Nutrient-rich compost produced by the campus biodigester provides a valuable soil amendment for campus greens. Enriching soil with compost supports healthy vegetation through the suppression of weeds and diseases, which can reduce reliance on synthetic lawn chemicals, thus improving the ecological health of the local environment.
Princeton is one of a handful of non-agricultural universities to have its own greenhouses and nursery, thanks to Beatrix Farrand's vision in 1935. As Princeton's first landscape architect, Farrand argued the University could save money, gain new plant varieties and acclimate plants to the New Jersey environment by growing them in-house. In 1935 the original greenhouse was located between what is now Roberts Stadium and Faculty Road. We now have multiple greenhouses and a nursery south of campus, just down the road from where we make our own soil and mulch.
We use a system called integrated pest management (IPM), which examines comprehensive information on the life cycle of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
Since 2007, the campus had a net increase of approximately 2,370 trees. In total, nearly 12 acres of woodlands and five acres of open green space have been established over that same time period.
We are experimenting with organic fertilizers and compost teas as effective alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, the impacts from outdoor events on campus, weather and campus expansion has increased our need over the past few years to use fertilizer. So experimenting with organic approaches to plant/soil care, such as using compost tea which is a concentrated water based solution that extracts microbes and nutrients from compost, becomes even more important as we work to keep our campus both beautiful and sustainable.
We recycle nearly 100% of our vegetative products (leaves, trees, excavated soils) making mulch, compost and soil that is returned to campus. We recycled 4910 cubic yards of vegetative material in 2013.
Designing a sustainable campus means looking at space outside our buildings as well. Low impact development considers techniques such as strategic site design, reducing stormwater run-off and functional landscaping.