As the nation's economy continues to struggle, education institutions remain diligent about reining in spending as well as seeking out money-saving and creative ways to build, operate and manage facilities.
One area where this is evident is capital expenditures. According to the most recent Official Education Construction Report, spending on construction by the nation's education institutions dipped for the fourth year in a row, representing a low point in spending this decade. While the need for more and improved learning space is still great, especially with K-12 and college enrollment projected to grow by more than two million additional students each through 2016 — many institutions are postponing the inevitable, as significant investment in new facilities will be required to handle this growth.
Green and security issues are getting more attention in the planning stages at all levels of education. Regional disparities do exist in the importance placed on these issues, as detailed in new report data.
For example, of those school districts completing construction projects in 2007, 63.7 percent said incorporating security equipment (cameras, access control, etc.) was very important. New England states ranked the highest (81.3 percent), and West North Central states ranked the lowest.
Of those higher-education institutions completing construction projects in 2007, 61.2 percent ranked the incorporation of security equipment as very important. New England states again ranked the highest (78.9 percent), and Mountain states ranked the lowest (43.8 percent).
When asked if green/sustainable concepts were important in determining the types of materials/products used in their construction project(s), 65.6 percent of school districts and 75.3 percent of colleges responded “yes.” Schools in the Middle Atlantic states and colleges in the Pacific states ranked the highest; schools and colleges in the West South Central states ranked the lowest.
Additional data on areas that incorporate green decisions, rankings by region, spending targets and more are available in this year's report.
Agron is editor-in-chief for AS&U.