Square footage isn’t just a number. It’s a reference point you use for capital planning, grant writing, workforce assignments and more. Because such a large portion of your operations depend on square footage measurements, it’s essential that you know the different ways to define it and how these definitions affect your decisions. Don't forget to download the square footage infographic that you can share with your team.
4 Square Footage Definitions and What They Mean
GROSS SQUARE FEET (GSF)
Gross Square Feet is the total area of enclosed space measured to the exterior walls of a building. This is an umbrella term that includes everything in a facility, even unusable spaces (think areas in between walls). It’s the total space a facility takes up regardless of whether or not the space is used. GSF is an important metric for planning and budgeting in construction as well as benchmarking for operations and maintenance.
NET SQUARE FEET (NSF)
Net Square Feet is the area of usable space that’s available for furnishings, equipment, and personnel. NSF is essentially GSF minus unusable space. Areas included in NSF are measured from the inside finished surface of their surrounding walls, excluding any area bounded by structural columns, shafts, or outside finished surfaces. NSF is most often used for allocating department and program space. While it requires more effort to calculate compared to GSF, it paints a more accurate picture of what space is available to your organization.
NET ASSIGNABLE SQUARE FEET (NASF)
Net Assignable Square Feet is the sum of all areas that are usable for programmatic purposes. NASF can be calculated as NSF minus the spaces you wouldn’t be able to assign a specific use to. For instance, an office or a classroom would be included in NASF, a hallway or lobby would not. NASF is important for determining what space your building has available to assign to employees or lease out to third parties. Once you have an accurate idea of your NSF, calculating NASF is a straightforward task: designate which spaces are assignable, then find the sum of these spaces based on your existing calculations.
NET CLEANABLE SQUARE FEET (NCSF)
Net Cleanable Square Feet is the sum of all floor area that requires custodial services. This can be represented as NSF minus areas that cannot or do not have to be cleaned, such as closets or areas where there is a significant amount of equipment encompassing floor space. NCSF is necessary for calculating custodial cleaning staff and budgeting for cleaning supplies and equipment. Again, you can base NCSF on your existing NSF measurement.
WHY ARE THESE SQUARE FOOTAGE DEFINITIONS IMPORTANT?
Square footage measurements and definitions inform important tasks in your facility. If you don’t have the right information, you could be overspending, under-allocating work hours, or at risk when undergoing audits. When you collect the correct data, you reduce the chance of these problems occurring.