Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vanderbilt University
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Chelsea Hamilton
Sustainability Outreach Coordinator
Sustainability and Environmental Management Office
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Total campus area (i.e. the total amount of land within the institutional boundary):
334 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 317 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 17 Acres
Area managed using conventional landscape management practices (which may include some IPM principles or techniques) 0 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 334 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):
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Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:
94.91

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

It is the policy of Vanderbilt to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as the strategy for control of pests in and around Vanderbilt facilities. IPM is a process for achieving long term, environmentally sound pest management through the use of a wide variety of technological and management practices. Chemical applications are not the first line of defense to control insects and rodents. Instead, we use a combination of mechanical, sanitation, and exclusion methods to alter habitat and remove things in the environment that would propagate a pest population. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/plantops/content.php?page=pest


Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an organic program:
5.09

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:

The Plant Operations Grounds Department at Vanderbilt collects leaf and landscaping waste from campus to compost at an on-site location, resulting in 132 tons of compost each year. The mature landscaping compost is later used to fertilize Vanderbilt grounds in place of using inorganic fertilizer. The compost is applied in both liquid and solid form.


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

Vanderbilt is a recognized national arboretum. The protection of Vanderbilt’s trees and landscape are considered in all operations. Stewardship of the arboretum is also central to FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s Land Use Master Plan which is currently underway. The recognition and protection of the arboretum is included as one of the guiding principles of FutureVU. Plant and landscape protection is considered in all phases of any project affecting outdoor spaces, including everything from planning to maintenance projects. Vanderbilt also has design and management specifications and guidelines guiding outdoor spaces.
Vanderbilt landscapers focus on using native and naturalized plants for new plantings, taking into account how naturally wet or dry the soil is, the amount of sun an area gets daily, and how well the soil drains after rainfall. This allows the beds to require less maintenance and encourages healthier plants. Weeds are always present, but by mulching, hand pulling, using groundcover and minimal chemical use, weeds are controlled.
Whenever possible, Vanderbilt uses organic products to amend soils. When organic applications are inadequate, minimal inorganic products are used. The Plant Operations Grounds Department at Vanderbilt collects leaf and landscaping waste from campus to compost at an on-site location, resulting in 132 tons of compost each year. The mature landscaping compost is later used to fertilize Vanderbilt grounds in place of using inorganic fertilizer. The compost is applied in both liquid and solid form.


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

Vanderbilt is currently undergoing a Land Use Master Planning effort that will include a Sustainable Landscape Plan as well as a Stormwater Plan, which will guide these efforts on campus for future years. A hydrology study is underway to inform the stormwater and water use portions of the plan. Specific recommendations will be made for how Vanderbilt should manage water use including collecting and reusing water. https://www.vanderbilt.edu/futurevu/

Low impact design principles are used on new projects to manage stormwater. Vanderbilt is subject to regulations of the Nashville Metro Water regulations on development, which include stormwater management and low impact design (https://www.nashville.gov/Water-Services/Developers/Stormwater-Review/Stormwater-Management-Manual.aspx). Vanderbilt currently uses low impact design to meet regulations and manage stormwater effectively on campus. Examples of stormwater management techniques include: Permeable pavers are used to promote groundwater recharge, bioswales, cisterns, and native plantings.

VU is in the process of installing a centralized irrigation system called the Rainbird IQ. Currently fourteen IQ controllers are installed: four on the Commons campus and ten on the Peabody campus, with additional controllers being installed at the new College Halls at Kissam, which opened in fall 2014. The IQ uses a weather station that measures several different parameters such as rainfall, temperature, and historical ET (evapotranspiration). The IQ has settings that monitor these parameters and adjust irrigation. For example, heat and humidity levels are higher in July and August, so by measuring the ET, the systems will adjust by adding more time to each zone for watering to compensate for the evaporation rate. In the past, staff would adjust the controller as often as every ten to fifteen minutes. The IQ will be very precise, giving the plants the minutes based on the weather that is happening in real time, thus saving Vanderbilt water and money. The IQ will also be equipped with a central rain gauge that we will default all controllers to off when a certain amount of rainfall is reached. The IQ is also equipped with a flow monitoring system which allows collects how much water is being used. The flow watch will also detect any breaks in the pipe that would prevent water from being wasted, by turning the system off and sending an alert. The IQ saves Vanderbilt millions of gallons of water per year.


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

The Plant Operations Grounds Department at Vanderbilt collects leaf and landscaping waste from campus to compost at an on-site location, resulting in 132 tons of compost each year. The mature landscaping compost is later used to fertilize Vanderbilt grounds.


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

Vanderibilt has 6 green roofs on campus which help reduce heat island effect and add insulation to the roofs they cover. Reflective roofs are present on many buildings on campus to reduce the heat island effect. During the construction of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, much of the asphalt that previously covered the area was removed and grass and plantings were installed.


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):

Vanderbilt University utilizes snow blades, calcium chloride (“ice-melt”) pellets, rotary brooms, sand, shovels and front-end loaders for snow removal. Non-corrosive liquid ice-melt agent is used in limited quantities under specific circumstances. Special attention is paid to plants and landscaped areas when snow removal occurs with the goal of disrupting planted areas as little as possible. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/plantops/content.php?page=snowplan


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