Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.00
Liaison Micah Kenfield
Submission Date March 15, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vassar College
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.69 / 2.00 Alistair Hall
Sustainability Assistant
Dean of Strategic Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area (i.e. the total amount of land within the institutional boundary):
400 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 75 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 300 Acres
Area managed using conventional landscape management practices (which may include some IPM principles or techniques) 25 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 400 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):

The 532 acre Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve has been excluded as it managed for ecological conservation and research.
Within the main campus where grounds are managed there are 68 acres of buildings and other impervious surfaces.


Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:
18.75

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

In buildings, habitat and food are eliminated, traps are used to monitor pest populations, before spraying, minimum amounts of pesticide are used. In lawns and athletics fields, turf health is promoted with organic fertilizer, compost topdressing, and overseeding. Weed load is monitored. Spraying is only used when necessary


Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an organic program:
75

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:

Much of the campus has been shifted to a "mow and grow" approach that just focuses on mowing the grass once a week during the growing season. These lawns do not have any chemical or inorganic products applied to them. This fits with our certification as a Tree Campus USA and the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary campus program.


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

Major landscape plantings are recommended by the landscape architecture consultant Michael Van Valkenberg Associates (MVVA), which also developed our current landscape master plan. As part of the master plan, MVVA stressed the use of native plants in our landscape, and has made specific recommendations that follow these guidelines.

Plans have been developed and adopted for spring 2014 implementation of invasive vine removal and the establishment of naturalized areas on campus.


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

Soil probes and close monitoring of the weather allow the Grounds team to keep track evapotranspiration and therefore allows irrigation to be adapted as the situation calls for it. On the athletic fields, watering is done early in the morning so as to limit water loss to evaporation.
Rain gardens across campus help limit stormwater and nutrient runoff.

A multiyear research study monitors the 2 streams that run through campus for water quality and have been aided through the ongoing restoration of an native wetland garden that had first been established in the 1920s.


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

Vassar mulches all waste from groundskeeping at a site on the Vassar Farm & Ecological Preserve (on campus), after which it is utilized in the community gardens and running trails as topdressing.


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

For stairs and entranceways Vassar uses Magic Minus Zero, a product of Sears Ecological Applications in Rome, NY (local business). The Magic Minus Zero product has earned the EPA Design for the Environment award because it is less corrosive, will not harm curbside grasses and plants, leaves no residue, is safe for people to handle, and releases far less chloride than either plain salt or calcium chloride.


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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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.