100.00 Introduction and Purpose

Space is a critical university-owned resource and is subject to allocation, evaluation, and reallocation to meet the overall needs and priorities of Montana State University (MSU). The Space Management Committee (SMC)1 through the Space Management Policy2 establishes a framework for the efficient use and equitable allocation of MSU’s physical resources to support the University’s mission3.  As such, SMC has developed principles and procedures that outline how space is to be allocated in a fair and transparent manner.

The Principles and Procedures are incorporated into the Space Management Policy2 and outline how space resources shall be used as well as the processes for allocating and clarifying how space is assigned across campus.

200.00 Principles

201.00 Space is a University Resource

Although space is allocated to specific users, space is a key university asset owned by MSU. Space is neither owned by, nor permanently allocated to, occupants, users, programs, or units. It is incumbent upon the university to allocate space in accordance with the university’s strategic priorities. All space including academic, research, office, auxiliary, athletics, and others is subject to assignment or reassignment to meet the overall needs and best interests of the university.

202.00 Space Decisions Should Be Transparent and Fair

Space decisions across campus should be transparent and applied equitably across all colleges and departments. Space decisions should also align with the University’s Strategic Plan and may be prioritized based on MSU’s imminent needs.

203.00 Space Assigned Should Facilitate the Intended Use

Campus units and programs should be allocated space that is designed and constructed to be consistent with the intended use. An objective of the Space Management Policy2 is to match appropriate users to existing space attributes (e.g. researchers to research labs instead of instructional labs; or offices to be used as offices instead of storage). Conference rooms may be used for instructional use when required by ADA requests or in severe instances such as a shortage of instructional classroom spaces. The goal is to optimize campus resources and reduce the need to continually renovate spaces for other uses. Research labs may need to be re-examined for utilization and should be preserved for their intended use even if that results in some research spaces remaining vacant.

204.00 Changes in Space Needs will be Considered at the Institutional Level

Space is always at a premium. Therefore, conversion of existing space to other uses/occupancies requires review by the Space Management Committee (SMC)1 and approval of the President. SMC will review changes in unit level space needs from a campus‐wide perspective for the most appropriate solutions, which may be outside the traditional space use of the unit. SMC will entertain proposals to repurpose existing space to address a new need.

205.00 Periodic review is essential

A complete and accurate space inventory is foremost to effective space planning and management. Space inventory includes a periodic review of space allocations, actual space use, and occupancies reconciled with institutional priorities. Building audits shall be performed as necessary to ensure space is being used as it was intended and in the most efficient manner.

206.00 Space Allocation Guidelines and Classification

SMC adopted a set of target space guidelines and utilization rates that reflect the practical target distribution and utilization of MSU’s space resources. The guidelines provide space ranges associated with position categories to help inform new construction and major renovation projects as well as moves into different spaces. Similarly, space functional use categories and space inventory codification shall conform to nationally accepted conventions. MSU uses the Postsecondary Education Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual (FICM)4 codification system.

207.00 Construction & Renovation Standards

Construction of new space and renovation of existing space should conform to the Space Management Policy2, these Principles and Procedures and Target Space Guidelines and Utilization Rates5 as well as university or industry standards for the specific type of space, university construction standards, and ADA accessibility requirements.

300.00 Procedures

SMC will promulgate principles, procedures, and guidelines as necessary to meet the Space Management Policy2 and SMC’s charge. SMC reviews all space requests and shall provide recommendations to the President for approval. The President may delegate space decisions to SMC or the Office of Space Planning and Management (SPM)6 for minor space requests including office allocations and those requests that do not change the FICM4 code.  The Research Space Sub-Committee (RSC) shall make a formal recommendation to SMC for all research-related labs and spaces. SMC and SPM may abdicate the decision for non-FICM code changes or office allocations as needed.

301.00 Changes in Space Use, Occupancy, FCIM Code, or Shared Space

Consideration of space requests that result in a significant alteration, change of occupancy, FICM4 code change (change of use), change in shared spaces, or spaces which will be leased to an outside entity shall be the responsibility of the SMC. Units shall submit requested space changes to the SPM per the Space Management Principles and Procedures for review and analysis.

301.10 Space Allocation Process

  1. SPM receives a space request through the space request form on the university’s website.
  2. SPM posts the request on SPM’s website for transparency.
  3. SPM conducts an initial assessment with the requester to determine space needs and possible solutions for allocating space.
  4. Once potential spaces have been identified, SPM contacts affected individual(s) and department(s) about possible reallocation of space. When a space is vacated, SPM will contact all parties that have expressed interest in the space to determine if their space needs still warrant consideration.
  5. If multiple requests have been made for the same space, each person/department shall submit a proposal to SPM for consideration of allocation of such space.
  6. SPM provides a formal recommendation to SMC and notifies all parties involved regarding the proposed recommendation. When an allocation involves research-related space, RSC will provide a formal recommendation to SMC.
  7. SMC then considers the recommendation. If multiple requests for the same space have been submitted through proper procedures, SPM will present all requests/proposals to SMC for consideration.
  8. SMC may accept SPM’s recommendation, modify the recommendation, or deny the recommendation.
  9. Requesters and affected individual(s) may appeal SPM’s recommendation at the SMC meeting and present their case to the committee for why a space should/shouldn’t be allocated.
  10. SMC makes a formal recommendation to the President, who then makes the final decision regarding the space allocation.
  11. Once the President approves the request, SPM posts the decision on its website.
  12. Minor requests may be approved through SPM to help expedite space decisions involving the same department/college, when requests only involve office allocations, when requests do not change the FICM4 code, or when requests satisfy the criteria in 00 Exemption and Expedited Reviews.

301.20 Building Supervisor Role        

Building supervisors7 will be contacted as part of the space request process to inquire about possible open spaces or underutilized spaces within a building. SPM will seek their input on potential space solutions to present to SMC. Building supervisors, while playing a critical role for the University, do not have the authority to allocate space within buildings. SMC is the responsible committee for recommending space decisions to the President for his/her approval. In addition, building supervisors are responsible for key requests and shall approve all such requests associated with an approved space allocation or reallocation within his/her respective building. For all leased space the University Real Estate Manager within CPDC will serve as the Building Supervisor to ensure consistency with all lease provisions. 

302.00 Exemption and Expedited Reviews

Minor alterations such as installing partitions, setting up cubicles, or construction modifications to create similar spaces to the original use and which do not result in a FICM4 code change may be exempt from SMC review. Similarly, minor occupancy changes including office allocations may be exempt from SMC review. Such changes shall first be reported to SPM and the managing director shall determine whether such a request meets the Space Management Principles and Processes for an exemption and expedited review.

302.10 Minor Alternations and Occupancy Change Exemptions

SPM – when delegated by the President – may approve minor alternations and minor occupancy changes. Such exemptions include office allocations and lab assignments when all parties including deans representing the affected departments have agreed to the space allocation. SPM will report the exemptions and expedited reviews to SMC at the next regularly scheduled meeting for the record. The intent is not to delay staffing assignments or hiring requests by having to receive formal approval from SMC. However, when multiple requests are made for the same space, SPM may choose to bring the recommendation to SMC for their review and the President’s approval.

303.00 Vacant, Unoccupied and Underutilized Office Space

Unoccupied or underutilized areas are spaces that have been allocated to a department, but which are not occupied, not utilized, or do not meet utilization goals. It is the vacating party’s responsibility to notify SPM of the vacation. These spaces may be held for a period of 90 days when a hiring request has been submitted and SPM is notified. Conference rooms, instructional labs, and classrooms shall be deemed vacant if they do not meet target utilization rates in two consecutive semesters or a total of two semesters within a four-semester period. Research labs shall be deemed underutilized if they do not meet target utilization rates in one semester. In such instances, space may be reallocated to improve utilization or reclassified to help improve utilization across campus.

303.10 Unoccupied Office Space Extension

A space that is unoccupied shall be deemed vacant upon 90 consecutive days of inactivity. A department head, director, or dean may request an additional 90-day grace period for office spaces when a hiring request has been granted. Departments that shuffle or move temporary staff into and out of office spaces to make spaces appear as if they are occupied may be subject to.

303.20 Vacant Space Pool

When a space request results in vacant space(s), those space(s) shall be entered into the University space pool. A 30-day waiting period shall take effect before a vacant space can be reallocated, unless a significant need has been identified warranting earlier consideration. SPM provides a recommendation following the procedures outlined in section 301.10 Space Allocation Process. SMC shall make the final recommendation on the vacant space to the President. 

303.30 Notification of Vacancy

SMC review and approval shall not be required for the vacation of space. Colleges, departments, offices, centers, or groups that request to vacate space shall report the vacation to SPM for data integrity and SPM can approve the vacated space request to ensure it is entered in the vacant space pool.  

303.40 Underutilized Space

Spaces that are deemed underutilized by SPM data and analysis may be reallocated or redesigned to increase utilization and promote stewardship of the space. Units will be notified when a space is deemed underutilized to develop a plan to improve utilization. If utilization rates do not improve within one year after the plan has been implemented, the space can be classified as vacant upon SMC review and may be reverted to the University space pool or reclassified.

304.00 Shared Space

Shared space is defined as sharing a room(s)/suite on the same floor within the same building with different departments/groups. Shared space may be split between floors or buildings but must contain staff from each different department within those spaces. When allocating or reallocating shared space by two or more departments or groups, all units sharing the space will be consulted prior to a final recommendation by the SMC. Space requests involving shared spaces will be given priority.

Lab spaces - including both research and instructional - shall be shared and do not belong to a specific principal investigator, faculty member, or college/department. The goal is to help account for the ebb and flow of grant awards and funding cycles to improve collaboration as well as respond to shifting needs as funding changes.

305.00 Secondary Office or Additional Office Space

A college or department must demonstrate a critical need for additional office space more than the Space Standards and Target Utilization Rates5 or when requesting a secondary office. The request shall include the Dean’s or Vice President’s approval. A secondary space must meet the requirements in section 203.00, 3 of the Space Management Policy.  For individuals in multiple roles, the office space is related to the primary role and function for the total FTE. Special circumstances may warrant a secondary office if space is available and unused. The requester shall submit the total FTE and provide a statement of need. The secondary office will follow the requirements in the Space Standards and Target Utilization Rates5.  SPM will conduct an audit of each space and report to the SMC for their review.

306.00 ADA Space Request

When an ADA space request is made, SPM shall coordinate with the Office of Disability Services9 and the MSU ADA Coordinator to find spaces that meet ADA requirements within 30 days of the official request. SPM shall identify buildings that are ADA compliant and designate alternative space to be used for accommodations. Temporary ADA office locations will be dispersed across campus near ADA parking stalls and shall be preserved only for ADA requests; these offices are not subject to vacancy requirements and shall not be included in the vacant space pool. If an ADA office request will exceed six months, a long-term solution shall be identified to preserve the temporary office space locations. 

307.00 Conference Space Reservations

When a conference room reservation is cancelled because of priority scheduling for the President's office or other office as identified by SMC, the requesting office shall find an alternative conference room for the affected (existing party) reservation. It is incumbent upon each person reserving such conference spaces to be aware that an existing reservation may be cancelled at any time. Each person reserving these spaces is subject to finding an alternate space in conjunction with the sequestering office. SPM shall identify each conference room and the appropriate office that has the ability to schedule such spaces at a moment's notice within the University's scheduling software.

308.00 Emergency Space Decisions

In the event of an emergency or; when the health, safety, or welfare of students and staff are jeopardized; or when an ADA request is made that requires immediate attention, the managing director of SPM in conjunction with the SMC Chair may allocate space on a temporary basis to alleviate the emergency and relocate students and staff to remedy the hazardous issues caused to the respective space. SMC may then consider a long-term solution at the next regularly scheduled SMC meeting if warranted or if the hazard or emergency has not been resolved. 

309.00 Priority Space Scheduling

All instructional space and the designated usage of that space in areas classified as classrooms and instructional labs will be under the control and scheduling of the University Registrar. All instructional space including instructional laboratories and conference rooms shall be scheduled through the University’s scheduling software.

310.00 Space Disputes

Disputes concerning use of space shall be resolved by SPM with assistance from the building supervisor, department heads, deans, or vice presidents of the respective units with input from affected individuals. However, a person(s) affected by the space allocation - requestor or impacted entity - may also appeal the recommendation of SPM to SMC at the meeting whereby the space issue is set to be discussed. The appellant must be present to voice his/her concerns about the recommendation made by SPM. SMC will make a formal recommendation to approve the request as is, modify the request based on the appellant’s information, table the request to the next meeting, or deny the space request. When the space does not meet the target guidelines or utilization rates SPM may proceed with a formal recommendation to reallocate the space.  

311.00 Misuse of Space Resources

The goal is to optimize University space to improve the student experience and those spaces which do not comply with the approved usage may be subject to reallocation. Colleges and departments that do not follow the approved uses may be subject to reallocation upon further review. For example, if a space is approved for offices but is then used for conference space or storage,the result may be reallocation to a different department that needs office space. SPM will use the Space Standards and Target Utilization Rates5 to ensure spaces meet the intended and approved uses. Additionally, failure to notify SPM of space vacation will be considered a misuse of space resources and may result in delayed or suspended space decisions.

311.10 Office Space Misuse

Shuffling or moving temporary staff into and out of office spaces to make spaces appear as if they are occupied may result in future space decisions being delayed or suspended. Additionally, unauthorized construction such as building floor-to-ceiling cubicles, constructing or removing a wall, or other similar construction practices may result in delayed or suspended space decisions. In severe instances, reallocation of space may be deemed appropriate. Please refer to 302.00 Exemption and Expedited Reviews10 on how to request an exemption for minor alterations to space.

311.20 Conference Space Misuse

Units and individuals including student groups that do not properly clean up and restore conference spaces may lose conference room privileges. Similarly, if patterns of non-compliance (failure to utilize the central scheduling software or overbooking when not in use) emerge, units or individuals may lose reservation privileges.

311.30 Research Space Misuse

Research spaces that do not comply with safety standards or are in violation of compliance issues with the Office of Research Compliance11 and/or the Office of Safety and Risk Management12 will have 60 days to correct all safety and compliance violations from the date of notice. Research spaces may be reallocated if items have not been corrected within 60 days.

312.00 Campus Moves

All campus moves shall be coordinated with SPM to ensure database reliability including tracking where units are located for reporting purposes. SPM has outlined processes for moving as well as FAQs to assist with a campus move13. Key requests associated as part of a move shall be coordinated through SPM including new office allocations. An equitable allocation of expenses will be determined with moves resulting in an approved space request. Vacating parties will be responsible for removing surplus furniture or equipment, refuse, recycling, and arranging for custodial services to clean the space upon move-out.

313.00 Space Survey

SPM will distribute a periodic space survey to validate building spaces and utilization rates as well as to assess department needs and requests for future space. Deans, department heads and directors are responsible for ensuring the survey is returned and completed to the best of their knowledge. Failure to return the survey may result in delayed or suspended future space requests.

314.00 Space Audits

Audits may occur at any time including on weekends or evenings. Appropriate safeguards will be taken when auditing research lab space to ensure SPM staff are not interfering with ongoing experiments. However, access to any space cannot be denied indefinitely because of ongoing experiments or other factors. In instances where the health, safety, or welfare of students, faculty, or staff may be at risk, SPM along with Safety Risk and Management12 and/or the Office of Research Compliance11 may enter spaces as needed or in the case of emergencies without notification. SPM will also notify building supervisors when an entire building audit is to be completed; however, audits may occur at any time for all remaining spaces.

400.00 Definitions

Classroom: A room or space used primarily for instruction of classes and that is not tied to a specific subject or discipline by equipment in the room or the configuration of the space.

Conference Room: A space serving an office complex, building, or group of buildings and used primarily for staff meetings and departmental activities including instruction.

FICM: Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual; space use codes employed to classify assignable space by use type within campus facilities.

FTE: Full-Time Equivalent for the hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis or the fraction of hours based on a full-time basis for an employee working part time.

Instructional Laboratory:  A space used primarily for formally or regularly scheduled instruction that requires special purpose equipment or a specific space configuration for student participation, experimentation, observation, or practice in an academic discipline. A space is considered scheduled if the activities generate weekly student contact hours. A space used for instructing or teaching including conference rooms, instructional laboratories, clinical areas, assemblies, or meeting rooms.

Meeting Room: A room that is used for a variety of non-class meetings and available to all students, staff and the public; examples include spaces for study groups, boards, community groups, student groups. Meeting rooms may be for-fee spaces on campus.

Minor Occupancy Changes: Changes to a space resulting in impacts to occupancy that either reduce or increase occupancy for two or fewer people.

Montana State University (MSU) Employee: Employees classified as faculty, staff, and collective bargaining trades within the University.

Net Assignable Square Footage (NASF): The sum of all areas on all floors of a building allocated to, or available for allocation to, an occupant or specific use. Examples include but are not limited to offices, classrooms, and conference rooms.

Net Non-Usable Square Footage: (NNUSF): The sum of all areas on all floors of a building not available for allocation to an occupant or specific use but necessary for the general operation of a building. Examples include but are not limited to mechanical rooms, bathrooms, janitorial service areas, and storage.

Net Usable Square Footage (NUSF): The sum of all areas on all floors of a building allocated to, or available for allocation to, an occupant or specific use, or necessary for the general operation of a building.

Non-Employee Personnel: Personnel defined in the University’s Non-Employee Appointments policy.  

Off Campus Lease Agreement: A lease agreement specifically between the University and a third party, overseen by the Real Estate Manager within Campus Planning, Design and Construction outlining the terms of agreement for space on campus; the lease may include dates of occupancy, square footage allotment, improvements required, value provided to the university, and other conditions as deemed appropriate by the SMC.

Office: A space housing faculty, staff, or students working at one or more desks, tables, or workstations.

Open Laboratory: A laboratory used primarily for individual or group instruction that is informally scheduled, unscheduled, or open.

Research Laboratory: A space used for laboratory experimentation, research, or training in research methods; professional research and observation; or structured creative activity within a specific program or for sponsored research (sponsored with federal, state, private, or institutional funds).

Shared Space: A space that is shared between two or more departments or groups within the same room(s)/suite on the same floor within the same building. Shared spaces can be split between different floors or buildings but must contain staff from each department or group sharing the space on each floor and building.

Significant Alteration: An alteration to a space resulting in more than ten percent of the gross floor area being altered, renovated, changed, improved, or reconfigured.

Underutilized Space: Space that does not meet the requirements for space utilization as outlined in the Space Standards and Target Utilization Guidelines.

Unit(s): A college, department, center, office, institution, group, or individual either employed or associated with the university.

University Space Pool: A repository of vacant spaces to be allocated or reallocated.

Unoccupied Space: Space that at the time of an inventory, annual space survey, or audit is not assigned to any faculty or staff members but is allocated to a department or under renovation.

Vacant Space: Space that has been unoccupied for 90 consecutive days and is then allocated to the University space pool for reallocation.


1Space Management Committee, 2017, March 1. Available from: http://www.montana.edu/spm/smc.html [Accessed December, 2017] 

2Space Management Policy, 2017. [online] Bozeman. Available from: Space Management Policy [Accessed December, 2017]

3Montana State University Planning Council, 2012. Montana State University's Strategic Plan. Mission and Vision. [online] Bozeman. Available from: http://www.montana.edu/strategicplan/vision.html [Accessed December 2017]

4U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2006). Postsecondary Education Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual (FICM): 2006 Edition (NCES 2006-160). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Available from: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/ficm/content.asp?ContentType=Section&chapter=4&section=3 [Accessed January 2017]

5Space Management Space Standards and Target Utilization Rates, 2017. [online] Bozeman. Available from: Space Standards and Target Utilization Guidelines [Accessed May, 2022]

6Office of Space Planning and Management. (n.d.). Available from: http://www.montana.edu/spm/ [Accessed December, 2017]

7Facilities Services. [online] Bozeman. Building Supervisor Handbook Available from http://www.montana.edu/us/fs/admin/files/buildingsupervisorhandbook.pdf [Accessed December, 2017]

8Space Management Principles and Procedures, 2017. 300.00 Procedures, 311.00 Misuse of Space. [online]. Bozeman. Available from: Misuse of Space [Accessed December 2017]

9Office of Disability Services. (n.d.). Available from: http://www.montana.edu/aycss/disability/ [Accessed December, 2017]

10Space Management Principles and Procedures, 2017. 300.00 Procedures, 302.00 Exemption and Expedited Reviews. [online]. Bozeman. Available from: Exemption and Expedited Reviews [Accessed December 2017]

11Office of Research Compliance. (n.d.). Available from: http://www.montana.edu/orc/ [Accessed December, 2017]

12Safety and Risk Management. (n.d.). Available from: http://www.montana.edu/wwwsrm/ [Accessed December, 2017]

13Office of Space Planning and Management. (n.d). Moving. Available from: http://www.montana.edu/spm/moving.html [Accessed December, 2017]