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2023 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FORECAST

by CHRISTOPHER LADD, AIA, NCARB, Vice President | Managing Principal, Science & Technology, Ci Design, Inc.


In 2023, the science and technology market will continue to thrive and stimulate the need for new and renovated facilities from the design and construction industry. The life sciences and clean energy sectors are driving demand for laboratory and manufacturing facilities while advancing technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), have created increased pressure for more mission critical facilities for data storage and processing.


Through all S&T industries, the focus on environmental consciousness, sustainability, and self-reliance is expected to continue.


Read on to learn more about the science and technology forecast for 2023.


 

SUSTAINABILITY, WELLNESS, AND ESG



The focus on sustainability has shifted from just being about “green” ideas—which are now often required by code— to also including wellness practices. Many companies are striving to create healthier facilities for their employees and neighbors, which could include outdoor walking paths outfitted with weather-resistant exercise equipment, art installations created by local artists, and infrastructure for individually controlled microclimates in workspaces to optimize employee comfort.


As more towns and cities become aware of the importance of wellness practices in facility design, they’re looking to invest in projects that have a positive impact on the environment, provide a healthy workplace for employees, and avoid disruption in the community. It is becoming more and more important for companies to develop ESG plans and consider WELL certification for their facilities in order to receive entitlement approvals from Planning & Zoning boards.


 

CHASING SELF-RELIANCE


As the impacts of supply chain issues were felt across industries in previous years, many companies are making efforts to regionalize their supply chains to minimize disruption in production and other setbacks. This regionalization provides businesses with a more reliable network and allows them to be more self-sufficient. And—with less travel required by suppliers and distributors—regionalization has a smaller impact on the environment and can work towards a company’s sustainability goals.


Similarly, many companies are incorporating redundancy plans into their facilities and considering additional security measures to avoid outages and ensure continuous operation.


 

ONGOING LIFE SCIENCES GROWTH



Even after years of extremely fast-paced growth in the life sciences industry, the life sciences real estate sector remains strong. Well-established pharmaceutical companies are maintaining their expansion programs through both organic and merger/acquisition growth, which, in turn, continues to provide many opportunities for the design and construction industry for renovation and/or ground-up construction of their facilities.


FLEXIBILITY, EFFICIENCY, AND SCALABILITY

Flexibility, efficiency, and scalability continue to be at the forefront of design priorities. Clients request flexible workspaces with movable benches and adjustable MEP utility infrastructure to allow workstyles to evolve based on project needs and promote faster and more effective R&D. Additionally, many companies are adopting a cloud-based technology strategy to centralize their data and allow scientists to collaborate and interact with research remotely. This process not only increases efficiency, but it reduces the risk of human error and ultimately, brings drugs to the market faster. Designing with a digital-first mindset also often allows smaller companies to scale more effectively.


BSL-2+

Most life sciences labs are required to comply with, at a minimum, Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) standards. More recently, however, many clients are recognizing that there are often easy, low-dollar-value upgrades that can be made to increase biosafety levels in a facility and bring it closer to BSL-3. This new class of facilities is often referred to as BSL-2+, as it goes above and beyond BSL-2 standards but it does not quite comply with all BSL-3 requirements.


INTERACTION OF SPACES

Finally, in facilities with non-laboratory components to their program, it is becoming increasingly important to consider how different types of spaces interact. In addition to physical connections between different types of spaces, such as offices and labs, designers are also creating visual connectivity through the use of glass windows and walls, balconies, and more.


 

MISSION CRITICAL / DATA CENTERS

As technology advances, the demand for mission critical facilities and data centers continues to rise. To keep up, many facilities are being constructed with prefabricated components to decrease the schedule and on-site labor requirements.


Furthermore, the proliferation of AI, VR, and AR technologies has generated an increase in computing power needs, data processing speeds, and data storage requirements. Many companies are finding that air cooling methods are not adequate for their facilities and are considering alternative methods, such as liquid, to cool their server technology.


Lastly, data centers are continuing to take measures to ensure continuous 24/7 operation. Traditionally outfitted with diesel backup generators, many companies are now looking at sustainable energy solutions such as hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries to sustain their operations in the event of an outage.


 

CLEAN ENERGY SECTOR



With more stringent carbon emissions requirements across the globe, more companies are moving towards more sustainable practices and incorporating alternative and renewable energies into their facilities.


Similarly, the increase in consumer demand for products with lower environmental impact, such as electric vehicles, has had a cascading effect on the need for supporting products and technology. Semiconductors, fuel cells, battery storage, battery insulation, and silicon carbide crystal growth manufacturing companies have experienced enormous growth and will continue to thrive in the coming years.


 

THE WRAP-UP

While fewer speculative science and technology facilities are being completed than developers anticipated, the science and technology market continues to be promising for the design and construction industry.


To ensure the best health and safety practices globally, many companies are seeking design teams who have experience with international regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, EMA, and WHO, to complete their projects. Ci Design’s architects, designers, planners, and project managers have unparalleled expertise in working with these agencies and designing science and technology facilities for clients around the globe.



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