View From the Industry

Steve BatchelderThought Leader: Steve Batchelder, director of sales for Connectrac, has traveled across North America for many years meeting with higher education facility managers to better understand the issues they face and to provide them with solutions for their everyday problems.

Company: Connectrac


Contact Info: Steve can be reached at [email protected].

Q: How is higher education handling the growth of both class size and the student population?

A: Because of limited school funding and the time it takes to complete new construction of an entire building, colleges and universities are looking to make the best use of existing available space on campuses to create more classrooms and laboratories. A popular trend seen on campuses today is to remove some of the existing shelving and other underutilized spaces in current libraries and convert them over to classrooms and laboratories to meet student demand.

Q: How is higher education creating a connected environment for students so they can study and complete assignments anywhere on campus?

A: The primary focus is on purchasing furniture that has both power and USB chargers built into it to make it easier for students to connect anywhere on campus. Universities are also looking to find options that can bring power and sometimes data out to shared student locations. This brings opportunities to utilize never-before powered spaces, bringing more opportunities to both faculty and students.

Q: What types of new spaces are being required in today’s connected world and how is this affecting campus life?

A: There is an emphasis on developing powered collaborative spaces, whether it is in an educational building, unused libraries and classrooms, lobbies, and even in the common areas of residence halls. Both students and faculty need access to charging all of their devices—laptops, tablets, phones—and they want to work and study in areas that enable them to be productive, yet comfortable. In today’s environment, students want to be connected at all times and need to have confidence in their environment that they will be able to do so.

John KimThought Leader: John Kim, senior technical marketing manager, a mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience manufacturing fiber, manages the INVISTA high-traffic performance test site and regularly consults with facility managers to help identify and resolve carpet maintenance challenges within high-traffic environments.

Company: INVISTA


Contact Info: John can be reached at [email protected].

Q: How does maintenance affect the durability of carpet?

A: Carpet is a substantial investment. An effective maintenance program will extend the life of your carpet, reduce life-cycle costs, maximize your investment, and contribute to a cleaner indoor facility.

When combined with a specification for a durable carpet fiber like a type 6,6 nylon fourhole hollow filament, a well-planned, proactive maintenance program prevents spills from becoming stains and removes soil before it can build up and damage carpet fiber. An effective maintenance program is easy to implement and includes soil barriers, regular vacuuming, immediate removal of stains and spills, and proactive periodic deep cleanings.

Q: Does a carpet fiber specification matter?

A: Absolutely! Carpet is the canvas to the interior so if the carpet doesn’t perform, the entire design of the space can be compromised and require replacement. It also reflects the image of your campus. If the carpet has “uglied out,” it may impact whether someone decides to attend your institution.

Nylon 6,6 carpet fiber provides extensive resiliency and resistance to matting and crushing of carpet fiber and is easy to clean. The cross section of a nylon carpet fiber can impact soil-hiding ability and texture retention. A nylon 6,6 fiber shape with a fourhole hollow filament releases soil better than a common trilobal shape. We also recommend looking for carpet with long-lasting or permanent built-in stain and soil resistance.

Our research, validated by SCS Global Services, shows that carpets made of four-hole hollow filament type 6,6 nylon can last 1.5 times as long as carpets of type 6 nylon. This is based on analyzing data from ongoing real-world floor tests of 1MM foot traffics, with nightly vacuuming and hotwater extraction cleanings while on the floor.

Q: How does carpet impact well being?

A: While facility professionals focus on the building’s operational efficiency, they also must consider the well being of students and staff. A well-maintained, clean carpet can contribute to a cleaner indoor facility. Carpet provides an acoustic advantage that can contribute to student learning and listening. Not only does carpet cushion our footsteps, but it can also help minimize injuries like slips and falls.

Lisa SchmidtThought Leader: Lisa Schmidt, LEED-AP, is the director of Strategic Initiatives at National Office Furniture, a manufacturer of seating, tables, and case goods for learning environments and more.

Company: National Office Furniture


Contact Info: Lisa can be reached at [email protected].

Q: Education facilities at all levels are undergoing quite a bit of change. What is one trend you are following regarding new space types?

A: At National we are tracking the emerging trend to include spaces within schools or universities that are designed for reflection, or to offer respite. These spaces are primarily meant to provide students with a chance to step away from their usual “busyness.” They may be called a reflection room, meditation room, mindful room, or even multi-faith room.

Q: Why do today’s students need a place to get away from their usual tasks or schedules?

A: The pressures on students have multiplied, much as they have for adults. The push for excellence; the abundance of extracurricular activities; the all-too-familiar pattern of mass shootings. Certainly, the growing influence of social media on young lives can also exacerbate the stress that students of all ages are experiencing.

Research shows that the need for student mental health resources is increasing. For example, the American Psychological Association reports a 30 percent increase in college students seeking on-campus counseling. With 75 percent of all serious adult psychiatric illnesses starting by age 25, schools and universities play an essential role in addressing mental health issues early.

Q: How are institutions addressing the need for spaces which allow students to focus on their mental health?

A: A growing number of institutions are providing quiet spaces where students can gather their thoughts, reflect, pray, or meditate. These spaces may be furnished with soft seating, floor cushions, or mats. Calming colors are often used, and soft music may be played. If practical, these types of rooms or spaces are located in a quiet part of the building, with guidelines that restrict group study or conversation. The use of electronic devices may be discouraged or prohibited. Additional points may include restricting food or drink, or the use of scented candles or incense.

Experts recognize that emotional health is important for succeeding in school. This growing trend to provide reflective spaces is evidence of administrators seeking to engage students’ spirits as well as their brains.

Jim ElliottThought Leader: Jim Elliott, Midwest / Rocky Mountain regional manager, ProTeam®, is a senior sales executive with a passion for calculating ROI.

Company: ProTeam, The Vacuum Company


Contact Info: [email protected] or 866/888-2168

Q: Cordless backpack vacuums require a higher initial investment. How do I determine the ROI for a cordless backpack vacuum compared to an upright?

A: When I started in this industry 30 years ago, you had to really tell the customer how the math works in their favor. You had to be able to say, “Here’s how productive we’re going to be. We can pay for this in ‘X’ number of months.” That’s why, in my work, my emphasis is still on teaching and on clearly illustrating the benefits of new innovative approaches, like cordless backpack vacuums.

Let’s start with some hard facts about the productivity advantages of cordless backpack vacuums over upright vacuums. If you’re cleaning a 100,000-square-foot facility, you could realize an annual savings in five figures simply by switching to a cordless backpack. How is that possible? Let’s do the math.

We know that a standard upright takes three to five times longer to clean the same space as a battery backpack. Tests show that an upright cleans approximately 2,500 square feet per hour. If you have 100,000 square feet of floor space, it’s going to take 35 hours to clean it with an upright. But with a cordless backpack vacuum, you can cover 10,000 square feet per hour. That means that the same area will take about 9.5 hours to clean. Based on an hourly wage of $13/hour, the labor savings add up to as much as $87,000 a year.

Q: Many vacuums improve IAQ. What is the value of improving IAQ?

A: Although it’s harder to put a price tag on improving indoor air quality (IAQ), it certainly benefits a building’s occupants and its cleaning staff. After all, most of us spend 80 to 90 percent of our time indoors. Most upright vacuums kick up the very dust you’re trying to remove. That isn’t just bad for IAQ—it eventually settles and needs to be cleaned again.

Q: Cordless vacuums remove the potential trip hazard of a cord. What is the value of improved safety?

A: While we can’t track the savings from accidents that never happened, we do know that a single trip-and-fall incident can cost tens of thousands of dollars in medical and insurance costs. Of course, providing a safe work environment isn’t just economical; it’s ethical.

Emma SkalkaThought Leader: Emma Skalka, HON. ASLA, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Victor Stanely, along with Victor Stanley, a leader in quality site furnishings, is helping bring your visions to life.

Company: Victor Stanley, Inc.


Contact Info: Emma can be reached at [email protected]

Q: How can trash receptacles contribute to a “smart campus?”

A: Smart campuses aren’t born that way. They’re intelligently designed. Each trash receptacle outfitted with street-level sensors collects data about what’s going on inside and nearby, from how full it is, to foot traffic, to shifts in temperature. Consider the dozens or hundreds of trash cans that already blanket a campus and you can start to appreciate just how much information can be gleaned from a network of connected receptacles.

Campuses can optimize the efficient use of their resources with this technology. More than ever, planning and running a smart campus depends on a steady stream of data that is secure, accurate, trackable and actionable—providing insight now and for years.

Along with universities, municipalities, parks, airports, stadiums, and more are saving an estimated 40-60 percent in waste management expenses and reducing their environmental impact with the help of smart receptacles. Data that is also helping shift focus on boosting sustainability and, ultimately, improving quality of life. Something of central importance to students and trustees alike.

Q: What are the benefits of “smart” waste collection?

A: Wireless sensors in these receptacles track how full they are, allowing crews to know exactly when it’s time to empty each container, greatly increasing the efficiency of the process. In Pittsburgh, for example, on any given day, the system will determine which cans need to be emptied, and will create an optimized route to only those containers, reducing CO2 emissions from the collection trucks. Based on analysis by Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance, the Department of Public Works will reduce the labor hours spent on emptying garbage cans by at least half, saving millions of dollars. This will cut the number of employees needed to empty receptacles around the city from 25 to nine. The 16 workers who will no longer be needed to collect garbage will be reallocated to other important tasks.

Q: How do the sensors help?

A: Sensors in the receptacles can measure the fill level and weight, and provide data on trash and recycling amounts over time. Containers can easily be checked online, and you can even receive notifications via smartphone or tablet to let you know when a specific level has been reached, or to alert you when there is rummaging or irregular spikes in activity.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management July/August 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.

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