As evidenced by the creation of “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges,” sustainability is in, especially on college campuses. In many ways, LMU is leading the way. From the state of the art recycling center to LEED-certified buildings throughout campus, the University has made consistent changes to become greener. When it comes to landscaping, LMU’s stance is no different.
Community members may notice that many grass lawns and planting beds previously housing annual flowers – plants that grow, bloom and die over the course of one growing season – have been transformed, now welcoming native and non-native drought-resistant plants. While there are many reasons for this transition, the Director of Facilities Management Brian Holtzapfel indicated that it really boils down to one thing: water.
Despite recent rains in the L.A. area, Southern California is in the midst of a serious drought – “perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen,” according to Governor Jerry Brown in an announcement made on Friday, Jan. 17. Brown declared a state of emergency, potentially allowing for the federal government to step in and help with relief efforts if needed, according to the NBC article “Gov. Brown Declares California Drought Emergency.”
“I’ve called for a collaborative effort to restrain our water use,” said Brown. “This is a call to arms. This is not a partisan adversary; this is Mother Nature.”
Most recently, annual flowers were replaced with drought-resistant plants in the roundabout by the flagpoles at the end of Alumni Mall. This transformation comes after the lawns behind Hogan Hall, part of the Burns Fine Art Center, and in the freshman quad between Rosecrans and Desmond residence halls were removed in favor of drought-resistant plants as well.
“I think that the new layout in the quad looks nice and is generally liked among the students,” said freshman biology major Lauren Pennington.
Getting rid of grassy areas is the main focus of Facilities Management right now, according to Holtzapfel – the conversion of the freshman quad replaced nearly 27 thousand square feet of turf. But while Facilities Management is focusing on efforts to reduce manpower and water usage, no one has to worry about the sprawling lawns of Sunken Garden being ripped out.
“In terms of the lawn, we’re not going to start doing that in event spaces – just kind of those lawns that are off to the side just for aesthetics, where we’re wasting all of that water just for it to look pretty,” said Holtzapfel.
Drought-resistant plants are an effective way to minimize water usage, but Facilities Management is making many other efforts as well, including the use of greywater, or recycled water, and drip-irrigation systems in lieu of the more commonly used spray-head sprinkler systems.
“We have about 2/3 to 3/4 of campus using reclaimed [water], but we’re kind of at a stopping point right now because we’ve maxed out the capacity of the reclaimed pipe on upper campus,” said Holtzapfel. “So in order for us to get 100 percent reclaimed, we need to run the line that we have at U-Hall to upper campus. And it’s really expensive, and we’re not quite there funding wise yet.”
As LMU continues to make big strides by way of sustainability efforts and green initiatives, Holtzapfel highlighted the importance of students getting involved, stating that “sustainability is pretty much in everything you’re going to get into” career-wise. In addition to planning for the future, many people recognize the importance of greening LMU’s campus right now.
“Sustainability fits into all aspects of our mission statement,” said John Dorsey, a professor of natural sciences.
With LMU’s mission statement encompassing many aspects of the green movement, students across campus acknowledge the need for passion on behalf of the student body.
“I think it is important [for students to care] because if we don’t care about our sustainability efforts then no one will,” said senior athletic training major Eric Brunter. “It’s our job to make sure that LMU is being sustainable so that we can hold them accountable if they are not.”