Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 79.54
Liaison Kelli O'Day
Submission Date June 20, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of California, Davis
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.01 / 2.00 Kelli O'Day
Assessment Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area:
5,278 Acres

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds:
Area (double-counting is not allowed)
Area managed organically, without the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides 21.50 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses selected chemicals only when needed 1,225.30 Acres
Area managed using conventional, chemical-based landscape management practices 9.20 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 1,256 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds:

The campus total acreage is 5,278. Of that total land area the following land types’ acreages were excluded:
Building footprints and impervious surfaces: 581 acres
Experimental agricultural land: 3,346 acres
Areas not regularly managed or maintained: 95 acres

Percentage of grounds managed organically:

A brief description of the organic landscape management program:

The UC Davis Student Farm is located on the central campus and is a key teaching and community engagement resource. Most of the Student Farm lands are managed organically; of the 23 total acres, 21.5 acres are California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certified, while remaining 1.5 acres are managed with sustainable practices. CCOF certification of the student farm is included as an additional document in the attachment - OP9_IPMPlans_SupportingDocs_UCD20.

CCOF website: https://www.ccof.org/
About the Student Farm: https://asi.ucdavis.edu/programs/sf

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:

The areas managed in accordance with an IPM include:

- Managed Grounds
- Arboretum
- Russell Ranch
- Putah Creek Riparian Reserves

Each of them have separate IPMs, which are included in the attachment (OP9_IPMPlans_SupportingDocs_UCD23) in additional documents to support the submission.

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

New projects and infill planting on campus incorporate primarily drought-tolerant, climate adapted plants in landscape areas, with lawn specified only for those areas in which active recreation and event use is anticipated.

The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum have identified 100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, require little water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support native birds and insects. These Arboretum All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California.

UC Davis landscape staff is in the process of both identifying and converting turf and higher-maintenance landscapes into native grass meadows and drought tolerant regionally-appropriate landscapes on campus. By identifying the most-used public spaces on campus, coupled with the landscape type, staff were able to identify dozens of acres of high water use turf areas that were not needed. These areas will be replaced with native grass meadows that will not require irrigation, and will reduce frequency of maintenance. An initial project removed two acres of irrigated turf and replaced it with native grasses, including the California state grass, purple needlegrass.

UC Davis Grounds maintains a diverse landscape filled with an ever-changing plant palate. Those changes are driven by campus growth, climate change and an ever-changing customer need. All Grounds plantings are approved by the Campus Architect to make sure that the planting plans are sustainable. UC Davis also has plants and plantings that have become internally designated as heritage. These plantings, which are upwards of 60 years old, help to define the campus landscape as sustainable. Once established, Grounds works hard to keep invasive plants from entering the landscapes utilizing herbicides, hand pulling and other cultural and mechanical practices.

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

The campus developed and maintains a central irrigation control system which is a comprehensive, efficient irrigation management tool for the campus-wide irrigation system that includes flow management (including leak/break detection as well as the ability to operate at optimal pressure and reduce watering windows) and automatic weather adjustability (including the ability to make campus wide changes in watering based on daily evapotranspiration), which has dramatically reduced campus irrigation water use over time. The Campus Design Guide includes guidelines and specifications that require irrigation systems for any new project to fold into our central control system and meet our standards for water efficiency through the use of various water reduction strategies related to equipment specifications (drip and high efficiency spray systems). UC Davis has a robust plan review process for all new projects with a focus on plant selection and zoning (designing planting and irrigation plans with plant water use needs in mind – grouping plants with similar water needs together), as well as anticipating and accounting for microclimate conditions during design in order to foster plant health and longevity and reduce irrigation waste.

The campus has completed a Storm water Master Plan in early 2014, and the plan focuses on aboveground swales, basins, rain gardens, and storm water detention and retention basins. In addition, the campus Arboretum Waterway, a remnant stream channel on the campus, functions as a storm water detention and water runoff management system, as well as a recreation and aesthetic amenity and biotic resource. All new projects on campus implement site design measures to reduce stormwater runoff. Projects with smaller impacts implement measures such as tree planting and preservation and permeable paving. Projects with larger storm water impacts implement low impact development measures (LID) by designing and installing landscape features that treat storm water as a resource. Many different iterations of storm water LID measures have been installed on the campus in recent years including storm water quality bioswales, infiltration basins and retention basin serving both large and small watersheds with various context-dependent functional design elements for improving water quality and infiltration throughout campus as well as taking the pressure off of existing, traditional storm water infrastructure.

Grounds continues to maintain bio swales and looks forward to the implementation of more planned bio swales across campus. Grounds is instrumental in the maintenance of the pervious asphalt across campus and acts as the first line of defense to ensure that unwanted materials are kept out of waste water runoff.

Environmental document for Arboretum Waterway: https://ucdavis.app.box.com/s/shw9cfcsvjxiukw76yu6e8q55qbovlkq.

A brief description of the institution's approach to landscape materials management and waste minimization:

All clippings and green waste from UC Davis are utilized for compost, mulch or lumber. All turf is mowed and clippings are left to compost on site. All collected green waste from our landscape maintenance programs is delivered to the Yolo County Landfill for their composting program. All debris from the Grounds Arborist program is either utilized on site as mulch to suppress weeds and support healthy soils, or it is used as an urban lumber source. Please note that there have been two examples where wood mulch from the Arborist program has been utilized as bio fuel.

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

The core campus of UC Davis has over 14,000 trees. These trees were planted to reduce heat gain from all infrastructure on campus. The preservation of existing campus trees is of paramount importance to the campus. The Campus Tree Committee reviews and evaluates all trees potentially impacted by proposed new projects to determine suitability for preservation based on health, structure, shade value, historic significance and academic value. We maintain standard specifications related to tree and plant protection during the design and construction of new projects, including requirements for tree protection fencing and temporary irrigation. The campus also closely reviews site design implications for both existing and proposed new trees during the design phase of all new projects and makes recommendations regarding design changes to improve the condition of existing trees and to locate new trees where needed. The Campus Design Guide also includes standards and practices for tree selection and planting which apply to new projects and the infill of new trees throughout the campus.

Tree species selection is carefully determined by evaluating current and future conditions, including resilience in the face of climate change, site microclimate conditions, water availability and site use needs. Shade needs and the mitigation of the heat island effect are critical issues in our hot summer climate, and drive design decision making with regard to tree selection and placement in order to create and foster usable, engaging outdoor public spaces in all seasons. Landscape areas are strategically located and designed to provide visual and physical relief from buildings and paving but also to provide engaging outdoor spaces, and to foster healthy urban ecological systems.

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution:

Soil Stewardship: The Campus Design Guide includes standards and specifications related to soil quality and preparation for all new projects with a landscape installation component. Preservation of existing native soil is emphasized. Where preservation is not possible, identifying sources of native soil from other campus sites or projects to replace or supplement site soil severely impacted by construction activity and debris, is prioritized over purchasing non-native soils. Campus standard specifications require soil testing and the use of organic amendments to improve soil fertility and health for both existing site soil and import soil for any project. Three inches of bark mulch cover is required in all new landscape areas.

UC Davis Grounds utilizes organic fertilizers as well as compost tea and tea products to support the health of the campus’ soil. The organic fertilizers include fish emulsion, poultry manure, bio char and hybrids. Grounds continues to utilize all wood mulch that is created by the department’s Arborist operation. Grounds also purchases large amounts of wood mulch and compost for soil supplementation, and weed suppression-reducing herbicide applications.

Campus groundskeepers extensively mulch the campus landscape, which builds soil organic matter through mulch decomposition, and greatly minimizes weed growth. The application of synthetic pesticide is restricted to sports turf and a specific application for elm trees.

Additional sustainable practices that are not mentioned in the above text include but are not limited to: electric utility vehicles, fire prevention pruning practices, constant gains in irrigation efficiency.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Cora Ballek, Campus Sustainability Data Analyst in the Sustainability office, led in compiling this credit response.

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.