A Different Kind of SMART: Using Performance-Oriented Metrics to Redefine Success in a Forward-Focused Research Lab

Jeff Owens, HERA laboratory planners
Clay Stafford, HERA laboratory planners

SMART (Simple Management Approaches to Research and Technology) built environments usually refer to buildings with embedded technologies that allow them to run as efficiently as possible. Yet for research-focused organizations, that definition should be expanded beyond building-centric efficiency to include human-centric metrics that are used to quantify research productivity and accomplishments.

The expected useful life of the building and individual labs, research dollars generated per square foot, intellectual property generated, and successful recruitment and retainment of researchers are but a few bottom-line oriented measures that research-focused organizations use; however, by embracing the business side of research and technology, laboratory planners, designers and architects can create even smarter built environments.

We're on the cusp of the biggest shift in workplace strategies in a century, which will likely become the new normal well into the next century. We need to not only think and act differently, but we need to look at traditional metrics differently, as well to help us redefine the future of SMART facilities.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the concepts of alternative measurements for research productivity and accomplishment and identify new differentiators;
  • Explore what this means in a new normal of potential pandemics, remote working, and generational shifts, and why looking for new differentiation is important;
  • Identify the concept behind "small, smart and simple" and the lens it provides to improve/enhance research outcomes; and
  • Understand implementation of SMART facilities through examples/projects presented and review examples of the concept through performance-oriented metrics.


Jeff Owens has over 25 years of laboratory compliance, operations, and design experience with a unique perspective in program assessment, development, and implementation. His experience spans the globe on both domestic and international projects, particularly in developing and resource-limited countries.

Clay Stafford is a facility programmer/planner with 30 years and over 20 million square feet of experience around the world representing investments in excess of $6 billion. His facility experience spans corporate/commercial, education, master planning and forensics with a unique concentrations in research and aviation facilities.


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