Empty Office Space

New Mexico Pays Millions to Maintain Empty Buildings

The study finds leased building space is especially costly to the state and its taxpayers.   November 30, 2022

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed nearly everything in institutional and commercial facilities. 

Air filtration, along with housekeeping practices, shot to the top of priority lists for maintenance and engineering managers. Departments renovated entrances to allow screening and revamped office layouts to enable social distancing. Managers and facility executives further changed layouts and added amenities in order to lure workers back to reopened buildings

While many organizations succeeded in attracting large numbers of workers back to offices with changes in operations and facilities, not every organization was successful. 

Inspections have found that New Mexico is paying to maintain entire buildings and several building floors of unused office space as many state workers continue to telecommute from home in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, according to AP News. Unused building space costs the state up to $18 million a year, the inquiry found. 

In one instance, an agency has no plan in place for a return to in-person work at a nearly empty facility with a $1.2 million annual lease. The three branches of state government spend about $158 million a year on maintenance, utilities and rent for building and office space that spans the equivalent of 380 football fields. The study finds leased building space is especially costly to the state and its taxpayers. 

Up to 38 percent of state employees work remotely on any given day. 

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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