Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.17
Liaison Emily Vollmer
Submission Date May 16, 2024

STARS v2.2

Virginia Tech
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.88 / 2.00 Emily Vollmer
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area:
2,600 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 0 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses selected chemicals only when needed 2,300 Acres
Area managed using conventional, chemical-based landscape management practices 300 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 2,600 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds:
Management of Lawns and Grounds:
Virginia Tech’s lawns and grounds cover approximately 300 acres. Although lawns and grounds do not adhere to a prescribed IPM plan, they are maintained with herbicides for broadleaf weeds and invasive plant material.

Percentage of grounds managed organically:

A brief description of the organic landscape management program:

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:
Management of Crop Lands:
Virginia Tech’s crop and farm lands cover approximately 1,800 acres all of which is maintained in accordance with a four-tiered Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan as follows:
1. Action Thresholds: Each of our crops (corn, alfalfa, barley, grass hay, pasture) is grown over numerous fields through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences farm system. Each field is treated separately in the IPM plan, so we never treat an entire crop as one unit when making applications - its one field at a time. One of our managers is regularly scouting fields to determine what, if any, course of action is required. We make applications only if the manager thinks crop losses will outweigh application expenses.
2. Monitor and Identify Pests: Managers regularly monitor crop needs, identifying pests and pest damage, and we take actions only when they’re warranted, not as a standard practice.
3. Prevention: our goal is to utilize approved Best Management Practices which necessarily maintain pest damage prevention practices.
4. Control: our goal is to use the lowest pesticide rates possible to control pests; we also use concentrated pesticides and purchase in bulk containers to reduce plastic container waste.

Management of Lawns and Grounds:
Virginia Tech’s lawns and grounds cover approximately 300 acres. Although lawns and grounds do not adhere to a prescribed IPM plan, they are maintained with herbicides for broadleaf weeds and invasive plant material.

Management of Buildings:
Virginia Tech’s building footprint covers approximately 400 acres. All administrative, academic, residence halls, dining services, health services, student centers, athletic, and recreational sports facilities are maintained with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. The plan for residence halls and dining services provides pest management control service in offices, 4,500 student rooms, all public areas such as kitchens, lounges, laundries, stairways, bathrooms, mechanical rooms, and crawl spaces. The plan includes the outside ground areas directly adjacent to the residence halls. Individual student/occupant requests and any visible indications of infestation prompt immediate action. The IPM contract requires the technician to visit the department two times per month at which time he or she inspects all assigned areas, attends to any requests by identifying pests and making recommendation for mechanical, structural, or sanitation needs that would prevent the presence of pests. If these recommended measures are not effective, low risk controls such as bait stations and targeted chemicals to disrupt pest mating are initiated. In the event these low risk control measures are not effective, targeted spraying of pesticides is employed.

A brief description of the institution's approach to plant stewardship:
The Virginia Tech Design and Construction Standards Manual states that "native plants will be used to the maximum extent possible."

The Campus Design Principles prepared by Sasaki Associates (Revised August 2010) contains the following reference to native plants: ‘to the practical extent possible, tree and shrub plantings should consist of species that are native to the Appalachian Mountain region.’ A listing of acceptable native plants for use on campus is also provided in the document.

A brief description of the institution's approach to hydrology and water use:
According to the Virginia Tech Design and Construction Standards Manual, all drawings and plans must include Earthwork drawings for structures and pavements include clearing and grubbing, excavation, fill/backfill, compaction, and grading. This includes hydrological data including 100-year floodplain (where available).

Stormwater hydrology must comply with state requirements.

A brief description of the institution's approach to landscape materials management and waste minimization:
All lawn mowers utilize mulching blades for normal mowing operations. This allows the grass clippings to be used as mulch for the lawns. We no longer vacuum areas of lawn that have clippings built up but rather use high velocity blowers to distribute the clippings evenly across the lawn. Additionally, in the fall, the mulching mowers are used to chop leaves to avoid the need to collect leaves and transport them off of main campus. All tree limbs less than 4 inches in diameter are also chipped and used on campus to mulch areas under large canopy trees and storm water management facilities.

Virginia Tech has a comprehensive Composting Program. The recently established program involves Dining Services, the local firm Bob's Refuse Service (BRS), and the regional composting facility Royal Oak Farm (ROF). ROF is a large commercial firm located near Lynchburg, Virginia, which is about 80 miles from the university. ROF is the only practical composting enterprise in Southwest Virginia.

Composting Process: Dining Facilities personnel at all of the campus dining facilities places food waste in toters which, when full, are positioned on the loading docks for collection. BRS collects the food waste at the loading docks, transports the material to a central storage location on campus, and deposits the material in an ROF Sledge Container for transport to Lynchburg. The Sledge Container is covered and can hold about 10 tons of food waste. When the container is full, ROF is notified, they deliver an empty container to Virginia Tech, and they haul the full container back to Lynchburg.

A brief description of the institution's approach to energy-efficient landscape design:
The following quotes from the Virginia Tech Design and Construction Standards Manual details energy-efficient landscape design strategies:

"Maintenance resources on campus are very limited. The landscape must be designed with this in mind. A landscape of predominantly long-lived shade trees with accents of flowering and evergreen trees is preferred.

To simplify maintenance, shrubs should be planted in masses, avoiding complicated/“fussy” multi-species arrangements while serving a specific function (screening, traffic control, unmowable slope cover, etc.).

Perennial beds should be severely limited and focused on high visibility areas such as main building entries."

"The planting of fast growing temporary shelter belts and hedgerows may also be desirable to provide protection for the new forests during the first several decades of their establishment. In proposed forest areas along the edges of large parking areas it would be desirable to include a large proportion of conifers for visual and wind screening."

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution:
The Virginia Tech Design and Construction Standards Manual details requirements for sustainable design:

"In order to incorporate sustainable design solutions in new construction and renovation projects, Virginia Tech has joined the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and fully supports the principles of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Building Rating System. The pursuit of high performance green buildings that are energy efficient and environmentally sensitive will help to lower operating and energy costs, improve employee productivity, promote improved learning, and enhance the health, and wellbeing of the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech. All projects shall address sustainability as it relates to site issues, water, energy efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor air quality in accordance with the VTCAC.

In the early stages of design, the A/E shall strive to meet or exceed the minimum number of points needed for LEED certification under the rating system appropriate for the project in accordance with the VT CAC. The A/E shall determine the most cost effective means of achieving these points, and shall take full credit for points achieved through compliance with other University standards that address sustainability issues, such as building commissioning. The A/E shall submit for the University’s review and approval a LEED Project Checklist, identifying the specific measures proposed to be incorporated into the project to achieve the target number of points. The A/E should consider the ParkSmart certification for projects involving parking garages"

The Buildings & Grounds Department has a truck mounted brine tank that will allow them to pre-treat specific roadways and sidewalks with the expectation that immediate removal activities may be held off or eliminated altogether. Depending on the temperature and the consistency of the snow, plowing operations may be suspended by as many as much as six to twelve hours, thereby eliminating multiple snow route passes as well the need for tons of road salt. The reduction in snow route passes will lower our carbon foot print by reducing vehicle emissions and the potential reduction in the use of road salt will also lessen the environmental impact. It is also believed these practices will enhance the safety of campus pedestrians and motorists in the long-run.

Educating and reminding employees to be sparing and not over-use hand applied chemicals is also a major factor in Virginia Tech’s efforts to avoid runoff and to protect campus plant material.

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

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
The Virginia Tech Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management has won three international awards for outstanding achievement in integrated pest management adoption, implementation, and sustainability. Included is a lifetime achievement award recognizing a Virginia Tech researcher who’s devoted five decades to achieving global food security.

The awards, granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional IPM Centers, are given to researchers who have made significant contributions to reducing human health risks, minimizing adverse environmental effects from pests, developing innovative crop strategies, and facilitating global collaboration. The Regional IPM Centers are the country's premier hub for IPM, linking growers with researchers, extension agents, pest control professionals, and other agricultural personnel.

As the recipient of these awards, the IPM Innovation Lab will have the opportunity to submit a scientific article to a prestigious journal at no cost and will be invited to an awards ceremony in Denver in 2022. In past award events, dozens of countries are represented and hundreds of IPM experts, practitioners, and students attend.

For more information on these awards and Virginia Tech's programs, see this article: https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2020/12/outreach-IPMinnovationlabawards.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_122320-fs

This credit was coordinated with members from the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities; Dining Services; and the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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.