Bascom Hall, the main administrative building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Madison
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Deferred Maintenance Plagues Education Facilities

  April 1, 2019

By Dan Hounsell

Deferred maintenance continues to plague education facilities, and public K-12 schools generally end up in the spotlight when the talk turns to aging, poorly maintained facilities. Unfortunately, many higher education facilities face repair challenges that are just as daunting, and the dollar figures in many cases are even more staggering.

The University of Washington, for example, faces a $1.07 billion deferred maintenance backlog and $599 million in modernization costs, according to The Daily. The $1.67 billion is a shocking sum to many, but Lou Cariello, vice president of university facilities, added context.

“With the auxiliaries you come to 26 million square feet of facilities that have that $1 billion backlog,” Cariello says. “It's not atypical for an organization. It's not necessarily good. We'd like to have zero, but having zero is typically uncommon. You're always dealing with some level of facilities backlog. You just don't want to get out of control.”

The University of Florida has added a number of state-of-the-art buildings and labs in recent years, but it faces the challenge of maintaining older buildings, according to The Gainesville Sun.

“It’s a pressing issue to campus and to the state because these are state assets,” says Jeanna Mastrodicasa, the associate vice president of operations at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. To address the university’s infrastructure problems, legislators are considering a $38.1 million bill that addresses the most pressing infrastructure needs, including a failing chiller that has rendered air conditioning systems inoperable for days and caused mildew in music instruments and sensitive library material in main campus buildings.

And the University of Wisconsin faces a deferred maintenance crisis exacerbated by the winter’s polar vortex, which caused 30 incidents of flooding that took place in 28 academic buildings over the course of one weekend. The university has about $1.5 billion of outstanding maintenance needs, according to The Badger Herald.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions and FacilitiesNet.com.



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