Sightlines’ definitive report on the trends affecting campus facilities across North America, “The State of Facilities in Higher Education: 2016 Benchmarks, Best Practices, & Trends”, is now available, and a review of the data for this year’s report revealed several key insights into the challenges – and opportunities – faced by campus facilities and finance leaders. Most of these insights are familiar, as we reported on similar trends in previous reports; but some changes provide new understanding of the actions and strategies campuses have used to overcome the most prevalent challenges presented by the data.
According to our analysis, three key conditions are affecting the current state of higher education facilities: enrollment levels, facility age and use, and the availability of capital.
Enrollment – College and university enrollments are, in aggregate, either stable or declining. As a result, many campuses now have more space to maintain than students to fill it.
Facility Age and Use – The majority of buildings on most campuses were constructed before 1975 and have passed key thresholds for renewal. On many campuses, capital investment to renew these older buildings has been postponed in favor of new construction. As a result, maintenance backlogs are reaching a level that keep campus facilities managers on a reactive footing–addressing critical building envelope and mechanical system problems and responding to daily emergencies.
Capital Investment – Although institutional operating budgets and other recurring sources of facilities and maintenance funding have increased, they are not keeping pace with either inflation or the growth of campus square footage.
Given these trends, serious problems, including building failure, are inevitable. Fortunately, campus leaders are learning how to manage the risk. They have enacted integrated strategies to respond to daily challenges and still change the campus age profile, keep the facilities backlog in check, and use limited capital and staff resources more strategically.
Download the 2016 State of Facilities report to learn more about these conditions and explore how the most successful campus leaders are implementing policies and practices to navigate the relentless trials of facilities management.