UBC Undergraduate Research

Examining the sustainability of lawns on campus Gray, Emily

Abstract

This report explores whether lawns can be considered a sustainable landscaping option in a campus setting. This was completed through an analysis of each of the three spheres of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic, in addition to a consideration of the use of lawns at specific universities. The following conclusions were generated: i. Campus lawns can be considered sustainable if they are managed in an environmentally conscious and sensitive manner at low levels of maintenance. • Recommendation: Manage lawns at a Level 4: “Open Space/Play” maintenance level as defined by the B.C. Landscape Standards. • Recommendation: Conduct future research to determine the balance between sustainable management practices and optimal lawn health. ii. Lawns provide an important environmental benefit through the sequestration of carbon. However, their low biodiversity and high water consumption must be considered in maintenance practices. • Recommendation: Allow dormancy in summer months or implement a rainwater collection program to supplement irrigation. • Recommendation: Use lawns in conjunction with pockets of trees and native vegetation to support biodiversity. iii. Socially, lawns are very sustainable because of their canonical place in campus landscaping. Examining the Sustainability of Lawns on Campus Emily Gray 3 iv. Economically, lawns can be considered sustainable because of their longevity and the low level of maintenance complexity they require. v. The use of lawns at the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University provides insights as to the environmental and social benefits of lawns. • Recommendation: Consider the environmental benefits that lawns provide in terms of stromwater filtration and the impact of this at the University of British Columbia.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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