Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Royal Society of Chemistry


  The Royal Society of Chemistry has consulted the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of School Science Services (CLEAPSS) and individual members.

  CLEAPSS informs us that there is a detailed and very helpful discussion of laboratory costing in Building Bulletin 80 (DfEE, 1999, see section 1.4). The DfEE estimates (at 1999 prices) that constructing and fitting out a new science building will cost £1,000-£1,400 per square metre of gross floor area (excluding the cost of land). Thus a typical laboratory of 85 m2 could cost £85,000-£119,000. Of this, about £11,000-£30,000 is for providing serviced furniture. These costs are quite variable, depending on how services reach work benches (see section 3.2), the type of benches and the material used for the surface (see section 4). An associated preparation room would add a further £13,000-£19,000.

  Clearly, the cost of adapting and refurbishing existing accommodation will be less. The cost, however, is very variable depending on whether the changes are largely cosmetic or whether extensive remodelling and renewal of services is required. Costs could be anything from 10 to 90 per cent of the costs of a new building but, for redecoration and new furniture in an existing laboratory, the cost will certainly exceed £20,000.

  The cost can vary immensely because a change to a modern teaching layout of, say, separate teaching and practical areas, or to octagonal benches with central services can involve major works.

  Where adaptation is carried out, room shapes and sizes may be far from ideal. Floors may not be level. There are major differences between refurbishing an existing laboratory and adapting non-science accommodation to laboratory use. For example, in most laboratories gas, electricity, water and drainage services will be required on at least some benches. It is very expensive, noisy and dusty to dig up existing floors in order to lay ducting for such services. Drains present particular problems. In a new build, services can be easily placed wherever required, but a decision on the location will be needed at an early stage, when the foundations are laid and perhaps before the final layout has been agreed. In an adaptation of an existing laboratory, service ducts may well be available, but necessarily at the ideal location. Almost certainly, they cannot be moved, although it may be possible to box them in. Where non-science accommodation is adapted, it may well be necessary to accept that only services around the periphery of the room are possible, perhaps supplemented by peninsular arrangements. Service provision is discussed in more detail in section 3.2.

  The Royal Society are separately reporting to the Committee on the provision of apparatus for laboratories. However it is reasonable to assume that in today's technological world five-10 computer terminals would enhance provision. With the costs of trunking and appropriate science datalogging hardware and other software this would cost £10,000.

  Individual members quote figures of between £40,000 and £70,000 for refurbishment without apparatus and ICT equipment.

  The Schools Register tells us there are 4,770 schools with pupils in the appropriate age range. We have no quantitative information as to the number of schools with laboratories that require refurbishment. However if just one laboratory in each school requires refurbishment the sum required could be well over £200 million.

February 2002

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