaft in service core

• Corridor wall

 

extensive discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches used for locating utility chases within a building.

Exhaust and Makeup Air. Laboratory fume hood operation is dependent on large quantities of air exhausted at high velocities. Laboratory makeup air is required to maintain the code-required balance between negatively pressured laboratories and positively pressured corridors. Ideally, makeup air is introduced to the laboratory at the point farthest from the fume hood, thus allowing for an efficient airflow and ''flushing" of the laboratory. Makeup air can also be introduced through a perforated ceiling plenum. Air intake locations should be carefully chosen to prevent cross-contamination by exhaust air. The design of laboratory airflow requires consideration of the whole airflow balance within a building.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning System. Many contemporary research laboratory facilities are designed to use variable-air volume (VAV) or constant air volume (CAV) HVAC systems. The VAV system uses sensors of various types, installed in the fume hood cabinet, exhaust duct, or sash guide rails, that indicate the amount of supply and exhaust air required to maintain a constant face velocity and a safe working environment in the fume hood. Valves controlled by a microprocessor connected to the sensors are installed in the laboratory air supply and exhaust systems; they regulate the amount of air entering and leaving the laboratory and maintain a constant face velocity at the fume hood as the position of the fume hood sash is changed.

VAV HVAC systems are generally more energy efficient and less costly to operate than other ventilation systems. The higher equipment cost, associated primarily with the need for numerous valves and sophisticated microprocessor controllers, is partially offset by the need for smaller air supply and exhaust fans. These fans can be smaller because, typically, only some of the fume hoods will require the maximum amount of air; others will demand lesser amounts. Each university or corporate laboratory must determine the appropriate relation for its installation. Because of this variable demand, the size of the HVAC supply fans

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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and fume hood exhaust fans can be smaller, which results in both lower project costs and operating cost. However, some experts caution against assuming less than 100 percent maximal usage.

Other fume hood makeup air systems are based on a CAV system that maintains constant supply and exhaust air volumes. These fume hoods, often called bypass fume hoods, are designed with a louver that is exposed when the fume hood sash is closed and that is blocked when the fume hood sash is opened, thus maintaining a constant opening for exhaust air regardless of the sash position. A CAV HVAC system using bypass-type fume hoods may be less costly to install and maintain but is less energy efficient than a VAV system.

Fume Hood Exhaust System. Fume hood exhaust ducts should be made of a corrosion-resistant material, such as stainless steel. Lower grade, less costly materials such as galvanized metal with various coatings have not proven to be as successful for long-term application. Although the initial use of the fume hood may not involve corrosives, the research laboratory's requirements may change over time. The projected savings from using a lower grade material may not justify its use when the future costs of replacement and disruptions to laboratory activities are considered. Some research institutions have chosen to use galvanized exhaust ductwork where ductwork is exposed and stainless steel where ductwork is concealed.

The fume hood exhaust system can be designed as a single exhaust stack or as multiple exhaust stacks. Traditionally, a single exhaust fan and stack served each fume hood in a building. In large laboratory buildings, it was not uncommon to have hundreds of exhaust stacks extending through the roof. Each roof penetration represented a potential hazard in terms of both the exhaust and the possibility of water damage. Routine maintenance of such a roof was difficult because of the potential for exposure to exhaust. With the individual exhaust stacks occupying a significant portion of the roof, rooftop locations for air intakes were limited.

Current building codes mandate the height of the exhaust stack above the roof to minimize potential exposure to the stack exhaust. In modern laboratories, the exhaust from many fume hoods, if not all the fume hoods in the building, is combined in one or more large manifolds. These manifolds may exist as a horizontal duct on each floor, as a vertical duct or riser connecting all floors, or as a single manifold in the penthouse or on the roof. Large exhaust fans serve these exhaust manifolds, and the exhaust exits through one or more stacks often extending 12 to 20 feet above the roof. On many large systems, a second exhaust fan is installed on a single manifold to provide a backup fan, should the primary fan fail or be shut down for maintenance.

A system of manifolds and central exhaust fans has numerous advantages over the traditional design of a single exhaust fan for each fume hood. The maintenance, or balancing, of the relative air pressure in laboratory and nonlabo-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ratory spaces is critical in laboratory buildings. Balancing air pressure in a system with exhaust manifolds, thus allowing the use of fewer exhaust fans, can be easier than balancing air pressure in buildings with hundreds of exhaust fans. Further, the initial equipment, installation, and operating costs are lower for manifolded exhaust systems than for traditional one-fan-per-fume-hood systems. The manifolded exhaust system is safer to operate because the exhaust stack and the building air intake can be separated more easily to minimize the likelihood of exhaust entrainment. It is more efficient in dispersing the stack exhaust because of increased dilution, increased velocity, and a larger air mass. (The manifolded exhaust system increases dilution because a number of fume hoods are vented simultaneously and additional air is introduced to allow the fan to operate constantly at a higher speed, hence a higher velocity. The increased air mass is created by the number of fume hoods served as well as by the additional exhaust air.) The increased velocity and mass allow the exhaust to be dispersed more effectively and to be less affected by wind. The centralization of exhaust stacks in a manifold also has the advantage of allowing for the installation of monitoring systems should they be required in the future, as discussed in the section "Controlling Chemical Vapor Emissions" earlier in this chapter. Further advantages and disadvantages of manifolded fume hood exhausts versus a fan per hood are discussed in Prudent Practices in the Laboratory (NRC, 1995, pp. 192–193).

Laboratory and Fume Hood Services. The concept of generic laboratory design discussed in the section "Modular Approach to Laboratory Floor Layout" above in this chapter can also be applied in providing services for both the laboratory bench and the fume hood, which typically require similar kinds of services. Wet services can include nonpotable hot and cold water, laboratory-grade water, chilled water or glycol, and waste removal connections. Safety-related services include potable tempered water serving eyewash and emergency shower fixtures. The laboratory-grade water may be produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or a combination of these techniques. Air and gas services could include compressed air, natural gas, specialty gases, and vacuum. The list of specialty gases can include nitrogen, hydrogen, argon, helium, and propane. Special regulations apply to many of these gases, such as hydrogen and combustible gases. Electrical services could include outlets of various voltages and voltages controlled by rheostats. Other electrical services often include data and telephone connections.

Specialized laboratory and fume hood services needed by only a few laboratories should be provided on a case-by-case basis. For instance, central vacuum services can be costly. Water aspirators can be used but have some drawbacks and are banned by many institutions. As an alternative, vacuum pumps could be provided. They have a modest initial cost per installation; however, they require cold traps in most applications to condense potentially harmful vapors and to protect the pump, and they require routine servicing and oil changes. Used

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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vacuum pump oil is hazardous and should be disposed of properly. A decision thus must be made about whether or not to install an expensive central vacuum system for an entire building or use an alternate. For some disciplines, the cost can be justified. Similarly, specialized gases can be provided from individual cylinders equipped with regulators. Chilled water or glycol can be provided by individual refrigerated circulating bath units.

Several different approaches are used to distribute services within a laboratory. Hardware delivering laboratory services is commonly mounted on the bench superstructure for island benches and on the wall superstructure for wall benches. Laboratory service drops from the ceiling can be contained in service chases to minimize visual clutter in the laboratory. When services are mounted on a metal frame superstructure that is independent of the laboratory benches, services and laboratory benches can be independently installed and dismantled. Distributing services from the ceiling typically provides a greater degree of flexibility since modifications or repair need only involve the laboratory being modified or repaired. Distributing services from the floor will require numerous penetrations of the floor, creating the potential for leaks from a laboratory above.

Penetrations through the laboratory floor should be restricted to laboratory waste lines and floor drains to reduce the potential for water and hazardous chemicals leaking from one laboratory onto the spaces below. Floor drains are recommended in most chemistry laboratories because of the potential for flooding caused by many sources of water.

Many types of laboratories, such as instrument laboratories, have extensive electrical power requirements. A modern laboratory typically has six or more 20-amp/120-volt circuits and several circuits require ground-fault interrupters; these are often best supplied by a dedicated electrical panel for each laboratory. Dedicated panels minimize the likelihood that the electrical service to a neighboring laboratory will be turned off by mistake. Higher voltages, such as 220 or possibly 440 volts, should be available at the panels for each laboratory. Some pieces of laboratory equipment may require higher voltages or three-phase current. Other requirements for uninterruptible power, emergency lighting, and backup power are pointed out below in "Special Electrical Power Requirements."

Special Electrical Power Requirements. Laboratory buildings have special requirements for power to protect people, property, and the environment in addition to those, such as emergency lighting and ground-fault interrupter circuits, common in any public building and specified by code. Special requirements include conditioned power or uninterruptible power to protect sensitive instruments and computers, maintain heating or cooling for critical experiments, and permit long-term experiments to continue through even brief periods of power interruption. Conditioned or uninterruptible power can be provided universally throughout a laboratory building via special circuits or can be handled on a case-by-case basis where smaller, local equipment is used to provide the special power at a single

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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location. Another option is to locate all users with similar requirements in the same part of the building and provide the service in that one location. Providing conditioned and uninterruptible power is costly. The requests, as articulated by the building users, should be scrutinized to ensure their legitimacy.

Laboratories that use highly toxic materials require emergency shutdown capabilities in the event of an electrical power failure. Some designers have opted to install emergency power backup to the fume hoods used for these applications. Emergency power may also be needed to operate the exhaust fans for these specialized fume hoods. In a building with a manifolded exhaust system for fume hoods, substantial power is required to operate the central exhaust fan, and the supply fan must be operated simultaneously to maintain a positive pressure differential between the building and the fume hoods. Using emergency power to maintain the operation of the fume hood exhaust (and possibly the building supply) during a power outage can be costly.

Communications and Data Equipment. A centrally located, secure room on each floor is needed for the communications and data equipment for telephones, computers, and instruments in a laboratory building. The space should be easily interconnected with other equipment rooms in the building and with the service entry. Information technology and communications specialists should be consulted about room design and equipment installation. The room should be ventilated to remove heat generated by the equipment and will require conditioned electrical power and emergency power for lighting and possibly powering the information technology and communications equipment. Because technology changes rapidly, the building should be designed for adaptability to ever more modern communications. Networking and communications wiring and possibly fiber-optic links should be an integral part of the design and construction of any laboratory building. Prewiring the building during construction is essential for a cost-effective installation and smooth occupancy of the building. Wiring and communications equipment should be installed so that it is accessible for repairs, upgrades, and replacements.

Building Structure

The laboratory building structure should be designed to promote flexibility and adaptability. The structural grid should be sized to support contemporary research laboratory modules. The structure should be sufficiently strong to safely support heavy instruments or a large number of medium-weight instruments. Vibrations transmitted through the building should be minimized so as not to restrict the performance of vibration-sensitive instruments.

Structural Grid. Modern laboratory buildings are built with a structural grid that is often 22 to 24 feet wide by 25 to 30 feet long. A typical floor-to-floor

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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height is 14 to 16 feet without an interstitial space and 20 feet with an interstitial space (Mayer, 1995). Vibration problems are common in buildings with grid lengths longer than about 30 feet. The width of the grid dictates the width of a laboratory module. A width of 22 to 24 feet is divided in half to make a laboratory module (or bay) of 11 to 12 feet. The use of the laboratory module to design the layout of the laboratories is discussed in the section titled "Modular Approach to Laboratory Floor Layout" in this chapter. The traditional laboratory module width of 10 feet may be too narrow for some research activities, especially in instrumentation laboratories. The wider grid provides greater flexibility in laboratory design and for future renovations.

Floor Loading. Some instruments and research equipment are heavy, and their weight exceeds the floor loading of many buildings. Some commonly encountered heavy equipment is listed in Box 3.14. Laboratory buildings should be designed with floor loading of 100 to 150 pounds per square foot to meet both current and future needs.

Frequently, various pieces of equipment require additional floor loading support. Several options are available to address the problem: place the equipment on the ground-level floor grade, strengthen several of the lower floors, or strengthen a wing or defined area of the building. A common problem with the last option is that the defined area of the building will support the equipment, but the circulation corridors and elevators in the building will not have been designed to support the weight.

Placing the heavy equipment at ground level has several advantages: little or no additional building stiffening is required, on-grade equipment is in a low-vibration zone of the building, and elevators do not need the higher load capacity.

Heavy equipment is usually large and bulky, thus requiring wider halls and doors and comers with a wide turning radius. If such equipment is kept in a designated area, then standard-dimension halls and doors can be used in the remainder of a laboratory building for a saving of space and construction costs.

BOX 3.14 Commonly Encountered Heavy Equipment and Instruments

• Nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers

• Freezers and refrigerators

• Mass spectrometers

• Optics and laser tables

• Large number of medium-weight instruments

• Incubators

• Extruders

• Fabrication equipment

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Vibration. Some instruments, such as NMR spectrometers, laser and optics tables, and electron microscopes are susceptible to vibrations, which can limit their performance capabilities. Some common sources of vibration include elevators, large motors such as those in air handler fans, and nearby road and train traffic. Some instruments are sensitive to footfall vibrations originating in adjacent corridors. The equipment room and the mechanical penthouse are common sources of vibration that can be propagated throughout a building by its structure. The size of the building grid, the selection of structural materials, and the need for other measures to stiffen the building may need review.

Vibration is characterized by frequency and displacement, which must both be considered. The vibration controls of general laboratory buildings may be insufficient for some instrumentation. If sensitive equipment will be used, it should be provided with special vibration-isolational mounts or tables. Poor planning regarding vibration control can be very costly. Slab-on-grade construction with well-compacted soil in intimate contact with the slab is usually a low-cost method for achieving particularly low vibration levels. Achieving desirably low vibration levels for upper-floor laboratory spaces usually requires a building structure that is substantially stiffer than a structure designed to meet average standards for strength (Ruys, 1990, pp. 387–388).

RESEARCH LABORATORY COST CONSIDERATIONS

Whether in academic institutions, corporations, or government, most scientists and laboratory administrators lack familiarity with the costs of building and/or renovating basic and laboratory-specific facilities.

Building costs are commonly divided into two components, construction costs and project costs. The former, the bricks-and-mortar costs, are discussed below. The latter, which encompass all other costs incurred by the client (e.g., nonbuilding construction costs, such as utility and construction permits; fees, such as site and materials testing fees; design professionals' fees; contingencies; and move-in activities) are detailed in the section "Project Cost Components" below in this chapter. Construction costs typically range from 65 percent to 80 percent of the total project costs.

Both construction and project costs for laboratory buildings are traditionally higher than those for other building types. Table 3.1 shows how the relative construction costs per square foot (adjusted for the Philadelphia area market in 1996) of several types of laboratory facilities compare with those for office facilities. Constructing or renovating laboratory facilities costs more because of their greater complexity, including, for example, requirements for specialized HVAC, mechanical, and electrical systems as discussed in the section "Building Services" above in this chapter.

Over the past 25 years, laboratory building construction costs have increased faster than the overall consumer price index owing to several factors: safety

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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TABLE 3.1 Comparison of Construction Costs for Various Types of Laboratory Facilities

 

Relative Construction Costa

Facility Type

Low

Average

High

Office

0.5

1.0

2.0

Laboratory

1.3

2.0

2.8

Animal Research

1.5

2.3

2.5

Manufacturing

3.3

3.5

5.0

Biotechnology Production

5.0

5.8

7.5

Microelectronics Fabricationb

16.0

21.0

25.0

a All costs have been normalized to the average cost of office construction.

b The extremely high cost of constructing a microelectronics fabrication plant is due to the complexity of classified clean rooms, tight construction performance specifications, and usually very aggressive construction schedules.

SOURCE: Bender (1996).

considerations and regulatory requirements have increased the complexity of laboratory building design, users now demand better performance in laboratory buildings (particularly in mechanical, electrical, and information technology systems); and the number of manufacturers and suppliers has dramatically decreased for many laboratory building specialties, such as casework, cold rooms, chemical fume hoods, and sterilization equipment, thus reducing cost competition.

Budget Formulation

After a need is established for an improved, enlarged, or new laboratory facility, a budget can be established in a top-down or bottom-up process.

In the top-down approach, a board of trustees or executive authority considers the strategic benefit of meeting the need established, evaluates the overall financial impact and risk of committing resources to develop the facility, and, if the project is deemed desirable, allocates a fixed sum for it based on a thorough study of the need and alternate ways to meet it or simply on what resources are currently available. An approved project and budget are sent down the organizational structure to be executed to the extent possible by the facility manager in cooperation with the person(s) who initiated the original request. The design group, the client, and the users must determine a scope, quality, and schedule that fits the fixed budget.

In the bottom-up approach, the institution determines, in a predesign process, the scope, quality, and schedule of the project (see the "Predesign Phase"

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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section in Chapter 2). The client then obtains estimates from competent cost estimators and construction experts who have extensive experience in estimating the costs of conceptualized laboratory projects. Gathering the necessary information is the first cost of the project.

The reality, however, is that often neither time nor funds are available for a thorough predesign process. In addition, even though a project's scope and justification may be adequate, resources currently available to the organization often are not. As a result, it may be necessary to reduce the scope of the project or to phase construction over a period of time. This is the first decision to be made in the project. Possible solutions include leaving some or all of the building a shell and, as more funds become available, constructing the laboratories floor by floor, if permitted; designing and constructing a smaller building and to plan for future addition(s) to the structure when funding becomes available; or phasing the construction floor by floor, or wing by wing.

Build Versus Renovate

Feasibility and Other Considerations

In addition to cost, the decision to build or renovate is based on feasibility and other considerations. Before making any firm decision, clients should arrange for a thorough study of the feasibility of renovation and reuse of an existing structure for laboratories. Many cities and communities have architectural review boards and historical-building commissions with the authority to deny amendments to zoning or occupancy permits for existing buildings for historical reasons, political and environmental considerations, structural capacity, or code changes.

Other factors influencing a decision to renovate or replace an existing building, include loss of use during renovation, time and phasing of construction, quality of renovated versus new space, and most important, anticipated performance of a renovated versus a new laboratory facility. Some of these issues are discussed in the "Predesign Phase" section of Chapter 2 and in the "Design Considerations" section above in this chapter.

Relative Building Cost

The construction costs for renovating technically intensive laboratories can equal those for erecting a new facility. Moreover, construction costs are only part of total project costs (see "Project Cost Components" below in this chapter). Total project costs for a renovation, which can be 1.5 to 2.0 times the construction cost, are often relatively greater than total project costs for entirely new construction, which can range from 1.2 to 1.5 times the "bricks-and-mortar" construction costs. Thus, overall project costs for major renovations often ex-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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TABLE 3.2 An Example of Relative Costs for Renovation and New Construction of Laboratories

 

Cost per Gross Square Foota (in dollars)

Level

Low

Average

High

Construction Cost

Renovation

 

 

 

Lightb

78

84

90

Moderatec

120

135

150

Heavyd

180

195

210

New Construction

 

240

250

260

Total Project Cost

Renovation

 

 

 

Lightb

117

147

180

Moderatec

180

236

300

Heavyd

270

341

420

New Construction

288

338

390

NOTE: These data are intended to show only relative costs for different types of construction, not current costs. Absolute costs for construction vary tremendously by geographical area and with time.

a Includes all floor areas included within the outside faces of the exterior walls.

b Primarily cosmetic, with no significant mechanical, electrical, or plumbing changes.

c Involves changes in occupancy, utilities, and ventilation.

d Completely replaces systems and fits out laboratories, as well as changes layout.

SOURCE: Muskat (1993).

ceed those for new construction projects. Table 3.2, which shows the relative costs of different types of laboratory renovation in the New York City region in 1993, gives an example.

Construction costs vary in different locations in the United States, ranging from highs in areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to lower costs in areas like Billings, Montana. Urban cores are more expensive to build in than are suburban areas. On the other hand, the costs are relatively invariant with institution type (academic, industrial, government).

Building Construction Cost Considerations

Quality, Scope, and Schedule Factors

When a fixed budget has been established for a project, there is generally a trade-off among the three factors of scope (size and complexity), quality (materi-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

als and construction detailing), and schedule (design, documentation, and construction activities). The construction costs of new construction and renovations, hence the total project costs, are consistently and directly affected by these three factors.

To maintain a fixed budget, increases in the quality of construction materials must be balanced by a reduction in the project's scope, or vice versa. If the schedule is to be accelerated, either the project's scope or its quality will have to be reduced to maintain the budget. A slow construction process, however, is not necessarily less expensive. Making slow or intermittent progress is less efficient and therefore more expensive than keeping to a normal construction schedule, such as that illustrated in Figure 2.1, Chapter 2.

For large laboratory construction projects, the total cost may be higher, but the cost per gross square foot may not be: large projects can achieve economies of scale in the purchase of materials, as well as labor efficiencies that cannot be achieved in small projects.

Complexity increases the cost of new construction, independent of the size of the project. Complexity factors range from site conditions to the number and quality of utilities installed in laboratory buildings. By definition, laboratory renovations are more complex than new construction projects, because existing conditions in laboratory buildings are varied and often hidden and may require unexpected adjustments or accommodation.

Life-Cycle Costing

Buildings are complex, long-term investments. Investment decisions made during the predesign, design/documentation, and construction phases of a project will affect building performance and functionality for the life of the facility. The life-cycle costing approach to the evaluation of building costs should be used as an overall philosophy for decisions concerning building performance.

The design group should provide not only initial cost estimates but also utility and maintenance cost estimates over the expected useful life of selected equipment, materials, and construction assemblies. This information enables informed choices to be made between lower initial cost or lower lifetime costs. Details of some of these choices are discussed in the section ''Design Considerations" above in this chapter. A simple but complete model for life-cycle costing is best. The design group should list assumptions made and the effects of those assumptions. Each institution and controller's office has its own accounting model to verify these estimates. The client's facility operations groups should verify operating costs. When accurate cost data on operations are not available, good benchmark data should be sought from other buildings of comparable quality and complexity in the organization or in the local area.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Impact of Scientific Discipline and Special Laboratory Types

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.

Impact of Campus Utility Capacity and Distribution

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.

Impact of Value-Adding Design Strategies

Flexibility and Adaptability

The very desirable characteristics of flexibility and adaptability in laboratory buildings can be achieved in many ways and at many scales. Options

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

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

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

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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facilities is the installation of heat-recovery systems on the fume hood exhaust air systems. Closed-loop glycol systems, although less efficient than heat-wheel systems, eliminate the possibility of supply air contamination.

Low Operating and Maintenance Costs

Many occupants of university and government laboratories are not familiar with the operating and maintenance (O&M) costs of their laboratory procedures and normal operating modes. Often individual buildings on large campuses have no meters for basic utilities; there is no accountability for O&M cost control by decision makers in departments or schools that use those buildings. Some corporate laboratories, perhaps because of their for-profit orientation, provide information and financial incentives to their building occupants to save on O&M costs. Management strategies involving discounted charge-backs for utilities or for the use and maintenance of space are rarely if ever applied to academic buildings.

Investments in equipment and practices that reduce operating costs are necessary for new laboratory buildings. Most laboratories are energy intensive in part due to their nonrecirculating HVAC systems. Additional attention to energy efficiency is therefore warranted. Operational cost projections and energy audits of the HVAC system design are a good investment. Initial costs should be compared with life-cycle costs. For example, an 1,800-ton chiller that uses 0.451 W/ton costs $50,000 less per year to operate than one that uses 0.52 W/ton. Clearly the former will recover its greater initial capital cost—about $45,000—in less than a year.

Energy-Efficient Design

National guidelines and state building codes require energy-efficient design for general building lighting. However, there are no generally accepted national guidelines for heavy energy consumers such as research and development laboratory buildings.

Costs and Cost Control during Design and Construction

Predesign Phase Activities

Prior to the design/documentation phase, many activities may take place to justify a project, formulate the budget, or reduce the risk of making a poor facility investment. As discussed in the "Predesign Phase" section of Chapter 2, each of these activities deals with project uncertainties such as scope and function, quality and performance, and the time frame from site acquisition to construction phasing and move-in. Each of these factors has an impact on the

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

budget. The magnitude of the budget and the effect of these factors on the desired building or renovation should be explored before a formal design process is undertaken if the budget is not predetermined. A preliminary budget should be estimated before preliminary design commences and then should undergo final revision when a schematic design is completed. If the budget is preset, all design work must take this limit into consideration. In addition, given the considerable uncertainty in the cost of a construction project, the reliability of the materials, the schedule, and other aspects of the process, assorted contingencies (see "Contingencies" below in this chapter) should be established early in the process. As the project progresses, contingencies can be recovered or the funds shifted to other uses.

Generally, there are costs associated with all predesign activities either in time for the in-house staff or in fees for design professionals and estimating services. Although predesign costs are frequently omitted from building or renovation budgets, these costs are typically offset by the lack of schedule delays, improved definition of the project's requirements, and attainment of a superior building that maximizes users' desires and minimizes costly changes in design. Predesign costs were estimated by the experts consulted by the committee to be typically less than 2 percent of the project budget.

Design and Documentation Phase Activities

The three main phases of design/documentation are discussed in Chapter 2. They are schematic design, design development, and construction documentation. In each phase, important choices arise concerning size, quality, complexity of materials, and methods that affect the cost of the project. For each phase there are design milestones at which the design group asks the client team or other client representatives to make critical decisions. These decisions will be based on the information provided by the design group, by the client's consultants, and by the client's previous experience in managing laboratory buildings. Effective cost control is achieved by considering the project goals and performance requirements in all design decisions and by recognizing that many small, seemingly insignificant, decisions by the user, owner, or design team can add a larger amount to the project cost than one would initially expect—and then acting accordingly.

Schematic Design. If a predesign phase is not conducted, the activities normally completed during that phase, such as identification of project goals, scope definition, and site selection, will need to be carried out during the schematic design phase. Following the completion of these preliminary activities, the design group documents the site through architectural and engineering concepts in drawings and preliminary specifications. Engineers and architects provide written descriptions of recommended building and utilities systems, materials, and meth-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ods of construction. The cost estimator or the client's construction manager, or both, use this information to develop a preliminary construction cost. If two estimates are developed, appropriate members of the client group plus responsible members of the design group meet with both estimators to understand the estimators' and design professionals' assumptions, to check that the estimates are comprehensive and accurate, and to reconcile any major differences between the estimates.

The client and the design groups review the schematic estimate(s) and either reconcile the cost estimates or proceed to the next stage of design development. If there is agreement in the reconciled estimate, and confidence that the design meets the client's goals and budget, the client may decide to reduce the design contingency. Cost control is achieved in this phase through design selection. Before this phase can be concluded the client will need to develop the overall budget for the project including construction and project costs. If the budget is externally mandated and projected estimates are higher, value engineering should begin at this point.

Design Development. During design development, the design group completes documentation of the design concept. Descriptions of design work done during this phase are detailed in the section "Design and Documentation" in Chapter 2. The cost estimator and the client's construction manager use this information to estimate construction cost. The cost estimates are evaluated and reconciled. The client group, the client team, and the representatives of the facilities and operations departments then refine the total project cost, the construction cost, and the other project cost components. For this step, the client may also request the assistance of the design group, which may be able to provide examples from previously completed projects.

If the project or reconciled construction estimates are over budget, the design group begins a formal process of generating options to reduce costs to present to the client for a decision(s). This process is commonly called "value engineering" by construction managers. Careful evaluation of alternatives should be based on the goals and performance objectives that were originally established. Operating and life-cycle costs should not be ignored in efforts to reduce initial costs, and the essential quality and scope (program effectiveness) of the project should not be sacrificed. This process calls for careful investigation and wisdom.

Construction Documents. In the construction documents phase, the design group develops and documents construction details with all engineering systems integrated and coordinated with the plans, sections and elevation drawings, and specifications. In addition to completing comprehensive and coordinated construction documents, the design group also has cost control and constructibility as main objectives during this phase. The design group translates the design concept into the language and metrics of construction. Construction contractors

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

and subcontractors, and materials and equipment vendors, use construction documents for their bids. When a contractor and its subcontractors are awarded the construction contract, the documents instruct the laborers and tradespeople.

So that all these functions can be performed successfully, construction documents must be complete, thorough, coordinated, and accurate. The quality of these documents directly affects the number and cost of change orders submitted during construction. Change orders add cost to a base construction contract. In addition, if "low-bid" awards are mandated by the funding authority, only items detailed in these documents will be built, and they will be constructed only as detailed. Money spent to verify their completeness and accuracy is well repaid through reduction of change orders. Means of verifying the accuracy and completeness of documents are discussed in Chapter 2.

To keep the design within budget, design architects and engineers request materials and equipment costs from vendors and subcontractors. They continually evaluate cost-effective systems and methods of construction that meet the client's quality and performance requirements.

To confirm that the project remains within the construction budget, detailed estimates or updates of estimates are recommended during the construction document phase. The estimates completed during this phase are typically based on documents that are 50 to 75 percent complete. If there is reason to believe that there is "creep" in the scope of the project during this phase, the client may require additional updated estimates based on construction documents that are 75 to 90 percent complete. Following the completion of each of these estimates, the client may require the design group to conduct formal cost reduction exercises, as mentioned above. In addition, the design group may include "add and deduct alternatives" within the construction documents to respond to an uncertain bidding climate. "Add" alternatives provide additional or improved quality and additional materials and equipment to the project; ''deduct" alternatives reduce quality and scope. If the selected contractor's price comes in lower than the budget, the client can decide to select one or more of the add alternatives that meets the budget. Conversely, should the bids exceed the budget, the project scope or quality, or both, may require reduction.

The client continues to develop and refine the list of and cost for the non-construction components (itemized in "Project Cost Components" below in this chapter) that, along with the basic construction cost, constitute the project cost.

Construction Phase Activities

Bid and Negotiation Activities. This phase establishes the contract price for construction, the details of which are discussed in the "Construction Phase" section of Chapter 2. Unless previously established, a construction contingency must be determined that represents client funds available above and beyond the accepted construction price, which is based on a bid, or a guaranteed maximum

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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BOX 3.15 Construction Contingency Considerations

  • Contract method

  • Client's (or design group members') previous experience with a successful contractor and subcontractors

  • Condition of the construction market

  • Complexity and timing of the project

price. Since the construction documents are complete at this time, the design phase contingency is no longer required. Based on the factors given in Box 3.15, the client, with assistance from the design group, will set the construction contingency and other project-cost-related contingencies.

When the price is determined, the schedule agreed to, and the client's construction contract signed, the bid and negotiation stage is complete. The client releases the contractor to commence construction.

Construction Administration Activities. Construction administration refers to the efforts of the design group and client group during construction and before occupancy. Cost control in this phase focuses on reducing the number of change orders and achieving quality construction so work does not have to be torn out and reconstructed.

Construction Review. Ideally the client engages an experienced construction inspector to continuously review the construction activities during the entire construction period. During the construction review, the client's inspector inspects building materials and equipment brought to the site and validates labor slips for all construction workers. This individual works diligently to reduce change orders and substitution of inferior materials in the construction, thereby controlling costs.

The architects and engineers also employ individuals to review the progress of the construction activities. These construction administrators check shop drawings from vendors and subcontractors, issue responses to requests for information from contractors, recommend acceptance or rejection of change orders to the client, and approve applications for payment to the general or primary contractor. One of the construction administrator' s responsibilities is to help control change orders and control costs.

Construction Supervision. Construction supervisors, employed by the general contractor, manage the delivery of materials to the site and supervise the overall work force. The supervisor issues requests for information to the design group,

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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manages the distribution of shop drawings, and provides estimates for change orders. Because this individual typically plays a vital role in the success of a laboratory construction or renovation project, he or she should be carefully selected by the client team and design group if it is possible to do so.

Change Orders. "Change order" is a term that refers to both the documentation and the process for approval of modifications to the contract documents during construction. Change orders can be initiated by all three parties to the design and construction contracts—the client, the design architect/engineer, and the contractor or subcontractors. Change orders are used to correct, modify, and add essential materials or details to accomplish the intent of the contract documents. They are a mechanism for correcting errors arising from lack of coordination between subcontractors as well as design errors or omissions; they are also generated when a client changes the scope of a project or modifies previously approved components. In some projects, if the construction documents have not been completed or coordinated prior to the initiation of the construction phase, the architects and engineers continue to complete the construction documents during the construction phase, often creating additional change orders. It is often better to delay the bidding and negotiation period until the client team and the design group are confident that the construction documents are complete and coordinated.

Change orders are initially approved by the design group and finally approved by the client. The architect/engineer submits to the client recommendations for the changes requested by the client or required by code or for some other reason. The contractor provides the price of the materials and labor to complete the modification. The contractor may also provide alternatives and recommendations for accomplishing the desired results.

The cost of change orders is offset by the client's construction contingency. Change orders not initiated by the client should not exceed 5 percent of the construction cost for a typical laboratory project and should ideally fall below 3 percent. The best way to avoid those change orders not initiated by the client is to verify that the construction documents have been competed, are accurate, and are coordinated. Many architects and engineers perform substantial quality reviews and coordination of documents to reduce the potential for change orders.

The design group and, if one is engaged, the construction manager should carefully scrutinize change orders initiated by the contractor or subcontractors, as should the client project manager. Cost control is achieved by controlling contractor-generated costs for all change orders. Public agencies and institutions may be vulnerable to excessive requests for change orders because of low-bid acceptance practices. Government and public construction projects typically experience far higher levels of change orders than do projects that are negotiated with prequalified contractors or those that do not require taking the lowest bid.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Project Cost Components

Nonbuilding Construction Costs

Prior to actual construction, there are many other activities for which the client may have to budget depending on the conditions of the site selected for the laboratory building,

Land. The site for the proposed building or campus, if not already owned, must be purchased. Owners should consider the impact of future expansion of the laboratory facility on the site. If adjacent parcels are available, purchase of land for a temporary buffer and long-term site for expansion may make a good investment. Brown-field sites have existing buildings and usually some site utilities. Green-field sites are free of buildings and often free of roads and all utilities. Both categories of sites need careful evaluation regarding the cost to bring construction materials to the site or to move utilities and roads and to deal with other encumbrances such as drainage.

Sites for new construction and even major building renovations require site area for construction staging, which includes construction trailers, parking for workers, and secure storage of building materials and heavy equipment.

Demolition. Some demolition may be required if the site has existing structures that obstruct the footprint or the immediate construction zone of the proposed building. Demolition is normally required in renovations. The extent of demolition ranges from select limited demolition to total interior demolition of the spaces or building to be renovated and everything in between. Selected limited demolition may remove only certain laboratory building components, such as mechanical systems or laboratory casework. Gut demolition removes everything down to the basic building shell. Often windows and roofing are also removed and replaced.

Because laboratories and laboratory buildings contain hazardous materials, preliminary investigations and an industrial hygiene survey should be undertaken well before completion of the design documents for the renovation. If hazardous materials are present, in ducts, pipes, chemical hoods, and so on, they must be properly removed and the building remediated to safe condition prior to demolition. This is an extra cost inherent in laboratory building renovation.

When existing structures near or in the immediate construction zone will continue to be occupied during the construction of a laboratory, the foundations, exterior walls, windows facing the construction side, and roof must all be protected—a responsibility of and cost to the client whether or not the client owns the abutting building.

Special Foundations. If a laboratory building is constructed as an addition to or

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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very close to an existing building, underpinning of the existing building's foundations may be required. Underpinning is done when excavation for the new building's foundation extends beneath the existing building's footings or for some other reason that may cause temporary or permanent unstable conditions. Underpinning involves installing structural elements beneath or beside existing foundations to support the existing building. For similar reasons, sheeting may be installed to stabilize and support the earth around the foundation of an existing building next to an excavation. These and other special foundations represent costs borne by the laboratory building owner.

Site subsurface investigations and geotechnical surveys are normally conducted very early in the design process, if they have not already been done in a feasibility study or during site selection. Laboratory buildings constructed in regions of documented seismic activity also often have special foundations, structural design, and construction costs associated with them. Laboratories with sensitive analytic equipment may also require special foundations, such as pilings or piers to bedrock, in order to isolate the building from local vibration.

Site Utilities. Subsurface site investigations on many developed sites reveal existing campus utility and city service lines. If it is not feasible to relocate these obstructions to construction, then the utilities must be supported and protected during excavation and construction. Temporary shutdown of certain utilities may be necessary during installation of these protective measures. If not considered early during design, this step costs both money and time in a construction schedule. New utilities may have to be brought through or to the site, such as fiber-optic cable. They, too, have to be planned and budgeted.

Site Work and Landscaping. An integral part of design is site and landscape design. Landscaping is a small part of the entire construction budget but has a significant and immediate impact on the entire image of the laboratory project, as well as on the environment. Good landscape design and siting can influence the community's acceptance of a laboratory facility. Well-designed sites provide laboratory staff with places for psychological respite and physical recreation. See the section "Sociology" in Chapter 1 for more information.

Permits. Permits are usually a direct expense to the client, although the contractor may pull the permits and work with the building department of the municipal government. In some jurisdictions permits are required for services such as water, natural gas, and sewer connections, for exhaust discharge, and for other activities with environmental impacts. These permits are required above and beyond the ordinary building permit. Central utility plants must comply with particular environmental regulations, such as for sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Owner Supervision and Institutional Surcharges. Many institutions and corporations have qualified and experienced in-house staff members who manage program, design, and construction processes, as well as maintenance and operations. The work that these staff members perform may be charged directly to the project on a fixed fee or hourly basis. Some organizations perform actual construction management, holding contracts from the general contractor and subcontractors and scheduling and coordinating construction activities. This is a major responsibility and requires a major commitment of personnel by the organization. The project budget should include the necessary salaries for the full-time staff.

Mock-up Construction. A mock-up of a typical laboratory space and even of adjacent areas, such as service corridors or laboratory support cores, is an extremely useful preconstruction tool. Laboratory mock-ups can be constructed as early as the design development phase or, more commonly, during the construction document phase of the design process. Mock-ups can be assembled with the actual full-size casework in the design configuration and finish materials with fittings, fixtures, and even pipes, conduits, and ducts. These are installed within a temporary shell constructed of lightweight enclosure materials, such as painted homosote or plywood. The mock-up can also be assembled in the actual building shell. Major architectural features in full scale, such as windows, doorways, lighting fixtures and ceiling heights, should be simulated to provide as realistic a model as possible.

The laboratory mock-up has two major functions. One is to allow early, and the most effective, feedback on the laboratory design, finishes, and material selections from future building occupants, health and safety professionals, and maintenance personnel. As many participants as possible should be encouraged to walk through the mock-up and comment on it. The comments should be used to improve the laboratory design. Mock-ups can be used for training operations and maintenance staff. Some mock-up components can be stored and reinstalled in the actual building.

The second function of a laboratory mock-up is to give a preview to construction contractors who will bid on or negotiate the construction cost. Inspection of the major components, materials, and quality of the construction offers important insight regarding the intent of the design and it supplements the design documents. Some clients have achieved measurable savings in bids offered by contractors when a mock-up was made available for investigation.

If the laboratory mock-up is delayed until the construction contract is let, very little change can be achieved economically in the original design, because the price is already fixed.

Fees. In addition to the actual cost of construction, clients must budget for service fees for design, construction, EH&S, and legal and financial professions, as well as for other nonconstruction costs. Basic architectural design fees do not

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

normally include any special consultants or any additional services, unless their inclusion is specifically negotiated with the design team. Basic fees also do not include reimbursable expenses, which typically include costs for travel, telecommunications, mail and delivery, and document reproduction, not only for the prime architect and engineer but also for their consultants.

Services. Architectural and engineering design consists of basic services for the design of a building or renovation, such as architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection engineering services. The obligations of designers and owners and deliverables from designers are outlined and described in design service contracts such as the American Institute of Architects' B141 Standard Form of Agreement between Owner and Architect. Standard fees are usually expressed as a percentage of the construction costs. While the Brooks Act4 limits such fees to 6 percent for federal projects, fees for new laboratory construction are more commonly in the range of 7 to 9 percent for projects with construction costs of $10 million to $50 million (more for smaller projects, less for larger projects). For renovations the fees are often 25 to 35 percent higher than those for new construction.

Additional design-related services include all predesign activities, such as planning and programming, and design studies such as energy audits, architectural models, and mock-up construction documents. Fees are associated with each of these services. Although basic design fees for federal projects are limited by the Brooks Act, total design-related services for such projects are more commonly 10 to 14 percent of the construction costs.

Consultants are hired to perform specific design tasks and to offer information for specific requirements of the laboratory design. Either the client or prime architect/engineering firm may enter into a contract with consultants. Consultants who often assist the prime design team for the laboratory building or renovation include a laboratory planner, laboratory safety professional, environmental engineer, code consultant, geotechnical engineer, vibration-control structural engineer, acoustical engineer, lighting engineer, construction cost estimator, information and audiovisual technology specialist, interior designer, and landscape architect. Clients may hire an economist to perform a market analysis or economic feasibility study. Because legal issues are always a consideration for owners during design and construction, legal assistance is highly recommended for contract negotiation.

Construction managers are often hired by clients to assist with cost estimating, scheduling, and improving the efficiency of construction of the design dur-

4  

 P.L. 92-582, the Brooks Act of 1972 to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Service Act of 1949.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

ing the design process. During the construction phase, construction managers may continue to represent clients by assuming major managerial responsibilities for scheduling and cost control. Construction management fees are a major expense in laboratory projects.

Construction supervisors hired by the clients are independent of the contractor. They perform inspection services and directly represent the client at the construction site. In complex construction, such as laboratory buildings or in difficult site conditions, the engagement of dedicated supervisors who are experienced and qualified is recommended.

Site and Materials Testing. In construction projects, site and materials testing fees are normal expenses of a client. Concrete, steel welds, soil and subsurface conditions, and curtain wall assemblies (preformed outer walls that are attached to the basic building frame) are typically tested and certified to meet design specifications. Other testing may be performed on other building materials such as driveway paving, brick, or stone.

Zoning Amendments, Environmental Impact Studies, and Public Hearings. Zoning amendments and hearings are a source of additional expense for the services of design professionals and legal counsel to prepare documents and present the owners' reasons for amendment to government agencies and, if required, to the public. Similar efforts and considerable expertise are required from design professionals, legal counsel, and a wide array of engineers, biologists, archeologists, and other specialists to perform environmental impact assessments or environmental impact studies. Public hearings are often required for approval of environmental impact assessments.

Surveys. A wide variety of surveys may be required to obtain information required for the design of the laboratory building and site. Surveys include land and site utilities, soils, traffic, vibration, and wind conditions. Equipment surveys are highly recommended to inventory existing scientific equipment that will be moved into and reinstalled in the new or renovated laboratories. Equipment surveys can include a listing of new movable, as well as fixed equipment, that will be purchased by the client and installed. The laboratory planner consultant can perform this survey if in-house staff cannot.

An industrial hygiene survey is recommended for a major renovation of laboratory buildings and when the presence of hazardous materials is suspected. Owners bear the cost of and responsibility for most surveys, but the architect/engineer can manage the process if this service is included in the contract.

Furnishings, Fixtures, and Equipment. Furnishings, fixtures, and equipment, or FF&E as this cost item is called, can be a very large component of the project cost. Furnishings, fixtures, and equipment are not included in the basic design or

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

typical construction contract. The only items in this category that are covered in both laboratory design fees and construction costs are "fixed" equipment, such as chemical fume hoods or glass washers and autoclaves, fixtures, and "built-in" furnishings, such as fixed work counters or reception desks.

Movable FF&E items must be budgeted separately. Movable furnishings in a laboratory building include laboratory chairs and tables, office and guest chairs, conference tables, desks, file cabinets, bookcases, and other standard open-office partitions and furniture. Installation of all other furnishings and fixtures should be an item in the budget.

Movable equipment includes scientific equipment that is not permanently installed, such as nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometers, centrifuges, refrigerators, microscope tables, computers, and the like. Installation and recalibration of equipment are discussed in the section "Installation and Calibration of Scientific Equipment," below. Fixtures in a laboratory building may include window coverings and treatment, decorative plants, and artwork.

FF&E costs for new laboratory buildings and renovations can range from 10 to 30 percent of the construction budget. Clients need to manage the FF&E selection and budgeting processes carefully or hire consultants such as laboratory planners and interior designers to assist them with this activity.

Information Technology. Telecommunications, video, security, and data systems installation are an increasingly critical part of laboratory buildings. Many systems and levels of technological sophistication are available according to the immediate and projected future needs of the building occupants and owners. In laboratory buildings, budgets for information technology normally range from 5 to 15 percent of the construction cost. Again, this is a big ticket and complex item, as is FF&E, and requires careful planning with the assistance of in-house information technology specialists or consultants. There are options for distribution of communications cables, such as cable trays and conduit. Basic design services and typical construction contracts do not include pulling wires or making final connections to terminal outlets and devices.

Finance Costs and Bonding. Interim financing may also be required for a laboratory renovation or construction project. Bonding protects the client against some of the financial difficulties and potentially catastrophic failures or delays in the construction process. Bonds that are recommended under normal construction conditions are bid, performance, payment, and price-escalation bonds.

Insurance Costs. Insurance is important to protect clients from a wide range of liabilities, such as public liability, vehicle liability, property damage and fire coverage, vandalism, workmen's compensation, and employees' liability. Other insurance may be needed according to the specific conditions of the site, existing building(s) in the case of renovations, and the construction contract. Clients

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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should consult with expert insurance agencies to provide the appropriate scope and level of coverage required for each project.

Contingencies

Contingencies—funds reserved for unanticipated events—are diverse and cover many aspects of the design and construction process. Owners should structure contingencies sensibly to cover the risk of unknowns and factors that emerge, or that become priorities, during the 2- to 5-year design and construction process.

Design Contingency. The most commonly used contingency is the design contingency. During the design process, the estimated construction cost is increased by a carefully determined percentage to account for unknown design components and construction factors, not changes in the scope of the project. (See the section "Program Contingency," below, for information on scope modifications.) As the design is developed and comes to closure during later stages of construction documents, the design contingency can diminish. According to the complexity of the new laboratory project or renovation, the design contingency can be as much as 20 percent in the schematic design stage. It drops to 5 to 10 percent at the end of the construction documents phase.

Construction Contingency. After the bidding or price negotiation process is completed, the client's construction contingency should be reconfirmed. This contingency is spent as construction proceeds and modifications to the contract documents (change orders) are requested by the client. At the end of construction the client can apply remaining construction contingency funds to other project cost items or to the organization's general funds.

The general contractor will maintain and control his or her own construction contingency during the course of the project to cover unforeseen construction factors. Because laboratory buildings are complex, it is prudent to provide adequate contingencies.

Program Contingency. The program contingency, the owner's responsibility, budgets for possible changes in the scope, quantity, or quality of the project. If the nature or size of any of the building components is increased or decreased, the program contingency is used to finance the change and allow continuation of the construction.

Consultants Contingency. The consultants contingency is a small fund set aside during the design and construction phases to pay for additional services that are needed or other specialty consultants required to resolve issues or problems that were unforeseen.

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
×

Equipment Contingency. As discussed in ''Furnishings, Fixtures, and Equipment" above, an FF&E budget is difficult to develop and estimate accurately. An equipment contingency is used to fund any shortfall in the estimate or for modifications in quantities or quality of items in the FF&E schedule.

Financing Contingency. A financing contingency offers the owner a budgetary cushion for unforeseen circumstances that might affect the funding available for the project. The amount or proportion required for this contingency is based on the amount and nature of risk.

Costs of Move-in Activities

The moving costs associated with a laboratory construction or renovation project can involve more than the expense of transferring the contents of one building into another. Move coordination—identifying what moves, what stays, and what gets discarded—is a formidable task. A move to a new or renovated laboratory is the ideal time to dispose of old chemicals and establish a department-wide computerized chemical inventory system. The one-time costs associated with these activities need to be budgeted. Moving costs may include those for use of temporary facilities, building commissioning, installation and calibration of scientific equipment, and hazardous materials assessment, transportation, and disposal.

Use of Temporary Facilities. Temporary facilities may have to be leased to accommodate phasing of renovations or even with new construction if the schedule for completion does not coincide with the demand for functional laboratory space. Short-term laboratory rentals are generally expensive and hard to find. Office facility rentals are easier to negotiate.

Although it would be expensive, manufactured mobile laboratory units can be purchased, transported to an open site, and installed to site utilities. Mobile laboratory units are approximately the same size as mobile homes and construction trailers. Units can be joined to form doublewide units. As a practical matter on a campus or site, only a limited number of scientists can be accommodated in mobile laboratories. Alternately, the feasibility of dispersing laboratory occupants temporarily into other operating laboratories within the organization can be explored if necessary.

Commissioning. The objective of commissioning is to have the building systems perform as designed and as specified. This process is described in the section "Postconstruction Phase" in Chapter 2. Building commissioning has received a great deal of attention in the past few years from building owners because new building systems have routinely failed to perform acceptably. Prob-

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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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.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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. 

Suggested Citation:"3 Technical Issues." National Research Council. 2000. Laboratory Design, Construction, and Renovation: Participants, Process, and Product. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9799.
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Laboratory facilities are complex, technically sophisticated, and mechanically intensive structures that are expensive to build and to maintain. Hundreds of decisions must be made before and during new construction or renovation that will determine how successfully the facility will function when completed and how successfully it can be maintained once put into service.

This book provides guidance on effective approaches for building laboratory facilities in the chemical and biochemical sciences. It contains both basic and laboratory-specific information addressed to the user community-the scientists and administrators who contract with design and construction experts. The book will also be important to the design and construction communities-the architects, laboratory designers, and engineers who will design the facility and the construction personnel who will build it-to help them communicate with the scientific community for whom they build laboratory facilities.

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