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Benchmarking

  • Introduction

    What is Benchmarking and why is it important to you?  Benchmarking, (also referred to as Critical Ratios or Metrics) is the application of relevant data for use as a guide or confirmation for early building design decisions. RFD has collected data for more than twenty five years on our hundreds of Laboratory Building projects. From this database we routinely develop benchmarks for a range of building and laboratory components.  Data is selected to match specific project types ranging from biomedical and engineering research to undergraduate teaching laboratory facilities for institutional, public and private owners.

    Benchmarking
  • Net to Gross Ratio

    Sometimes referred to as the efficiency ratio, the Net to Gross Ratio is a measure of the Net or usable area against the total built area of a building. This ratio is important in the early programming and planning of a building because the Net area of a building is what can be used, whereas the Gross area is the area that must be built and paid for. Net to Gross Ratio’s for laboratory buildings are lower than for non-laboratory buildings due, in part, to their more robust mechanical systems.

    Benchmarking
  • Laboratory Support Ratio

    A common mistake in the early programming of laboratory buildings is to underestimate the additional area required to support the primary research or teaching laboratories. As a means of checks and balances, RFD has been tracking laboratory support area compared against primary laboratory area in each of our projects. The resulting Laboratory Support Ratio measures the laboratory support area against the total of the laboratory plus laboratory support area within a building. Alternatively this ratio is measured as laboratory area against laboratory support area.

    Benchmarking
  • Laboratory Density Ratio

    Because laboratories cost more to build than offices, classrooms or most other non-laboratory uses, it is important to understand the ratio of laboratory space relative to the overall building area for a project. Our Laboratory Density Ratio is a measure of total Laboratory + Laboratory Support Area against the overall Gross Area of a building. All things equal, a building with a Laboratory Density of .45 will be more expensive to build than a building of the same size with a Laboratory Density of .35.

    Benchmarking
  • Building Construction Cost

    The first question asked about a new laboratory building project might be “How much will it cost to build?” The construction cost of a laboratory building is influenced by many variables including location, time and specific program of uses. We have found that tracking and normalizing laboratory building construction costs provides a useful tool for preliminary planning. From our large database of projects, utilizing project size, geographic adjustments and inflation factors we are able to select projects of similar programs and generate an average construction cost for a projected laboratory building.

    Benchmarking
  • Teaching Laboratory Characteristics

    By tracking specific disciplines of Teaching Laboratory functions we have been able to provide important data on Area per Student Station, Fume Hood & Sink Density and Piped Service Utilities. The range of teaching disciplines for which data is available includes General, Organic and Advanced Chemistry, General Biology, Microbiology and Anatomy / Physiology, General and Advanced Physics, Earth Science and Electronics.

    Benchmarking
  • Researcher Station Ratio

    The capacity of many research buildings is measured by researchers at the bench. This number is independent of the number of Principal Investigators as laboratory group sizes can vary dramatically. The Research Station Ratio measures the number of bench research stations against the number of laboratory modules or overall laboratory and laboratory support area. This ratio, coupled with the Laboratory Density Ratio, can help guide the programmatic development of a project based on bench researcher counts.

    Benchmarking
  • Equivalent Linear Feet Ratio

    An effective tool for comparing one research facility against another, or a proposed facility against one that exists, is to measure the specific areas that are used by researchers. The Equivalent Linear Feet Ratio counts the total linear footage of bench + write-up work station + fume hood + equipment within the primary, as well as, support laboratory areas. This total linear footage is divided by the number of bench researcher stations for the building or a given area.

    Benchmarking
  • Miscellaneous Benchmarks

    Over the years we have been asked many general questions about laboratory building design including, “What size planning module should we use?”, “What is the best floor to floor height for our new building?”, “How wide should the main corridor be for our new laboratory building?” While our experience gives us a feel for the answers to these questions we have also benchmarked these and other features of our projects to provide information that is valuable in the early planning stages of a new laboratory building project.

    Benchmarking