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Postsecondary Education

NCES 2006-160
May 2006

4. Space Use Codes

4.1 Space Use Category Structure

This chapter provides the technical definitions and codes for the Space Use category structure (called the Room Use Category Structure in previous editions) recommended by this manual as a major component of a building and space inventory system. The 10 major space use categories of assignable space and the 3 major space use categories of nonassignable space defined in this chapter (and the coding structure for these categories) are intended to provide necessary flexibility in coding space use at the institutional level and to provide appropriate comparability in reporting space uses across institutions.

For purposes of this manual, the term space will be used wherever the terms space and room could be used interchangeably. For example, wherever use codes are mentioned, they are called “space use codes”; when a use could be housed in either a room or a space, the term space is used. However, the term room is retained in most examples of use classifications provided in the definitions, for example, (e.g., dark room, laundry room, operating room). Room is also used for functions that would be housed only in enclosed rooms, as defined in this manual.

The basic categories and principles of this Space Use category structure are consistent with those earlier editions of the Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual. Specifically:

  • The categories encompass all types and uses of assignable and Nonassignable Area found in campus buildings. Although some uses of space may be of less interest than others, the omission of any space may lead to the inadvertent exclusion of important data. (The subcategory Other (590) under the major assignable use Special Use Facilities should be used only as a category of last resort.)
  • The coding system is intended to provide meaningful and comparable summary data. That is, the definitions of space uses are sufficiently specific to give reasonable assurance that all institutions will map or crosswalk comparable spaces to the same category.
  • The coding scheme is intended to be sufficiently flexible to allow for expanded (through subcategories) coding systems that track more specific areas of assignable and nonassignable space; these schemes may be developed and applied by various institutions according to choice. The coding system also is intended to be sufficiently definitive to support logical collapsing, translation, or crosswalking from these optional space use classifications.
  • The structure is intended to provide a significant degree of standardization and compatibility for comparisons across institutions and states. It also provides the data to develop the key building ratios to understand the efficiencies of one building design compared to another. Such ratios as Net Assignable Square Feet (NASF) to Gross Square Feet (GSF) and NASF to Net Usable Square Feet (NUSF) are examples of commonly used comparisons.
  • The entire focus of definitions is on the actual space use (primary or predominant) at the time of inventory (which may be different from the intended use at the time it was built). Space intent, original design, type, name, organizational unit assignment, or contained equipment does not, therefore, affect the coding classification at the time of the inventory unless it is compatible with actual use. These elements, however, may be included in other portions of a space inventory.
  • The coding structure is not intended to replace the traditional program or budget structure. Space use codes are combined with operating budget links to provide an accurate profile of space by other institutional information, such as major program or function. Refer to NACUBO for the appropriate structure or utilize the campus operating budget codes. Crossover tables should be maintained to allow for consistent reporting with the IPEDS Finance Survey categories. For example, an office is an office, but in combination with budget information, a research office can be separately identified from an auxiliary enterprise office or an instructional faculty office.

For more information on NACUBO functional categories, see section 5.5.8, NACUBO and OMB Circular A-21 function codes, and appendix B.

In following these principles, this 2006 edition of the Space Use classification structure represents an update or modernization of the April 1994 Revised and Reprinted structure. Definitions have been made clearer, descriptions expanded, and limitations made more specific to delineate more clearly the differences among room uses. Because the original definitions were very logically conceived, “new” uses still fit within the existing structure. As a result, few significant changes, additions, or deletions were necessary to keep the categories current. Every effort has been made to obviate the need for reclassifying spaces from the codes used in previous manuals including maintaining the three-digit alpha-numeric codes for nonassignable space that were used in the 1994 edition.

Several of the basic concepts inherent in this classification structure require more detailed explanation, as provided below.