Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
OP-10: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.41 / 2.00 Dan Held
Assistant Vice President
Strategic Communications, Columbia University Facilities and Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds::
Total campus area 58 Acres
Footprint of the institution's buildings 27.20 Acres
+ Date Revised: April 22, 2015
Area of undeveloped land, excluding any protected areas 0 Acres

Area of managed grounds that is::
Managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan 0 Acres
Managed in accordance with a sustainable landscape management program that includes an IPM plan and otherwise meets the criteria outlined 29 Acres
+ Date Revised: April 22, 2015
Managed organically, third party certified and/or protected 0 Acres

A copy of the IPM plan:
The IPM plan :

see attached.

A brief summary of the institution’s approach to sustainable landscape management:

Columbia University manages its grounds using guidelines that responsibly implement plant selection, leaf composting, and limited use of synthetic pesticides and herbicide applications. All site work is carefully studied to provide the best environment for our plant communities which results in minimal pest infestations.

The University has engaged Dr. Jill Gordon, an Urban Entomologist, Rodentologist and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) specialist to oversee the application of the principles of IPM to various phases of the Manhattanville in West Harlem development. Gordon owns Mantis Consulting and has extensive experience working with rodent control in urban environments, designing pest
management programs. The following control program is being implemented as part of the Manhattanville Project:

Conducting surveys of the structures and the surrounding areas before disturbance in order to estimate current rat activity and population; performing least toxic pest control practices such as baiting, trapping, and burrow location prior to demolition or structure disturbance; tracking activity during disturbance; performing follow-up surveys and trapping after disturbance; and practicing good site sanitation including discarding food trash in covered metal receptacles lined with trash bags and emptying food trash.

The general policy is:
The elimination and prevention of vermin through non-chemical methods wherever possible. In general, non-chemical control alternatives are always to be considered prior to the application of pesticides. Where pesticide use is deemed to be essential, the judicious selection shall consider the least toxic treatment possible with emphasis on limiting the potential exposure to the community. The evaluation of the toxicity and exposure potential with any application of pesticides is necessary to assure that the “least toxic, least impact” alternative is chosen.

By regular site inspections, identification of existing pest problems and the specific structural and environmental conditions which may be causing these infestations. The next step is to reduce or eliminate the causes of infestation with long-term solutions such as engineering, maintenance and sanitation methods, together with education.

A brief description of how the institution protects and uses existing vegetation, uses native and ecologically appropriate plants, and controls and manages invasive species:

Columbia University removes invasive species by manual removal such as cattails in the Muscota Marsh; provides cultural practices to ensure adequate cover of turf to effortlessly absorb rainfall, and selects plant material appropriate for hardiness zone, including improved cultivars.

A brief description of the institution’s landscape materials management and waste minimization policies and practices:

Organic mulches are used in and around the landscape plantings, grass clippings are recycled and returned to the turf reducing nutrient inputs, and leaves and organic debris are collected and taken to a composting facility.

A brief description of the institution’s organic soils management practices:

The University lawns are constantly being improved with cultivation techniques including core aeration, seed selection, and judicious irrigation practices with a computerized system that has demonstrated to maintain optimum soil moisture for plant growth. Trees and shrub soils are periodically loosened by a process called air spading-that decreases soil compaction in the root zone. Display gardens are fertilized with organic products.

A brief description of the institution’s use of environmentally preferable materials in landscaping and grounds management:

The University uses improved varieties of grass seed and plant material, appropriate for this hardiness zone, and most tolerant of conditions found in urban campus grounds. Street trees are planted in accordance with guidelines set forth by the borough forester, to ensure survivability in the harshest of growing conditions. Several years ago, mature American Elm trees were destroyed by high winds on campus, and a similar, yet improved variety of elm was planted to replace the disease-ridden American elms.

A brief description of how the institution restores and/or maintains the integrity of the natural hydrology of the campus:

By maintaining a healthy stand of turfgrasses, soil erosion in minimal at both sites. Computerized irrigation systems ensure that plants receive the proper amount of moisture, and can automatically shut off in the event of a broken water pipe or heavy rain event. At Muscota Marsh, a tertiary weir system, combined with aquatic plant material, filters runoff water prior to it’s ultimate release into the salt marsh.

A brief description of how the institution reduces the environmental impacts of snow and ice removal (if applicable):

Prior to the start of each snow season, employees are re-trained on the proper techniques to apply deicing materials; equipment is carefully calibrated for proper application rates; and weather stations and forecasts are monitored in real time to track the potential storm intensity and impact on the campuses. When feasible, snow and ice removal is accomplished by plows and brushing, and chemical treatment is applied only when necessary. Deicing products are directed toward targeted areas, not haphazardly applied.

A brief description of any certified and/or protected areas:

Muscota Marsh is notable for its views and for its ecological conservation features, and is unusual for having both a freshwater marsh and a salt marsh in such a tiny (<1 acre) area. Besides attracting plant and animal life, these wetlands are intended to help filter rainwater runoff and thereby improve the water quality of the Harlem River.

Is the institution recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA program (if applicable)?:

The website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management programs and practices is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.