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Postsecondary Education

NCES 2006-160
May 2006

4.2.3 Service Codes

Service codes are used for associated support spaces. Many major use categories have minor supporting uses associated with them. For example, an office may have a supply room or a laboratory may have a stock room. These supporting rooms are coded as service spaces, and their space use will follow the coding of the major spaces to which they provide service.

Support or service codes are used to reduce the hundreds of support use categories to a small set of service codes. The use of a code ending in “5” to represent support space for a primary activity area, with a corresponding code ending in “0” (e.g., 315 serves 310), enhances both the analytic usefulness and flexibility of the space use coding structure.

Distinguishing primary activity areas from service areas may occasionally become difficult. Because it is impossible to describe comprehensively each code in the description section with examples of primary and service areas, a few gray areas for decisionmaking will inevitably emerge with unlisted or “new” room names, designs, and uses. Two paths to decision are suggested:

  • A close reading of the definition, description, and limitations for both the primary (e.g., 710) and service (e.g., 715) codes. A thorough study of any examples listed could be especially helpful by revealing room relationships and function or use similarities.
  • Determining whether the existence of a particular space, with its specific functions and uses, is dependent upon, or justified by, another (usually nearby) space and its specific use. If this is not the case (the space is nondependent), the primary activity code is logically appropriate (e.g., a space containing a mainframe computer or computer servers would be coded 710). If a significant degree of dependency exists (i.e., the space is largely justified only by the existence of another space), the service code is appropriate (e.g., a printout or tape storage room should be coded 715). In all such cases, a focus on space relationships can help clarify space use definitions, descriptions, and codes.

Changes in the cost and portability of technology have blurred the distinction between program and service space. In many laboratory environments and multimedia classrooms, support instrumentation and equipment are now located inside the lab or lecture room. Primary use should be the determinant in classifying such spaces rather than the existence of specialized equipment. This is also true of offices and administrative service units.