Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Richard Johnson
Director of Sustainability
Facilities Engineering and Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area (i.e. the total amount of land within the institutional boundary):
300 Acres

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds:
Area (double-counting is not allowed)
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses a four-tiered approach 238.80 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an organic land care standard or sustainable landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials 0 Acres
Area managed using conventional landscape management practices (which may include some IPM principles or techniques) 0 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 238.80 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds (e.g. the footprint of buildings and impervious surfaces, experimental agricultural land, areas that are not regularly managed or maintained):

does not include building footprints

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:

A copy of the IPM plan or program:
A brief description of the IPM program:

Although Rice has not written a formal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan of its own, the University follows a philosophy for pest management control that is based on existing IPM plans. Specifically, Rice has outlined its own mission for IPM, and follows the IPM strategies for turfgrass and ornamentals that were developed by Texas A&M’s Department of Entomology and published in 2014.

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an organic program:

A brief description of the organic land standard or landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials:

A brief description of the institution's approach to plant stewardship:

Rice’s primary mission is to maintain the environment and landscape that currently exists on campus. When Rice has plans for new construction, there is an extensive process for designing the new landscape. Over the years, Rice has had a significant contribution in this design process, consulting with the various architects, landscape architects, and project managers to emphasize the importance of using well-adapted plant materials and native species when appropriate.
Furthermore, through a campus tree-care protection plan and re-location expenditures, Rice’s commitment to protecting its existing tree population (comprised of more than 4,600 trees) is commendable.

Moreover, Rice itself is designated as the Lynn R. Lowery Arboretum, and as such, there is an Arboretum Committee that advises new projects with regards to the landscape selections. Although the Arboretum Committee doesn’t have the ability to reject a design, it certainly reviews the designs and gives its opinions. Overall, the committee tries to promote native plants and plant species that are well-adapted to Houston’s climate, as well as identify appropriate species that will add to the biodiversity on Rice’s campus. In the Harris Gully Natural Area, for example, a number of invasive plants have been removed in an effort to encourage native species and restore the space to its original ecology. The Texas wildflowers that are sown in the area each spring have thrived, making this location stunning and diverse.
In other parts of campus, native grasses and drought-resistant plants have been used, including on top of Rice’s green roofs.

In instances when construction impacts trees, Rice often will move trees to new locations rather than just cut them down.

A brief description of the institution's approach to hydrology and water use:

Water is a major concern on Rice's campus, and the University does what it can to maintain the integrity of the natural hydrology of the campus:
Although the grounds crew typically uses potable water for irrigation, under certain circumstances, such as during the drought of 2011, Rice was able to tap into de-watering wells located in the basements of certain buildings on-campus. Essentially, water from these wells is constantly pumped out of the ground to keep the basements dry; thus, during droughts, this water can be used for irrigation.
Rice is also committed to protecting the Harris Gully Natural Area. The project of the Lowrey Arboretum is a remnant of a riparian woodland on the banks of Harris Gully. Through plantings of native grasses, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs, Rice seeks to create a replica of a natural system once widespread in the Houston area. A detention pond is located in the Harris Gully Natural Area, and serves to reduce campus flooding.

A brief description of the institution's approach to materials management and waste minimization (e.g. composting and/or mulching on-site waste):

In terms of day-to-day activity, the Rice University grounds committee employs “grasscycling” techniques, meaning that they don’t actively remove grass clippings, leaves or branch trimmings. Instead, they try to recycle all of these materials on-campus.

In certain circumstances, the University also has certain procedures set in place to ensure that landscape materials are properly disposed of. For example, in 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit, there was a major loss of tree limbs. In this instance, Rice had to hire contractors to help with the removal process. Although there was a lot of wood chipping done on-site, a large amount had to be shipped to off-site facilities. Rice ensured that the companies recycled this material.

A brief description of the institution's approach to energy-efficient landscape design:

Rice University has adopted a new standard for outdoor lighting that uses an LED bulb and consumes approximately 1/3 of the electricity of our previous standard.

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution (e.g. use of environmentally preferable landscaping materials, initiatives to reduce the impacts of ice and snow removal, wildfire prevention):

Not applicable - Houston does not receive any appreciable amount of snow or ice.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum: http://arboretum.rice.edu/

Answers provided in consultation with Grounds Superintendent Ron Smith.

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.