Letter to the Editor: University-Wide Commitment to Sustainability

I would like to respond to the author of the piece titled “University of New Haven Needs to Stop Fertilizing its Lawn” to provide some details about the programs the Office of Facilities has in place to help protect the environment.

As part of the University’s sustainable landscape management program, we have limited the use of inorganic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides in favor of ecologically friendly materials. While the University does use fertilizer for maintaining green spaces, more than 70 percent of what is applied is organic in nature.

We have also implemented a modified integrated pest management (IPM) plan that focuses on preventative steps for pest problems, using environmentally sensitive methods. We work closely with service contractors who perform grounds maintenance to ensure pesticide use is limited to spot treatments and only when absolutely necessary.

Further, the University has reduced the impact of its water run-off by adding rain gardens, bio-swales, rainwater retention, and other features that minimize the amount of run-off ending up in the West Haven storm system and, ultimately, the Long Island Sound.

As sustainable landscaping practices and methods continue to improve, the University continues to advance its program. We are exploring opportunities to increase the number of native plant species used, which often reduces the need for pest management and fertilizer. We will continue to enhance our rainwater management programs. We are also looking into composting and mulching on-site waste to ensure that a higher amount of organic material is used.

The University is also conducting a detailed sustainability assessment through the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Once this assessment is completed, a sustainability action plan will be implemented to help add more sustainable programs across campus, minimizing the University’s impact on the environment.