Approved by the: University Senate - May 6, 2010
Administration - See comments*
Board of Regents - no action required

President Bruininks understands that the committee has already shared its response to these questions with Vice President O'Brien and Associate Vice President Berthelsen, and he encourages the committee to continue to work with them to advance the agenda for more efficient and effective use of University space.


Statement on Space Use and Cost


The Senate Committee on Finance and Planning received from Vice President for University Services Kathleen O'Brien and Associate Vice President Michael Berthelsen (Facilities Management) a set of questions related to space use and cost planning. The Committee is very aware of environmental and financial reasons to optimize space utilization on campus. In this time of fiscal constraints, it is critical for the University community to make efficient use of our resources. The Committee strongly supports these efforts and recommends to the University/Faculty Senate that it adopt the following principles.

1. To maximize energy savings, the U would need to be willing to set operational boundaries for space use. The largest drivers of energy are hours of operation and being able to predictably turn buildings down when unoccupied. To do so would impact the environment or possible operation of select buildings with one or a few users. Is the U ready to implement such changes?

The University should identify which buildings can be closed, locked, and "turned down" outside of normal business hours, or outside of business plus evening hours, those which can only be closed after business plus evening/Saturday hours and those which must remain open 24/7 because of unique requirements. The Committee invites University Services to draft standards, for Committee consultation, by which to make decisions about building hours.

2. We know that single purpose buildings (examples: labs, classrooms, offices) are both cheaper to build and to operate. However, this would require some adjustments to current practice. Is the U ready for such changes?

Buildings that are composed entirely of large lecture classrooms are desirable for their efficiency. Buildings that house graduate students, labs, faculty offices, and small classrooms/seminar rooms will still be required.

3. If the U has less space with the same program, it would need to schedule its classes and events more intensely. With the advantage of technology to see all spaces, it is possible to centrally schedule. This would mean giving up some control of space assignments. Is the U ready for such a change?

The Committee invites Facilities Management and the Office of Classroom Management to collect and present information/data on the usage rates for common use classrooms, departmental classrooms, and other spaces it deems pertinent to the discussion. The current classroom management system should be reviewed for flexibility and responsiveness to teaching needs. The Committee will review these data and proposed management plans.

The University should consider adding a summer semester to improve space utilization.

4. Technology advancements have made it possible to change space assignments and utilization. Is the U ready to reduce its fixed office space and move toward more remote office work and generic office space for faculty and staff while on campus?

Flexible office space is becoming the norm throughout the country in industry and elsewhere. Cubicles with movable partitions are already the norm in many University facilities. As remodeling and new construction is planned, this approach should dominate. Traditional offices with doors should be the default position for faculty members, given their role and responsibilities.

5. What suggestions do you have on how we can reduce recurring and necessary costs to maintain buildings so that more funding is available for programs?

The items described above are aimed at more efficient utilization of current space and reduction of energy costs. These efficiencies should enable taking buildings ‘off line’ and closing space, furthering reduction in costs and reducing the environmental impact.

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