Measurement Makes a Huge Difference in a Decade

Hamilton College grows stewardship funding, reduces consumption, gets younger

Background

Similar to many northeast institutions in size and mission, leaders at Hamilton realized early on they would have to be judicious, proactive, and strategic with their facilities investments. A decade ago, Hamilton was in the midst of a heavy reinvestment program and needed improved data to support a campus mindset shift regarding facilities and their maintenance. With over $200 million being invested over the next decade, the administration needed to ensure that new construction and growth wouldn’t hurt their ability to effectively steward their assets in the future. Hamilton looked to Sightlines to help protect facilities budgets and ensure resources were in place for appropriate recurring “keep-up” investments.

Analysis

Using Sightlines’ Facilities Benchmarking & Analysis solution beginning in 2006, Hamilton sought to change the conversation around facilities on campus. Through this partnership, Hamilton was able to validate assumptions about their facilities and make a case for meaningful policies that would streamline operations and improve their ability to prolong lifecycles and reduce backlog. Three core recommendations resulted from the initial Sightlines analysis:

  1. Energy consumption (fossil and electric) was high compared to peers. Lowering these expenditures could self-fund the second recommendation.
  2. Increase spending on planned and cycle maintenance programs to slow the rate of deferral.
  3. Focus on larger renovations and catch-up with deferral in older facilities.

Results

The Sightlines findings were reported to the Board of Trustees by finance and facilities leadership, creating a consensus for action on campus. Significant progress was made on all three recommendations.

  • Through targeted investments into systems and infrastructure, the team was able to achieve a 35% reduction in utility consumption per square foot. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates savings that can be used to increase recurring project funding.
  • By demonstrating the value of “keeping-up” to the Faculty Budget Committee and the Board of Trustees, facilities leaders were able to leverage operating savings and new appropriations to incrementally increase their ability to steward existing assets.
  • With buy-in and support from these key groups, Hamilton has steadily grown their annual stewardship funding 160% in ten years. Hamilton’s backlog stabilized and with backlog growth curtailed, capital dollars could be focused on true asset-enhancing projects rather than being diverted to emergency unplanned repairs.

By strategically investing in older facilities, Hamilton has been able to drive down the average age of buildings. In 2005, 60% of their buildings had a renovation age over 25 years and only 18% newer than 10 years. By 2013, their “over 25 years old” renovation age category was reduced to 47% and 30% of their buildings were less than 10 years old