Higher education facilities have been heavily affected by sustainability. While managers are under pressure from top executives to ensure buildings and landscapes create a positive image among visitors, they also are under pressure from students and faculty to do so in ways that minimize the impact on the environment. For Ozment and her team, water use is high on the list of sustainability considerations, even given the aquatic nature of the area.
“Yes, we do have a lot of water, but we’re obligated to use it wisely, of course,” she says. “None of our irrigation is on a domestic water source. It’s all surface-drawn from lakes or wells. We have to comply with our pumping permits that are issued through the South Florida Water Management District, and they require that we only irrigate twice a week. That can be a little stressful in the wintertime because that’s our dry season.”
Using water wisely also involves ensuring the condition and performance of the campus irrigation system.
“We recently did an irrigation master plan that’s going to look at our existing irrigation system and some of the projects we want to do in the next couple of years,” she says. “The irrigation team is out checking for broken heads and broken lines.
“Our infrastructure is quite old. The college was built in the ‘60s, and in some cases we still have cast iron lines. We’re looking to hopefully replace those. They may be a source of underground leaking because as the cast iron pipe ages it develops rust and mineral deposits inside.”
Campus water issues go beyond simply ensuring the efficient use of the valuable resource.
Water is “kind of a conservation issue, but it’s also a maintenance issue because the well water contains high levels of tannic acid, so we have rust staining, which is really tannic acid staining our hardscapes. It’s a challenge to maintain all of the structures because they get discolored by the well water. One of the things we’re trying to do is get off well water completely and only use surface-drawn water sources.”
Other issues play into the Broward College’s efforts to operate sustainably.
“We try to incorporate sustainable practices into everything we do,” Ozment says. “We use integrated pest management practices. Our pesticide use almost none. We take a tolerant approach to pests whenever possible, and we treat only if it’s absolutely necessary.
“Weed control is a huge challenge because in our South Florida warm climate, they grow year round. And if it’s not summer, we have different annual weeds that grow in the winter.”
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