Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 73.13
Liaison Bridget Flynn
Submission Date March 9, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Oberlin College
OP-10: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.49 / 2.00 Bridget Flynn
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds::
Total campus area 614 Acres
Footprint of the institution's buildings 20 Acres
Area of undeveloped land, excluding any protected areas 80 Acres

Area of managed grounds that is::
Managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan 120 Acres
Managed in accordance with a sustainable landscape management program that includes an IPM plan and otherwise meets the criteria outlined 282 Acres
Managed organically, third party certified and/or protected 112 Acres

A copy of the IPM plan:

The IPM plan :

The Grounds Department uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to control plant pests and diseases. We use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and diseases and their interactions with the environment. Cultural practices are employed that enhance plant health, thereby making plant natural defense mechanisms more capable of repelling competitive organisms. Pest tolerance threshold levels have been established and identified for pests and diseases. Regular monitoring is done to determine how pest levels relate to thresholds. The IPM system is used to manage pests and disease in the most economical means with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. The Grounds department explores all available strategies before using pesticides. When pesticides are used, the least toxic is used. Grounds uses organic garlic extract to repel insects. We also use IPM with regards to pest and critter control with live trap and removal. We attempt to figure out why the critter is approaching or getting in, then we use exclusion to keep them out, i.e. closing entry points for squirrels or bats; closing dumpsters for raccoons, etc.

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

The Grounds department is one of the most sustainable areas on campus. The head of Grounds attends periodic training and development sessions to ensure that Oberlin is ahead of the curve. The department has devised a low intensity turf maintenance program. Low fertility levels, no irrigation, and minimum use of machines for line trimming (weed eating), aeration, and over seeding keep fuel use to a minimum. Summer heat and drought puts the majority of turf into a month-long state of dormancy, eliminating the need to mow. Native plants are featured in several prominent locations on campus. Aggressive invasive species are removed. The conversion of turf to meadow is a fuel savings opportunity for the Grounds Department. Oberlin's Grounds Department worked with the City of Oberlin to change ordinances governing grass to allow for natural landscaping. Grounds has converted fine-cut turf to wildflower meadows at eight locations on campus totaling seven acres. Mowing efficiency has also been examined to reduce fuel usage. Bed shapes have been increased to make curvilinear lines that allow faster mowing speeds. The Grounds Department uses landscape management categories to govern the level of maintenance provided to various parts of the campus landscape to ensure proper attention is given to each part of campus, while striving to be as sustainable as possible.
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies was conceived as an integrated building-landscape system. The landscape features a variety of constructed ecosystems that simulate native Northern Ohio ecosystems and incorporate cultigens that produce food for humans. The restored wetland and forest ecosystems speak to the pre-agricultural history of the site. The George Jones Farm also includes preserved forests and restored wetlands.

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

Native plants are featured in several prominent locations, including the Science Center Native Pant Garden, Butterfly Garden, Rain Gardens at Old Barrows and South Hall, and College Entry Garden. Native plants are prioritized in areas near natural areas. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center features an extensive native landscape and wetlands. The George Jones Farm includes preserved and restored ecosystems, including several acres of wetlands planted and studied for native biodiversity.

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

Plant waste from Grounds Department activities is recycled on the North Property. Branches pruned from shrubs and trees trimmings from perennial plants are collected on a brush pile. Wood chips from tree removals are dumped in another pile. The leaves that blow into inaccessible areas are vacuumed and dumped on the North Property. Periodically all these materials are ground, mixed, and turned until they become usable compost. The Grounds staff applies the compost to planting beds as mulch. Grounds composts their organic waste from leave collection, pruned branches, tree trimmings, and wood chips from tree removals. This compost is used as mulch in planting beds.

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

The arboretum (40 acres), George Jones Farm (70 acres), and Adam Joseph Lewis Center (2 acres) are maintained organically.
Organic fertilizer is used on academic and residential turf. The material is applied at one quarter the recommended rate. Although synthetic fertilizer has been used (on athletic fields and very rarely on heavily trafficked campus turf), low rates resulted in minimal chemical salt content in the soil. Grounds uses glyphosate broad-spectrum herbicide to maintain maintenance strips around vertical elements in the landscape.

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

The campus turf is maintained at a low intensity level. Grass is mowed at a high mowing height, 2.5”, to shade the soil surface and enable the roots to extend deeply in the soil. The majority of the campus is not irrigated. Aeration is performed on turf areas that are damaged by excessive foot or vehicle traffic. Varsity athletic field turf is maintained at a higher intensity level.

Water gardens are maintained as natural aquatic ecosystems. Floating plants are added to the water surface in spring to provide shade and consume nutrients in the water. The Grounds Department is conducting a project to inventory the storm drainage system on campus. Catch basins in the parking lots have been cleaned and repaired. Grounds has carried out a 3 year plan to vacuum catch basins in the landscape. At the same time the underground drain lines were flushed. New constructions like Kahn Hall and the Kohl Jazz Building have incorporated bioswales. The student-run Oberlin Storm Water Management Project is working to install additional rain gardens on campus; so far, Oberlin has installed two 100 square foot rain gardens on campus. Kahn Hall and village housing also includes porous pavement sidewalk and bike rack staging areas. Three buildings on campus have sections of green roof.

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

Grounds has devised a low intensity turf maintenance program that involves low fertility levels, no irrigation, and minimum use of machines for line trimming (weed eating), aeration, and seeding. Oberlin's Grounds Department worked with the City of Oberlin to change ordinances governing grass to allow for natural landscaping; fine-cut turf has been converted to wildflower meadows at eight locations on campus totaling seven acres. Meadowing is a fuel savings opportunity while at the same time increases biodiversity.

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

Grounds has reduced their use of salt and run several pieces of snow removal equipment on recycled vegetable oil.

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

Oberlin's Arboretum is a protected space. The Arboretum is a beautiful preserve with trails, creeks, bridges, and, of course, trees. As well as the wooded section, the Arb also has a reservoir, split into two lakes. Each season is lovely in the Arboretum: crocuses bloom in early spring, grass thickens in summer, leaves fall everywhere in fall, and the snow builds up during winter. Classes across the disciplines, from biology to rhetoric, environmental studies, and photography, use the Arboretum to collect data and have field lessons.

In 1892, Oberlin College purchased the 17-acre Ladies' Grove to develop it as a nature preserve. At the time, the grove was considered one of the only places appropriate for women to walk and enjoy nature. Alumnus Charles Martin Hall bought 77 acres of the property surrounding the grove to establish a full-fledged arboretum. Since then, the Arb has become a favorite of runners and stargazers, as well as anyone who wants to take a long walk in the woods.

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:

Oberlin College is not a Tree Campus, but the City of Oberlin is a Tree City designate.

This credit was submitted by Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Manager, with Dennis Grieve, Grounds Manager.

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