Looking ahead: Five higher education campus facility trends to watch in 2018

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Declining revenues. Aging facilities. Rising pension liabilities. These factors, combined with the pressure of delivering a high-quality, high-tech campus experience that younger generations expect, and it’s clear that higher education leaders here in Phoenix and across the nation are facing unprecedented challenges with limited resources.

That’s why higher education leaders are taking a long look at how they plan, deliver, manage, and maintain their facilities because facilities are second only to personnel in campus expenditures. From using energy and space more efficiently, to undertaking deferred maintenance, and to outsourcing facilities management, more and more colleges and universities are eyeing their facilities as a source of added value and savings and embarking on public-private partnerships (P3s) to deliver major real estate projects on their campuses.

In the search for cost savings, college and university business officers here in Phoenix are looking closely at facility management and P3 prospects. With over fifty higher education institutions and counting, Phoenix has ample opportunity to cultivate P3 relationships. From ASU Phoenix to both the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University’s facilities in the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, these partnerships have greatly improved the student experience & enhanced campus transformation.

What more can we expect to see on higher education campuses in Phoenix as we head into the new year? Check out five trends that are sure to shape real estate and facilities here and abroad in 2018:

  1. Smarter space utilization will rule the day.
    As teaching delivery models have evolved, so have the spaces needed for learning. A traditional lecture hall, for example, may sit empty while professors hold court in smaller classrooms that facilitate collaborative and interactive learning. No wonder many public and private universities are using space utilization studies. Why build new facilities when you could use existing space more effectively? For certain, brand-new facilities can help ‘sell’ a campus to students, and some donors like the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on campus. However, stretched resources and the drive for cost-efficiency mean institutions have a greater appetite for repurposing under-utilized spaces.
  2. Outsourced facility management will become increasingly top of mind.
    In the hunt for savings, college and university business officers are looking closely at how their facilities are managed. More institutions are exploring how out-tasking and outsourcing facilities management can unlock savings while creating a more vibrant campus community. They’re also taking a close look at energy efficiency as a means of reducing costs while also delivering on sustainability goals important to trustees, professors, and students.
  3. Technology will be leveraged for new real estate efficiencies.
    One way to uncover potential savings in campus facilities is to analyze how buildings are used and how efficiently building equipment is operating. Using data and insights tools created specifically for facilities, higher education institutions can translate the data generated from their real estate operations and identify opportunities to reduce energy waste, expedite work orders, extend equipment life or even gain the advantage in lease negotiations.
  4. Higher education facility managers will prepare for the campus of the future.
    The tech-enabled campus of the future can only become a reality if universities have skilled people to manage smart building technologies and analyze the treasure trove of data coming from sensors and other connected devices. To close the skills gap, universities are investing in education for their facility management teams. More campus facility managers are attending educational seminars and conferences organized by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and APPA, as well as in-house training. The end goal? A facility management team that’s comfortable using the latest building technology to drive efficiencies on campus.
  5. Institutions will seek alternative ways to finance a broader range of new construction and renovation projects.
    Interest in public private partnerships (P3s) is growing as both public and private higher education institutions seek to fund new developments without tapping public debt. Traditionally used for student housing projects, P3s are becoming more widely adopted for other types of campus and off-campus developments—from mixed-use commercial projects and parking garages to academic facilities.

As we look ahead to 2018, one thing is certain: colleges and universities Phoenix are looking for creative solutions and partnerships to help realize their goals for the student experience and campus transformation.

Click here for more information about trends in higher education.

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