What's the best way to rein in deferred maintenance and reduce campus size?

3 questions you need to ask

In 2009, Bowling Green State University launched a new campus master planning initiative to address facilities pressures that threatened the long-term stability of the institution. Bowling Green faced a regional decline in high school graduates and a shifting student profile that was bringing in part-time, non-residential pupils. What’s more, Bowling Green’s physical campus was aging; the Ohio Board of Regents found over 40% of campus buildings were “obsolete.”

Recognizing that Bowling Green could not continue to operate and maintain all of its current campus space, senior leaders developed a plan to reduce the campus footprint by taking buildings offline while maximizing existing space through targeted reinvestment.

Read the full research brief: Taking Space Offline

To help guide decisions about where to renovate, demolish, and decommission, senior leaders translated Bowling Green’s campus planning principles into three key questions to evaluate facilities.

Three key deferment questions

1. What should we do with our Traditions buildings?

First, Bowling Green considered what to do with its Traditions buildings, the oldest buildings on campus. Though these structures had some of the highest renewal needs on campus, senior leaders felt that the historic significance of these buildings was important to Bowling Green’s identity. Therefore, Bowling Green decided to gut and modernize the interiors, but maintain the exterior facades.

Ultimately, the university plans to repurpose these buildings to support future investments in signature academic spaces, including labs, new media, and business. Recognizing the challenge of making old floorplans fit modern teaching needs, Bowling Green selectively matched academic needs with current architecture. For example, one building’s high ceilings are ideal for future lab space.

2. How can we selectively invest in building renovations?

The second question Bowling Green considered was how they could strategically invest in building renovations. To determine which academic spaces they should invest in, Bowling Green assessed buildings on three metrics:

  • Number of classrooms
    First, they calculated the number of classrooms in each building and highlighted their potential academic impact.

  • Classrooms as percentage of total inventory
    Second, they determined the percentage of total classroom inventory in each facility to illustrate the building’s wider teaching impact. These two metrics signaled the importance of the building to Bowling Green’s teaching mission.

  • Facility Condition Index
    Lastly, the team used the Facility Condition Index (FCI) to examine the condition of the building by comparing its repair deficiencies to its replacement value. To quickly display this information to senior leaders, facilities leaders overlaid the FCI results onto a color-coded campus map.

Facilities Condition Analysis

facilities condition analysis

Together, these three indicators allowed senior leaders to quickly assess the teaching capacity and condition of each building, enabling them to distinguish buildings in good condition with high instructional value from those in poor condition with limited academic value.

3. Which spaces truly help advance the academic mission?

Finally, Bowling Green considered which spaces most advanced the academic mission. To do this, Bowling Green translated each academic priority into a set of implications for campus facilities. For example, the declining residential student population meant that the campus required fewer beds and classrooms.

On the other hand, the need to retain more students each year required redesigned classrooms that better facilitate active learning. Bowling Green used these implications to help inform their ultimate campus plan.

By maximizing use of Traditions buildings, improving the quality and distribution of academic space, and determining which buildings had the most strategic long-term use, Bowling Green was able to demolish low strategic value buildings and reinvest in those of higher value. This effort reduced their deferred maintenance backlog by 18% and saved approximately $2.6 million in annual operating costs.

Learn how you can recover underutilized office spaces

Not only is office space per student growing, but it is growing faster than any other type of campus space. Download this excerpt to discover strategies that will help you improve office space utilization by implementing practices such as enforceable no-office protocols and voluntary office withdrawal incentives. Download the excerpt

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