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Space Utilization Study Focuses on More Effective Use of Resources

Atlanta — April 17, 2012

Turning an empty college classroom into one filled with students may seem just a matter of scheduling, but as the University System of Georgia (USG) explores how its space is utilized, officials are discovering it takes more than just filling more seats, more often.

Rather, as officials look to fulfill USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s mandate to better utilize existing space before constructing new buildings, the results of an initial pilot project study indicate a more seismic shift in attitudes is in order.

“This study will allow us to have a better understanding of how efficiently we use current space,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby when he announced the pilot in September 2011. “We need to determine what we have, how well we use it, and what else we need.”

The initial study of space utilization at six USG institutions is providing information that system and institutional officials can use to help achieve greater efficiency. Initial findings indicate that how space is used varies widely campus to campus.

Key observations from the study include: the need for campus-level leadership to promote a new culture of institutional ownership, and for investments in existing buildings that focus on enhancing utilization and enabling space to be used for effectively, and reducing operating costs. The study shows that more consistent metrics are needed to compare and reveal utilization opportunities.

Executive Vice Chancellor Steve Wrigley also noted that in the future space utilization will play a role in strategic decisions for capital planning and prioritization, and will inform budgeting decisions. “We have to change our culture from one that looks at space as someone’s property into one that rewards efficiency and considers space as a resource,” said Wrigley.

Phase one of the space utilization study assessed the use of space at Southern Polytechnic State University, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Savannah State University and Georgia Perimeter College. Three representatives from these institutions were on hand at the board meeting to share their observations of the study.

Bill Prigge, chief business officer at Southern Polytechnic State University, said that each institution has its own unique set of circumstances and missions that will drive space utilization. “Understanding how and why space is used in a particular way can give campuses great information for planning for the future,” said Prigge.

Phase two of the space utilization study will extend the assessment to all USG institutions.

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