State universities continue to make strong efforts to bring sustainability to their campuses through capital and curriculum related projects. However, these efforts have not yet been paired with strategies for improving the sustainability of the landscape.
Framingham State University, an institution noted for its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, has begun to move in this direction: in January 2012, FSU contracted Land People Habitat LLC to develop a Sustainable Grounds Development Plan for the campus landscape.
This document contains the work completed under this contract, and explores the existing conditions of the landscape and the needs and desires of the community in order to propose design and maintenance schemes that will close the loop of sustainability at the university.
Any Owner with a significant portion of lawn, natural, and/or impervious surfaces – typically Educational, Healthcare, Government, Hotel/Lodging, Transportation, and Recreational organizations – needs to consider a landscape management strategy.
Maintenance costs, energy/water usage, security, carbon footprint, and aesthetics are all directly linked to sustainable landscape strategies.
Initial implementation is, of course important, long term operational aspects and adaptation, however, are the keys to success. Beyond initial design work (renderings, plant selection, overall strategies), a HANDBOOK OF BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR THE LANDSCAPE (Ground Maintenance Handbook) is a requisite component. The Ground Maintenance Handbook should include step-by-step strategies for installing and maintaining the landscape designs over time. It must be a living document that is updated as new discoveries and adaptations are made by the landscape crew. It is grounded in the concept of adaptive management, where the goal is to plan responses to multiple outcomes (e.g., deer eating the seedlings and invasion by bittersweet).
While this may be a lot to ask from a traditional landscape firm, and is the piece that is often missing from landscape plan, the Ground Maintenance Handbook is a requirement for success.
Sure, everything might look great when it’s installed at full maturity for completion photographs. But what happens afterwards?