Every school year as spring turns into summer and temperatures soar, we see television news reports of school children and staff members suffering in the heat at schools. A lack of essential upgrades to school heating and cooling systems are the culprit. In 2018, the Toronto District School Board reported 78% of its schools lacked air conditioning. As one measure to address the uncomfortable high temperatures, schools have set up cooling centers in large spaces in each facility, but these measures cost a lot and the funding comes directly from the Board’s repair budget, which is already stretched thin.
Public sector organizations in many places around the globe are looking for better ways to manage, improve, or modernize their infrastructure assets often while budgets have been shrinking. Efficiencies and asset management have improved over the years, but largely the infrastructure sector has operated much the same for over 100 years. Without the sector reinventing itself, many public sector organizations will find it increasingly difficult to meet the challenges of managing infrastructure in the 21st century.
Perhaps the primary barrier to renewing or expanding community infrastructure is financial. Many public sector organizations:
- Lack their own capital to renew or expand their infrastructure
- Lack the financial strength to attract capital via lenders without government guarantees
- May find it difficult to raise capital even if they are stronger financially, because many lenders either do not want to fund infrastructure or do not provide competitive rates for renewal or expansion infrastructure projects