Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 50.27
Liaison Caitlin Steele
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

San Francisco State University
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.00 / 2.00 Linda Morton
Gardening Specialist
University Property Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area (i.e. the total amount of land within the institutional boundary):
141 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 0 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) 52 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 52 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):

13 Acres of steep hillsides covered with thick underbrush and trees; Eucalyptus globulus, Acacia melanoxylon, Pinus radiate, and Cupressus macrocarpa.

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:

Knowledge of IPM loosely guides our landscape management practices; the UPM grounds department does not have an official IPM document with which we adhere to.

California Native Gardening

Second to habitat destruction, invasive plants are the greatest threat to biological diversity today. Not only do invasive species pose as a significant ecological threat, California alone spends eighty million dollars every year fighting invasives that have now become a significant economic complication. Invasive plants increase the potential for wildfire, displace native plants that form the basis of productive ecosystems, and even clog valuable waterways. When invasive species establish in a new location, the pathogens, predators, and other limiting agents that control the population’s growth in its endemic region are not present. This renders an exposed region extremely vulnerable to the introduced species. It is estimated that roughly half of California’s invasive species are of horticultural origin. Supporting nurseries that are taking a leap in the direction of non-invasive gardening is an imperative to winning the battle against invasive ornamental plants.
Alternatives to Fertilizers

The gardener’s role is to aid the soil food web and provide microbes with a steady food source to keep the immobilization/mobilization cycle continuing. The following techniques are employed to ensure the health of a well-balanced soil food web:

1) Composting: Decaying plant matter is rich in mineral nutrients and active microorganisms. Compost provides a “microbial boost” to soils.


2) Teas: In addition to traditional composting, it is becoming increasingly popular to create liquid compost teas. Applying the solution to soil boosts the microorganism count significantly and drastically revives the life in soil. These teas are often sprayed on foliage and defend the plant by competing against harmful pathogens.


3) Mulching: Various sources of plant matter (wood chips, leaves, etc.) is applied to the soil surface providing moisture retention, weed inhibition, and the soil food web with an energy source. Mulch also contains nutrients that enter the immobilization/mobilization process and enhance soil fertility. This process takes place over time and acts as a time-release nutrient source!


Aside from the economic and environmental impact of introduced species, fighting the battle against invasive plants has a number of benefits for the gardener. Native plants are adapted to our climate, thrive in a variety of soils and require minimal care outside the realm of the soil food web (Section III & IV). California’s Mediterranean climate (wet winters followed by long, dry summers) has imposed a severe selection pressure on our plants. Species found in our state thrive in these rough conditions that demand a great deal of resources for non-natives to survive in. In addition, planting natives from you local region encourages native fauna to visit your landscape, improving your garden’s habitat value.

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:

SF State has 8 raised vegetable beds in the Ecostudent Sol Patch community garden with approximately 256 cu. /ft. of soil.

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

SF State fosters a healthy, aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, and environmentally friendly campus that functions as a great place to study, work and live. Our ultimate aim is to provide a landscape which is self-regenerating and off the energy grid.
The SF State campus also contains a significant urban forest, planted in a network of windbreaks, bird nesting zones, and sheltered courtyards. Renovation and renewal of the forest is directed to maintain the special forest character of the campus, while supporting a more complex web of ecological relationships, increasing seasonal highlights, and shaping new spaces for social interaction and quiet contemplation.

Although the traditional lawns look nice, our campus has decided to allow some unused lawns to grow out and set seed, reducing waer, ferilizer and pesticide use. These meadows provide areas of relief for birds and small mammals to hid from predators, forage and obtain nesting material.

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

Our flagship rainwater harvesting system collects 12,000 gallons of rainwater each year from the roof of the Recycling Center and can be observed from the northeast side of the parking garage. We are utilizing an adjacent 630 watt solar array to power a pump to irrigate over 6,000 square feet of native plants until they become established. We will then redirect the water to other new landscaping projects.

Our first rain garden installation collects about 60,000 gallons each year from the adjacent Corporation Yard warehouse roof which can be viewed from the northwest side of the garage, or up close from North St State or St. Drive. This rain garden was planted with native plants that are both drought tolerant, and can handle short periods of inundation of water in the winter.

These methods reduce, filter, and slow storm water runoff, recharging the groundwater and lessening the burden on our sewer system. By mimicking natural watershed processes, we are helping to conserve a precious resource and mitigate some of the ecological damage done by our urbanized society.

SF State is in phase two of three, to convert isolated irrigation controllers to a central computer base system that utilize weather condition and flow sensors to reduce water use. In addition, the University is actively converting unused turf to planting beds and replacing broadcast irrigation to drip irrigation in new and retrofitted beds. The university has seen a significant reduction of water use.

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

SF State minimizes green waste through grass cycling clipping into the lawns, subsidizing purchased wood chip mulch with onsite tree removal wood chips for mulching beds, and with our campus green waste hauler, Recology. The campus also operates a decomposer garden, which is used for Mushroom Taxonomy classes to inoculate logs and grow mushrooms. This garden provides a space where logs and pine needles can decompose down naturally by fungus, arthropods and bacteria. This process of breaking down organic material releases needed nutrients back into the environment.

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

SF State is designing new and retrofitting landscapes to reduce buildings’ energy usage. Using a landscape/forest master plan, trees and planting is being located to provide additional interior light and air circulation in new and existing buildings, reducing purchased energy.

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):

The implementation of Rain Gardens & Bioswales to divert stormwater runoff away from the Bay and back to underground water tables.

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

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Additional help was provided by Anthony Benson, Grounds Operation Manager

Additional help was provided by Anthony Benson, Grounds Operation Manager

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.