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Capital Renewal Programs: Do Universities Actually Need Them?

February 25, 2020

University campuses contain an enormous amount of systems and equipment that are necessary for running an effective learning environment. It is up to the maintenance and facilities teams to ensure that these assets are well-maintained, tested and kept in a reliable working condition. Systems that work as expected will help occupants feel safer, more secure and comfortable throughout the year.

However, physical infrastructure won’t last forever. There will come a time when your campus buildings and their assets need to be updated, replaced or renewed due to obsolescence or inefficiencies. Here’s how a capital renewal program can help your university prepare for costly renovations and prepare a more accurate budget for campus upgrades.

What is a capital renewal program?

A capital renewal program is a major annual investment program that addresses deficiencies and equipment performance issues within campus facilities. By improving these deficiencies, the campus is better able to improve life safety, accessibility, resource efficiency and critical building systems (i.e. electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.).

It is important to note that capital renewal programs are funded by the university’s capital funds, not through normal maintenance operating budgets.

What types of deficiencies would a capital renewal plan address?

Most university maintenance teams have a preventive maintenance program in place to help extend the useful life of assets on campus. However, equipment will eventually deteriorate in condition, efficiency or performance over time, no matter how proactive a maintenance team is with repairs.

Here is a sample list of assets and systems on a university campus that will eventually need to be upgraded or replaced due to everyday use, excessive wear-and-tear or old age, which can be addressed with a capital renewal program.

  • Boilers
  • Bridges
  • Chillers
  • Conveying systems
  • Drinking fountains
  • Electrical systems
  • Elevators
  • Exterior envelope systems
  • Facilities equipment
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Fume hoods
  • HVAC systems

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What is the end goal of a capital renewal program?

Most colleges and universities need to develop a strategic, multi-year investment plan for improving their campus facilities. A capital renewal program is designed to highlight and prioritize the renewal of building systems and assets that are nearing the end of their operational life cycles.

The program will also serve to allocate funds to these projects in a cost-effective, transparent process. The end goal of a capital renewal program is to support the university’s academic mission, while also optimizing funds and demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

Why Every University Needs a Capital Renewal Program

Major maintenance and capital renewal/replacement projects can be stressful for a university, especially when aging buildings and systems start to deteriorate at an exponential rate. The best way to get ahead of costly renovations is to ensure your organization has the necessary funds set aside to move forward with critical improvements.

Here are just a few of the benefits of having a higher education capital renewal plan in place.

    • Address the campus’s highest priority capital renewal projects
    • Ensure the ongoing renewal of critical campus systems
    • Maximize the efficiency of buildings, physical assets and equipment
    • Minimize wasted resources, including energy and water
    • Reduce your campus’s renewal backlog based on the operating budget
    • Continually improve the accessibility of campus buildings and grounds
    • Renew the look, feel and functionality of campus general teaching spaces
    • Revitalize pathways, landscaping and lighting systems to meet code and safety requirements
    • Prevent additional burden to the equipment renewal backlog
    • Renew or replace outdated campus utility infrastructure
    • Strategically address the maintenance team’s deferred maintenance inventory (DMI)

Identification and prioritization of renewal needs is a collaborative process. Keep reading to find an overview of the steps involved in setting up and following through with a capital renewal program.

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How to Get Started with a Capital Renewal Program

Capital renewal programs, as well as deferred maintenance programs, both require clear guidelines, procedures and expectations in order to be successful.

  • Step 1: Gather stakeholders to discuss and collaborate on renewal project ideas.
  • Step 2: Discuss current deficiencies and functional improvement projects.
  • Step 3: Collect data and estimate and summarize project requests.
  • Step 4: Set priorities among capital renewal projects identified.
  • Step 5: Identify the financial capacity to complete each renewal project.
  • Step 6: Present the final list of funding requests to the university’s executive board.

Allocating capital funding to maintenance projects is a continual challenge for facilities departments and university leadership teams. When properly aligned with the institution’s mission and facilities department strategies, a capital renewal program can help your university or college avoid costly interruptions to learning, while also managing costs over the useful life cycle of facility assets.

Make the Most of Your Assets’ Useful Life

Have you ever wondered how much it truly costs to purchase, operate, maintain and dispose of an asset? This is a good metric to know, especially because your institution will invest a significant amount of money into equipment during years of ownership. Download the Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Formula, a guide to calculating the lifetime cost of a fixed asset, to discover the true cost of owning each of your assets.

Download the Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Formula Guide

Read Next: The 5 Best Resources for Facility Management Budgeting

Meaghan Kelly

Former marketing content copywriter for AkitaBox.

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