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Saving the Planet, One Garden at a Time

How Chapman University is implementing Eco-Friendly Landscaping throughout their Campus


Southern California is blessed with summer-like weather for most of the year. While the sunshine and rising temperatures may seem like a vacationer’s paradise, climate change continues to impact the environment leading to severe drought conditions nearly every year. According to Drought.ca.gov, 2021 marked the driest winter in 100 years for California. This winter is projected to be unusually wet, another sign of climate change. The weather can change at any moment, so action must be taken to slow the rising temperatures. Luckily, Chapman University is taking the right steps to improve its sustainability on campus.

“The Office of Sustainability is constantly working to conserve water and energy on campus, divert waste from the landfill, reduce our overall ecological footprint, and educate the Chapman community on how to integrate sustainable living into their everyday habits,” says Jenny Kaufman, the Energy Conservation and Sustainability Manager at Chapman University.


Evolving for the Ecosystem

Chapman University has gone through major improvements to boost its environmentally friendly practices. Some on-campus changes that have been made are:

  • Converting lighting throughout campus to LED lights to save energy

  • Increasing composting efforts

  • Installed a solar-powered charging table by the Masson Pool

  • Converting grass areas to drought-tolerant landscapes

In the areas throughout campus where lawns remain, Chapman University has been installing low-flow sprinkler nozzles and switching to smart irrigation

controllers that provide quick responses to leaks as well as sensors to stop watering when rain is detected. “The drought-tolerant landscapes added throughout the past year were just the next steps in our plan to conserve water,” Kaufman says. Not only are these new landscapes better for the environment, but they also provide natural beauty and aesthetic appeal. Kaufman adds, “The new landscapes are full of aromatic, pollinator-attracting plants that offer sights and smells to be enjoyed by the entire Chapman community.”


Building Community Through Sustainability

At Chapman University's dorms, a community garden has become a welcome improvement that first-year students are taking advantage of. The garden has 16 garden beds that are used use to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, or flowers. “The garden has created a sense of community for students with garden beds as they share plants, provide advice, and lend a hand when needed to help each other’s garden beds thrive.”, says Kaufman.


The Future is Up to Us

Chapman hopes that these efforts do not go unnoticed and that the students and community can become inspired to implement sustainability practices into their own lives. Optimistically, Kaufman says, “I hope that Chapman’s efforts to convert our grass areas to drought-tolerant landscapes have shown people the environmental and aesthetic value of native, low-water, pollinator-friendly plants, and encouraged people to convert their lawns at home to similar grass-free landscapes.”

Next month, the Office of Sustainability plans to engage Chapman University’s student body with sustainable practices. “We have a couple of events coming up in October for Campus Sustainability Month where members of the Chapman community can play interactive games and answer trivia questions to learn more about sustainable living and win some sustainable prizes!” The Office of Sustainability continues to engage and inform the students of Chapman University in ways to be environmentally conscious and limit carbon footprints for a healthier planet and community.



 

Works Cited

State of California. California Drought Action, 19 Jan. 2023, drought.ca.gov/.

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