Ecologically Managed Grounds (3.0)

Credit Language

OP 4: Ecologically Managed Grounds – version 3.0


  • 4.1 Organic landscaping/grounds services
  • 4.2 Ratio of ecologically managed green space to total managed green space

Questions & Answers

How has this credit changed between STARS Version 2 and Version 3?

  • New opportunities added to earn partial points, e.g., by publishing an inventory of the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides used on campus grounds. 
  • A new indicator (4.2) requires the area of campus green space to be measured and assessed, e.g., using i-Tree Tools or an equivalent resource.
  • New options have been added to the Innovation & Leadership Credit Catalog to recognize baseline biodiversity assessments and biodiversity footprinting.
  • A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the STARS 3.0 Summary of changes.

What information is required to support the existence of an IPM plan (Indicator 4.1.A.)?

In order to count, the descriptive response should reference the four components of an IPM plan:

  • set action thresholds
  • monitor and identify pests
  • prevent or remove conditions that attract pests, and control.

For more information, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s IPM Principles fact sheet linked below.

What information is required to support the existence of an Organic Program?

In order to count, the descriptive response must affirm that the area of land being claimed has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials (except in the case of rescue treatments). Consistent with the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care, an organic management program may allow rescue treatments using non-organic pesticides to control insect and disease problems that can cause significant harm, provided there are no effective organic alternatives.

Can some green space qualify under multiple attributes under Indicator 4.2? 

An area may be reported for each attribute that applies to it. For example, a park that is managed organically and overlaid with tree canopy earns points for both attributes.

What type of space qualifies as “managed green space” under indicator 4.2?

Managed campus green space includes vegetated areas, water bodies, and nature-based features that provide ecosystem services. Examples include:

  • Natural/semi-natural areas
  • Agroecosystems such as farms and gardens
  • Vegetated recreation areas such as parks, lawns, and athletic fields
  • Green infrastructure such as bioswales, detention/retention ponds, nature-based wastewater systems, and rain gardens.

What type of space qualifies as “protected or restored” under indicator 4.2.A?

    • To qualify as a protected area, the geographical space must be recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means (which may include policies, protocols, and/or plans), to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
    • To qualify as a restored area, the geographical space must have been subject to intentional activities to initiate or accelerate the recovery of the ecosystem from a degraded state, for example by allowing the natural regeneration of an overexploited ecosystem or by planting native or adapted vegetation.

Resources, Templates & Tools

Suggestions for Institutions

  • Managed green space figures must be reported in hectares. To convert acres, multiply by 0.404686.

Potential Data Quality Issues

  • Organic Land Care – Responses must affirm that no inorganic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are applied to the space identified (with the exception of rescue treatments).
  • Indicator 4.2. Data outlier – Uncommon for institutions to earn close to full points. If high ratios are reported (e.g., .7 or higher), supporting documentation should be included to help affirm claims (see Notes field or preceding text field). 

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