The over 1,000 acres comprising the Lawrence campus include both challenges and opportunities for sustainability. The open space and landscaping requires significant maintenance; however, it also provides ample space for gardens, bio-swales, compost piles, rain gardens, and storm water detention areas. Sustainable campus grounds are vital to the long-term interests of the University. The challenge KU faces is to preserve its astounding beauty while reducing, or even eliminating, the need for water, harmful chemicals, mechanized equipment powered by fossil fuels, and excessive human labor.
The University of Kansas is committed to sustaining the campus landscape and open space by developing and implementing plans, practices, and educational opportunities aimed at enhancing the aesthetics, function, and historic context of the landscape.
Key achievements in working toward this vision, and the corresponding strategy (in parentheses), include:
- A Kansas Historic District, which includes significant areas of undeveloped landscape around Potter Lake and the Memorial Campanile as well as along Jayhawk Boulevard, was established in the campus core in 2013. (CG 1.1.1)
- The Campus Tree Committee functions to approve removal of trees in all areas of campus and ensures proper replacement with species that match the historic context. (CG 1.1.1)
- Design & Construction Management (DCM) coordinates a map of gifts and memorials in the campus landscape and maintains a list of potential projects that donors can support (CG 1.1.3)
- Funds supporting Replant Mount Oread and the Prairie Acre Restoration Project were established in 2012 and 2015 respectively. (CG 1.1.3)
- Landscaping continues to use Integrated Pest Management and restricts the use of pesticides to planting beds and high profile areas, using spot application. (CG 2.1.1)
- Landscaping uses biodiesel (5% in winter, 25% in summer) produced by the KU Biodiesel Initiative in off-road lawn equipment. (CG 2.1.2)
- Native grasses have been planted and mowing schedules reduced where possible to reduce acreage on campus that is actively mowed. (CG 2.1.2)
- DCM and Landscaping have reduced the use of formal, annual beds on campus and use native and more drought resistant species wherever possible. (CG 2.1.4)
- The reconstruction of Lot 54 (2013) and Jayhawk Boulevard (2013-2015) incorporated light colored pavement, trees, and other vegetation to reduce heat island effects and extend the life of the surface. (CG 2.2.2)
- Phase 2 of the Jayhawk Boulevard Reconstruction (Poplar Lane to Sunflower Road/Mississippi Street) includes planting beds that capture, store, and polish rainwater runoff from the roadway and sidewalks. (CG 4.1.3)
- DCM seeks to minimize pavement areas to the extent feasible. Recent examples include the reconstruction of Parking Lots 16 and 115 in 2012, where DCM reconfigured the parking to increase the number of parking stalls while preserving landscape areas in and around the parking lot. (CG 4.1.3)
- The reconstruction of Parking Lot 54 in 2013 included areas of pervious pavement and underground retention of all 100-year event stormwater runoff from the lot. (CG 4.1.3)