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Does your building qualify for a life sciences conversion?

Daniel Hackett • 5/10/2021
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. 


Zoning, planning & occupancy  

  • There is a clear path to providing Group B Occupancy  

HVAC & plumbing  

  • A design path to dedicated lab AHUs/100% OA units 
  • A design path to dedicated exhaust (1 cfm/sf - min) 
  • Design path to supporting utility shafts for HVAC and utilities, likely upgrade/ addition to base building capacity 

Vertical circulation (multi-floor buildings)  

  • There is a segregated elevator for lab supplies/activity or there is a way to install one  

Floor-to-floor clearance (multi-floor buildings)  

  • 13’0”+ clearance desired - anything less is limiting 


  • Service up to 8.0 watts/sf for intended lab area sf 
  • Emergency generator capacity or service yard to install - for lab hoods & critical lab equipment plug load 
  • Capacity/consideration for data/low voltage for lab controls, data collection, enhanced BMS 


  • There should be live load capacity at 100 psf+  
  • The roof will likely need additional load capacity for mechanical equipment typical for life sciences  
  • As-built/current vibration design criteria should be known 

If your opportunity asset does not meet most of the above criteria a life sciences conversion or reposition is unlikely. In all cases, Project & Development Services is 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 relation 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 within Project & Development Services. Our project management experts are well equipped to perform early assessments and due diligence for assets under consideration to reposition or convert for life sciences uses.  

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