James Ciccone: Hi everyone welcome to today’s webinar on Managing a Laboratory Relocation. My name is James and I’ll be your moderator for today’s event. Before we get started I’d like to give you a brief overview on what the webinar is going to and we’ll briefly run through some important housekeeping items.
We’ll start with the slideshow presentation addressing the various aspects of lab relocation from building project teams and pre-project planning to managing hard and soft infrastructure. And our speaker will go through the agenda in some more detail.
Following the presentation there will be an open question and answer period. You can ask questions anytime throughout the webinar by typing them into the questions box on the right hand side of your screen.
Everyone’s microphones will be turned off for the webinar but if you have a question or if a technical issue comes up once again you can use that same questions box to communicate.
Please keep in mind you will receive a copy of the slidedeck and webinar recording tomorrow so all of the materials that are presented today you will receive in an email tomorrow.
Today’s speaker Ian Lanza is Regional Director of Life Sciences Environmental at Triumvirate Environmental. He works closely with the world’s premier biotech and pharmaceutical companies as well as executive leadership to identify sustainability and environmental opportunities that can have short term and long term impact. Ian has a technical background in managing environmental liability during facility relocations and a successfully project managed dozens of lab relocations here at Triumvirate throughout his 10 years of employment. And so with that I’ll turn things over to Ian. Hey Ian!
Ian Lanza: Thanks James. Just a quick disclaimer I noticed there was quite a few people from colleges and universities. This talk was originally designed for more general industry biotech pharmaceutical, the major difference being you’ll be moving from one building linked to lease to another one.
So as I go through this there may be some nuances that may not be 100% applicable in those higher ed university settings because I know a lot of brick and mortars aren’t moving all over the place, so just keep that in mind.
As I go through this, I start at a more big picture talking more about project management principles and key ones to really think about during these types of projects. And then as we get in to navigating soft and hard infrastructure I’ll get more into tactical and environmental liability issues associated with these types of projects. And at the end, we’ll have a chance to ask questions. So if you do have some, hopefully we can get them answered at the end here.
So to start we’re going to launch this poll question. You’re going to see I’m going to talk a lot about planning, so very interested to see when your next relocation is planned. So please take a minute and respond to the poll.
James: Looks like we have those responses, 36% are planning to move in less than three months and then 27% three to six months out, and another 27% more than six months down the road.
Ian: Great. So that’s great to hear. In general, the more time you give yourself the plan for this, the more successful the actual project’s going to be. Looking beyond three months, I think that that’s great. Beyond six months, this is a really good place to start and hopefully things will fall into place from there.
If it’s less than three months, you have plenty of time. If it’s less than one month period, you probably got quite a bit of work to do pull this thing off successfully in the next month.
Alright, so let’s get started into the presentation. And if you do have a move in the next month, one reason is going to be a lot of work is because these projects are extremely disruptive for a couple of reasons. They are very complex projects that include many, many different stakeholders. In fact, it’s one of the only types of projects that I know of that is going to impact every single person in your company or at least every single person at that location – from the secretary all the way up to the executive management in that building. They’re going to be impacted and disrupted during this project. So there’s lot of people and it’s going to be disrupted.
There’s a lot of different phases with it and a lot of things need to line up so you really need to use critical path planning and have a lots of contingencies in place. Oftentimes, you have very tight budgets. You want to get these things done as cheaply as possible. And you also want to get them done very, very quickly because they are so disruptive physically moving your place of work and you want to get that done as quickly as possible.
And anyone that has studied project management, the tighter the budgets, the tighter the timelines, the more complex the project, it’s going to be a harder projects successfully. Again, these types of projects are inherently tough.
Some of the soft infrastructures also are kind of complicated to navigate. It’s hard to find one person that can be an expert in all of the soft and hard infrastructure. I’m going to talk quite a bit more about these and the things that you need to specifically consider during these types of projects. When I talk about soft infrastructure, I mean things like leases, license, permits, plans, services – things that you can’t necessarily physically grab onto you need to run your business.
And then, all the hard infrastructure is moving as well. That’s our tangible things that you can wrap your hands around or you can sit on or that you’re physically interacting with; office equipment, furniture, lab equipment, hazardous materials, building supply stuff, things like that. All of those different types of variables need to be considered and planned for during the move.
So because this is such a disruptive project, one thing I found when evaluating if these projects were successful is, are you able to maintain business continuity? Are you able to limit how disruptive these projects are?
And when I look back big picture of the ones I’ve worked on and ask those questions, the theme that I constantly hear is that the smallest impact on their business on the day to day business. So again, I think that’s a good way to measure the success of the project.
Some keys in order to do that, and again these are all pretty standard project management concepts in order to move quickly. It will build the best team that you can because it is such a complex project with so many people and different specialties; you’re going to need a good team. It’s impossible for one person to just try and pull these whole thing off by themselves.
Identify all of those different complex components and break them down into much more small manageable pieces and then figure out how they all interact to get put back together. If you can again break them down into smaller pieces, it’s going to be much easier to manage.
Understand the risks that are out there. Like any good project or project this complex, things are going to go wrong. You want to be able to identify where your potential clog ups are or high risk items are. And then, plan accordingly around that. And then, have toughness in the back to be able to get through some of that adversities that may pop up.
And again, as we go through some of the details in the soft infrastructure and the hard infrastructure, I’ll try and point out what are some of those high risk areas about where you should be paying a little bit more attention to or maybe at least asking through a form of questions during the planning phase to ensure you’ve thought it all through.
Now, I’ll jump into the building the project team where I think it takes to build a good project team for these types of projects. So like any good project management team building exercise, I like to start with a stakeholder map. When I go through that process, first step is to identify the stakeholders – all of the stakeholders – the internal stakeholders, the external stakeholders, consultants, other partners.
Truly understand what those stakeholder’s interests are. They’re each going to be different. A lot of internal stakeholders are going to have different interest so obviously the external stakeholders have different interests.
But you truly want to understand that so that you can then build a team where you’re representing all of the different stakeholder interests and you’re able to align their different perspectives and skillsets.
This diagram I provided here, it’s a sample on how I usually think through building this project team. Internal stakeholders, I really like to start with an organizational chart. So if you have some sort of org chart of your business, I think that’s a great place to start. You want to make sure again that the team you built is representing each one of those different departments or at least different interests or concerns during the project. And then, identify and grab people listed on those org charts that are influential and will be able to carry your message back to their departments in order to get everybody on board.
Some of the different competing interests that you may run into with those internal stakeholders – research, again a lot of the work that I’m doing is in the research and development phase. So the researchers usually have lots of very, very specific concerns around preserving the research that they’ve conducted; how long they’re going to be down for; making sure everything gets set up so that they can hit the road running.
Your CFO and executives are usually also quite a bit worried about money. What is the budget? How much is this going to cost? What do we do to make sure that there’s not overages? What’s the most efficient way to do it? And then, time. We want to get this thing done as quickly as possible again, because it is disruptive. And obviously those three things can be competing interests even internally.
External stakeholders, I like to think of in this context more around like the regulations. What’s the regulatory community requiring you to do? What types of regulations, permits and plans do you need in order to move; to close out a facility, open another facility? Are there regulations around how you transport or move material, so on and so forth? You really want to understand that environment.
Your business partners and vendors, if you’re operating a lab you’re probably buying a lot of different services from different types of vendors. And a lot of times this is a stakeholder group that’s forgotten about. But make sure that you engage them and they understand what the timelines are.
If you’re moving and growing or shrinking or moving through different region, you’re going to want to really think that through to ensure that you can receive those services up to the move, during the move and at your new facility because a breakdown in those partnerships or supply chains can have a direct impact on your business. And push them to make sure that they’re going to be liable during that transitional period, important thing to look at.
Then, finally I even created a whole slice of the pie for this. Relocation experts and consultants, again I haven’t met many people in organizations that are experts in this because companies just don’t move that often and it’s a big enough industry where there are experts out there that understand these projects; that know how to ask the questions that can coach you through it. Even companies like Triumvirate and myself that have done enough of these projects, we can offer quite an interesting perspective on help you ask questions and think of things in order to limit some of that risk when it actually happens.
That’s the general stakeholder map I like to pull together when building a team.
Let’s review that stakeholder map. You got identify the right people to put on to the team. I really encourage you to set routine meetings.
Just to tell a quick story, I was part, worked on this project for two years that ended up moving three times in 18 months as they kind of went through different phases in their company and growth and in consolidation. And we actually, as soon as we completed one move they knew there was going to be another move coming up. So we ended up meeting routinely every couple of weeks. And then, as we got closer to the project we were meeting weekly just to talk through the process.
And it was a changing environment. There’s different people working there; the expectations around the lease kept changing; different equipment was coming in and going. And having those meetings with myself as the consultant and it was with a bunch of company internal folks. It really kept this all on the same page and we were able to troubleshoot and identify problems well before they actually happened so that when the relocation project actually happened, when the trucks started rolling and we start packaging everything up, each move only took a couple of days. But because we were so organized everyone knew exactly what was going to happen. Specialty items were able to be addressed well ahead of time and they all went pretty smoothly.
Contrary, I have done projects where there’s very little planning. I get a call a week before and say, “We need to do all these stuff.” And those tend to be fire drill and they’re definitely not done the most efficient. So the timeline gets a little bit longer, they end up costing more and the disruption is significantly more.
Some common agenda items. Identify, make sure you understand who is responsible for what; timelines are very, very important; logistics and so on. Those are items that should be coming up in these meetings routinely to help identify where problems are going to be and hopefully get ahead of them before they occur.
Those again are basic project management principles try to be applied to these types of projects. Now I’m going to move in to some of the soft infrastructure things that you’re going to need to think about and how to navigate them successfully.
We’re going to talk about Managing Environmental Liability – permits, plans and programs, regulators and then finally service agreements.
When I’m talking about environmental liability, I’m really specifically talking about the liability linked to the building or facility that you’re currently in and that you’re moving into. And a lot of times this is a step that’s overlooked because they’re so focused on moving the chemicals from building one to building two; from moving all the furniture from building one to building two; to merge all the people from building one to building two. And you don’t think about what type of liability you’re inheriting when you move into that new facility and you don’t really think about what liability you’ve generated being in the building you’re leaving and what you may need to do to address that liability.
When you move into a new facility, you want to ask yourself two questions. What type of liability will you be inheriting? What was being done in that space before you got there? What types of lab activities were there? What types of Haz Mat was there? What did the previous tenant or landlord do to remove those hazards before you move into it?
When you move into that new space, it should be free of hazard. You really don’t want to be inheriting any liability. Because once you move in there if there were environmental liabilities left behind from the previous tenant, now you own them.
You want to make sure you’ve cleared yourself for that. You want to ask for reports. What was used there in the past? What processes were used to ensure that those hazards had been removed?
The second question that you want to ask is, what environmental liabilities are you agreeing to? And where I’m really focusing here on is in your lease. So when you’re negotiating your lease, your CFO is probably involved, other people in your executive team. They’re paying a lot of time, a lot of attention to the terms of the lease, to the cost of the lease and so on.
They’re usually not looking very, very closely at the environmental liability components to it. It’s usually only a handful of sentences or paragraphs but the landlord is often going to draw lines on the sand on who’s responsible for generators or I’ve seen written in there you need to supply chemical inventories on a quarterly basis or that you agree to only have 50% of the allowable flammable volumes in that lab. Landlords can write anything into it and again often I see it’s an overlooked part of the lease. So make sure you have somebody revealing that so that you’re not agreeing to something that aren’t reasonable.
And then if you’re only there for three years and your tenure plan has to move again, you’re going to want to look at what you’re going to have to do to exit that lease; which leads me to the next section of managing liability.
Whenever you leave a facility, you’re leaving behind certain amount of liability and you want to be able to cover yourself from there especially, I’m speaking on the context of research lab where you have Haz Mat there. So by bringing Haz Mat into a liability into a facility, you’ve generated this liability around potential contamination, so on and so forth.
Again, I usually ask, what are you obligated to do? When I’m asking this, I’m looking specifically at your lease. Depending on where in the world you are there may be regulatory requirements as well to shut down the facility. In your lease you want to look at things like restoration clauses, deep contamination requirements. There’s usually a paragraph path in your lease around what the landlord is requiring you to do and those very drastically from broom swept, to CIH performing, sampling everywhere and reporting on it.
Another thing that is often overlooked is the timelines. I’ve seen leases saying 60 days prior to the end of your lease, you need to have decommissioned the lab and demonstrate it being clean. Sixty days is long time. And a lot of time you don’t have that much of a window but you want to understand that well before the process starts.
Once you understand what you’re obligated to the next really important question to ask is, what is your business tolerance to environmental liability? Just because your lease states it just needs to be broom clean, if you’re leaving behind contamination the landlord, the next tenant coming in, anybody can still chase you down and hold you liable for that contamination.
The clients that I’m working with in most cases, they’re going to want to adhere to this ANSI standard here. So there’s this ANSI standard that tells you how to shut down a research lab. It’s really just following a certain methodology around identifying contamination and developing a plan to remove that contamination and then documenting it.
Again 80-90% of the projects that I’m working on companies are moving more towards that direction. There’s usually some sort of outstanding circumstances where they’re not going to go that far. But essentially, one of the reasons that you do it is you at the end you have this report and documentation and methodology around saying, “This is what our contamination could have possibly been. This is what we did to remove that potential contamination. And then, here is quantitative sampling to demonstrate that there’s no contamination left behind.”
And when you have all that documented by a third party, it makes it very hard for a landlord to come back to you and be like, “Well, there are stains on the floor so there must be chemical contamination.” If you can demonstrate you went through this process to ensure there’s none, you’re really, really protecting yourself in closing that liability.
Again, you want to make sure you’re asking those questions and talking about that with consultants and within the leadership of your company.
Shifting to licenses, permits and plans; I’m going to speak a little general here and I apologize but the reason for it is the exact license permits and plans that you will need are going to vary drastically from state to region to city. So even in Massachusetts here, from one town to another they have very significantly different requirements around what permits and plans that you need.
What I will say generally about them is don’t underestimate the amount of time and work that goes into closing out license and permits and plans. And don’t underestimate the time and effort that it takes to get new ones set up for your facility.
So there are certain environmental permits that I’ve had to deal with that there’s a 90 day lead time. So if you’re talking about minimizing downtime in enhancing business continuity during this process, you’re going to want to have that permit in place well before you’ve actually moved so that when you moved, day two of being moved in, you can begin your research. So you’re going to want to make sure yourself or consultant is looking at that stuff in detail to ensure that you’re properly shutting things down and you’ve got everything in place to start research activities as soon as you move.
So just the process with that your old facility, so any sort of materials or things associated with your permit; so for example if you have a [0:23:56.7] agent permit, you would want to make sure all of those [0:24:00.9] agent have either been disposed or exit in that facility before you can shut that permit down. That’s generally how those things work. It’s still hazardous waste onsite. You can shut down your IPE number until you made that final waste shipped. So that’s from a process standpoint, timeline standpoint that’s something that you’re going to want to plan out and put on that Gant chart.
The new facility, again a lot of times as soon as you know what types of research activities on that space, you can begin planning for it.
The other thing that I would say is it’s really worth engaging the regulatory community. Different entities or agencies are going to want you to get paperwork in 90 to 120 days before you move into the facility. Others that I know of especially in Cambridge, they don’t even really care until you’re actually up and running. So you’re going to have to talk through some of those things with regulators.
On the permits and licenses, sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to transfer a permit or license and other times you’ll have to terminate in your old facility and get a new one in your new facility. Again I’m going to have to speak broadly about it because it’s different for every single application. But questions that you want to ask for each one – who is the regulatory authority, regional applicability.
So for example in the Cambridge area, if you have Bio Safety Level 2 lab or risk 2-3 material, you have to have an RDA permit where there’s many cities and towns even in Massachusetts where you don’t need one. So in Cambridge where you need one, you have to go through this process to get one. Let’s say you’re moving up to Beverly, Massachusetts; they don’t require one so you won’t need one.
And then the last thing to consider is operational applicability. If you are going to be performing research activities in your old facility and your new facility at the same time, there’s an overlap period which is a common thing to do to again, reduce the impact of this disruptive activity. You’re probably going to need to have permits for both spaces.
Really, at the end of the day I would engage the regulator and see how they want to do it. I did provide the list. This a comprehensive list. These are the common ones that we constantly run into.
The other tricky part is some of these, some things like a flame permit for example the regulatory authority in one town maybe different than another town so you really need to go in and double check that stuff.
As EHS professional and consultant, I’d like to use relocations as an opportunity to implement change to really help take these programs forward. So I like to be involved in that planning phase way, way ahead of time. And the reason for it is I think it’s a great opportunity to try and get better engineering controls into a new facility especially if there’s a construction budget. So if you’re doing construction in your new facility, a lot of times there’s a budget for that. And if you can try and push an EHS agenda using that budget, it’s a good way to get things like fume hoods or better clothes, containers or whatever it may be. So there’s budget opportunities.
From change management perspective, when you go into a new facility it can be a great opportunity to kind of start over and try and kick start a safety culture. You’re going to have new walls, new signage. You can implement new PTE policies. You can update container storage. The list goes on. So I do like to use that as an opportunity to enhance the safety culture during this process. And if you’re going to do that, you obviously need to have a plan; get it all set up; make sure it’s communicated during training as soon as they move in.
Service Agreements I talked about this a little bit. To go through, the the first thing I would look at everyone that is providing you some sort of professional service over the calendar year. Figure out who owns those contracts; figure out the of those service agreements. Make sure you’re engaging those vendors, letting them know timelines, dates, scope is going to change, whether it’s a different region or if you’re growing or contracting. Make sure you communicate all that. And then, you just do that to ensure that that part of your business or that supply chain isn’t interrupted during this process.
Also like to say too again, depending on the type of movement, may be a good opportunity to evaluate different service agreements. If you’re moving into a different region, maybe there’s a better provider there. If your organization is really changing, maybe there’s a different provider that’s a better fit for you. It’s tough, I know because you got probably a lot on your plate managing this relocation but it’s another way that you could potentially add value to this process.
Again, the things that I like to refer to is a soft infrastructure, not things that you can necessarily physically touch and wrap your hands around. So now I’m going to shift over to more of the tangibles, the hard infrastructure, the things you need to plan around and some of that process.
So hard infrastructure, there’s a lot of stuff. I have a short list there on the right and I try to make it a diverse list to begin, to get you to think about all these different things. In one way or the other they’re all interconnected. I think it speaks to the importance of building a big and a good project team.
If IT is probably going to have an impact throughout your organization, you need to make sure servers are set up and people have access to network and so on. Office or furniture or lab furniture needs to be there at certain times and the list goes on here. So building a good team, understanding timelines, making sure all those stakeholders and everyone responsible for those different components is talking becomes extremely important.
So as you go through these things, I always ask questions around and always keep an eye on is when is that new facility going to be ready because there’s nothing that will derail a timeline in one of these relocations than the new facility not being ready to move into on moving date.
This gets a little bit more complex if you’re doing restoration or construction in a new facility and you have a tight timeline. If that’s the case, there’s probably construction meetings going on. You probably want to be attending that or making sure you have a representative from those meetings to help communicate the timeline and so on.
And then, beyond the construction piece of it, make sure the servers and IT stuff is set up. You have proper electricity.
More on the EHS side, more details here with stuff I’m more familiar with. Fume hoods, do you have proper fume hoods? Do you have proper bio safety cabinets? Have they been inspected? Are they properly working? Access to gas. Are your chemical cabinets and other engineering controls in place and ready to go before the move occurs?
Cold rooms, that ends up being a really big one. If you’re moving a lot of cold material, it can be devastating if you don’t have a place to put it. And generally, it’s easier to put cold stuff right into a cold room more or walk-in.
The waste water setup, that’s another hard infrastructure that you need operational before you can get moving.
Assuming your new facility is ready to go, some of the other things that you’re going to want to look at, I think it’s a great opportunity clean labs up and get rid of stuff that you don’t need. These bolts here can be a good guide. Wastes, you shouldn’t be moving wastes from one facility to another. Obviously, get [0:33:19.1] the waste that you have prior to the move.
I really like to use it as an opportunity to get rid of expired materials. Folks that hold on to chemicals for a long, long time will may use this. It’s an opportunity to engage them in a conversation that has real benefits.
Similar or relevant materials, if there’s a project that you brought a chemical in for it that you haven’t done and you don’t have plans to start doing, you might as well get rid of it. The reason for that is the cost and the risk to move it from one facility to another are very similar to the cost in risk of the shipping it out as a waste. So you might as well get rid of it.
The other thing to consider is the regulatory obligations. There are certain things that you may not be able to move based on what your permit says, so on and so forth. So you want to understand that.
In addition from my perspective, it’s really kind of leading up to the decontamination phase but figure out what else in that lab you don’t need and you can discard. This list again, it goes on forever and ever. Again, from an EHS perspective, I’m really looking for, through the actual move process in to the decontamination phase.
When you send a decontamination team in there, you want to make sure all these garbage and wastes are entirely removed. You’re paying HAZ Mat employees to remove chemical contamination, not to remove garbage. But in some many cases, they can but it becomes a very expensive garbage person. So if you’re planning this project, make sure you’re talking about this concept of purging unneeded materials and make arrangements to get all that stuff out of there preferably prior to the lab move; and if not, prior immediately afterwards.
Then as you drill deeper down into the actual details and logistics of moving, questions that you want to be asking – you want to identify all the materials and equipment that need to be moved. Again, assuming you got rid of everything that’s not going to move, then get a detailed list of everything that does need to move. Understand the regulatory obligations of moving everything. And this part’s directed more toward the HAZ mat. You need to package HAZ mat and you need HAZ mat transporter to move in. Are there any other regulatory obligations with being in those labs?
And then, consider all the risks of moving materials whether it’s regulatory risks or operational risks. There may be equipment in your laboratory that just doesn’t make sense to move. It’s cheaper just to get rid of it or it’s too delicate to actually move and you just need to get a new one.
Again, those are as a project manager and not necessarily being the subject matter expert in equipment and so on; those are the types of questions you’re going to want to ask your subject matter experts to make the right decision.
So once you’ve identified all the material that’s moving, you got to figure out who’s moving what, when and where. So the first step is identify the appropriate vendor or person to move every single thing on that list – from chemicals, to biological, to furniture, to high tech equipment, to microscopes, to consumables. Make sure you’ve identified the appropriate vendor to move each of one of those.
In some instances, you may need to bring in three or four different vendors to move everything in your lab. Sometimes some vendors varying service overlap. Those are things you’re going to want to vet out beforehand during your selection process to make sure you’ve aligned yourself with the correct vendors for this project.
This ‘when’ part is really, really important. I can’t emphasize this enough especially when you start drilling down and to looking at every individual piece of equipment or chemical. Make sure you have good, solid estimate of how long it’s going to take each vendor and what their scope entails.
In Triumvirate, usually my scope is packaging and moving chemicals and biological. The teams that I send in there are specialized. They’re relatively small depending on the move and are handling dangerous materials. Likewise, if people moving furniture and other large equipment, it’s expensive equipment but it’s not as dangerous as explosive equipment, explosive materials.
I usually use the analogy, Triumvirate is like ballerinas and some of these lab movers are more like elephants. So you want to make sure that essentially the ballerinas don’t get trampled by the elephants. Things like using elevators, getting in each other’s way. Just make sure you’ve talked that through multiple vendors that you have.
And finally, make sure you know where everything is going in the space to make sure your facility is ready. If you’re going to multiple different facilities, make sure you’ve labelled and identified that before everything is packaged. Depending on how large your facility is, if you’re moving one lab and it’s moving into three different labs, make sure that’s clearly articulated and planned out before the chemicals are packaged. Because if you do that, we can ensure that things are put in the right places.
Depending on the size of the project, I really like using Gant charts. This is one that we pulled from a large project that we’ve done where there’s a lot of stakeholders, lot of different timelines. We use it, we review it during meetings to just help keep things organized. If you’re familiar with this type of software, I really encourage you using it depending on especially the size of the project but it can be a useful tool.
After your lab is moved, the inglorious project of de-conning and decommissioning the facility starts. Usually, it’s a pretty lonesome process. Everyone in the company has moved to the brand new lab, to the new facility. They’re all settled in. They’re trying to get back to life as normal. Usually, there’s one facility for EHS project manager responsible for closing the loop, decommissioning the whole facility. Again, thankless job but every important when managing environmental liability.
So well before that project starts, this goes back to one of those first slides to set off infrastructure section. You should develop a system and process and methodology in decontaminating the lab.
Again, there’s this ANSI standard out there generally, someone like myself will be meeting with you and asking a lot of questions. We’re trying to wrap our heads around what type of potential decontamination exists there and then, developing a decontamination plan to ensure that it’s removed. We’re going to do deep-dives in the types of materials used, how they are used, where they are used, so on and so forth. So you want to have that in place.
During the environmental liability, I also talked about timelines. You really want to look at what are your lease obligations specifically around deliverables but also timelines. You may have to deliver something before your lease expires which can make it tougher on the timelines.
The different types of things that are going to need to decontaminate, again this is what we’ll go through in that process and we’ll take a look. Usually all lab surfaces are decontaminated generally at least the horizontal and some of the vertical lab spaces. The type of lab may dictate how it gets decontaminated. Is it a BSL 3 lab or is it an organic synthesis lab? Those types of things may dictate how we approach it.
Are there certain high-risk areas? Things like waste water units where everything going through that lab is passing through there, the opportunity for a contamination is much higher there especially if you’re using something like a heavy metal. So those are the types of things that we really like to try and understand and we’ll address in order to again, minimize the long term liability of that space.
Now one thing that’s probably listed in the list somewhere and that you’re going to want to take a close look at is infrastructure. Are you responsible for the doc work or not? That can be a very stick conversation. That’s something that probably should be vetted well before the decontamination begins.
So, again depending exactly on the method and the plan that you build, that become a big proponent of this closure assessments where there’s sampling in quantitative and qualitative analysis to ensure that the space is properly decontaminated. It’s all documented and that it goes to the tenant. The tenant can then turn it to the landlord. It really demonstrates and shows the level of effort you went through to understand contamination and decontaminate it.
I would say at least 30-40% of the projects that I do, weeks and months after the move, landlords will come back to those tenants and say, “What about this? This looks like it could have contamination.” Through utilizing those reports, we and the client can generally demonstrate either there’s never really a contamination or there was and it was decontaminated. There were samples at this point. The tenant could not have been the person that left that contamination there. Again, these things really, really help close up that environmental liability of an old facility.
Just in summary, these relocations are inherently very disruptive to your business. Depending on the size, they can be very complex projects again because they impact everybody. And it takes a lot of planning and alignment with many different types of stakeholders to make it successful.
Having an important and strong team that has done a lot of planning is so important. I would say every project I worked on has meeting weeks and months before the actual relocation and decommissioning. Those projects always go smoother, faster, less expensive, less disruptive. The ones that have very little planning and they just throw it together, those are always much harder for everybody to get through.
And then the last thing and one of the reasons, this is more of a general talk and not a lot of specifics. Every relocation is different and will present new obstacles and challenges. I do about a dozen of these a year. My team does about 30 a year. The process is generally similar which I talked about today. But the nuances are always different based on the team makeup, the actual research occurring, the lease nuances. There are so many different variables. They’ll always be a little bit different.
As long as you have a strong team and planned well, you can pull these things off successfully.
Any questions on all that?
James: We do have a few questions waiting in the queue. So at this time, I will encourage our attendees to ask a question if you haven’t already. We’ve got some time left, about 10 minutes. I can quickly get to the ones that have been submitted so far.
Ian, that was great. We have a few about timing as we saw in the poll. There are some moves coming up pretty quickly it sounds like within the next few months. I think there’s a lot to get to as you said in a short amount of time.
The first question is how long should you start planning as far as time out and how long does a typical lab move take? What can you expect?
Ian: Especially if you’re an EHS person, they get a background perspective where I’m coming from; I really like to begin planning and get involved during the new lease negotiation. Unfortunately, a lot of times that happens at the executive level but if you can break into that conversation. That to me is the right time to begin planning for it because you can manage the environmental liability of that new facility that you’re moving into and you’ll have a real good idea of expectations and timelines and everything else.
Again, there’s not an exact day or month answer but try and figure out where you are in those lease negotiations and interject yourself. I think trying to pull something off and especially for lease negotiations are three months out from the relocation, that’s really, really tight.
Usually executive leadership understands the importance of having space. In my experience, those negotiations looking can be 12-24 months out. You may want to interject yourself early and be part of the review team to ensure you have proper engineering controls. But at least as soon as the actual lease negotiations begins, make sure you interject yourself at that point.
James: Good. Thanks. I guess it’s really is a case by case situation but I think those are some good guidelines to keep in mind.
We have a question here more on what happens after the fact, we talked about decon. If a landlord decides a lab is not clean enough, which you can speak to, what do you recommend is a course of action for the tenant once the decontamination has been completed and the landlord comes back and says, “Not good enough.”?
Ian: Right. That really sums up in the environmental liability that I was speaking to. If you haven’t gone through and done due diligence, that’s why I keep leaning on this ANSI report. It’s an international guideline that’s out there, process for how to go with those things.
If you’re adhering to that process and you have everything documented, you have all your ducks in a row – I’ve had landlords come back to us asks us about things and we can demonstrate. This was the potential decontamination could have been. This was how it was decontaminated and here are the quantitative standpoints and results demonstrating that it’s clean.
Then, it positions you as the tenant to be like, “Who is in there after us? What about the painters that were in there after us that washed the brushes in the sink and now you have track left and everything else going through the waste water system? Have you looked at them?”
It really protects you. If you haven’t done a lot of that stuff, it turns into a negotiation. The last protection you’ve got on your side, it depends on what the landlord is trying to do. If they’re looking into squeezing a couple more pennies and you really haven’t been diligent about covering all your bases on the decon, it’s probably going to cost you quite a bit more in that negotiation.
It’s really case by case. Again, I like to try and do as much as you can on the front and beforehand to ensure that that doesn’t happen.
James: Great, thanks. You know we have some questions here. You mentioned the breadth and how many of that moves you’ve been involved in directly and indirectly. Can you speak a bit to some of those experiences, maybe one and why it went particularly well; and maybe in the moves that were a little more challenging, what might have gone wrong? What do we need to keep in mind to make sure a lab move is successful and what does success look like?
Ian: Right. I think I have two different questions. I think as far as the one formula that I think is always consistent, again having a good team and meeting routinely. If you have a diverse team that represents all different stakeholders interests, everyone share in those interests and concerns and talking about it, you’re going to be able to make people feel better about the process; they’re going to be able to plan accordingly. They’re going to be able to identify risks sooner so that when the actual move occurs, everyone has a plan for how it’s all going to unroll.
The most recent one that we just completed a move two weeks ago is a relatively smaller one. But from three months, four months out, we’re meeting every other week. The meetings were with the project managers. We pulled in various stakeholders as well as others movers. We each talked about different process. We figured out that Triumvirate chemical people are going to move everything on a Thursday. The lab movers were going to come in and move equipment and furniture on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. And then everything was going to be ready to go on a Monday.
We were able to address getting the permits and flame permits and all that stuff in place prior to the move and had a good interaction during the decommissioning right now. Again, just the planning made that project very smooth.
I guess, finally how do you articulate a successful relocation, I would say as much as you can minimize downtime and disruption. If it was relative non-disruptive and you’re able to move pretty quickly through, I would call it pretty successful.
James: Great, I think that can’t be most stated enough so that helps. This time, Ian we have a couple of minutes. I’ll take one final question. If anyone has a follow-up for Ian or for Triumvirate, feel free to reach out. Again, we’ll be in touch tomorrow with our follow-up survey as well as links to the presentation. So, you can always reach out if something comes up.
But you mentioned that several vendors are typically involved in a move. This person wants to know, they want to make sure, they want to be as consolidated as possible. What kind of services does Triumvirate and companies and providers like Triumvirate provide? Is it anything but moving furniture? What does that exactly look like? What is the average amount of vendors per project?
Ian: The average number of vendors, that’s a pretty tough question because again every project is different in size, in scope. As far as Triumvirate, we have built our company to be able to handle very portion of this project as that addresses environmental liability.
What that means is Triumvirate doesn’t have the trucks expertise or training to move lab equipment. We don’t train people how to do it. We don’t have the right equipment. I don’t know anything about packaging, that type of stuff.
Usually it’s a different type of asset. There’s a different type of skill set, so on and so forth. Usually to move the non-HAZ Mat part of the infrastructure, you’re going to need at least one different vendor and you may need multiple vendors depending on how specialized the equipment is.
What Triumvirate can do and one point of our competitor’s advantages that we’ve been able to develop is we can do support with all the permitting that I’ve talked about; getting into the new facility or the new site; developing and decommissioning plan, that professional part of it; they physical chemical relocation. We have staff that can perform the chemical decontamination as well as the monitoring and reporting.
A lot of what I focused on today, again it’s really where my expertise is around managing environmental liability, Triumvirate has been built and able to do all that. That’s pretty uncommon in the space that we are or that I’m working here up in New England. Usually, it takes two or three vendors to do what we can do in-house, just the way that we built the company.
James: Great, thanks Ian. I really think the presentation as well as the Q&A shared some really good insights and hopefully we’ll get everyone get started on the right foot as they move in the next few months.
At this time, we got a minute or two left. I think we wrap things up. We will once again, send a survey so we’d really appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you thought. We’re running this on a weekly basis. We’ll visit this topic again, I’m sure sometime early next year. We’re always looking to improve and get your feedback and implement that.
Also, you will receive again the link to the recording as well as just the slidedeck so you can refer to those on-demand.
Ian, anything to add before we close on today?
Ian: Yeah, no that’s it. I think you have my contact info if you ever have questions about any of this. Beginning to talk to consultants and experts as early on as possible is also really important. It’s a big part of my job. It’s a part I really enjoy. So please, shoot me an email, give me a call. I’ll be more than happy to talk to some of these things with you.
James: Great. Well, that concludes today’s webinar. Thanks everyone. We’ll see you next time hopefully. Have a good one. Bye.