From 2018 to 2020, demand for life science and lab facilities has grown dramatically. In fact, a record $70 billion in capital was invested in American life science companies in 2020 (2021 Life Sciences on the Rise). Paired with a changing demand for office space and a redefined labor market, many commercial real estate stakeholders feel there is an opportunity to pivot their investment.

What can property managers, building owners, and facility managers do to proactively circumvent the changing environment of commercial real estate?

One such way is to consider converting or retrofitting vacant or unused commercial space into life science or lab facilities. Although there are important considerations that need to be made when undertaking such a decision, the benefits are clear given the events of 2020 and 2021.

The first item that must be addressed when thinking of a life science and/or lab conversion is establishing whether your building meets the appropriate criteria, as defined by the typical minimum standards required by most life science companies. Some base-level requirements which need be considered are as follows:

  • Zoning, Planning, and Occupancy
  • HVAC and Plumbing
  • Vertical Circulation (multi-floor buildings)
  • Floor-to-Floor Clearance (multi-floor buildings)
  • Electrical
  • Structural

In addition to meeting building, local, state and federal requirements, property stakeholders should also consider their physical proximity to existing research universities or healthcare systems, as well as potential biotech partners, suppliers, and competitors in the area. With the demand for a more visible life science community steadily growing, potential lessors are looking for resource and amenity-rich regions in which they can be welcomed and attract potential new employees.

A majority of the biotech and life science companies can be found in the vicinities of Boston, California’s Bay Area, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York & New Jersey, and the BioHealth Capital Region (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia). However, with the surplus of physical office space currently available nationwide, it should come as no surprise that the industry is shifting. In fact, the demand for life science capacity is increasing across the country, not just in the coastal hotspots currently home to many of the established biotech companies.

As we emerge from the global pandemic, property stakeholders may find themselves with more opportunities to reposition commercial space than ever before. With some companies evaluating their corporate real estate strategy, owners are considering a pivot towards the life science and biotech industries. By considering your base building features, the costs associated with upgrades and/or retrofits, and the advantages associated with your properties’ locations, property stakeholders can be sure they are making sound, informed decisions about the future of their real estate assets.

Able Services brings advanced technology, precise cleaning, and tailored operations and maintenance to controlled life sciences facilities.  Our data-driven solutions incorporate state-of-the-art technology and standardized work processes to ensure compliance with the FDA and other regulatory agencies. Learn more about our capabilities here.