Without a Plan, Backlog Grows Unchecked

Carleton University implements 10-year strategy, receives $22 million increase

Background

Founded in 1942, Carleton University is a comprehensive institution located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. For over 15 years, Ontario universities have been working together to provide better data to inform decision-making on deferred maintenance. Using a Facilities Condition Assessment Program (FCAP), Carleton is able to classify buildings based on condition, which helps provide a cost estimate for needed investments.

Carleton’s backlog had surpassed $100 million and was growing. Unfortunately, they did not have a funding strategy in place to begin to combat this swelling backlog.

Analysis

Carleton partnered with Sightlines to provide an independent review of their facilities operation—including an analysis of capital asset data—the goal being to achieve data and context that would help Carleton’s leadership make the case for increased capital investment.

Sightlines’ Facilities Benchmarking & Analysis solution was able to highlight the core issues at Carleton: high density of students/faculty/staff, increasing needs and risks associated with aging facilities, and limited resources. Carleton enrollment was increasing at high rates, which significantly increased the wear-and-tear on their facilities. Previous capital investment levels were below the targeted need increasing annual deferral, raising the overall backlog of need. Looking forward, the backlog would continue to grow, unless funding was increased and used to target specific high-risk buildings.

Results

Using Sightlines’ predictive modeling of multiple funding scenarios, Carleton’s administration was able to determine the dollar amount that would be most effective and manageable. Their recommendation was that the University should allocate an additional $14 million per year for the next 10 years to address deferred maintenance and capital renewal upgrades to existing buildings and infrastructure. This is a major increase for the institution, as the investment into existing facilities over the previous 10 years averaged $11.7 million annually (which was comprised of $2.5 million base funding plus one time funding of $9.2 million). The guaranteed $14 million per year in addition to the base funding already in place, equals a $2.2 million annual increase, or $22.3 million over the coming decade, providing firm funding for the next 10 years. The proposal was presented and unanimously approved at a joint meeting of the Building Program and Finance Committees and finally by the Board of Governors.