$15.1 Billion in Upgrades Plague California Higher Ed

Capital project needs, combined with $13.8 billion in deferred maintenance work, pose massive problem for state’s universities.   February 8, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

Deferred maintenance figures never get smaller, and they are always shocking. 

Whether it’s NASA facilities requiring $2.7 billion to address the backlog of needed maintenance or U.S. nuclear facilities needing $3.7 billion to do so, the maintenance backlogs plaguing various U.S. facilities sectors keeps growing. 

The nation’s education facilities have long been the poster children when the topic is deferred maintenance, and if the situation facing California’s higher education facilities is any indication, the problem is not improving anytime soon.  

A new state report notes that its aging facilities are in dire need of necessary upgrades and there is no plan in place to fund the still-deteriorating problem, according to Courthouse New Service

Over the next 10 years, the University of California expects it will need $12 billion to replace roofs, heating systems and other crumbling building components at its campuses, while the California State University (CSU) projects $3.1 billion in so-called capital renewal needs, according to a report issued Thursday by the Legislative Analyst's Office, a nonpartisan office that advices the state legislature. 

These estimates come on top of the two university systems' current backlogs of deferred maintenance of about $7.3 billion at UC and $6.5 billion at CSU. 

Analysts have blamed the lack of investment in the aging building for a host of existing problems, such as inadequate ventilation leading to overheated classrooms and frequent flooding within buildings affecting faculty research. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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