Hope College has once again earned national recognition for its sustainability practices in grounds management.

The college has received an Honor Award for exceptional grounds maintenance in the 2019 Green Star Awards competition of the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).  The recognition, which is in the University and College Grounds-Small category, was presented on Thursday, Oct. 17, during the society’s 2019 awards dinner held in conjunction with the School of Grounds Management and Green Industry Equipment Expo in Louisville, Kentucky.

The award is the second that the college has received this year for its environmental stewardship in grounds management.  This past spring, the college received 2018 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management, becoming one of only 364 campuses across the United States to hold the distinction.  In 2014, the college was certified by the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) for meeting the organization’s standards in overall grounds management practices.

Among practices highlighted by the PGMS, Hope has two green roofs on campus to help improve energy efficiency and stormwater management, one at the DeWitt Student and Cultural Center, and the other at the Campus Ministries house that opened in August.  PGMS noted that the college also maintains more than 50 planters that add seasonal color and are changed out four times a year.

Hope’s grounds management team operates with an environmental action plan that includes considerations ranging from how the college stores pesticides and fuel, to how equipment is washed, to the presence of buffer strips along drains.  The college, which has more than 500 documented trees in its central campus, also has a campus tree-care plan, and among its efforts focused on the college’s trees has made a tradition of planting trees during each Earth Week and Arbor Day.

Sustainability is an ongoing process at Hope that includes not only individual and departmental efforts, but the coordinating work of a Sustainability Advisory Committee, known as the “Green Team,” consisting of faculty, administrators and students.  Hope is a partner in the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, along with the City of Holland and Board of Public Works, that was established in 2014.

Activities and practices at the college focused on sustainability have ranged from green purchasing policies; to trayless dining to reduce food waste; to replacing residence halls’ windows with better-insulated models and adding insulation to the cottages’ attics; to academic programs in both environmental science and environmental studies.  In addition, the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center that opened in 2017 has LEED Gold certification, and the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts that opened in 2015 has LEED Silver certification.

In 2017, the college earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  In 2015 Hope College Dining received Gold-level recognition in the SEED sustainability program of Creative Dining Services

The PGMS Green Star Award program brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape award programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction.  Overall, PGMS presented six Grand Awards, its highest honor, as well as 14 Honor Awards and four Merit Awards in nine categories of competition.  A complete list of winners is available.

Serving the profession for more than 100 years, PGMS is an individual membership society of grounds professionals dedicated to advancing the grounds management profession through education and professional development. Further information on PGMS is available online.