Grounds and Custodial Maintenance
Groundskeeping, on any college campus, can be a difficult task. The University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh resides on the shore of the Fox River and covers approximately 170 acres of space. These factors, paired with UW-Oshkosh's size (approaching 15,000 students) and large commuter population, plus the intense change of seasons, makes groundskeeping and sustainable landscaping an even more seemingly formidable task for the campus. In the warmer months, turf and plantings maintenance takes priority to provide an aesthetically pleasing landscape for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
(Aerial view of landscaping in Sage Hall courtyard)
In the colder months, snow removal, salt and sand application dominate groundskeeping duties to ensure safe travel whether walking, biking, or driving through campus. All of these present the UW-Oshkosh grounds crew with challenges to keeping these practices as sustainable as possible for the campus, which has made a serious commitment to the sustainability movement.
Similarly challenging is maintenance of clean buildings. For a campus that is committed to sustainability, procuring environmentally-friendly cleaning products that achieve the highest level of cleanliness is a top priority. These products should not be hazardous, but also must keep the surfaces clean, an important matter when considering the health of roughly 15,000 people as they move about the different buildings on campus. A balance between cleanliness and reducing negative environmental impact should be sought.
Since the previous plan:
The campus’ efforts to ensure sustainable grounds maintenance have greatly increased over the past five years. Many recommendations have been completed including increasing the number of permanent plantings as well as using native plants. Rain garden areas have been established to reduce effect of storm water runoff and salt has been partially replaced with sand during the winter months for slippery conditions. Composting in general has also increased. Recommendations that have not been completed include the construction of a greenhouse facility for plant propagation, installation of drip irrigation, and testing environmentally safe herbicides and other lawn chemicals.
(Image of solar flowers and Sage Hall at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh)