Aerial view of Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released today the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for their proposed second campus. The second campus, announced in September, is designed to consolidate four remote sites and allow for future growth for LBL, which is constrained by the physical limits of its main site in the Berkeley hills above the university. LBL is one of the Department of Energy’s national labs, and is managed by the University of California.

“Putting all those scattered facilities on one site will bring efficiencies,” said Sam Chapman, LBL’s manager for state and community relations. Currently, in addition to the main site, LBL has the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland and parts of the Life Sciences Division in West Berkeley.

The RFQ lists 20 criteria for the new campus, including space for up to 2 million gross sq. ft. of research and development facilities. The new site is also expected to be within a 20-25 minute commute of the LBL main entrance at Blackberry Gate.

The one site specifically mentioned in the RFQ is the Richmond Field Station (RFS), which is already owned by the university. The RFQ states: “RFS by and large meets the parameters of the Site Attributes. Respondents to this RFQ should know that the University may choose to site the second campus at RFS and will be evaluating potential sites relative to their ability to better meet the needs of the University and the DOE.”

Chapman said today that the 20 criteria in the RFQ are an “ideal”, which no single site can match. Responses to the RFQ are required by March 4, and the lab expects to have a shortlist by April and a final site selection by June. The schedule calls for construction on the new site to begin in 2013 and for occupancy by the end of 2015.

“There has been a lot of interest in the project,” said Jeff Miller, LBL’s head of public affairs. He said there have been 30 requests for the RFQ so far, “but until we receive formal proposals, we don’t know how many there will be.” City officials have said there are a number of developers interested in providing the second campus in Berkeley, but there is likely to be fierce competition from other cities, including Oakland and Alameda, as well as the presumptive favorite in Richmond.

The new campus is expected to have 800 employees from the outset. LBL measures its national economic impact at$1.6 billion.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...