Scientific and Engineering Research Facilities at Colleges and Universities: 1998

Chapter 3
The Construction of S&E Research Space


Highlights top

Introduction top

This chapter discusses the state of recently initiated construction of new science and engineering research facilities in research-performing colleges and universities. The term "construction" in this chapter and throughout this report refers to the building of facilities that currently do not exist.

Institutions were asked to estimate the research-related costs and space for construction projects costing over $100,000 begun during fiscal years 1996 and 1997, and to make the same estimates for projects scheduled for fiscal years 1998 and 1999. Project start-up was defined as the fiscal year in which construction began or was expected to begin. In the case of multiyear projects, total project costs were allocated to the fiscal year in which the construction began. Note, however, that the costs and parameters of multiyear projects can change between the time a project begins and the time it is completed.

The reported financial commitments, defined as the costs to complete a project, include planning, site preparation, construction, fixed equipment, and building infrastructure. It should be noted that fluctuations in funds committed to construction from one year to another can result from large projects at a small number of institutions. Given the costs of constructing S&E research facilities, a large increase could reflect a new building on one or two campuses. Indeed, this is often the case for the nondoctorate-granting institutions.

Institutions were also asked to report planned expenditures for central campus infrastructure (see Item 6 of the survey in Appendix C [PDF]). Central campus infrastructure was defined as those systems that exist between the buildings of a campus and the nonarchitectural elements of campus design. Examples included central wiring for telecommunications systems, waste storage and disposal facilities, electrical wiring between buildings, central heating and air exchange systems, drains, sewers, roadways, walkways, and parking systems. Plumbing, lighting, wiring, air exchange systems, and the like that exist within a building or within five feet of the building foundation were considered building infrastructure and were excluded from this definition of central campus infrastructure.

In 1998, for the first time, institutions were asked to list separately any nonfixed equipment costing $1 million or more that was included as part of their new construction costs for fiscal years 1996 and 1997. If a project were to serve both research and nonresearch purposes, respondents were asked to prorate the construction costs and space estimates so that the research-related portion of the costs was reflected (see Items 4a, 4b, and 4c of the survey in Appendix C [PDF]).

Findings top

Amount of New S&E Research Space Under Construction top

New construction projects initiated in 1996 and 1997 are expected to produce 11.1 million net assignable square feet of new science and engineering research space. This is a 17-percent increase in new research space under construction compared with new construction projects begun in 1994 and 1995 (9.5 million NASF) (table 3-1). These 11.1 million NASF are the equivalent of 8 percent of existing research space (143.3 million NASF).

Table 3-1. Trends in the amount of science and engineering research space under construction for projects costing more than $100,000 by institution type: 1986-97
Table 3-1 (Spreadsheet format)

Doctorate-granting institutions initiated the greatest amount of square footage of new facilities construction, 89 percent or 9.9 million NASF. This square footage is a 12-percent increase over 1994–95 levels (8.8 million NASF). The top 100 institutions account for 70 percent (6.9 million NASF) of the new construction projects begun at doctorate-granting institutions.

Funds Committed to the Construction of S&E Research Space top

Research-performing institutions committed $3.1 billion to the construction of S&E research space in 1996 and 1997. This is 15 percent or $399 million more (in constant dollars) than they committed to new construction a decade ago (table 3-2; figure 3-1).

Table 3-2. Trends in funds committed to construct science and engineering research facilities for projects costing more than $100,000 by institution type: 1986-97
Table 3-2 (Spreadsheet format)

Figure 3-1. Trends in science and engineering construction expenditures by type of institution: 1986-97

The doctorate-granting institutions committed more funds to new construction in 1996 and 1997 than they did a decade ago, with the largest increases occurring at the other doctorate-granting institutions. Between 1986–87 and 1996–97:

Overall, in 1996 and 1997, a subset of 383 research-performing institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples committed close to what, in the 1996 survey, they anticipated committing to new construction projects in 1996 or 1997 (table 3-3).[17]  They were scheduled to commit $2,828 million and actually committed $2,801 million, a difference of $27 million or 1 percent. The doctorate-granting institutions were most consistent with their earlier plans:


Table 3-3. Scheduled and actual construction expenditures for projects costing more than $100,000 for science and engineering research space by institution type: 1996-97
Table 3-3 (Spreadsheet format)

Funds Scheduled for the Construction of S&E Research Space and Central Campus Infrastructure top

For fiscal years 1998 and 1999, research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit $3.9 billion to begin construction on new S&E research space. If all this construction were to occur, it would represent a 27-percent ($839 million) increase over the amount the research-performing institutions committed to new S&E construction begun in 1996 or 1997 ($3.1 billion).

This anticipated increase is greater in relative terms among nondoctorate-granting institutions than among the different types of doctorate-granting institutions. Anticipated increases in financial commitments to new S&E construction projects between the current survey period and the next are as follows:


Table 3-4. Funds scheduled for construction of science and engineering research space and central campus infrastructure for projects costing more than $100,000 by institution type: 1998-99
Table 3-4 (Spreadsheet format)

Research-performing institutions are scheduled to commit another $396 million to new central campus infrastructure construction projects in 1998 and 1999. These funds are distributed among the institution types as follows:

Colleges and Universities Starting S&E Construction Projects top

In fiscal years 1996 and 1997, 30 percent of all research-performing institutions initiated new S&E construction projects. This proportion is less than in fiscal years 1986–87 through 1992–93 when a larger proportion of institutions started new S&E construction projects.

A larger proportion of doctorate-granting institutions began S&E construction in these years than began construction projects in 1996 and 1997 (38 percent). The proportion of nondoctorate-granting institutions starting new S&E construction projects in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 (19 percent) is not appreciably different from any year except 1988–89, when 32 percent of nondoctorate-granting institutions started new S&E construction projects (table 3-5).

Table 3-5. Trends in the percentage of institutions starting projects to construct science and engineering research facilities costing more than $100,000 by institution type: 1986-99
Table 3-5 (Spreadsheet format)

In 1998 and 1999, 31 percent of research-performing institutions are scheduled to start new S&E construction projects. Only the top 100 institutions anticipated a change in the percentage of institutions scheduled to start new S&E construction projects. If the top 100 institutions act in accordance with their plans, 64 percent of them will start new construction projects in 1998 and 1999. This represents a 4-percentage point drop from 1996 and 1997 when 68 percent of these institutions started new projects.

A separate analysis (table 3-6) of the 383 institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples reveals that 104 or 71 percent of all research-performing institutions that had scheduled new construction for 1996 or 1997 actually undertook it.[18]  The actions of the top 100 institutions were more consistent with their plans than that of the other types of institutions. Overall, 91 or 74 percent of all doctorate-granting institutions that had scheduled construction acted in accordance with their plans, as did:


Table 3-6. Number of institutions starting science and engineering research facilities construction projects costing more than $100,000 and whether construction was scheduled by institution type: 1996-97
Table 3-6 (Spreadsheet format)

It is also worth noting that 29 or 12 percent of institutions that had not scheduled construction for 1996 or 1997, did, in fact, start new construction projects during that period. Overall, 28 or 21 percent of doctorate-granting institutions that had not scheduled any construction projects began construction projects; 13 or 35 percent of the top 100 institutions that had not scheduled construction projects did so.

Fields In Which Construction Projects Started top

Overall, the proportion of institutions that began new S&E construction projects declined by 7-percentage points over the decade, from 37 to 30 percent of institutions. Two fields registered an appreciable change during this time period:


Table 3-7. Trends in the percentage of institutions starting projects to construct science and engineering research facilities costing more than $100,000 by field: 1986-99
Table 3-7 (Spreadsheet format)

Only one field registered an appreciable increase in the proportion of institutions starting new construction since the last survey period. The proportion of institutions starting new construction projects in the biological sciences outside medical schools increased from 9 percent of institutions to 13 percent.

Finally, the proportion of institutions scheduled to start new construction projects in the various S&E fields in 1998 and 1999 is expected to decline appreciably from 1996–97 levels in one field. The proportion of institutions scheduled to start new construction projects in the medical sciences in medical schools is expected to decrease from 33 to 20 percent of institutions.

Funds Committed to S&E Research Space Construction Projects in Different Fields top

Four fields account for more than half (61 percent) of the $3.1 billion committed to the construction of new S&E research space by research-performing institutions in fiscal years 1996 and 1997:


Table 3-8. Trends in the percentage of institutions starting projects to construct science and engineering research facilities costing more than $100,000 by field: 1986-99
Table 3-8 (Spreadsheet format)

In addition to these four fields, research-performing institutions committed more than $100 million to construct new research space in five other fields:

The amount of funds committed to the construction of new research space more than doubled in three fields since the last survey:

The amount of funds committed for the construction of new research space declined by 25 percent or more in three fields since the last survey:

In 1998 and 1999, funds committed to new construction are scheduled to more than double in three fields:

At the same time, funds committed to new construction are scheduled to decrease by at least 20 percent in four fields:

Funds Committed to Nonfixed Equipment Costing Over $1 Million in New Construction Projects top

In 1996 and 1997, 10 doctorate-granting institutions (4 top 100 institutions and 6 other doctorate-granting institutions) committed $18.9 million to nonfixed equipment costing $1 million or more in their new S&E construction projects. These commitments occurred in only four fields and represented 11 percent of total construction commitments in those fields:



Footnotes

[17] The scheduled 1996–97 data come from National Science Foundation/Division of Science Resources Studies, 1996 Survey of Scientific and Engineering Research Facilities at Colleges and Universities. Because this analysis is limited to the subset of research-performing institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples, the results do not generalize to the population of research-performing institutions.

[18] Because this analysis is limited to the subset of research-performing institutions that were in both the 1996 and 1998 samples, the results do not generalize to the population of research-performing institutions.


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