Most Campus Buildings Need Repair and Restoration, Report Says

Most buildings constructed from 1951 to 1990 have reached critical life-cycle thresholds, according to a report from the facilities consulting group Sightlines. In addition, the more complex campus buildings constructed since 1995 require attention to keep them operating efficiently.

At the same time, resources on most campuses remain constrained as net tuition revenue growth is limited by financial aid pressures, and outside support, from both public and private sources, is at best steady, according to the report. Capital and operating investments for campus facilities have fallen and remain below FY 2009 levels, in terms of real dollars. The report shows that one-time capital financing supported by state allocation dropped to $3.32 per square foot on campuses in 2013, down from a peak of $3.88 per square foot in 2008, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. At public institutions, capital spending increased to $1.35 per square foot, from $0.89 in 2008.

Likewise, the report says, private universities are reluctant to take on more debt to fix facility problems because of stagnant tuition revenue. Without the revenue needed to pay for debt service, colleges defer repairs on their buildings. Similarly, rising employee costs have led to cuts in the number of workers who maintain facilities.

"With negotiated salary increases and the rising cost of health care, it is clear that most campuses have fewer staff to maintain and clean buildings and manage campus grounds than they did just six years ago," according to Sightlines.

Due to the lack of human capital, the report says, it is imperative that procedures be put in place to extend the life of expensive and key building components, including heating/ventilating/air-conditioning, electrical systems, and roofs.


Related Links

The State of Facilities in Higher Education: 2014 Benchmarks, Best Practices, & Trends

The Chronicle of Higher Education