Mike Anderson, regional account manager for Sightlines Consulting Group, led the presentation of the company's study's results.
Photographer: Catherine Roebuck
Emily Turner, an advisor with Sightlines, watched the presentation.
Photographer: Catherine Roebuck
Jun 7, 2010
In a presentation last Thursday, Sightlines Consulting Group, commissioned by the Ohio Board of Regents to analyze the facilities investment of the state's public universities, shared the findings of their research with the Ohio University community.
Ohio University was placed in a peer group with ten other schools based on size, technical complexity, geographic location and setting. Among the peer schools are Miami University of Ohio, the University of Dayton, and Cornell University.
“What we did here was take a look at facilities,” said Mike Anderson, regional account manager for Sightlines, “What do they look like, what’s the size of campus, what’s your region, what’s the technical complexity…these schools are good facilities matches for you. There are going to be some differences, but these campuses are very similar to Ohio University.”
The study found four core issues facing the university:
• An aging campus
• A backlog of need
• Effective operations
Sightlines uses four categories for assessing the use of facility funds:
• Annual stewardship, or “keep-up costs,” is the annual investment needed to insure buildings will properly perform and reach their useful life.
• Asset reinvestment, or “catch-up costs,” is the accumulated backlog of repair and modernization needs and the definition of resource capacity to correct them.
• Operations success is the effectiveness of the facilities operating budget, staffing, supervision and energy management.
• Service is the measure of the service process, the maintenance quality of space and system and the customer’s opinion of service delivery, according to the Sightlines website.
In comparison with peers in 2009, OHIO is older, with more than 62 percent of space more than 25 years old. According to the presentation, buildings at this threshold begin to experience major core asset needs, which place additional strain on both operational and capital resources.
Another issue is Ohio University’s investment into new space. The university has invested $173.3 million into facilities since 2005, with $116 million into new spaces such as Baker University Center, composting facilities, the West State Street Greenhouse and the Hebbardsville Large Animal Facility.
Only $57 million has been put into existing space. According to the presentation, this limits the impact on existing space and backlog of need. OHIO’s total investment in existing space is half of peer investments since 2005. The university would need to invest $13.1 million more to meet the peer average.
For fiscal year 2009, OHIO spent 53 percent of their operating budget on daily service, 37 percent on utilities, and 10 percent on planned maintenance. However, the university energy consumption has remained constant since 2005 and is on par with peers, meaning the Ohio University’s energy costs are lower.
Perhaps one of the most noticeable issues involves maintenance, custodial and grounds staff. On a scale of one to five, five being the best, OHIO ranked above 3.4 on general repair, cleanliness and grounds.
Less supervision and higher coverage is impacting campus cleanliness. In a survey conducted by Sightlines for staff, one Ohio University staff member said “Staff are spread too thin and forced to limit cleaning services to complete their work on time.”
There are several things that OHIO is doing better than their peers. The university stewards 7 percent more of their investment target than peers. Project investments are also going into more durable investments than their peers.
“The amount of spending between envelope and mechanical being most of the money…while it doesn’t always look good and you may not be getting all the space renewal you want, you’re putting money into the most durable systems,” said Anderson. “This is something that the people doing project selection here on campus [are] really doing a good job [of]. [It is] a really disciplined method of picking projects and getting things done.”
Sightlines came up with several recommendations on solving core issues:
• For a good return on physical assets, Ohio University needs to create a balanced stewardship portfolio to fund the annual need, with a focus on newer and renovated space as a priority.
• Given the likelihood of capital limitations, OHIO needs to create investment portfolios to address systemic repairs and renovations in order to address the strategic direction of the university with the facilities needs in the older, out-dated buildings on campus.
• The university also needs to identify key projects that improve the asset preservations and reliability of buildings, and prioritize projects that will reduce operating costs.
• Utility costs are an increasing a proportion of the budget placing a strain on daily service. Focusing on procurement methods or generating systems will help to prevent future growth utility costs.
• Operational resources are hindered by the inability to charge auxiliary spaces for maintenance work. Monitoring this work will help facilities determine staffing and supervision needs for the future.
Sightlines currently works with more than 200 campuses across the United State. The Ohio Board of Regents also has Sightlines looking at the other public universities throughout the state.