University facilities update provided to trustees

At its meeting on Nov. 11, the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning was provided with an update on the current five-year University Capital Plan, as well as the current state of the University’s facilities. Credit: Andy Colwell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At its meeting today (Nov. 11), the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning was provided with an update on the current five-year University Capital Plan, as well as the current state of the University’s facilities.

Bill Sitzabee, vice president of facilities management and planning and Penn State’s chief facilities officer, shared with committee members the impacts of the recent $143 million reduction to the capital plan.

Sitzabee detailed various projects and programs that were reduced or deferred, primarily due to the University’s response to COVID-19 pandemic. In total, more than $50 million of potential spending has been deferred and $9.7 million in debt service eliminated.

“The ongoing pandemic and its multifaceted impacts have certainly affected some projects across our campuses,” said Sitzabee. “But we continue to prioritize our investments as we move forward with projects in a fiscally responsible manner.”

In his remarks on the overall assessment of the University’s physical plant, Sitzabee said 57% of University Park facilities are more than 25 years old and 38% are more than 50 years old. At the Commonwealth Campuses, those numbers are 55% and 19%, respectively.

As facilities continue to age, Sitzabee described the University’s need for maintenance, system renewals and more. Sitzabee shared that the total backlog cost of such measures is currently $1.72 billion, including $330 million in nonrecurring, one-time costs; $530 million in deferred costs of building components that have already exceeded their expected life; and $860 million for building systems that are nearing their end of expected life within the next 10 years.

According to Sitzabee, the University currently averages an annual reinvestment of 1.65% of its total facility replacement value into the campus facilities with a replacement cycle exceeding 60 years and falling short of the industry standards of 2% to 2.5%.

“We know that reinvestment in our facilities is absolutely crucial to ensuring they retain value and meet the University’s distinct mission,” Sitzabee said.

Last Updated November 12, 2021