Cascadia College awarded nation's highest score for sustainable landscape management

Cascadia College has been awarded the top ranking spot in the nation for Sustainable Grounds by The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for the third year in a row.
Aerial view of restored 58-acre Cascadia College Wetlands. Photo courtesy of University of Washington.

From a February 1, 2021, Cascadia College press release.

Cascadia College has for the third year in a row been awarded top ranking spot in the nation for Sustainable Grounds by The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in the 2020 Sustainable Campus Index.

This recognition was shared with two other institutions in the country for 2020; Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, and George Washington University in Washington, D.C..

AASHE releases the Sustainable Campus Index yearly, acknowledging institutions across the nation in 17 categories, and each institution is assessed using a score in each category from information provided to its Sustainable Tracking, Assessment Rating System (STARS).

Cascadia updates its report on a three-year basis, and has been proud to be recognized in this fashion.  This reporting system is voluntarily completed by each individual college and university, scoring ratings on the equity, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability.

“We’re so thrilled to be recognized as the #1 campus for sustainable grounds once again,” said Stephan Classen, Assistant Director of Sustainable Practices.  

He went on to say, “Our campus area has become like a secret garden in Bothell.”

In addition to the 58-acre restored wetlands on campus, visitors to the landscape will be able to discover the campus farm, Cascadia’s Food Forest, landscaping that consists of native, drought-tolerant plants, pollinator gardens beds, and numerous rain gardens.

The public is encouraged to take a walk along the boardwalk in the wetlands, learn about the history and restoration work from signage or tours, and potentially see some wildlife.

The sustainable grounds category considers the land management, sustainable landscaping, and biodiversity of the campus as well as the surrounding area. Cascadia shares the 135-acre campus with University of Washington: Bothell, which includes the 58-acres of restored wetlands.

Maintaining this campus is the dedicated grounds team, whose efforts to limit the impact on wildlife habitats and to conserve resources with permaculture and pesticide-free management were instrumental for this recognition.

UW Bothell will for the first time complete its own individual STARS report and it is the hope that in the future this achievement will be shared between both campuses.

“The grounds team members take great pride in their role as gardeners in this world and see it as a duty of their profession to protect and cultivate the integrity of our land and the life it supports,” commented the campus Lead Gardener, Tyson Kemper.

This is the third year Cascadia College has received this award. 

On campus there are opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and become involved with the grounds management work.

The public is welcome to explore and enjoy the campus grounds while learning of the different ways we are promoting sustainability, including the well-known section that includes the Burke-Gilman Trail. 

The Cascadia/UWB campus farm, and restored wetlands in the background, both of which are available for the public to visit on campus.

The Cascadia/UWB campus farm, and restored wetlands in the background. Photo courtesy of Cascadia College.


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