Driving Efficiencies Through Space Utilization and Facilities Prioritization

In their drive to become a top 20 public university, Clemson targets capital and facilities investments

Background

The growth of student population at Clemson significantly outpaced growth of space on campus. When comparing Clemson’s age profile to peers, data revealed that Clemson had a higher risk profile with an overall older campus age. While Clemson had added a few buildings it was not nearly enough to offset the increase in students. To the University’s leadership, this suggested the need for more new buildings to increase the program space per student.

As FY2014 approached, Clemson experienced a shift in leadership. As a result, the VP of Finance and Operations contacted Sightlines to conduct a space utilization study, the ultimate goal of which was to provide the academic planning team with current data on the deficiencies of existing academic buildings, utility infrastructure, and space usage.

Analysis

The results revealed that Clemson’s average room utilization (the percentage of available rooms scheduled weekly from 8AM – 11PM) was 47% compared to their set goal of 60%. Additionally Sightlines found that the position utilization (the percentage of available seats occupied within each utilized room) also fell short of their optimal goal of 75%. So, while some buildings were being used to full capacity, many were not. As a whole Clemson had opportunity to make better use of their existing classroom space. The cost of Clemson not meeting its optimal utilization goals was surprising; their unrealized space was worth $33M.

Results

Additionally, through implementations of Sightlines’ Building Portfolio Solutions, Clemson was able to create a 10-year project plan that helped make the case for a complete systems replacement as well as functional makeover. Armed with their project plan and utilization data, Clemson provided the Provost’s 2020 Forward Subcommittee on Academic Facilities Prioritization with the data needed to make informed recommendations regarding the correct mix of new space, renovation of existing space, and repurposing of existing space in alignment with the academic priorities.

Clemson ascribes to a “build to compete—facilities, infrastructure, and technology” ethos and has continued to engage with Sightlines to help drive facilities and capital project planning. Although the total planned maintenance budget has increased over the last few years, Clemson facilities utilized Sightlines ROPA+ peer group average benchmarking data from FY15 to secure an additional $216,000 in planned maintenance funds. They have also been able to close a multi-million dollar funding gap to meet the $15M Annual Stewardship goal as part of their future financial plan.

Clemson continue to use all aspects of Sightlines data to budget additional funding and to plan for the future.