University Secretariat and Legal Counsel

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Space Management Policy

Approved by Senate September 25, 2003


Enrolment growth, the double cohort, hiring of new faculty and increased research activity are all combining to put pressure on the University's inventory of teaching, research and academic/administrative office space. Concerns have been raised that available space is not being used at an optimum level of efficiency, that space is not currently allocated equitably among Units, and that some decisions regarding renovation and alteration, or the reassignment of space from one use to another, are being made in isolation without taking into account the best interests of the University as a whole. Good decision-making is hampered by inadequate information on the current usage of space and in some categories of space by a lack of established processes and criteria for making such decisions.

In light of these issues, the Senate Budget Review Committee made a recommendation, approved by Senate on April 19, 2001, that "the Principal establish a broadly-based advisory committee to carry out an extensive examination of the current use of space."

Pursuant to that recommendation, in May, 2001, the Principal's Committee of Vice-Principals (PVPs) established an Advisory Committee on Space Management with terms of reference and membership of the Committee as follows:

Terms of Reference:

"The Advisory Committee on Space Management, Reporting to the Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance), will examine and report on the University's current practices for the allocation and utilization of space at the University. It will recommend policies and processes for the allocation and reallocation of facilities at the University. As part of its report, the Committee will be asked to consider the recommendation of benchmarks that may be used in the effective utilization of space and to explore alternatives that may be used to encourage the efficient use of space."


Peter Boag, Head, Dept. of Biology
Jo-Anne Brady, University Registrar
Chris Conway, Director of Institutional Research and Planning
John Dixon, Associate Vice-Principal (Academic), Chair
Anne Godlewska, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
Ann Tierney, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Law (replacing Alison Harvison Young, Dean, Faculty of Law)
Bruce Hutchinson, Associate Vice-Principal (Research)
Elaine McDougall, Executive Assistant, Office of the Vice-Principal (Operations and Facilities), Secretary
Tom Morrow, Associate Vice-Principal (Operations and Facilities), Vice-Chair
Jory Platt, Vice-President (Operations), Alma Mater Society (to May 1, 2002)
Paul Christianson, Chair, Dept. of History (replacing Paul Stevens, Head, Dept. of English)


In meetings through the 2001-2002 academic year the Committee discussed a wide range of issues relating to space management. A Preliminary Report summarizing the identified issues and presenting some preliminary recommendations was circulated to the Queen's community in March, 2002, and members of the community were invited to provide comments. A total of about 20 responses were received. Subsequently the Committee has discussed the feedback and refined the recommendations that are presented in this Final Report.

In the interest of brevity this Final Report builds on but does not reiterate all of the background information, discussion and definitions of terms that were included in the Committee's Preliminary Report.

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The ACSM was constituted such that its membership would bring to the task their knowledge of the uses of different types of space in the University, e.g., research, teaching, administrative. In the course of its discussions and consideration of submissions from the community the Committee has come to appreciate the degree to which the uses of and needs for space are specific to individual Departments and Faculties. In developing the following recommendations we have striven for a balance between local autonomy and the interests of the University as a whole.

The ACSM recognizes that each Unit/Department/Faculty/Centre/Institute (henceforth referred to as "Units") has a current allocation of space of different types (e.g., offices, research and teaching labs, meeting rooms). The allocation is based on historic assignment in many cases, and may not perfectly reflect current need. It is also recognized that there are inequities in terms of quality of space allocated to different users, and the configuration of space in our stock of buildings (especially the older ones) leads to disparities, such as vast differences in the size of offices, that cannot be rectified economically.

In light of the above and the lack of a coherent set of benchmarks, and recognizing that space needs will continue to change over time in response to changing University priorities and opportunities, the ACSM does not propose that the University return to a zero base and reassign each Unit's current allocation. Instead, the ACSM proposes that the adoption of the following recommendations will provide the University with a set of transparent policies and processes for space management, which will result in functional, flexible and efficient use of space. These recommendations address the need for an approval process for assignment and renovation of existing space and addition of new space to the campus.

This set of recommendations is intended to cover the following types of space:

  • Academic and Administrative Offices (referred to below as "Office Space")
  • Classrooms/Seminar Rooms ("Classrooms")
  • Gymnasia/Athletic Space ("Gyms")
  • Libraries/Study Space ("Libraries")
  • Meeting/Conference Rooms ("Meeting Rooms")
  • Research Laboratories ("Research Labs")
  • Teaching Laboratories ("Teaching Labs")

This Report does not address space that is operated/maintained in whole or part outside the University's operating budget, the principal examples of which are the following:

  • Donald Gordon Centre
  • University Residences
  • Apartments and Housing Properties
  • EMBA Facilities – Ottawa
  • International Study Centre – Herstmonceux Castle

The University may wish to examine current, or develop new, space-management policies and procedures relating to the above facilities; however, this is deemed to be outside the terms of reference of the current ACSM.

As the Committee's mandate was focused on allocation and utilization of space, this Report does not address a number of other space-related issues (e.g., accessibility, deferred maintenance, new construction and renovation priorities). These issues are the responsibility of other University committees or administrative offices and are subject to other policies.

The Committee assembled a set of space-management policies of a number of other Canadian universities, and briefly examined them in the hope of finding examples that might serve as templates for Queen's processes and policies. However, recognizing that the governance structures, policy frameworks and local cultures of universities differ significantly, we concluded that it would not be productive to try to transplant existing policies from other universities into the Queen's environment. Typically, universities that are similar in age to Queen's, and that have a similar variety of buildings (McGill University and the University of Toronto, for example), tend not to have well-developed policies covering space assignment and utilization, whereas younger institutions with more homogeneous building stock, such as the University of Calgary and York University, tend to have more comprehensive policies.

We also considered the problem of finding benchmarks against which Queen’s space utilization could be measured. As was mentioned in the Committee’s Preliminary Report, the COU Space Standard is widely recognized as a useful tool for comparisons at the institutional level. Although not designed for making comparisons of space needs at the level of individual Units, it may have potential as a starting point for the development of such a system and can inform Unit guidelines for internal allocation of Office and Research space. The University currently uses the COU standards as guidelines when buildings are being renovated and when new space is constructed.

In its Preliminary Report the ACSM recommended that Queen’s examine models of charging for space and discuss the budgetary, planning and behavioral implications of implementing such a model at Queen’s. In subsequent discussions, the Committee has recognized that to implement such a model would be impractical unless Queen’s adopts a budget model that is fully decentralized, such that each budget Unit has control of all of its revenues as well as its expenses and is prepared to commit the resources required to managing the accounting. The Principal’s Advisory Committee on Budget is the appropriate forum for such discussions.

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Principles, Policies and Procedures Regarding the Assignment of Space

  1. The University should formally enunciate the principle that “All space is University space”, in recognition of the fact that the University owns the space and assigns it to Units for specific functions to support and further the University’s academic mission and priorities. (Action: PVPs)


    As a corollary to the above, it should be enunciated that new space constructed with funds raised from external donors belongs to the University and is assigned to a Unit to meet its current needs and consistent with the University’s priorities; participation in the fund-raising activities does not automatically give the Unit the perpetual right to or exclusive use of that space (although the Unit’s contribution should be taken into account and, in keeping with established practice, Units will generally be assigned specific space based on their need for and the appropriateness of that space), and the space may be reassigned in the future if the Unit’s and the University’s needs change. (Action: PVPs, VP (Advancement))


    When space is assigned to a Unit, there should be agreement on the allocation of responsibilities between the University and Unit in areas such as: maintenance of the space and furnishings, provision of services such as utilities, communications, cleaning and security, etc. (AVP (Operations and Facilities))

  2. It is recognized that Units have a current allocation of space that includes varying amounts and types of Office space, and possibly Research Labs, Meeting Rooms and Teaching Labs, and that those Units are responsible for the assignment of Office space and Research Labs allocated to them. Units should be required to develop written criteria for the assignment of Office Space and Research Labs, and these criteria should be subject to approval by the Vice-Principal (Academic) and the Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance). Widely used guidelines such as the COU Space Standard should normally inform such criteria unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. The criteria should be developed within the following constraints:

    2.1 Units should only be permitted to assign Office Space and Research Labs to individuals/groups who are current faculty, staff or students of the University, or emeritus faculty1.
    2.2 Units wishing to assign Office and Research Lab space temporarily to individuals or groups not in the categories described above, whether for a fee (rent) or on a gratis basis, should first be required to obtain the approval of the Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance), who will seek advice from the Associate Vice-Principal (Operations and Facilities), the University Legal Counsel, and others as appropriate2.
    2.3 Funds (“rents”) received in return for temporary use of space (per recommendation 2.2) should be retained centrally to defray costs such as heat, light and cleaning. If the presence of tenants brings added costs or inconvenience to the permanent users of a shared building, efforts should normally be made to use part of the rental income to offset those local costs or to otherwise enhance the shared facilities. (Action: PVPs)
  3. Each Unit should be required to include with its annual Budget and Staffing Strategy document a written summary of the space currently assigned to it and the use of that space, together with a summary of anticipated needs for renovated and/or new space, itemized by space type. Unit reports on space use should summarize data in a way that facilitates integration into databases maintained by the parent Faculty/School and/or the Campus Planning Department. (Action: Principal and Vice-Principals, Deans, Directors and Unit Heads)

  4. Meeting/Conference rooms available for occasional use in various buildings on campus should be identified in a central list (for example, on the University web-site) together with the mechanisms for booking such rooms. (Action: Room Reservations)

  5. It is recognized that many Teaching Laboratories are configured and equipped to meet the special needs of a specific Unit or program, and it is therefore commonly impractical for such space to be made available for use by other Units. Nevertheless, to facilitate planning and the tracking of space utilization it is recommended that data on use of Teaching Laboratories be collected on the same basis as classroom-use data and reported by Units in their annual space-use reports. (Action: Unit Heads, OUR)

  6. Classroom space should only be assigned centrally (through the Office of the University Registrar) and should not be allocated to a Unit for assignment. Classrooms should be allocated and scheduled in a manner that optimizes space utilization, and recognizes pedagogical needs, within the context of the University’s official timetable system, which normally should assign priority to local Units.(Action: OUR)

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Principles, Policies and Procedures Regarding the Renovation of Space

  1. Individuals/Units should not be permitted to make physical alterations/renovations to any University space without approval, regardless of whether the Unit is able to fund the renovation entirely from within its own budget. (Action: PVPs)

    7.1 All physical changes to the physical plant of the campus (including technical upgrades3) should be subject to approval by the respective Dean/Director and the appropriate Vice-Principal. Proposals that include requests for central funding should be submitted to the Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance) for consideration as part of the annual Renovation and Alteration (R&A) process. Projects that will be funded by the Unit may be considered at other times depending on circumstances; such requests should be sent to the Associate Vice-Principal (Operations and Facilities) with a supporting letter from the appropriate Dean or Vice-Principal. (Action: VP(OF), AVP(OF))
    7.2 Changes that have implications regarding teaching or research space should be required to be justified in the context of the Unit’s academic plan, be approved at the Faculty level, and should be subject to review and approval by the Vice-Principal (Academic) for possible effects on other Units. The review process should involve appropriate consultation (e.g., Office of the University Registrar for changes affecting teaching space; V-P (Research) for changes affecting research space). (Action: Heads, Deans, VP(A))
    7.3 Funding a renovation project should not give the funder exclusive use of or access to that space, although in allocating such space, the Unit’s contribution should be taken into account. It is recognized that specialized modifications or obligations imposed by funding agencies may in effect require that the space be dedicated to certain uses for a defined period. (Action: PVPs)

Principles, Policies and Procedures regarding Requests for Additional Space

  1. There should be a clearly defined process by which a Unit may request that additional space (new, or someone else’s) be assigned to it, with a transparent mechanism for assessing competing requests for space on the basis of the merit of proposals in relation to University research and teaching priorities. (Action: PVPs)

    Requests for additional space should be subject to review and approval as outlined in the following Table:


    Type of Request Type of Space Approvals Chain
    reallocation of existing space from one Unit to another Office, Research, other space, all within one Faculty/School Dean, (VP(R) as appropriate), VP(OF)
    Office, other space all within one non-academic Department Director, VP(OF)
    Office, Research, Inter-Faculty/School Deans, VP(A)/(VP(R) as appropriate), VP(OF)
    Office, other space involving two non-academic Departments Directors, VP(OF)
    New construction or acquisition of University-owned space All types Dean/Director, PVPs, CPDC (if appropriate), Finance Committee (if appropriate), Board of Trustees (if appropriate)
    Rental or lease of non-owned space for University purposes All types Dean/Director, VP(OF), PVPs

    (Action: As indicated)


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    8.2 Factors to be considered in evaluating a request for additional space should include: number of faculty and staff, number of graduate and undergraduate students, research activity,priorities as outlined in Budget and Staffing Strategies, space currently assigned and how used,funding available, University priorities and University need, and taking into account the COU Space Standard. (Action: PVPs)

Principles, Policies and Procedures Regarding the Approval Process for New Initiatives

  1. New initiatives, such as programs of study (whether new or substantially revised), proposed chairs, and other research and teaching initiatives, commonly require space resources, but the mechanism for ensuring that these needs can be met needs to be improved. For example, documents such as the SCAD-SBRC Program Approvals Form and the Procedures Governing the Establishment, Reporting and Review of Research Centres, Institutes, and Other Entities at Queen’s University should require either certification by the proponents that the space resources necessary to support the proposed initiative are already under the control of the host Unit and have been assigned to the initiative, or documentation that the appropriate approvals for reallocation of space (pursuant to Recommendation 8.1, above) have been given. (Action: SCAD, SBRC, Senate)

Inventory of Space

The ACSM believes that the University needs a new, appropriately detailed space inventory system that would better support the management of this resource by providing more reliable and more consistent information to inform decision-making at the institutional, faculty and department levels. A functional space management inventory system would assist the University in supporting its research and teaching mission, and enhance effectiveness of our space allocation and renovation processes.

A more detailed system would also enable the University to be more accountable to the provincial government and to justify applications for funds for new space under programs such as the SuperBuild 2002 Budget Commitment program (“SuperBuild II”)4.

  1. It is recommended that the University investigate the resources necessary to acquire or develop and to maintain such a system, and that if such a system is put in place, the Campus Planning Department be given the responsibility for maintaining it. (Action: VP(OF))


Revised June, 2003 in light of comments from SCAD and SBRC.

John M. Dixon,
Associate Vice-Principal (Academic),
Advisory Committee on Space Management

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1There is no University-wide policy that guarantees emeritus faculty office or research space. The decision to offer individual or shared space to emeritus faculty lies with the individual unit and will depend on factors such as the emeritus member’s teaching responsibilities, research activity and research funding, and the availability of space in the unit.

2In some cases, a “space utilization” agreement may be required, as well as approval of the appropriate Dean/Vice-Principal indicating that temporary utilization of this space in the manner suggested meets the University’s academic and research mission.

3This includes the installation of window air conditioning units, which must be approved by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance).

4For example, under the SuperBuild II program each institution is expected to make a case that it needs more space to meet the needs of students in the coming years. Without such an inventory, Queen’s does not have such data ready or accessible. This is significant because MTCU has noted that funding from the SuperBuild II program will be allocated, at least in part, on this criterion: “In the end, if all other things are equal, an institution with a space deficit indicated is likely to place higher than one without a deficit” (MTCU Question and Answer session on SuperBuild 2002 Budget Commitment (January 15, 2003)). A “demonstrated need for space” will carry a weight of 30% in the evaluation of the proposal. Other weighted factors are: number of student spaces created (30%); cost per student space with a minimum partnership contribution of 30 percent (25%); and financial plan viability (15%).