Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.93
Liaison Ezra Small
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Amherst
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.79 / 2.00 Ezra Small
Sustainability Manager
Physical Plant
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area:
1,463 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 768 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses selected chemicals only when needed 180 Acres
Area managed using conventional, chemical-based landscape management practices 12 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 960 Acres

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

This report does not include the managed grounds at the Mt. Ida campus (72 acres). Therefore the total campus area in this credit of 1,463 acres (the UMass Amherst campus) is not the same acreage provided in PRE-4.

Our grounds crew does not have definitive figures but assumes 1/3 of total campus areas (1463) is hardscape or buildings, so 960 acres of the total area of managed grounds includes acres of "green" grounds...turf, trees, shrubs, gardens, atheletic fields, agricultural fields, woods, brooks, meadows, hay fields, ponds, swamps, etc.

Percentage of grounds managed organically:

A brief description of the organic landscape management program:

The 768 acres managed organically includes the care and practices used on hay fields, meadows, wooded areas, swamps, ponds, and brooks.

For more information on UMass organic landscape management see attached document above and excerpts relating to organic landcare below...

Mulching Mowing Practices
Low-mow, No-mow, Meadows
As a land-grant university, environmental stewardship is at the root of UMass Amherst’s origins and mission. Within the context of national sustainability movements and local efforts throughout the Pioneer Valley, it has become even more apparent that we have an obligation to reduce our footprint and contribute positively to the surrounding landscape. One way to accomplish this is by increasing the ecological viability of our grounds and
provide habitat for native plants and wildlife. The meadows and mowing initiatives are founded in these goals, among others to improve maintenance, decrease inputs, and reduce costs. With meadows and open space management extant on campus, we have a foundation from which to improve our grounds. This project will be a collective effort of crew input, knowledge, and talent. It is an opportunity to expand our maintenance practices and adapt management as needed, the way we envision it."

"Slow Release Fertilizer
Reducing Chemicals, Increasing Organic Maintenance
There are several cultural practices that we employ at the University to ensure that the turf program can be aesthetically pleasing, but also sustainable to the environment. Our mowing practices enable us to return the clippings back into the soil, creating a rich organic nutrient base. We also employ a fertilizer regime that is based on a slow release system. This system releases fertilizer over a period of a growing season, reducing the man hours needed with a traditional liquid feed."

There are only 12 acres of the managed grounds of the campus acreage that are managed using conventional chemical based landscape management practices:
Campus turf based athletic fields: Elaine Sortino Softball field, Lorden Baseball field, Boyden Practice Field, Rudd Soccer Field, Track and Field Complex, and Gladchuck Practice Fields.

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:

Areas managed in accordance with an IPM program describes the care and practices used on campus agricultural fields, turf panels, gardens, shrub beds, and managed trees.

For more information on the IPM program at UMass see attached document and below...
From the provided UMass Landscapes Practices document:

"As a department we also have in place a very strong IPM program. We have made the switch from conventional pesticides practices to a more sustainable practice of using biological methods, such as ladybugs and predatory wasps."

"There is a concerted effort to reduce annual plants, which are popular in landscape design, by replacing them with woody, perennial plant material in many of the beds on campus. However, when annuals are used, the Landscape Management department grows them in-house, implementing sustainable practices, such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Part of the department’s IPM program involves using natural insect predators to control pest species. Another sustainable practice is to amend planting soil with compost from the waste facility, which is done at the department’s large-scale mum field."

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

UMass Landscape Management has put together a palate of native plants that are not only native but resistant to drought. When new projects arises we choose from that palate. Each new construction project on campus meets at least a LEED Silver rating and the Green Building Guidelines for UMass have identified the "Water Efficient Landscaping" credit as "High Priority" and "easy Feasibility" for UMass to pursue.

UMass Amherst became recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a 2015 Tree Campus USA for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

UMass Amherst also maintains the extensive Frank A. Waugh arboretum and an interactive website (https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6b6bab7d2726462694bafbcc337cd981), which displays information about the location, species, health history, canopy size, champion points (a way of rating trees within species by size), historic value and more for most of the trees in the Arboretum, named for the first head of the university’s landscape architecture department. The arboretum, which covers the core campus, is home to 8,000 actively managed trees of more than 350 species.

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

Rain Gardens Implementation – Multiple site on campus:
Rain gardens perform the following functions: filter storm water runoff before it enters local waterways, alleviates problems associated with flooding and drainage, recharges the ground water supply, provides habitat and food for wildlife, including birds and butterflies, and enhances the beauty of yards and the community

UMass Permit received from MADEP for usage of RO (reverse osmosis) water by landscape services:
Reduction of water used from tap/hydrant. Use reverse osmosis water-to-water trees and plants in the campus landscape. Increase re-usage of water. RO water can be used during water restriction designations. The water is used to irrigate new trees as they are establishing, approximately 125 planters that are used as living traffic barriers, and campus beds.

Identification of applications for self-watering planters usage on campus:
Self-water planters reduce staff time and increase water efficiency with wick system within planter.

Water collections systems – cisterns (Metawampee Lawn):
Advocacy during construction/renovation in creation of water collection systems. Collection systems allow re-use of water in the campus landscape. Reduces amount of water taken from hydrant/tap.

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

Landscape Services uses all compost made at the Office of Waste Management on the campus landscape. The compost comprises leaf waste and animal bedding. In FY2019, UMass Office of Waste Management and Landscape Services composted over 341 tons of yard waste and leaves.

Re-use of loam/soil from campus construction sites:
Soil from construction sites, is stockpile for later screening. Soil is screened one to two times a year. Mixed with compost and re-used on campus.

Wood Chips /brush grinding:
Brush and tree limbs/stumps are sent through wood chipper. Wood chips are re-used on campus in tree groves. Reducing amount of mulch purchased.

Application of colorant to bark mulch:
In an effort to reduce amount of bark mulch used/purchased, the use of mulch colorant renews the look and color of the mulch.

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

UMass Landscape Services received the 2018 Massachusetts Leading by Example Award from the Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) partly for use of battery powered landscape equipment. UMass uses electric handheld blowers, hedge trimmers, pole saws, and chainsaws.

Creation of low mow, no now, and meadows in the campus landscape, which include a balanced blend of fine fescue grasses in no mow combines each variety’s individual characteristics to create a turf that:
• Grow to form a dense sod
• Thrive in full sun to partial shade
• Require little if any fertilization
• Need minimal watering (only during extended dry periods)
• Resist most turf grasses diseases
• Biologically reduce weed growth
• Reduce lawn maintenance dramatically
• Serve as an ecological alternative to traditional high maintenance lawns

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

Campus Landscape plantings/planting beds – use of native plants:
Native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less water, saving time, money, and perhaps the most valuable natural resource, water. In addition to providing vital habitat for birds, many other species of wildlife benefits as well.

Creating Wildlife Habitats:
Landscape Services has:
-Installed six blue birdhouses with immediate occupancy providing shelter to the blue bird’s family.
-Installed six bat houses to provide shelter to bats. Reduce bats in buildings and negative interaction with the campus community.
-Installed a turtle basking platform for the turtles in the campus pond to use to sun themselves.
-Plan to install kestrel birdhouses to provide shelter for the kestrel population.
-Student project created a pollinator garden. Registered with the Million-pollinator challenge. Provides pollinators habitat and food.
-Student project created a songbird garden as an expansion of the pollinator garden to provide songbirds with habitat and food.

Wetlands Planting/Campus pond bank erosion project:
For two years, landscape services worked with local environmental consultant to address the erosion of the banks to the campus pond. Our project worked to retain and stabilize banks with coir logs, control erosion and filter storm water runoff through native plantings, and improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management program is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Total acreage includes main Amherst campus: 1463 plus Mt. Ida campus in Newton, MA at 72 acres, totaling 1535.

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.