Shenandoah is known for having a beautiful campus, but most people do not know it is maintained in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Planting Trees & Protecting Natural Areas
The university tries to plant 2 trees for every tree it removes. In December 2018, the iconic willow in Sarah’s Glen was removed due to the tree’s deteriorating health. It was replaced by three willows.
There are 78 trees in the quad on main campus.
The Chesapeake Forests Program has planted 600 trees at Cool Spring.
The 195-acre Shenandoah University River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield serves as a learning laboratory where students can conduct research in the humanities and the natural sciences. The site, abundant with natural features, includes a heron rookery.
Many of the plants, flowers, and trees on Shenandoah’s campus have been labeled to promote environmental stewardship, education, and research. These plants are selected as native and non-invasive species.
Native Plants Garden
Many of the plants, flowers, and trees on SU’s campus have been labeled to promote environmental stewardship, education, and research. This effort is continually expanding with more gardens and labels added every year. Plants are carefully selected for every project and garden to ensure that they perform well in their individual environment and require the minimum amount of water, nutrients, and care possible.
In 2015, Shenandoah eliminated a section of groundcover (invasive English Ivy) on a patio near the Allen Dining Hall. While this garden produces only a small amount of vegetables, its co-location to the Dining Hall helps remind us of our connection to the food we eat.
This garden has produced:
- peppers (both sweet and hot)
In addition to this small garden, in 2013 the Student Environmental Council planted an organic herb garden for use by the kitchen staff, and other community members.
The herb garden produces:
- Russian sage
Among other landscaping on campus is the Serviceberry or Juneberry shrub, which produces delicious berries every summer.
Appropriate plant selection minimizes fertilizer use but, when necessary, fertilizer is applied in a scientific and careful manner. Fertilizer applications on athletic fields are based primarily upon nutrient need determined from soil tests. On the remainder of campus properties, fertilizer is only applied in the high use and high visibility areas. The fertilizer used is custom blended to meet the minimal requirements of campus turf and contains a slow release form of nitrogen, which virtually eliminates excess nutrients from being released.
Of all the developed landscape at Shenandoah, none of it is irrigated. SU’s planting plan includes choosing plant species that are low maintenance and require no regular irrigation. Why is this important? In a typical household, landscape irrigation accounts for up to half of all water consumption. At the University, this could translate to hundreds of thousands of gallons in water.
Bark and wood chips provide a long-lasting barrier to water evaporation from the soil. Straw mulch works well in vegetable gardens. It saves water, keeps down weeds, and helps cool plant roots in the heat of the summer.”
How it works: The majority of the stormwater from Shenandoah’s main campus is directed into Sarah’s Glen. This system is beneficial to the local watershed in that it prevents sediment and other materials from entering Abrams Creek, The Shenandoah River and the Chesapeake Bay.
During the summer of 2012, Shenandoah began collecting and composting its own yard waste in a facility located on the edge of campus. The University plans to close the loop on yard waste by initiating a program that uses leaf and other yard waste compost in campus landscaping, to improve soil quality and reduce irrigation requirements.
For the 2018 academic year, SU began a pilot kitchen composting program with the kitchens in the Village apartments. The composting project collected just over 155 pounds of compost from the Village apartments for the Fall 2018 semester. Fertile compost will be used in the campus garden and at the Cool Spring property garden.
Snow and Ice
While Shenandoah continues to use some salt on roads and sidewalks, we have used alternatives to salting roads, including:
- Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMO)
Made from dolomitic lime and acetic acid, CMO was introduced in the late 1970s, making it one of the first alternatives to salt. It usually comes in solid form but is also available as a liquid. CMO is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and has a low toxicity to wildlife. It is about as corrosive as tap water and requires fewer applications than salt. Its main disadvantage is that, like salt, it can make surfaces slick.
Shoveling is a viable option for small facilities or those with a large workforce willing to shovel after every snowfall. However, it is impossible to remove enough of the snow and ice to prevent hazards through shoveling alone. Therefore, it is usually necessary to combine this method with deicing chemicals or another one of the alternatives to salt.
- Snow Blowers
Snow blowers are a fast way to remove snow down to the concrete and are much more efficient than shoveling. Unfortunately, they often use a lot of electricity or gas to run, especially if you need to clear a large area. Gas snow blowers in particular create a significant amount of air and noise pollution; plus they require regular tuning up, cleaning, and oil changes, which can be time consuming.
Although sand is less effective at melting snow than salt, it creates a better grip in ice and has a lower cost than any chemical deicer. However, sand can clog storm drains, causing expensive cleanups and an increased risk of flooding. Sand also has an environmental impact if it runs off into water supplies.
- Natural remedies
Beet, sorghum and corn liquid solutions, created with by-product of brewing at distilleries or other food production areas, are high in carbohydrates that often melt snow faster than salt. These alternatives to salt present no danger to the environment, wildlife, or people and may even reduce corrosion. The only downside is the liquids’ strong smell.