Spalding University: reducing costs while increasing value

Spalding University partners with JLL to expand their mission and real estate footprint without breaking the bank.

Spalding University faced a major challenge: budgets were tight, yet the university’s leadership was committed to improving the campus and facilities experience. The solution? Bring in our facilities management service team. That was 2003. Nearly 15 years later, what began as a short-term relationship blossomed into a creative, long-term partnership benefiting both the university community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Throughout our relationship, we’ve worked together to expand Spalding’s community service mission far beyond original expectations. Working collaboratively, we’ve helped Spalding become a leader in the community through the planning and renewal of Louisville’s South of Broadway “SoBro” neighborhood. Yet another surprise, Spalding’s footprint has grown significantly, while the facility management budget has not.

The greening of SoBro

As part of the SoBro neighborhood development team, we’ve uncovered opportunities for Spalding to contribute improvements to the community by transforming parking lots around the school into green spaces and parks. Spalding has more than doubled its acreage from 10.65 acres to more than 23 acres, adding almost three acres of green space to its campus and acquiring additional land for conversion into green space.

In one early project, Spalding demolished several buildings to create Mother Catherine Spalding Square, an appealing green space to serve as the institution’s “front door” in the community. For the multi-million-dollar project, Spalding demolished three small buildings and created a 1.5-acre green space with dozens of trees and a storm water collection structure. At Kentucky and Second Street, Spalding is converting a donated two-acre parking lot into a community park. Located just a few blocks from campus, the $400,000 Spalding Century Park will include a 100-tree woods area alongside a playing field for youth sports.

Creative solutions that reduce facilities costs

A focus on uncovering new areas of opportunity has delivered consistent results over the years. Responding promptly to student, faculty and employee service requests was a must. Related goals included establishing preventive maintenance programs and securing custodial services.

We restructured Spalding’s janitorial, elevator maintenance and landscaping service contracts to reduce operating expenses by $100,000 annually. We also found opportunities to use supplemental service contracts to optimize the efficiency of the on-campus management team.

With creativity and ingenuity, our facilities team has reduced costs and diverted budget toward other campus and community improvements. A year-long facility painting project was completed by our staff in four months rather than the year scheduled, allowing staff to move on to other projects.

For facility renovations, our team provided project management ourselves rather than hiring an outside project manager at an additional cost. In search of affordable office furnishings, we resourcefully acquired slightly used cubicles from a local church undergoing renovation. Other furnishings, including carpeting, were acquired at public auctions.

Staff flexibility was another cost-saver. In addition to keeping building systems operating smoothly, our building engineers help set up and break down campus events, and pitch in on renovation projects. Our engineering staff’s flexible roles enable Spalding to maximize staff efficiency and save money, while supporting its campus events and projects.

Investing in new facilities and upgrading the old

Spalding’s compact 600,000-square-foot footprint includes office, classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, dining facilities, athletic facilities, libraries, auditoriums, and ballrooms. As with many established universities, some facilities are more than 150 years old.

We collaborated with Spalding to create a long-term capital plan that has helped the university prioritize investments and budget for improvements.

Since 2007, Spalding has increased office, laboratory, classroom, dining, and residential spaces by more than one third. We’ve helped the university add nine buildings, expanding the campus from 407,124 square feet to 614,510 square feet of space.

For example, as part of a $3.5 million project currently underway, we’re upgrading the HVAC in the historic Tompkins Buchanan Rankin Mansion Complex to energy-efficient variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems, following similar upgrades completed in several other facilities. We’ve also been replacing roofs and renovating facilities to improve the learning and campus experience.

Another important project underway is the development of a $200,000, 2,000-square-foot welcome center to be completed in fall 2017. Located in the Egan Leadership Center in the lower level of Mother Catherine Spalding Square, the welcome center provides an inviting space in which prospective students and parents can meet tour guides, view campus videos, and meet privately with admissions advisors.

Sustainability to the forefront

We’ve helped the university implement campus-wide recycling, address environmental risks, upgrade all campus lighting with smart energy-efficient LED bulbs that respond to motion and natural light levels. Bathrooms have been outfitted with water-saving faucet aerators and faucets that turn themselves off. A new bioswale was created in Spalding’s new Mother Catherine Spalding Square to capture water run-off for the campus irrigation system, reducing costs for water usage and stormwater management.

With our help, Spalding was never forced to make a choice between cost savings or investment in a sustainable campus environment. The question was how –and the answers have shaped a growing campus and a gradually improving urban neighborhood over the last 15 years.