Harvey Kaiser is president of Harvey H. Kaiser & Associates, Syracuse, New York. Eva Klein is president of Eva Klein & Associates, Ltd., Great Falls, Virginia. The authors acknowledge the use of the material prepared for the University of North Carolina General Administration under the direction of Jeffrey R. Davies, associate vice president for finance, in the development of this article. Space standards are a ubiquitous and often misunderstood component of space planning and management. Recent initiatives to review space standards in current use by statewide coordinating agencies for public higher education offer insights into the concept of standards for space planning and management. One of those initiatives was a study conducted in 1997 by the authors of this article for the University of North Carolina (UNC) General Administration. This national survey of space standards was an element in the development of capital budget process guidelines for the 16 UNC constituent institutions. The survey was extremely informative about use (and misuse) and understandings (and misunderstandings) of space standards.
This article incorporates data, findings, and conclusions developed for the UNC study, along with our other recent experiences in higher education.
Increasing Interest in Space Standards
The subject of space planning and utilization standards is receiving increasing attention in higher education as a tool for improving capital planning, budgeting, and management. Several states are in the process of reviewing space planning and utilization standards. Some systems recently have conducted extensive internal or consultant studies. There are several sources of impetus for this heightened interest. Generally, much of it derives from increasing demands for accountability. In some cases, the direct focus is the introduction of more rigorous tests of capital budget requests to statewide coordinating agencies, prior to submission to sources responsible for authorizing capital appropriations. Another factor is legislative concern about requests for new construction and the recent trend to encourage increased space utilization and/or major repair and rehabilitation, as alternatives to new construction. In some states, outdated space standards that have received little or no application in recent years are being reexamined to respond to legislators' interest. Finally, in some states, recognition of the impact of technology is driving renewed interest in space standards, particularly for classrooms, class labs, and libraries.
Defining Space Standards
One finding in the UNC survey was the varied interpretation of the term space standards. To some states, the procedures that include certain space and utilization criteria used for the completion of an inventory of facilities suffice for standards. In other states, standards are specific planning criteria to be used solely in the preparation of capital budget project requests. Elsewhere, there are two companion policies that distinguish between space planning standards and space programming standards.
Even the titles of space standards documents suggest the variety of guidelines in use. They use such varied and seemingly interchangeable phrases as: key guidelines for space management, program standards, space planning standards, space utilization planning criteria, space generation procedures, quantitative space analysis, space projections methodology, facilities standards and guidelines, facilities qualification and prioritization process, and many others.
Space standards policy documents range from one or a few pages of space and utilization criteria to documents of more than 50 pages that explain the background, use, and detailed design guideline criteria for all HEGIS (Higher Education General Information Survey) room use codes. Some documents separate space planning criteria from program design standards.
Use of HEGIS Room Use Codes or Other Categorizations
HEGIS room use codes define categories of space. Therefore, in some policy documents, space allowances are defined for HEGIS rooms use codes, such as 110 classrooms, or 310 offices.
In some state policies, the HEGIS categories are further disaggregated into sub-categories to reflect distinctions for levels of programs (undergraduate, masters/professional, and doctorate), intensity of use (high, medium, or low), and FTE students, as an economy of scale factor. In such policies, there would be a series of space allowances within the 110 classroom code that differ for levels or programs.
In contrast, some states aggregate several HEGIS codes to create broader categories, such as "teaching space" or "instructional space." For example, in the Texas model mentioned below, several HEGIS codes 110 classrooms, 210 class laboratories, 220 special laboratories, 230 self-study laboratories, physical education (500s) and assembly (600s) are combined together into a measure called "teaching space" and accorded a base allowance of 45 ASF, which then is modified for two more intensive categories of programs.
Categories of Space Standards in Use
The purposes of space standards can be threefold, ranging from macro to micro planning:
The most understandable and usable are those policies in which the guidelines distinguish between space planning standards for strategic and capital budget planning and space programming standards for facilities programming. Space utilization standards are intended to measure the efficiency of existing space use for classrooms and class laboratories. For these two categories (HEGIS 110 classrooms and HEGIS 210 class laboratories), the utilization standards are incorporated with planning standards, in projections of space needs.
Space Planning Standards
Space planning standards (or guidelines) are criteria, usually expressed as an assignable square feet (ASF) allowance, used for analysis of campus capital needs. The point is to compare existing space to hypothetical projections of space required, based on the standards. Comparisons of actual to predicted space, by facility type, result in calculated surpluses or deficits, and usually are applied as a factor in the evaluation of a campus capital budget request. Reliable calculations can only be done if the system or institution maintains a detailed and current space inventory. For 110 classrooms and 210 class laboratories, utilization standards must be used with the planning standards, to predict space and calculate surpluses/deficits.
The level of detail can vary in these standards. For example, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Space Projection Model is designed as a tool to assess net E&G space, as an aggregated category. Standards in use in New York (CUNY and SUNY), Tennessee, and South Carolina are more detailed examples of space criteria for room types, but that also are applied to calculate surpluses/deficits as measures of overall campus facilities needs. Models often are designed to include only E&G space types because, in most states, taxpayer- supported funding often is limited largely to E&G facilities. The categories most typically covered by policies on planning standards are:
Space Utilization Standards
Space utilization standards for classrooms and classroom measure laboratories the number of hours per week a room is in use (weekly room use hours) and the average percentage of seats occupied during any given hour (student station occupancy ratio).
Utilization standards, sometimes referred to as productivity factors, are calculated to assess how effectively 110 or 210 instructional space is being used. This productivity measure may be called a "room utilization rate" (RUR). The formula, shown below, compares "actual use" (expressed in actual Student Clock/Contact Hours) to "potential use" (with potential Student Clock/Contact Hours expressed as a combination of the number of student stations, the weekly room hours, and the station occupancy rate):
|RUR=||Total Weekly Student Contact Hours|
|# of Student Stations x Weekly Room Hours x Station Occupany Rate|
Use of a Space Factor in Planning
The two space utilization factors, combined with the ASF allowance of the planning standard, creates a "space factor," which then is multiplied by the Student Clock Hours of instruction to generate campus predicted space. For example, Space Factor #1 is calculated and then multiplied by the Student Clock Hours of Instruction, to generate a predicted/needed square footage of classroom or class laboratory space.
|Space Factor #1=||Assignable Square Feet per Student Station|
|Average Weekly Room Hours x Sation Occupany Rate|
|Space Factor #2 =||Assignable Square Feet|
|Weekly Student Contact Hours x Station Occupancy Rate|
|Space Factor #3 =||Assignable Square Feet per Student Station|
|Student Clock Hours|
In their varied applications, planning standards suggest considerable flexibility because they are one factor in supporting capital budgeting, while programming standards are intentionally more rigid, because they are used to actually plan a building project.
Common Aspects of Space Standards
Common Industry Sources
Throughout higher education, a few standard industry sources are the basis or genesis of observed space standards. Most commonly, governing agencies and/or university systems adopted or adapted space standards are based on:
Planning for study facilities (libraries) typically is based on Standards for College Libraries, published by the Association of Research Libraries (1986). Consistency for space inventory data collection is found in general use of the Postsecondary Education Facilities Classification and Inventory Manual (1992), published by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Common Units of Measurement
To quantify user volume, student and faculty/staff full-time equivalents (FTEs, FTSEs, FTEFs, and FTENs) or Student Clock Hours or Contact Hours (SCH) are the most consistent basis of measurement and expression for space standards. However, there are differences in the way governing agencies and university systems establish enrollment and employee counts including:
For other elements, standard units of measure used include:
Variations in Space Standards and Uses
Variations in approaches to the development and application of space standards are explained, in part, by traditional system practices for review and approval of capital budget requests. More important factors are the level of demand for capital funding, availability of funds for capital expenditures, and competition for funds. Those states with substantial capital expenditure experience (e.g., New York, California, Ohio, and Texas), or those states anticipating large enrollment growths (e.g., Virginia, Florida, and Georgia), place a higher emphasis on space standards as a component of their capital budget review process. Their approaches to space guidelines incorporate techniques to assist in the evaluation of capital budget requests. These techniques include the use of variables to differentiate between space needs based on:
A trend that is developing among various state facilities offices, like Texas, limit guidelines to only E&G space, while others have established standards to cover the entire list of HEGIS room use categories. In some cases, standards are available for reference but are not essential components of the capital budget review process. This, for example, had been the case in North Carolina, as the Board of Governors had not previously used the standards in capital budget preparation. Current reviews in several states are directed towards alternatives for data collection and analysis that will affect the content and use of their standards for capital review purposes.
Sample Means and Ranges for a Sample of State Systems
Table 1 presents highlights of planning standard policies from the survey that was done for UNC.
|Table 1: Summary of ASF Ranges and Means for Selected HEGIS Room Codes from Survey Conducted for UNC|
|110||Classroom||14 to 22||16.6|
|210||Class Laboratory*||15 to 244||75.7|
|310||Office Space**||125 to 190||143|
|410||Study Facilities/Reading Room***||25% of FTE Students at 25 ASF per FTE Student|
and Open Stack
|0.025 to 0.15||0.078|
* Many policies vary lab ASF allowances by discipline.
**All FTE faculty, staff, and student employees, may or may not include conference and support space.
***Reading space is a typical standard, not a mean.
|Source: Other States Survey, Eva Klein & Associates, Ltd. and Harvey H. Kaiser, Fall 1997|
Flexible Interpretation of Standards
Typically, policy documents urge flexibility in application of space standards. This flexibility in application of standards is illustrated by introductions to guideline documents for capital planning and programming of several statewide agencies. For example:
Careful interpretation of these guidelines by a statewide coordinating agency allows subjective factors to enter into the final analysis of capital project requests. For example, in New York (CUNY and SUNY) and South Carolina all three purposes (planning, utilization, and programming) are served and applied in the prioritization of capital budget requests. In comparison, Maryland, California, Texas, and Virginia stress the flexibility in the use of criteria for capital budgeting that is limited to educational and general facilities.
A conclusion from the UNC survey is that standards should be:
Facility Condition as a Factor
Space standards used for planning and/or utilization analysis omit treatment of the condition of facilities as a component of the capital planning and space management process. A broad interpretation of "condition" includes two parts the literal physical condition of a space and the suitability or functionality of the space for a designated activity. The lack of a qualitative "condition factor" is a limitation in space planning standards, which are purely quantitative. Thus, they do not directly address questions of the suitability of space to meet assigned functions and utilization targets due to physical deterioration, obsolescence, environmental conditions, or inappropriateness. Nor do typical quantitative space standards address technology and telecommunications requirements.
Supplementary criteria to the surplus/deficit calculations in the capital budget prioritization process appear in the UC System, SUNY, and Texas capital budget models that use conditions as a component of analysis. While this approach to introducing criteria for condition is useful in the evaluation of an individual project, it is impossible to introduce condition factors directly into surplus/deficit calculations, as they are quantitative. Other approaches are required.
A frequently available source for facilities condition is data collected in some systems/governing agencies space inventories based on an HEGIS taxonomy of six factors that range from "satisfactory" to "termination." Designed to establish a comparative level of conditions, this methodology is weakened by the cursory nature of inspections and lack of consistent condition inspection guidelines. A better alternative is a facilities condition assessment that identifies facilities deficiencies based on a consistently applied methodology, and conducted by appropriate professional personnel. Several systems/governing agencies require regular one-to-three year cycles of inspections and submission of results as part of capital budget requests. In North Carolina, for example, the state requires inspections of all state agency facilities, including UNC campuses, in three-year cycles. The North Carolina Office of State Construction conducts these Facility Condition Assessment Program reviews.
Emerging Standards for Technology Facilities
The survey conducted for UNC did not focus specifically on newly developing standards for technology-intensive instructional space. In fact, that research revealed the fact that very few systems or states have yet developed established models or standards for new kinds of technology-able instructional space. This is a new area of endeavor, however, in which a number of institutions have created new configurations that may lead to new conceptual standards. This discussion of technology-intensive classrooms is based on recent, informal research on facilities at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Johns Hopkins University, the Sage Colleges, and Syracuse University, among others.
Various uses of technologies include introduction of laptop computers or Internet connections into the traditional classroom/lecture hall setting, creation of new classroom/class lab configurations, open access computer labs, and distance learning transmitting and receiving facilities. Each configuration has special requirements for individual student stations and support spaces and services, in addition to lighting, ventilation, and communications media. There is, at present, no "standard" for these special requirements, nor for the ASF allowances that should be planned. Consequently, there are two concerns about the impact of technologies on planning and programming standards. First, good models are needed for both building new facilities and modifications to existing classroom square footage. Second, there is an emerging question of classification of these kinds of rooms either as new forms of 110 space with different space allowances than has been typical in the past, or as 210/220/230 space with space allowances geared to "laboratory" configurations.
A sample of recent informal experience in examining these new kinds of teaching space is presented in Table 2.
|Table 2: Examples of ASF Allowances for Technology-Intensive Space|
|Function||Room Use||Room Use Code|
|Traditional Teaching Space||Classroom||18-28||110|
|Support space||Open Laboratory Service||varies||225|
|Media production service||varies||535|
Three types of standards space planning standards, space utilization standards, and space programming are applied for appropriate (and different) purposes.
Space standards are useful in planning and assessment and design. However, differences in institutional mission, program diversity, or specific strategic plans should be considered in conjunction with standards. Also, space standards are quantitative tools and cannot incorporate measures for qualitative factors of space condition physical condition or original systems, adequacy, and appropriateness or functionality also must be considered in evaluations of capital needs, but usually will have to be done in a separate methodology.