Grounds Certification

This is an optional Innovation & Leadership credit. These credits recognize exemplary practices and performance above and beyond what is recognized in standard credits and may not be relevant to every institution. Scoring in the Innovation and Leadership section is capped at 4 bonus points total.


For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the full credit language.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of “equivalent programs approved by AASHE” that can be claimed under this credit?

  • ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation
  • Demeter Biodynamic
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List Standard

Do any forest management standards other than FSC count?

Consistent with the recommendations of the Environmental Paper Network (EPN), a world-wide network of over 140 civil society organizations working in the sustainable forestry space, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards are the only forest management standards currently recognized. To learn more, see the EPN’s Global Paper Vision and FAQ, which states:

The FSC is the only forest management standard referred to in the Vision because it has attributes that set it apart from other standards. The FSC focuses on setting high standards of forest management, for example, the use of genetically modified organisms and conversion of natural forest to plantations are not permitted under the FSC system, and the FSC also seeks the identification and maintenance of high conservation value forests within the forest network. Furthermore, the FSC system encourages the participation of a diverse range of interest in the setting of forest management standards, and requires stakeholder consultation in certification processes, allowing stakeholders such as local communities, unions, indigenous peoples and environmental organisations a say in how forests are managed. Other forest certification schemes lack some or all of these attributes, and therefore were not included in the vision statement… Alternative forest certification systems that we do not recommend or support include PEFC, SFI, MTTC, CSA, CERTFOR, CERFLOR.

Templates & Tools

Example Responses

  • American University – Several grounds certifications claimed with documentation for each.
  • Elon University – Nice example of a project certified through National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat Program with good documentation.
  • George Washington University – Nice example of a project certified through the Sustainable Sites initiative.
  • Syracuse University – Good example providing documentation for an institution that has Tree Campus USA certification.

Common Issues Identified During Review

Additional Resources

How can we improve our performance on this credit?

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