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Case Story: The New School

Background

A progressive liberal arts university in New York City serves well over 10,000 students in dozens of buildings. A new university center coming online in FY2013 will grow the campus footprint by over 20%. In addition, the school has a large percentage of space over 25 years old that is not meeting programmatic needs. High density (roughly 2x peer institutions) shortens life cycles of systems and building components.  A large percentage of capital spending (approximately 80%) goes toward non-facilities type projects and new-space.

Approach

It was critical to have the school understand that life cycles within their portfolios are at drastically different points and need different investment and operational strategies.  Further, life cycles are being shortened due to high density.

FY2012 data, presented to the new Facilities Director and senior management, was structured to help the school think about creating specific building portfolios:

  • A capital reserve fund for younger (under 25 years old) space
  • An investment plan to renovate or sell the older space
  • A strong planned maintenance/ operational plan for the new university center

Results

The strategy of separating the campus into 3 specific portfolios sparked interest with the school.

An Integrated Facilities Plan (IFP) was discussed as a way to develop a comprehensive list of needs and determine which projects/areas should have more focus. Having a clearly defined condition assessment would allow the school to determine which buildings are not meeting the current programmatic needs and will be too costly to update.

The capital portion of the analysis allowed management to see where the school was directing their spending. They saw that setting up a capital reserve fund to steward the younger spaces on campus and extend their useful life was a critical move. The presentation also brought to light the possibility of reducing the funds going into older space so that they can be reallocated to areas of higher expectations (young space).

From an operational standpoint, the school will use the analysis to set a planned maintenance schedule to ensure that buildings are operating at peak performance, including the new university center.

“A portfolio approach has helped us assess and deal with the varied complexion of our facilities. Now we can direct our capital spending more effectively and extend the useful life of our buildings more consistently.”