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Design Requirements Manual

The 2008 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Design Requirements Manual for Biomedical Laboratories and Animal Research Facilities (DRM), formerly called the NIH Design Policy and Guidelines, is the only detailed design requirements and guidance manual for biomedical research laboratory and animal research facilities in the U.S. Compliance to the DRM, which promulgates minimum performance design standards for NIH owned and leased new buildings and renovated facilities, ensures that those facilities will be of the highest quality to support Biomedical research.   

The Division of Technical Resources (DTR) in the NIH Office of Research Facilities (ORF) is responsible for developing and maintaining the DRM. It is also responsible for reviewing and approving its content and organization. DTR pursue, research and test state-of-the-art and innovative technology that may be applicable to biomedical research facilities, and incorporating research results and lessons-learned from the design and construction of NIH’s unique biomedical research facilities into the DRM.  The DRM is a dynamic document.  Revisions are made as necessary.  The Architect/Engineer (A/E) should refer to the revisions page before each use of the DRM to note any updates that have been made since the last use.  The entire DRM will be revised on a three year cycle.


The DTR maintains state-of-the-art knowledge and develops new technologies to improve energy efficiency, maintenance and operations.   ORF has conducted studies that are the basis for NIH’s Bio-Environmental Engineering Research Program. These studies have set numerous National and International Standards for Better Indoor Air Quality and Greater Energy Conservation. The following standard setting organizations have adopted the NIH research findings: American National Standard Institutes (ANSI), American Society of Heating and Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Academy of Architecture for Health, and the International Academy on Indoor Air Quality The results of these studies are incorporated in the 2008 DRM and new information will be added as it becomes available. 

The NIH Design Requirements Manual aligns the NIH facilities program with the ORF mission of: “Supporting NIH priorities by providing safe, secure, sound, healthy, and attractive facilities.” This manual also aligns the ORF with a national imperative to be good stewards of America’s real property assets. We extend our sincerest thanks to all of the people who helped to make the NIH Design Requirements Manual a reality.



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The Design Policy and Guidelines are the responsibility of the Division of Technical Resources (DTR)

For all technical inquiries, comments and suggestions, please email the Office of Research Facilities, Division of Technical Resources at ms252u@nih.gov.  


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information available on our website is accessible to all. If you use special adaptive equipment to access the Web and encounter problems when using our site, please let us know. Email: ms252u@nih.gov and we will provide the information to you in an alternate format. It would be helpful if you can be as specific as possible when describing the information you seek. 

This page was last updated on Jul 17, 2013