A school is only as successful as its students. Many factors impact student retention and learning outcomes, but few are more potent than the quality of campus facilities, especially for resident students. Reports from the US General Accounting Office (GAO) show that about 1 out of every 3 schools built prior to 1970 requires significant repairs, and the other two-thirds features one or more building feature that needs renewal (i.e., electrical, plumbing, lighting, etc.). This research also found that over half of these facilities contained at least one lacking environmental condition. Whether or not these statistics come as a surprise, they should spur those in charge of facility management to take action. Making necessary improvements to indoor air quality, internal climate, acoustics, lighting, cleanliness, and more will boost your university’s reputation, improve student retention, happiness, and success, and keep your campus facilities in good shape for the future.
Let’s break down the key facets of school facilities that have the biggest impact on resident students’ quality of life and success.
The air we breathe can have major effects on both our physical and mental health. If dorms, classrooms, lecture halls, and other campus facilities, feature poor air quality, the rate of student absenteeism increases and overall student performance takes a hit. Those with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory concerns are particularly vulnerable to poor IAQ, though viruses, bacteria, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and other contaminants in the air can affect all students. Therefore, a competent building maintenance program must prioritize measures that improve IAQ in all campus buildings -- updating ventilation systems, installing new air purifiers and monitors, remediating lead paint and asbestos, and improving cleaning protocols are just a handful of these key measures.
Not only should students, teachers, and faculty breathe clean air inside every school facility -- they should also feel comfortable inside said facilities. Generally speaking, students tend to perform better when inside a room with temperatures between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below or above this range can become uncomfortable for extended periods of time, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Individuals have different tolerances for different levels of cold and heat, of course. By being able to control the temperature of each and every classroom and facility, instructors, assistants, students, and staff can adjust internal conditions as needed throughout the day. For maximum control and comfort, each facility should also be well-insulated and feature high-efficiency windows.
More often than not, excessive noise becomes a major distraction for students and teachers alike. Schools that contain a large student population may struggle with noise leakage by virtue of large class sizes and classrooms that are directly adjacent to one another. Leaving doors and windows open will also allow more noise to enter and exit a given classroom. For resident students, thin walls inside small dorms can create all sorts of noise issues, affecting students’ sleep patterns, moods, and comfort. In order to improve the quality of life and learning outcomes of students, then, facility managers must take steps to keep noise within a given space and minimize sound leakage from one room to another. Some ways to reduce noise in campus facilities include installing thermal-acoustic insulation, investing in new windows and doors, soundproof air vents, re-caulk gaps and cracks both inside and outside, and more.
The way a room is lit can also impact students’ quality of life and success. Some studies have found that natural light (as opposed to electric artificial lighting) contributes to the best learning outcomes and boosts morale across the board. Of course, natural light can only be emitted in campus facilities during the daytime, so artificial lighting is still required for night classes and facilities that are open late and/or 24/7 (i.e., libraries and dormitories). When it comes to artificial lighting, light-emitting diode (LED) lights appear to be a better option than fluorescent and incandescent sources. If your school features outdated lighting setups, then, switching to LEDs and finding ways to let in more natural light during the day can make a positive difference.
Resident students expect their living quarters to be clean and well-maintained upon their arrival in fall. While it’s up to students to take care of their personal spaces while living on campus, it’s often the responsibility of janitorial and maintenance staff to keep common areas clean each semester. If tasks such as trash and debris removal, floor cleaning, and restroom cleaning fall by the wayside, schools can expect to receive complaints from residents, and some students might suffer negative health consequences as well. In some instances, students might move off-campus or switch schools entirely. Whatever the case, this lack of facility maintenance (in both dorms and other campus buildings) has a negative impact on both students and the school as a whole. Conversely, a competent facilities services program for facility cleanliness and sanitation will encourage students to remain on campus and improve their performance overall.
Lastly, many students are increasingly aware of the impact they and others (including institutions such as the school they attend) have on the environment. Investing in school recycling programs and other green initiatives is both a positive way to reduce your university’s carbon footprint and accommodate your students’ ideals. Finding other ways to make your school more sustainable (i.e., investing in more efficient windows and lights and green cleaning alternatives) will also reduce operation costs in the long run. So, a successful facilities services program should also include these green initiatives wherever possible -- for the sake of your students, reputation, and bottom line.
Every student wants to attend a school that’s clean, modern, comfortable, and conducive to learning. At The Budd Group, our facility support services help schools of all sizes get up to speed in all the important ways mentioned here to improve the quality of life for all students, whether living on or off-campus. To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!
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