Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date Oct. 20, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Pennsylvania State University
OP-10: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.50 / 2.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds::
Area
Total campus area 7,795 Acres
Footprint of the institution's buildings 470 Acres
Area of undeveloped land, excluding any protected areas 860 Acres

Area of managed grounds that is::
Area
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 6,465 Acres
Managed organically, third party certified and/or protected 0 Acres

A copy of the IPM plan:
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The IPM plan :
Penn State's Pesticide Management Program Manual (Section B.1.) outlines Penn State's approach to IPM. The manual explains the six steps to IPM. 1. Identify pest 2. Understand pest biology 3. Monitor environment to determine pest levels 4. Determine action threshold 5. Choose tactics 6. Evaluate results Tactics include cultural, physical, mechanical, biological, genetic and legal with chemical options as a last resort. The manual states "At Penn State, everyone must use IPM except those persons who are performing research where specific pesticide protocols are necessary." Penn State utilizes IPM principles in its grounds operations for Turf, Horticulture and Tree Maintenance as well as the control of Dutch Elm Disease. Action thresholds as well as prevention and control measures are based on levels of expectation in the area. For trees, strict IPM practices are followed. Weekly IPM reports are generated providing weather and pest alerts information to provide the crews with the most current information to shape pest management activities. Agricultural and wooded lands make up a substantial amount of Penn State's land holding at University Park. Farm Operations manages these lands and follow IPM practices. Best Management Practices are utilized including crop rotation, crop diversity as well as just-in-time use of fertilizers. Through the College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State is collaborating with the PA Department of Agriculture on The Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program. http://extension.psu.edu/ipm

A brief summary of the institution’s approach to sustainable landscape management:
In addition to the IPM practices noted above, Penn State uses the following sustainable landscape management practices: Leaves and plant debris are composted and the brush and logs are ground and manufactured as mulch and then used in campus landscape maintenance. An alternative to round-up herbicide is horticultural vinegar. Alternatives to conventional fertilizers used include general purpose fertilizer that include 32% organic sources of nitrogen, organic specialty turf fertilizer, compost from Penn State's OMPEC facility, tree root zone renovation and bio-stimulants that increase the biological activity in the soils to unlock the nitrogen and other nutrients present. Penn State has a comprehensive tree maintenance program that exceeds the standards set for recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA Program. Penn State has a University Tree Commission and has developed a policy for designating a tree as a Heritage Tree for its exceptional historical, cultural or aesthetic value. This information is made available to the campus community via The Trees of Penn State web site.

A brief description of how the institution protects and uses existing vegetation, uses native and ecologically appropriate plants, and controls and manages invasive species:
Alhough the use of native plant species in landscaping is not prioritized across the entire university, there are efforts to prioritize sustainable behaviors in landscaping through reducing water usage, using soils made from natural composting methods on campus, etc. In addition, there are efforts for certain areas of campus to be dominated by native species. For example, the University's Office of the Physical Plant has recently made an effort to remove invasive species from an area called Hort Woods, in North Campus, and began reintroducing native plant-life in the area. The Arboretum Ecological Restoration Group organizes work sessions in which volunteers help to stop the spread of nonnative shrubs such as honeysuckle, privet, and multiflora rose in the understory of the Hartley Wood, an historic woodlot in the Arboretum. These efforts have now been extended into other areas of the Arboretum in Big Hollow.

A brief description of the institution’s landscape materials management and waste minimization policies and practices:
Leaves, plant debris, brush and logs are collected from campus landscape maintenance. The leaves and plant debris are composted and the brush and logs are ground and manufactured as mulch. The compost is used in campus landscape maintenance, in research projects, and is sold to the public. The mulch is used in campus landscape maintenance. The wood from Elm trees removed on campus due to disease or failing health is salvaged and repurposed into furniture and other products that are sold. OPP partners with the Alumni Association on this project. It results in a much higher reuse of the wood instead of mulch. Proceeds from the sale of products are split between OPP and the Alumni Association. OPP’s share goes to the Tree Replacement Endowment which is used to purchase and plant new trees on campus. Close to $500,000 of Elms Collection items have been sold in the 3+ years the program has existed. In FY 2013, Penn State composted almost 3,000 tons of animal manure, crop and food residuals, ground pallet wood, leaves and plant debri, offal, drywall and soiled cardboard/paper to produce 1,040 cubic yards of compost. Almost 1,800 tons of brush, logs and bark produced 3,028 cubic yards of mulch. Since 1997 Penn State’s Organic Materials Processing and Education Center (OMPEC) has demonstrated continuous growth in quantity, quality and variety of organic materials captured, processed and utilized at the University Park Campus. The OMPEC site is operated as a captive facility. The primary inputs diverted from the waste stream are pre and post-consumer food residuals, leaves, landscape debris and lab animal cage wastes. Farm animal manure and crop residues are used to compliment the various feedstocks to create an optimal compost mix and to produce value added end products demanded by users. The OMPEC facility fulfills operational needs of the University, provides research opportunities and serves as a model facility for the public and private organics processing sector to observe and learn organics processing procedures. Each year classes in Environmental Resource Management, Horticulture, Agro Ecology and Ag Engineering visit the site to learn about environmental design, production and equipment. The program is a collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences, Housing and Food Services, Hospitality Services and the Office of Physical Plant. The project has parallel goals of responding to the needs of handling organic residuals generated from within the university and enhancing teaching, research and extension/outreach programs of a land-grant university. The Office of Physical Plant coordinates collection and delivery of food residuals and the College of Agricultural Sciences is responsible for compost production.

A brief description of the institution’s organic soils management practices:
An alternative to round-up herbicide is horticultural vinegar. Alternatives to conventional fertilizers used include general purpose fertilizer that include 32% organic sources of nitrogen, organic specialty turf fertilizer, compost from Penn State's OMPEC facility, tree root zone renovation and bio-stimulants that increase the biological activity in the soils to unlock the nitrogen and other nutrients present.

A brief description of the institution’s use of environmentally preferable materials in landscaping and grounds management:
Penn State uses compost and mulch from its own composting facility. In FY2013, this facility produced 3,028 cu. yds of mulch and 1,040 cu yds of compost. Penn State uses compost as nutrients for its flowers and shrubs and some of it to topdress its lawns.

A brief description of how the institution restores and/or maintains the integrity of the natural hydrology of the campus:
The University's storm water program promotes the use of conservation design practices that preserve and use natural critical hydrologic areas to minimize the impact on the environment. Penn State monitors more than two dozen storm water facilities continuously and makes changes or improvements to them as required. The University is always installing new and innovative facilities to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of runoff from its campuses. The University uses bioretention as a method of treating storm water by pooling water on the surface and allowing filtering and settling of suspended solids and sediment at the mulch layer, prior to entering the plant/soil/microbe complex media for infiltration and pollutant removal. Rain gardens or bioretention techniques are used to accomplish water quality improvement and water quantity reduction. At University Park, numerous hard armored conveyance swale types have been used around campus. Interlocking concrete block swales, concrete swales, fabri-form concrete mates, gabion basket, reno mattresses, and the more common rip rap stone are some examples of the stone swale styles used. The University owns numerous grass lined swales, however, these swales cannot adequately provide long term stability for high flow or slope channels so stone swales are also used on campus. The UP campus currently has five buildings with green roofs: the Forestry Building, the vegetable cellar, the Dickinson School of Law, the Health Services Building, and the Millennium Science Complex building. The Penn State Center for Green Roof Research is located at the University Park Campus in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the University has created a Storm Water Management magazine describing its initiatives and facilities.

A brief description of how the institution reduces the environmental impacts of snow and ice removal (if applicable):
The Office of Physical Plant exercises judgment when applying salt for winter deicing and anti-icing materials in an effort to provide for public safety, yet considers the environmental impacts of the materials used. Currently most materials used are granular. Discretion is used in only applying these materials at the proper times to gain the optimal impact, using the least possible material. Training occurs annually to assure that proper amounts are applied for proper coverage patterns, avoiding over-application. Mechanical spreaders are calibrated annually, and with the large trucks used for roads and parking lots, liquid brine is sprayed on the salt as it crosses the spinner for spreading on the surface. This reduces bounce of the salt, keeping it on the hard surfaces, and enhances the melting capability of the rock salt, allowing less to be used than in dry granular applications in past years. NAAC (sodium acetate) is used on parking structures to reduce exposure to corrosion, but it also had the environmental benefit of better properties to biodegrade, and is considered relatively harmless to aquatic life. OPP is switching to the use of granular magnesium chloride for about 1/4 of campus landscape use as a pilot, with a goal to eliminate sodium and calcium based salts from use at building entrances and campus walkways. Additionally, one area will pilot the use of brine as a fully liquid application. Magnesium chloride is recognized as causing less of an impact on plant materials. Planning is also taking place to convert to a liquid application for roads and parking lots to provide more controlled application to the target surfaces, again reducing total use of salts, and corresponding impact to plant growth and ground water.

A brief description of any certified and/or protected areas:
There are no certified or legally protected areas on campus. There are areas designated in the campus master plan as environmentally sensitive, including four Natural Heritage Inventory Biological Diversity Areas. These are described in the section on Biodiversity.

Is the institution recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA program (if applicable)?:
No

The website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management programs and practices is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Penn State landscape management practices appear to meet the criteria for a "sustainable landscape management program". The value given for the acreage of undeveloped land is what is designated in the Campus Master Plan as "Environmental Resource". Managed acreage was computed as total campus acreage, minus the building footprint and acres of undeveloped land.

Penn State landscape management practices appear to meet the criteria for a "sustainable landscape management program".
The value given for the acreage of undeveloped land is what is designated in the Campus Master Plan as "Environmental Resource". Managed acreage was computed as total campus acreage, minus the building footprint and acres of undeveloped land.

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