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Space Utilization: Optimization Strategies for the Campus of the Future

HubStar, Posted May 24, 2022

Because competition in higher education is at an all-time high, space utilization is one of the critical elements of setting up your university or college for future success and long-term viability. Demographic trends are shifting with the population of traditional college-aged students shrinking, so as the number of prospective students declines, there are fewer seats to be filled on campuses across the country. The resulting battle among colleges and universities for a smaller slice of the enrollment pie gives students leverage to command a more favorable financial aid package, which in turn can perpetuate the divide among higher education institutions. Campuses with smaller endowments that rely heavily on tuition for operating expenses cannot afford to compete with institutions like Williams College, which according to this GBH piece by Kirk Carapezza is the first college in the country to eliminate loans and work requirements for student aid. If less financially secure institutions do try to match attractive offers from places with large endowments, they risk running budget deficits that can force closure or a merger, a trend that has already begun across the country.

With that said, it is imperative colleges and universities take into account every possible way to secure a vibrant, sustainable future. One of these ways is understanding space utilization, which can reduce expense by leading to more efficient and effective operations. Read on as we tackle optimization strategies and explain everything you need to know about campus space utilization.

Why Space Utilization Is Critical For Higher Ed

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At its core, space utilization will allow you to determine whether space on your campus is being used to its fullest potential. This data-driven approach will provide insight into when and how space is occupied and the corresponding costs such as utilities and personnel. Having an understanding of these patterns will give you the ability to reorganize and reallocate resources that can save money,increase productivity and improve operations on your campus.

Gordian, a construction cost data, software and services company, authored a report addressing this matter, entitled, “Space Utilization: Optimization Strategies for the Campus of the Future.”

Gordian’s report concludes, “The core goals of any space utilization assessment should be to maximize the return on the investments already made into existing teaching spaces, confirm active or inactive classrooms, and create priorities for their likely use going forward. By identifying areas of opportunity and strength, a complete space utilization assessment will ensure institutional leaders know what they’re doing well and what they could be doing better. Fundamentally, it will help create a coherent space narrative, incorporating the expectations of the community and the demands of the facilities, that represents a shared agreement for how to best optimize service to academic aspirations and institutional mission.”

The report shares an important data point on why every little detail can make a big difference when it comes to utilization. According to Gordian,, “Consider: Every additional percentage point of improved space utilization can engage millions of dollars’ worth of physical assets around campus. Improving space usage not only avoids the costs of construction, but also the ongoing operational costs of new classroom buildings. And by identifying and addressing low-hanging fruit, institutional leaders can make improvements to space utilization without overspending.”

Planning Ahead: Updating with the Times

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Colleges and universities are like their own cities with multimillion dollar budgets, operating staff and buildings for academics, dining, recreation and administration. Whether a spacious campus in a rural setting sitting on more than one thousand acres or a confined campus in the heart of an urban center on a few dozen acres, there are many different physical structures that make up a college campus. And, with an array of buildings to manage, many of which may be older, you’re likely to face questions when it comes to future planning, including should you update or replace?

Grainger, an industrial supply company, published an insightful piece that breaks down the decision of rehabbing an existing building or new construction into the following three categories: retrofit, renovate, or replace.

Understanding and optimizing your space needs and your projected growth moving forward can help you to determine the best fit for your campus when it comes to such a major – and costly – decision like infrastructure.

Space Utilization In Action

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Campuses around the world are using space utilization optimization to make their institution run more efficiently and effectively.

For example, let’s look at the University of Colorado Boulder, which started a space university and optimization initiative in 2014.

According to the University of Colorado Boulder, the initiative was expected to help the university in the following ways:

· Get more out of the resources we had (some university resources were sub-optimally utilized)

· Make sure we were making strategic decisions about how we allocated space, which would allow us to prioritize and better support student success

· Create operational savings and efficiencies, which could then be reinvested toward areas of transformation for the campus (e.g., faculty hiring lines; one-time investments in key programs; new initiatives to transform research, teaching and learning).

Nitty Gritty

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Now we want to give you some examples as to how space utilization software can make an impactful and positive difference on your campus.

At Hubstar, our unique technology, allows you to get real-time intelligent occupancy data that in turn enables your higher ed institution to make informed decisions on how to optimize the use of education capacity.

Our product allows you to use smart scheduling, optimize occupancy, optimize under and over utilized classes and detect no-shows.

Here are four specific ways that our software helps you optimize your space.

1. Through partnerships with WiFi providers Cisco and Aruba, and with various sensor vendors amongst which VergeSense and Point Grab, our solutions provide you with analytics on any desired level of granularity. Our solutions are technology agnostic, which means we can retrofit any future needs.

2. Through partnerships with WiFi providers Cisco and Aruba, and with various sensor vendors amongst which VergeSense and Point Grab, our solutions provide you with analytics on any desired level of granularity. Our solutions are technology agnostic, which means we can retrofit any future needs.

3. Our Higher Education solutions are fully compliant with all existing privacy regulations including GDPR. We’re happy to show you how we have helped top-tier Universities in the Netherlands and United Kingdom achieve impressive outcomes, whilst being compliant with the highest standards.

4. Our solutions integrate seamlessly with industry leading planning tools that most universities use to plan their classes. The technology and data are available through API, which means that you can leverage the information in other applications you already use as well.

HubStar, is a space utilization software that helps to optimize and creative adaptive workplaces. Our technology works to enable data-driven real estate decisions providing you with proactive insights that can save you money on unnecessary leases and improve employee experiences.

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