Though long-term construction plans will always be necessary for university campuses, short-term goals can better help address micro trends impacting the campus or education sector as a whole.
Enrollment in places of higher education is in constant flux. Because of this, commitment to new construction is being viewed more cautiously, while renovations and reinvestment into existing space being seen as a smarter way to address evolving campus needs. These smaller and more nimble investments provide facility managers and finance officers the flexibility they need to surf the evolving financial landscape.
According to facilityexecutive.com:
“Through regular space assessments, facilities departments are finding that even minor renovations can vastly improve both building and campus performance. As departmental needs change, it is often possible to reorganize departments’ layouts and better use the available space. For example, office space organized years ago around fixed offices and secretarial pools lends itself well to modernization that includes flexible (and perhaps even hoteling) office space for digitally enabled faculty and students who are working on the go and in dynamic groups. Technology and improved HVAC systems can make once underutilized storage space into social, meeting, or interaction spaces that are desperately needed for an educational framework rarely focused on a lone teacher lecturing a group of attentive students.”
Reinventing existing spaces not only saves on capital costs, it also proves more environmentally friendly and less energy intensive. Several schools across the nation have recently engaged in energy efficient initiatives.
Just this month, the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut announced it had successfully installed a megawatt-class fuel cell microgrid on the school’s property, which is expected to generate $300,000 in annual energy savings.
And in January, Brandeis University announced it had signed a power purchase agreement to use solar power, with the expectation of saving up to $2 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.