Estates and sustainability

Estates and sustainability

Expenditure on developing, maintaining, and operating the estate is typically the second largest cost faced by universities after staffing. As an institution’s estate is likely to represent a materially significant part of their asset base, sound financial organisation and management processes include good management of the estate.

We work with estates professionals to support them in delivering an estate that is consistent with their institution’s strategic planning, and vision. The estate is an essential component of the student experience, as well as providing a resource for civic engagement through shared use of its sports, cultural, academic, and business facilities.

HEFCW Requirements

We expect universities to manage their estate in a sustainable manner in line with their estate strategy and maintenance plan. Their strategy and plan should cover long-term and routine maintenance requirements.  

Governing bodies should have oversight of estates and sustainability within institutions and should receive an annual report outlining estates performance.

The Financial Management Code (W17/16HE) sets out details of our expectations around how estate management is undertaken within the university and the associated reporting responsibilities. The Memorandum of Assurance (W15/32HE) provides further detail. Institutions should also give due regard to the guidance issued from time to time by HEFCW on estate procedures.

Estates Record Statistics

The Estate Record Statistics (ERS) provide a repository of data to enable institutions to assess their performance against their peers, and a way of identifying good practice. We and the other UK higher education funding bodies also use the data to inform our understanding of the sector.

Space management

Effective space management is a key tool in reducing cost and improving efficiency. It also has an important contribution to make in reducing carbon emissions. Effective space management should identify performance, inform capital programmes and encourage creative thinking around multiple use accommodation and shared space. Institutions should ensure effective space management by:

  • Preparing and regularly reviewing space plans. The metrics for measuring the success of such plans should be pre-agreed by the Governing Body
  • Keeping their holdings of land and buildings under review, with the objective of rationalising and disposing of those which institutions consider to be no longer needed

The Space Management Group has developed a number of tools that support a detailed analysis of space utilisation and facilitate benchmarking.

Sustainability and carbon management

The need to improve environmental sustainability and reduce carbon emissions is fundamental to effective management of the estate. Circular W08/07HE sets our expectations for institutions to develop and maintain externally verified environmental management systems. We expect institutions to actively seek opportunities to reduce carbon emissions through the effective management and development of the estate. We will monitor this and report progress through the estate management statistics.

Institutions are also required to maintain a carbon management plan (W13/38HE) which demonstrates their environmental performance and the actions they are taking to improve this.