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Gordian Partners with APPA to Estimate Higher Education Infrastructure Backlog Need at $112.3B

July 20, 2021

Gordian announces the outcome of a partnership with APPA to provide a modeled calculation of the total infrastructure backlog need across the higher education industry. The modeled and validated calculation estimates the higher education industry is facing an infrastructure backlog of $112.3B, with public and private institutions registering notably contrasting backlog demands at $76.1B and $36.2B respectively.

“These findings, particularly for our nation’s public institutions, further invigorate our mission to provide new approaches to help maximize their limited resources and make smarter decisions around growing, reducing or renewing campus space,” says Mark Schiff, Gordian’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Business Group.

Broken down by institution type, the needs are as follows:

Institution Type Monetary Estimation of Infrastructure Need
Research/Doctoral institutions (includes Special Focus) $40.8B
Masters institutions $29.5B
Baccalaureate institutions (includes Tribal Colleges & Others) $14.3B
Associates institutions (2-year/Community Colleges) $27.7B

“The findings of our partnership with Gordian this year continue to validate the need for a shift to integrated strategic planning designed to proactively drive institutional decision-making,” said E. Lander Medlin, Executive Vice President for APPA. “Without strategic investments or divestments, these numbers will continue to grow. Hence, it is critical we change the very way we do business.”

Higher Education institutions in the United States spend about $36.8B annually on facilities operations, maintenance and utilities, and an average of $27.8B annually for the construction of new facilities and/or the renovation of existing buildings. Colleges and universities manage more than 6.2B square feet of floor space in 210,000 buildings. These buildings have an average age approaching 50 years and a Current Replacement Value (CRV) estimated to exceed $2TR (including utilities infrastructure, roads and landscaping).

These values have been validated through Gordian’s Strategic Capital Planning and ROPA (Return on Physical Assets) databases; APPA’s FPI (Facilities Performance Indicators) database; the NSF (National Science Foundation) biannual survey of science and engineering research space; and the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) IPEDS (Interdisciplinary Post-Secondary Education Data System).

“We believe these numbers to be a conservative estimate of the great need within higher education and recognize that each institution must consider their own unique challenges and opportunities,” said Pete Zuraw, Vice President of Market Strategy and Development for Gordian. “Our solution frameworks in space, capital investment, and operational stewardship can be fundamental to helping institutions strategically confront today’s problems and create a richer and more viable future.”

Moving campuses successfully forward will require a reconsideration of the physical footprint and current space utilization, the realignment of renewal investments, connecting building health with smart technologies and reimagining the very organizations used to serve higher education.

In light of these infrastructure backlog figures, Gordian and APPA have collaborated on a report that highlights strategies for catching up to current facilities needs and offers common-sense practices for keeping up with future needs. This joint effort includes concrete steps leaders can take to change the backlog conversation and examples of how colleges and universities are creating a path forward.

Click here to download the full report.


About APPA

APPA (www.appa.org) is the gathering place for educational facilities professionals, dedicated to the ongoing evolution of the profession. APPA represents more than 18,000 educational facilities professionals from over 1,300 learning institutions worldwide. APPA’s community represents the broadest coalition of educational facilities professionals possible, ensuring a diversity of experiences and situations, and availability of best practices. Our members also include other non-profits, libraries, museums and industry partners.

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