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Green Practices Committee: Chemical Awareness and Sustainability: AASHE Stars Grounds Benchmarking Summer 2019


Mo and Melanie looked at STARS Platinum awarded institutions and Grounds Top Performers 2015 plus others as a base to gather ideas, information, data in Summer 2019 as a start. From that investigation Mo suggests that for grounds we should be looking forward to an organic standard.  These institutions are not necessarily on that track.

Colorado State University
Stanford University 
University of New Hampshire 
University of California Irvine
Thompson Rivers University

Top Performers Grounds 2015
Colby College
Sterling College
State University of New York at Cortland
Oregon State University
Beloit College

Some approaches

Monitoring grounds on a weekly basis and first using a prevention method if pests are identified
Maintaining proper moisture level in soil
Look for innovations (Vassar)

Mechanical (cultural practice)
Specific flowering plants to attract beneficial insects ..Dickinson,
Annual soil testing for prescription program..Hobart, U of Alabama,
Planting trees and shrubs for birds with water features to attract ...Dickinson,
Water force on aphids..Dickinson,
Hand weeding ...Dickinson,
Aeration of lawns ...Bowdoin, Hobart/William Smith
Compost topdressing...Vassar,
Selected turf seed for resilience and drought tolerance...Babson, Concordia
Soil fertility/nutrients with organic approach...Babson, Knox
Limit fertilizer...U of Alabama,
Fertilizing with compost tea...Bowdoin
Organic fertilizer.. Vassar
Balanced soil nutrition and soluble spoon feeding applications
Manage turfgrass diseases with balanced soil nutrition and soluble spoon feeding applications...Messiah
Mowing: non-shearing...U of Alabama
Return clippings to turf...U of Alabama
Leaf litter as mulch. .U of Alabama
Mulch layers of pine bark and straw...U of Alabama,,,
Prompt removal of trash...Dayton

Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides)
No neonicitionoids,,,Chatham, Dickinson on wind-pollinated plants??!!
Organic fertilizer
Targeted control
Narrow-spectrum pesticides (preserve other insects),,,Dickinson
Targeted pesticides,,,Agnes Scott,
Spot treatments versus broad treatments...Dickinson,
No spraying when pollinators are present and limiting drift (Dickinson, (is this possible??)
State registered applicators...Dickinson, Chatham
Direct injection for trees...Chatham
No control on non-turf areas...Knox, Lewis & Clark,
No preventative applications...Chatham
Preventative applications...Messiah for harder to control soil born fungus) and other..Dayton
?Pre-emergent or post-emergent applications...U of Alabama
Slow release nitrogen...U of Alabama
No fertilizer on turf...U of Alabama

Colby in Waterville, ME ​(rural): 

  • Entire campus minus the building is a state wildlife management areaA
  • IPM rewritten 2009 minimizing use of toxic chemicals.
  • Strive to use native/naturalized plants
  • emphasis on natural landscaping
  • "Magic Salt" alternative to rock salt; melting agent as last option
  • green cleaning supported by custodial supervisor and purchasing Cleaning Products Purchasing


SUNY Cortland​ (small town)

  • IPM 4-tiered approach
    • seldom has to deal with insect pests
    • practices primarily on turfgrass disease- very limitedbasis.
    • historically, practices have been limited to snow mold prevention, pythium remediation, and grub remediation at the threshold of 8 or more grubs per square foot.
  • Monitor and identify pests seasonally through soil profile samples and surface observation
  • Prevention Focus is primarily to ensure the ​health of turfgrass and ornamentals​ through soil samples and observation of seasonal growth.
  • grow cloths
  • arboreal applications  for Emerald Ash Borer limited
  • primary mode of tree disease management is limited pruning of diseased limbs
  • control registered fungicides on a very limited basis.
  • since 2005 use of non-salt products for ice control; recently purchased a more efficient salt spreader for both road and sidewalk plowing equipment; use of of grit materials.


Oregon State University in Corvallis

  • Emphasis natural landscaping
  •  IPM plan (not posted) is to maintain pest populations below action threshold levels while ensuring minimal human exposure to health risk
    • inflict minimal hazards on the environment
    • provide effective monitoring through inspections and standardized record keeping
    • evaluating the effect of IPM practices.
    • aligns with EPA's plan in relationship to setting action thresholds, monitoring and identifying pests, and in prevention and control strategies.
    • newer approach  is to convert smaller turf areas to sustainable shrub planting. These small lawn areas are particularly resource intensive and don't provide the same benefits that larger lawn areas do.


  • Indiana Bloomington (note)

    Lab guidelines read: get away from the false belief that “if one cup works, then 2 cups will really be great. This is especially true for application of pest control and fertilizers. What is not used will only run off to water resources or contaminate soil.



STARS Chatham


Notes STARS and other


Some random notes

Green Workplace Challenge Toolkit

Harvard example of how to develop Goals, Commitments and Standards

  • 50% reduction of waste by 2020
  • Environmentally preferred products (demonstrated; require reports; vendors comply with HU sustainabile goal and standards by 2020; reduce
  • electronic waste generated per capita by 2020
  • 75% of landscaped area with organic landscaping program by 2020
  • Plan by 2016 to reduce campus fleet and shuttle emissions
  • Sustainable transportation opportunities
  • Achieve gold-level of bicycle friendly University (League of American bicyclists by 2020)
  • prioritize conservation, research and education at HH owned green spaces (forest; arboretum)
  • choose robust plant species for future environmental change; bioidversity; green space; open space; stormwater reduction; passive stormwater filtration
  • Personal well being: reduce exposure to toxic chemicals: focus natural and built enviromnent, indoor air quality; furnishings; cleaning products
  • Idientify and track high risk chemicals informed by latest research, LEED v.4  and Harvard Green Building Standards
  • wellness programs
  • implement tobacco free policies
  • facilitate collaborations to pilot/launch innovative solutions to sustainability
  • new generation of environmental leaders
  • new sustainability-related curricula, programming, opportunities with other environmental initiatives on campus
  • alumni engagement stategy by 2016 to strengthen alum involvement in sustainability efforts at HU
  • Green Cleaning by 2020
  • Achieve University-wide compliance with the Harvard University Green Cleaning Standards by 2020
  • Achieve University-wide compliance with HU Sustainable Landscaping standards by 2020
  • Develop Sustainable and Healthful food standards Green Restaurant Assoc certification: University wide compliance, 2020.
  • Harvard University Pesticide free management
  • Harvard University Chemical Fame-Retardant Free Campus  (Harvard 1st university to pledge) The Consumer Product Safety Commission found these harmful chemicals do not provide a “practically significant greater level” of safety than untreated furniture.

Princeton Review: Green Rating Method

  • student quality of life
  • preparing student for green economy
  • school policies: how environmentally responsible are they?
  • student opinion