Outdoor Spaces: Environmental Sustainability 

  • Through Iowa State University's commitment to LEED, consideration of the impact of operating and utilizing outdoor spaces is given priority for all campus projects.
  • Facilities Planning & Management recycles street sweepings by separating trash from rocks and soil, which can then be reused in landscaping projects rather than being landfilled.
  • Campus Services uses hydroseeding to plant seed, as well as to control erosion, which utilizes a slurry of seed and paper mulch, made from recycled newspaper, to stabilize soil, moisten seeds and soil, as well as help seeds germinate.
  • Iowa native plants are predominantly planted around campus to help native pollinators thrive, helping Iowa's agricultural sector, all Iowans, as well as all consumers worldwide, all of which heavily rely on pollinators. 
  • Landscaping Services is currently in the process of adding and restoring prairie landscapes to attract native pollinators. These landscapes, at the Applied Science buildings and the site of the former Insectary Building require little maintenance.
  • Campus Services uses campus-produced mulch to help with weed control, maintain soil moisture and control temperature.
  • Integrated Pest Management and other sustainable techniques are incorporated as needed to deal with pests and weeds.
  • Landscaping Services uses bioswales, otherwise known as rain gardens, incorporating water-loving plants to capture run-off, filter toxins and prevent flooding. Campus bioswales are incorporated throughout campus and are most easily viewed at Troxel Hall and the Applied Science buildings.
  • Permeable pavers, which allow pollutant-filtered water to pass through its surface to prevent run-off, are used throughout campus grounds.
  • TreeCYcle is a program that ensures suitable downed campus trees are salvaged for lumber to be reused for class projects and various campus initiatives.
  • Students positively impact Iowa State's natural campus environment. Annually, for over a decade, students take part in a project to plant trees on campus in celebration of both Earth Day and Arbor Day.
  • The solar trash compactors on campus reduce emission costs by reducing the fuel needed and used to monitor the fullness of traditional trash cans and complete ongoing trash pickups.
    • Additionally, the solar compactors' trash volumes can be monitored off-site through GPS technology, and trash pickups are only completed when necessary.

"Back in the day, we used to treat the lawns—we didn't like any weeds, so we just treated everything. Now we have tried to develop a sustainable approach. We scout areas and if there are weeds we still spot-treat them but we don’t broadcast those treatments across campus anymore. It's been a positive change over the years."

-Barb Steiner, Plant Services Supervisor