Managing Real Estate
No longer does the life science industry often hold on to large tracts of land for future development, notes Richard McBlaine, international director, life sciences, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
“Because of the economy as well as patent cliffs, most of the industry is no longer banking real estate. Now companies primarily are right-sizing and leasing or acquiring only the facilities they immediately need,” McBlaine says. “Some of the challenges faced in managing these facilities include hazardous waste management, roof maintenance, landscaping, snow removal, security, and even window washing, et cetera. Increasingly, companies are outsourcing these duties so they can focus on their core missions.”
JLL’s life sciences business manages 70 million square feet of research, manufacturing, and commercial space for some of the largest life sciences companies in the world, providing integrated facilities management, engineering and operations, energy and sustainability, transaction advisory services, lease administration, project management, and laboratory management services.
According to McBlaine, outsourcing to an expert facilities team specializing in life sciences is important because “these facilities often have special needs, for example, hazmat or research materials and equipment that are very sensitive to vibrations, heat/cold, humidity, et cetera. Choosing an experienced partner to do this assures everything is done safely and efficiently.”
He adds that another advantage to outsourcing is the ability to save on energy costs through use reduction and price negotiation. “Utilizing best practices and centralized purchasing, both the cost of power and the amount of energy utilized can be significantly reduced,” McBlaine says. “Including the latest smart building technology and service platforms helps ensure that each building is operating at peak efficiency.”
When looking into acquiring or leasing facilities for R&D and other operations, a new trend among life sciences companies is to cluster where prospective employees live.
“Years ago, the norm was for workers to relocate to get a job. Now, younger workers place more of a priority on choosing where they want to live, according to the quality of life they want to have. Thus, companies are increasingly seeking locations with access to the best pools of expert workers,” McBlaine says. “Places such as San Diego, Greater Boston, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and San Francisco are among the locations that companies are now selecting. For life sciences companies, managing their corporate real estate portfolios now requires not only expertise in the unique aspects of their facilities, but also an understanding of site selection dynamics in light of these clusters—establishing locations where talent, funding, and facilities are available for life science needs.”