The University of Michigan became the first Division I university to earn a campus-wide environmental stewardship certification by the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program Friday morning, when the organization held an award ceremony in honor of the certification.

The ceremony, held at the newly built University Golf Course clubhouse, recognized the role of all the units of the University involved in achieving the certificate, highlighting the detailed sustainability work being done across the University and the coordination between departments.

According to Corbin Todd, director of University golf courses, the certification initially focused only on golf courses, but has been expanded for the first time to all seven University units that manage campus grounds, including Athletics, Grounds Services, the Botanical Gardens and Transportation.

The main sustainability goals needed to achieve the certification, including a reduction in use of synthetic chemical usage and the runoff to local water sources like the Huron River, had mostly been achieved, Todd said at the ceremony.

“Most areas were pretty well doing the things that would get you certified, it was just documenting and getting the site visits and filling out the administrative part of it to show what we were already accomplishing,” he said.

Todd said that over the last three years, synthetic chemical usage was reduced by an average of 40 percent.

Anya Dale, representative of the Office of Campus Sustainability, echoed the sentiment, explaining the certification highlighted work that was already being accomplished.

“Each of these units are doing things even above and beyond the certification requirements,” she added.

Some of this work includes details such as the use of safe and organic fertilizers on areas including the Diag or Ingalls Mall or sustainable lighting systems in the University’s many parking structures.

“Some of these things require a lot more staff time to do, and people are behind it,” Dale said. “The staff really value the environment. A lot of the people that work outside, it’s because they love and want to take care of it. I think a lot of people don’t see a lot of the work that we’re doing… so we just want people to know that it’s something we put a lot of thought into and a lot of people really care about.”

James Johnson, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Environmental Stewardship Division, which administers similar certifications to farms, municipalities and other institutions, said the campus-wide certification was a singular achievement.

“The thing that makes this one unique is that this one is the entire campus,” he said. “We don’t have a single place where every single piece of risk, in terms of land and environment, has been addressed across the entire enterprise. So this is a big day.”

Correction appended: This article has been corrected to state the University of Michigan is the first Division I university to earn a campus-wide environmental stewardship certification by the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program, not the first University, in general. This correction was made following a change in the initial press release on the topic.

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