AIA, I2SL to develop laboratory facility design and planning guidelines

March 03, 2009 |

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding allowing both organizations to leverage their unique resources and expertise toward the creation of a comprehensive laboratory facilities guideline for planning and design.  These new guidelines will build on the 1999 AIA Guidelines for Planning and Design of Biomedical Research Laboratories.


AIA and I2SL agree that laboratories must be a major focal point in enhancing human health and the built and natural environment. The organizations believe that comprehensive guidelines for laboratories are necessary as these unique facility types form a large part of the research infrastructure and are the foundation supporting successful societies throughout academia, industry, and government, worldwide. The long-term investments required to build laboratories and their costly operation costs provide more reason for the organizations to work together to develop a set of guidelines on how to properly plan for and build these facilities.


This initiative is consistent with the mission and strategic goals of each organization. The AIA has a history of providing guidelines for designers, some utilized by owners and government officials as a center for facility knowledge.  I2SL is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable design and engineering practices for laboratories and other high-technology facilities.


The guidelines will define integrated building strategies that will offer a sustainable approach to global building challenges.  While the 1999 AIA guideline did provide guidance on biomedical research laboratories, there currently is no document that provides a comprehensive planning and design guidelines for various types of research facilities.  Without a comprehensive guideline document, laboratory designers, engineers, owners, operators, and other professionals do not have a comprehensive guide to refer to in their efforts to deliver these specialized facilities. While all laboratories and their support space are unique, they must be safe and secure, effective and flexible, engaging and modern, environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, life-cycle cost effective, and meet the appropriate controlling building codes. The guidelines will aim to be a comprehensive resource for this information.


As the AIA and I2SL begin to develop the guidelines, they will seek subject experts and leaders having the passion and willingness to substantially contribute to the scope and content of the guide. The organizations will begin soliciting financial support to assure the development of the guide and will seek organizations that can endorse its mission. Additionally, AIA and I2SL envision that organizations and individuals, both within and outside the U.S., working in private-public partnerships will assist in creating these guidelines.


AIA and I2SL believe developing these guidelines is consistent with a growing national sentiment and directly responds to the federal government’s call for “creating the 21st-century classrooms, libraries, and labs… across America." AIA and I2SL are pleased to begin this journey and with the assistance of so many to create the comprehensive and “living” laboratory facilities guidelines for planning and design that will offer an ever evolving and responsible reference to build the nation’s laboratories.

About International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is devoted to the principles of sustainable laboratories—from design to engineering to practice. Through worldwide partnerships and the exchange of technical information, I2SL will help produce high performance facilities that address the rapid pace of science, medicine, research, and development in an ever-changing and dynamic world.

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.  By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit

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