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Does your building qualify for a life sciences conversion?

Eric Giles • 7/18/2023
Interest in converting assets for life sciences use is growing amongst building owners. Cushman & Wakefield’s Project & Development Services team developed basic building performance criteria based on the minimum standards that life sciences companies typically require. 


With historical $/sf rental rates for lab buildings combined with continued vacancy rates less than 3% in major markets, interest in converting assets to attract life sciences tenants is growing among building owners. Cushman and Wakefield’s (C&W) Project and Development Services (PDS) team developed areas of consideration in order to successfully deliver a life sciences building to the market.


  • Clear path to Group B Occupancy
  • Consideration for building height restrictions

Building Layout

  • Dedicated freight elevator 
  • Dedicated loading area or dock
  • Floor to floor clearance (allowance for structural, mechanical and light fixture zones)


  • Chemical storage area
  • Lab waste pH neutralization system


  • Building floor load capacity: 100psf or greater
  • Roof mechanical area load capacity: 80psf
  • Loading dock floor load capacity: 250psf
  • Consideration for added snow and wind loads from new exterior systems

HVAC / Plumbing

  • Lab makeup air handling units (100% OA system)
  • Lab exhaust air handling units (1.5 – 2.0 cfm/sf)
  • Supply / return air duct infrastructure
  • Centralized core plumbing risers


  • 15+ w/usf for normal power
  • 5+ w/usf for emergency standby power
  • Centralized core electrical risers
  • Consideration for data/low voltage for lab controls, data collections & enhanced BMS

A life science conversion or reposition is favorable if your asset can meet the above criteria, and it is oftentimes much more attainable than you might think.  Lab buildings require enhanced loading, power and utility infrastructure in order to optimize flexibility for the life sciences tenants, but many of the criteria can be upgraded to meet standards suitable to lab use. 

There are many other criteria, strategies, considerations and decisions to be made when converting or repositioning your asset. C&W’s PDS life science experts are here to help. We offer a wide variety of support for both brokerage, and clients, as feasibility and early assessments are developed. Here is a list of activities and deliverables we can provide to facilitate next steps and keep projects moving forward:

  • Assist brokerage in gathering information about the target asset in relations to its current life science capability / suitability
  • Perform due diligence in the form of an assessment or feasibility report
  • Create cost and schedule information to determine next steps
  • Provide a proposal to the developer or client for early project support

Life sciences and other technical projects are a specialty with PDS. Our Project Management experts are well equipped to perform early assessments and due diligence for assets under consideration to reposition or convert for life science users.

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