Michael L. Weiss, Ph.D. ABD, HCCP, WorkingBuildings, LLC and Jeffrey L. Schantz, AIA, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum
With construction costs in a period of escalation, owners and facility managers designing and constructing BSL-2, -3, and -4 facilities need a more progressive toolkit for proactively managing costs and maximizing the value of biocontainment dollars.
Costs can be controlled by managing tradeoffs during the design stage by determining the needs of the owner versus the design criteria including programmatic goals, flexibility, complexity, redundancy, scheduling, bid timing, value management, and benchmarking.
Using multiple methods in parallel to guide the project toward budget goals is invaluable. This strategy allows owners to balance goals and objectives, negotiate functional requirements, influence schedules, and employ benchmarking as an effective means of gaining the upper hand in the battle of the budget for complex biocontainment facilities. Some of these methods include: flex/complex indexing, escalation monitoring and control, pinpoint redundancy planning, contingency planning, materials options, automation planning for program reduction, and programming to budget techniques.
When conducting the redundancy study for the New Jersey Public Health, Environmental and Agricultural Laboratory in West Trenton, New Jersey, the facility design was reviewed to ensure that only those systems requiring redundancy had a backup system and that the user program was maintained. In determining the need for redundancy facility wide, a detailed model was developed which rated the requirements, needs, cost and impact of a loss on a system by system basis. Then through a detailed risk analysis, the findings of the study were compared to the programming requirements. Once complete, all other systems were designed without full redundancy saving the owner a significant amount in the facility budget.
Another factor affecting the bottom line is to ensure the systems are “right-sized” for the facility. Prior to the current energy efficient-requirements of modern laboratories, design scenarios often led to over-sizing systems that are larger than necessary as a margin of safety. However, this often led to significant costs upfront in addition to energy costs over the lifetime of the facility. By “right-sizing” the systems to meet the program, we costs have been saved on construction and lifecycle cost in energy, maintenance, and prevention of premature replacement.