NSights Blog

Making headway on University's deferred maintenance

Strategic Plan is guiding priorities, resources University uses for deferred maintenance on campus

This year, Facilities Services will spend $6.1 million on deferred maintenance projects.

That's good news. And bad.

Deferred maintenance is a heavy financial burden on almost every college campus.  At the University of Nevada, Reno, the dollar number required to address all our campus repairs and replacements is estimated in the $700 million range. This mind-numbing figure includes estimated costs to replace everything from leaking roofs to crumbling sidewalks, broken classroom furniture, failing mechanical systems, bricks and windows. That's the bad news.

For those of you who work or study in some of our treasured old buildings, you have experienced some of the woes of deferred maintenance first hand: too hot, too cold, or just dated/dingy-looking fixtures, flooring, walls, ceilings and lights. 

The University receives about $2.7 million per year from the Nevada State Legislature to address deferred maintenance needs. As you can see, that's nowhere close to all the funding needed.

Over the past five years, Facilities Services has changed the way we address campus deferred maintenance needs. A Strategic Plan lists all the needs identified by a variety of methods including inspections, assessments, building occupants or maintenance staff. The needs are then assessed and prioritized by our maintenance and engineering staff.

The Strategic Plan is actually a list of categorized lists. For example, there is a list for mechanical system needs, for plumbing, concrete, asphalt, roofs, windows, classroom upgrades, ADA upgrades, elevators, fire protection systems, etc.  A portion of available funding is then is allocated to each category. In this way, the highest priority items in each category are addressed.

Otherwise it is easy, for example, to continue to delay exterior painting projects in order to replace a roof instead (which seems more obviously urgent!).  But eventually, continuing to delay paint (there's always something "more urgent") will have high cost ramifications down the road. In other words, a small amount of paint today will save a lot of maintenance costs, including paint, later.

Facilities Services also uses utility savings (from gains in energy efficiencies) and any available salary savings and reinvests those funds into deferred maintenance projects.  By doing so, an additional $3.4 million was applied toward projects this year - over doubling our original allotment. (That's the good news I mentioned.)

Some of the projects we were able to accomplish this year include the replacement of the Church Fine Arts and Laxalt Mineral Engineering roofs; classroom renovations in the Ansari Business Building, William Raggio Building, Cain Hall, and Mack Social Science; brick repair for Lincoln Hall; installation of a new central chiller plant for the south campus (we'll stay cool this summer); exterior paint for Cain Hall, Leifson Physics, and the Nell J. Redfield Building; and many more projects.

Facilities Services strives to be good stewards of our campus assets and of our available funding. We were able to make a lot of headway on addressing deferred maintenance needs last year and will continue to fine-tune our investment of limited funds for the best interests of the campus as a whole. 

Denise Baclawski is Senior Director, Planning & Construction Services, in Facilities Services.

Denise Baclawski