Site Considerations: Area Overview
This program area involves a diverse collection of initiatives that improve the environmental quality of the campus grounds. Master planning and land use, transportation, storm water management, grounds maintenance practices, landscape design and other efforts related to creating and maintaining a site that is sensitive and responsive to local ecosystem functions are covered by this program area.
Purdue recently achieved two campus-wide designations that show its commitment to establishing and preserving an environmentally sustainable site. In 2009 it became one of 74 colleges and universities honored by the Arbor Day Foundation with "Tree Campus USA" recognition. Campuses earn the designation for being exemplary custodians of their trees by using best tree-care practices and implementing conservation programs. At Purdue, a Tree Protection and Trimming Policy outlines procedures for protecting the 8,000 trees currently on campus, and roughly 150 new and replacement trees are planted annually to maintain and enhance the tree population. In spring 2009, the entire campus was formally established as the Purdue Arboretum through its membership in the American Public Gardens Association. Work is underway to document the campus’s plant collections, eradicate non-native species, and increase use of campus plantings in education, research, and outreach activities.
These efforts are one component of larger master planning and land use choices that impact Purdue's environmental site quality. Since the mid-1980s, the university's site planning efforts have worked to optimize the use of campus space to support synergies in academic and research programs, create pleasant spaces for socializing, and enhance the on-campus natural environment. For example, pedestrian malls and green space have replaced unnecessary traffic arteries and parking lots in key areas within the campus core. These efforts will continue under the Campus Master Plan 2009, which has a number of sustainability-specific initiatives including sprawl minimization and preservation of undeveloped land on the west campus.
Transit is an important site element that has a range of environmental impacts, including local air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and storm water concerns. It also has a fundamental impact on the campus experience. Purdue is currently in the midst of a transportation demand management study to assess when and how people move to and across campus. The university will use this information to develop appropriate programs and infrastructure strategies to better manage travel demand. Some long-term strategies being studied include the creation of a central loop and the strategic reallocation or removal of some existing parking lots.
Several alternative transportation programs are already in place at Purdue. BoilerRide, launched in March 2009, is a web-based ride-matching application. The program encourages carpooling by making it easy for Purdue staff and students to find ride-sharing partners. The university also has a long-standing partnership with City Bus of Lafayette to provide free bus service to staff and students. CityBus follows several campus routes and also connects to the greater community. Purdue has taken many steps to reduce the environmental impact of its vehicle fleet. In 2004, Transportation Services began stocking B2 biodiesel, which is a blend of 2 percent biodiesel and 98 percent petroleum diesel. Today, all diesel-powered vehicles such as buses, coaches, fire response vehicles and large service trucks use B10. The increased percentage of biodiesel in this blend reduces greenhouse gas emissions further without compromising fuel economy.
The university has completely reinvented its small and mid-size vehicle fleet since 2004 to create a 100% composition by fuel type as of March 2010 is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent unleaded gasoline, called gasohol or E10. All of these vehicles can also use an E85 blend, which can be purchased off campus.
Purdue has a comprehensive storm water management program that helps it exceed regulatory requirements and improve the quality of water infiltrating and leaving the site. A variety of well-considered best management practices for storm water treatment are demonstrated on campus. There are infiltration beds beneath two new football practice fields and adjacent parking lots, bioswales at Pao and Mann Halls, and a number of porous paving applications. The student group Boiler Green Initiative championed the campus's first green roof on Schleman Hall in 2009. Roof top data loggers, powered by photovoltaic panels, track soil moisture, incoming rain, and runoff quantities, enable the campus to monitor the water balance for the roof.
Purdue has adopted many practices that reduce the impact of site maintenance activities. All landscape waste is sent to Soilmaker, a recycling operation that leases university-owned land, which turns the waste into compost. Purdue can then purchase compost from Soilmaker for use back on campus. In the winter, deicing brine made from a beet juice derivative is used to reduce salt applications and the negative impacts to vegetation and groundwater that are associated with salt use. These practices and others help sustain the local environment while creating a safe and aesthetically pleasing campus.
Purdue will track the following metrics to assess its performance related to site considerations over time.
Master planning and land use: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Increase density on the existing developed campus footprint.
- Concentrate vehicular movement and parking around the future perimeter parkway and encourage transit, bicycle, and pedestrian circulation within the campus core.
- Implement organic turf management practices in 10 percent of the campus’s current managed turf area by 2010 and in 25 percent by 2014.
- Create stronger connections between campus and community bicycle trails.
Master planning and land use: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Develop the Northwest Athletic Complex site to maximize ecologic function and connect adjacent fragmented forest tracts where possible.
- Implement a targeted turf replacement effort where turf is not programmatically necessary and where the campus community is amenable to the change. Turf replacement will prioritize the use of native/adapted vegetation.
- Implement organic turf management practices in 35 percent of the campus’s current managed turf area by 2020.
- Convert 50 percent of the Horticulture Park to native prairie grasses.
Transit: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Expand alternative transportation programs by assessing the campus’s interest in new initiatives such as Zipcar, vanpools, and "park and ride" lots that use existing community and commercial parking lots.
- Continue to utilize fleet vehicle purchasing guidelines with minimum fuel efficiency requirements by vehicle type.
Transit: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Establish an internal campus transit loop that connects each of the four major campus quadrants.
- Encourage a "park once" mentality by enhancing walk ability and navigability of campus.
- Develop an inventory for greenhouse gas emissions related to transit — including staff/ faculty/ student commute, university-sponsored air travel, and university fleet — and develop a program for tracking data and reporting annually.
Storm water: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Use storm water to offset potable water used for cooling tower make up water.
- Continue to engage in storm water management best practices.
- Continue to implement best practice storm water management projects that facilitate the infiltration of parking lot and street storm water runoff.
Site operations and maintenance: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Continue to research and test battery-powered grounds maintenance equipment that can satisfy the campus’s maintenance requirements to reduce local air pollution.
Site operations and maintenance: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Evaluate the current integrated pest management program to consider modifications that bring the program into compliance with LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EB: O&M) program requirements to support LEED certification efforts.
- Expand the ant idling policy currently applicable to the Grounds and Police departments to all service vehicles campus-wide with department as appropriate for short durations, during periods of extreme cold temperature, or other safety concerns.
- Make use of resources available onsite by using mulch generated by campus landscape maintenance practices, and use virgin mulch only in high-profile areas.