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Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives
The University of Washington and Grounds Management are committed to working toward sustainability. On this page, you will find information about key sustainability initiatives that Grounds Management has undertaken, as well as information about our partners in these endeavors.
The University of Washington has partnered with several local arborists and allows them to freely dump their woodchips at a staging area on campus. It saves them from having to pay for the disposal of the material and we are able to recycle it into our planting beds as a way to suppress weeds. These chips are slower to decompose than commercial chips and are an useful integrated pest management tool. By raking out the larger pieces the finished product is attractive as well as cost effective, and eventually breaks down into excellent compost.
The purpose of the salvage wood program is to create a process for our urban trees continue to provide value even after they have been cut down. A common approach is to treat removed trees as a nuisance that need to be disposed of as easily as possible. Instead, our goal is to treat removed trees as a valuable resource that can continue to add interest, beauty and history to the campus in the form of furniture, cabinets, flooring, panels or even specialty items such as clocks or cribbage boards.
Challenges that surround this program are time, equipment, personnel, storage and processing. It takes more time and people to coordinate a crane removal of a large tree rather than cutting it into small disposable chunks. The wood must be aged properly and cut into usable timber depending on its final purpose. The designated piece must be built by a skilled carpenter.
Fortunately we have the capability of overcoming all these challenges and are in the process of implementing the program. The UW employs skilled carpenters. There is space that could be converted to salvage wood storage and we could hire a portable sawmill to cut the logs.
Visions for this program include:
- Students design furniture or art pieces to be built by our carpenters
- Plaques or signs by the furniture describing the tree’s life and reason for removal.
- Desks and furniture from campus trees could be showcased in foyers or offices.
- A walking tour could be created to visit each site showing the tree’s 2nd life.
The possibilities are endless!
Grounds Management is implementing a green waste composting program. Large volumes of material that are currently transported to Cedar Grove will be composted and used on-site. This program is expected to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel use associated with transporting waste to and from Cedar Grove facilities. It will also reduce costs associated with the nutrient and soil needs of the campus landscape.
The compost and mulch will be utilized by UW Grounds management, eliminating the need for purchased compost, and will be available to campus organizations such as the UW Farm, P-Patches maintained by Students Exhibiting Environmental Dedication and the UW Botanic Gardens.
The UW Campus Sustainability Fund has awarded Grounds Management almost $79,000 to pursue this program.
UW Urban Forest Management Plan
In partnership with the Capital Projects Office and the UW Campus Sustainability Fund, Grounds Management is developing an Urban Forest Management Plan for the Seattle campus. This project has four phases that include completion of the tree inventory database, quantifying the ecosystem benefits provided by the urban forest, development of effective management goals and drafting policies. UW students are an integral part of each phase of the project.