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Inventory and Benchmark Existing Landscape Performance (In Progress)
The 2015 iCAP, chapter 5, objective 4 is "Inventory and benchmark campus’ existing landscape performance by FY17." The entire UIUC campus drains to either Boneyard Creek or the Embarras River. Both receiving streams are tributaries that connect to the Wabash River, which flows into the Ohio River, which joins the Mississippi River and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, runoff that departs the UIUC campus eventually makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico. A graduate student in spring 2016, Scott Douglass, completed an assessment of the landscape performance, for the first portion of campus. He provided his paper to be shared with the SWATeam to allow additional students to further this effort for the remainder of campus. The report is saved online at https://uofi.box.com/s/tmj8plcwju7c140vglgsw5ysgbimrvxg.
Another opportunity to increase the sustainability of campus water utilization is to improve the sustainability impacts of campus stormwater management practices. Initial investigations show a strong potential to increase stormwater capture, infiltration, and reuse of stormwater around campus. Various best management practices and green infrastructure systems can promote passive irrigation, and enable additional water conservation at campus facilities.
The campus could complete an inventory and evaluation of existing landscape performance and compare it with high-performance landscapes. This audit would define existing hardscape and softscape surfaces and features, measuring water, carbon, urban heat island, and biotic performance, along with associated maintenance and infrastructure cost. The existing landscapes would be compared with high-performance, sustainable campus landscape alternatives, quantifying economic value and ecosystem services including the following: potential rainwater capture for reuse or infiltration for aquifer recharge, biomass-/biodiversity indexes associated with native (versus turf) landscapes, and economic/environmental benefits of sustainable landscape maintenance (no-mow, no-fertilizer, no-irrigation, etc.). These support recommending a strategic, phased conversion of hardscape surfaces toward pervious/infiltrating surfaces and landscapes designed to capture rainwater, both for re-use and/or infiltration. These recommendations will establish priority sites and opportunities to convert the campus landscape from 'traditional' to 'sustainable.'