University of Rochester Recognized for Sustainability Efforts

The University of Rochester has recently won two awards that recognize the school’s environmental efforts regarding transportation and grounds management. The first is the Greater Valley Forge (GVF) Sustainable Award. GVF is a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving economically viable transportation systems. The organization also promotes sustainability through their Sustainable Awards, which are bestowed upon institutions that implement commuting alternatives for their employees and community members.

The University’s 2013 application achieved the Platinum level, the highest class of this award. The application lists numerous criteria by which sustainability efforts can be measured, and the degree to which each institution carries out these initiatives determines if they achieve an award and which level they receive. There are many ways in which the University of Rochester demonstrates their commitment to sustainability in the application. A few bronze initiatives, for example, are that the University has implemented a recycling program and offered ridesharing or carpool matching. At the silver level, the University possesses alternate fuel vehicles, provides showers and lockers for bicycle riders, and sells transportation passes on site. At the platinum level, the University offers subsidized shuttle operations or provides employer sponsored shuttles and is accessible by public transit. All of these notable accomplishments helped achieve the Platinum award and ultimately recognition for all the school has done to make its transportation methods more environmentally friendly. As GVF’s executive director Rob Henry said at the awards breakfast, “What is particularly inspiring is to see these award winners working on improving our planet while focusing on mobility.”

To learn more about the Sustainable Awards and GVF click here.

The second award the University won is the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) Green Star Award. PGMS is a national organization connecting those in the Grounds Management field and furthering their endeavors. They also grant Green Star Awards to institutions that demonstrate a high level of excellence and professionalism in their grounds management. The application requires pictures of the property, maintenance practices, challenges faced, solutions implemented, and photos of staff at work. Manager of Horticulture and Grounds Dan Schied, who submitted the application, explained, “sustainable practices are highly regarded in this award as they review best management practices.” The Green Star Award is also given in ranked levels and this year the Mt. Hope campus was granted the honor award.

Grounds of the Provost House of the Mt. Hope Campus
Grounds of the Provost House of the Mt. Hope Campus

Although the University’s application discusses a wide range of healthy maintenance practices, certain methods exemplify the sustainable nature of the grounds management team’s accomplishments. For instance, the team strives to eliminate the need for pesticides by taking action to keep plants as healthy as possible. To do this, Schied explained that his team “rakes up diseased rose leaves so spores aren’t available to re-infect the plant.” By removing decaying leaves, which can contain pathogens harmful to vegetation, the plants remain healthier and less susceptible to disease. This combined with hand weeding of garden beds, can reduce the need to use pesticides and other sprays that are harmful to the natural world. Proper pruning and cultural lawn care practices also benefit plant health.  “I look at [this award] as an affirmation to our staff and their hard work. We are always looking for new and different opportunities to improve sustainability,” Schied said.


To learn more about PGMS and the Green Star Award click here.

By Abigail Fagan, Class of 2014