In the next 20 years, some $554 million in work is being targeted as necessary to preserve the safety and reliability of Michigan State University’s infrastructure.
The university’s aging steam tunnel system alone is expected to require $123 million in renovations over the next five to seven years, with the Circle Drive areas on the north side of campus already being prepared for the start of work. Some of the tunnels in that area are more than 100 years old and constitute a high priority. All the buildings in those areas, from Landon Hall to Eustace-Cole Hall along West Circle Drive and Eustace-Cole to Mason Hall on Physics Road, will be upgraded to improve energy efficiency.
Building repair, however, constitutes the largest single category of maintenance need in the next 10 years, especially building systems such as heating, ventilation and cooling systems, elevators, and roofing.
The majority of funds for such maintenance comes from endowment trust investment income, which when it dipped in the last several years impacted the university’s capacity to fund scheduled work. The fiscal year 2012 recorded the most such work in the last five years, with more than $39 million in funded maintenance—most going toward steam tunnel projects.
With limited resources and heavy demand, the university has taken the concept of deferred maintenance another step to what we call just-in-time maintenance. That involves using industry-predicted lifespan predictions for equipment as a starting point, but refining those estimates using our own experience with similar equipment over the years and the reports of preventive maintenance crews. After that, projects are evaluated on their risk potential to the university if they do fail and then prioritized.
As part of this a disciplined reporting regimen for maintenance and replacement, when a building or steam tunnel is being considered for maintenance, other systems nearby also are similarly evaluated to avoid foreseeable disruption.
The result of just-in-time maintenance is a more precise planning process yielding improved predictability and a better use of limited resources.