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New Report Outlines Strategies for Addressing Critical Facilities Deficiencies on Canadian University Campuses

Comprehensive Study of Deferred Maintenance at More Than 100 Canadian Universities Yields Sobering Conclusions but Points Way to Pro-Active Strategies

GUILFORD, CT -- (Marketwired) -- 08/27/14 -- Canadian universities are facing a growing problem of aging buildings and maintenance backlogs, but they have a window of opportunity to use their limited capital in a way that strategically addresses those facilities deficiencies, according to a new report made public this month by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO).

The report is based on results from a comprehensive study conducted for CAUBO by Sightlines, a leader in helping academic institutions better manage their facilities and capital investment strategies. Sightlines surveyed campus leaders at more than 100 universities across Canada to learn as much as possible about their campus facilities challenges related to deferred maintenance.

Deferred maintenance refers to the postponement of maintenance activities and capital investments -- such as repairs on property, facilities and machinery -- in order to match limited budgets or realign available resources.

The Sightlines study found that the estimated total deferred maintenance for the participating universities is $8.4 billion, or $42/GSF (gross square foot). This is more than double the amount reported in 2000 -- the last time CAUBO conducted a similar research initiative -- an increase that was attributed to a combination of construction cost inflation, the age profile of Canadian campuses, the amount of capital investment made over that time period, and more comprehensive reporting on deferred maintenance backlogs.

"While significant investment is needed to address the critical facilities deficiencies facing most Canadian universities, money alone is not the answer," said Jim Kadamus, vice president at Sightlines and the principal architect of the study. "Canadian universities and provincial officials need to set clear priorities for investment, eliminate older buildings that no longer meet the needs of the universities, and implement annual funding and pro-active maintenance practices that will extend the lives of key building infrastructure components such as HVAC systems."

Other key findings in the CAUBO report include the following:

  • Within the next five years, unless there is substantial reinvestment, more than 60 percent of the space studied will have reached 25 years without renewal, while the amount of space over 50 years old will increase to more than 25 percent. Further, a large proportion of existing facilities were built during eras of construction when quality was lower and the need for repair and renovation comes earlier in the building's lifecycle.
  • A review of the deferred maintenance by building function found that mission-critical facilities represent the bulk of the reinvestment need. The vast majority of the deferred maintenance on Canadian university campuses is in academic and scientific research facilities, which in the long run will have an impact on teaching and research if strategic investments are not made now.
  • The study found that targets for annual stewardship -- to simply keep up with current needs and prevent total deferred maintenance from increasing -- ranged from $3.70/GSF to $10.00/GSF annually for study participants. Based on the funding information provided, it is estimated that fewer than 20 percent of Canadian universities are meeting this target.

"This report meets our member institutions' need for up to date information on the amount and potential impact of deferred maintenance at Canadian universities, in a form that can be readily understood by a broad range of stakeholders, both internal and external," said Dave Button, president of CAUBO and vice-president of administration at the University of Regina.

The full report can be downloaded at: http://www.sightlines.com/sightlines-dm-study-published-by-caubo/.

About Sightlines

Founded in 2000, Sightlines works with more than 500 college and university campuses each year. Their ROPA(SM) (Return-on-Physical-Assets) service provides a holistic approach to defining capital needs and provides an independent view of campus performance, reliably benchmarked against peer institutions. Academic institutions use ROPA(SM) to defend budgets, secure additional funds, evaluate new construction, rebalance budgets, assess maintenance backlogs, determine proper staffing and service levels, and successfully present budgets to boards. Sightlines was named to the 2013 Inc. 5000 list, an annual report from Inc. Magazine of the fastest growing privately owned businesses in the U.S., for the fifth consecutive year. For more information, please call 203.682.4952, go to http://www.sightlines.com or email [email protected].

About CAUBO

Founded in 1937, the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) is a non-profit professional organization representing the interest of administrative and financial officers in Canadian universities and affiliated colleges. CAUBO promotes professional management and provides support to member institutions in a broad range of administrative functions including facilities management.

Media Contact:

Daryn Teague
Teague Communications
(661) 297-5292
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