Green Grounds FAQ

In being awarded the Green Grounds Certification, you join a national network of institutions with the same goal of maintaining campuses free of toxic, synthetic chemicals for the sake of human health and the environment. We are excited to welcome and lift up the community of professionals across the country who work tirelessly to manage grounds.

Why seek certification?

As a certified campus you will:

  • Promote climate resilience

  • Improve soil health

  • Protect human and environmental health

Certified campuses will also:

  • Be listed on the National Green Grounds Certification Directory

  • If you participate in AASHE STARS, the Green Grounds Certification will qualify as an Innovation credit in STARS 2.2 and will most likely be included as an Exemplary Practice in STARS 3.0. Additionally, the chemical inventory will also earn points in the organic landscaping/grounds management indicator provisionally approved for STARS 3.0

  • Have the opportunity to highlight your campus grounds’ sustainability via your certification status and its accompanying physical and digital signage to display on campus.

  • Be spotlighted in Re:wild Your Campus’ email blasts, social media posts, and networking events 

What is the application process like?

Re:wild Your Campus staff will review fully completed and submitted applications on a rolling basis. As we review your application, we may reach out  to clarify any questions that arise. Following comprehensive review,, RYC will contact you to share the Green Grounds Certification level that your campus has been awarded. We will provide content for signage and educational information that can be used to promote your sustainable landscaping methods and improve your current practices and certification level. Once issued, certifications are valid for two years. Certified schools must reapply every two years. 

I don’t keep track of what is sprayed on campus in a spreadsheet, do you have a pesticide usage tracking sheet that I can use?

Please feel free to refer to this PUR tracking template if you do not already have a template to record what chemicals you are using. Feel free to download this template for future record keeping. For the Green Grounds Certification, you will be required to upload PURs (Pesticide Usage Reports).

What qualifies as “managed areas of campus”?

Managed areas of campus include all areas of campus that are managed by grounds crews at least once a year including on campus housing and athletic fields. This could be as minimal as the grounds team checking in on the area to ensure the area looks OK. Areas of campus that do not qualify as managed areas include hardscapes and areas of a campus that are neglected. For example, a wild native prairie counts as managed if it is monitored and managed without pesticides, while a forest that requires no maintenance or monitoring does not count. All of the areas on campus covered by sidewalks do not count, while sidewalk cracks and the greenery surrounding hardscapes do count. 

What about campus gardens, farms or agricultural research land?
  • Campus gardens count as managed areas of campus

  • Campus farms do not count for this Certification

  • Agricultural research land does not count for this Certification

How can I apply? 

Fill out this application form. If you are the Facilities Manager, you may need to consult  the Sustainability Director at your school, and vice versa. We encourage you to get a student(s) involved in the process if you need assistance collecting data and/or filling out the application! Go to our website to learn more about  student involvement possibilities.

What is the cost associated with certification?

All schools will submit an initial application to receive certification. Schools must go through a recertification process every two years.

The initial cost of becoming certified is $1000 and the recertification fee is $500.

Why synthetic pesticide free?

Pesticide use becomes an issue when the substances used to eliminate pests cause more harm to human and environmental health than the protection they provide. Synthetic pesticides-- man-made substances that are inorganically derived– have proven to be especially dangerous to human and environmental health. Many of the chemicals found in these synthetic herbicide formulations impact the human body and our environment in numerous adverse ways. The herbicide used most prevalently around the world, glyphosate, has been deemed a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, with the U.S. using almost 300 million pounds per year.

Synthetic pesticides pose a direct threat to human health. Research shows that synthetic pesticides contribute to cancer, neurological disorders, reproductive issues, asthma, and many other diseases. Derived from fossil fuels, pesticides contribute to climate change by altering the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. In addition, synthetic fertilizers cause algal blooms and dead zones when they reach lakes and oceans. (The term pesticide encompasses herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, all designed to kill pests, including weeds, insects, fungi.)

Why synthetic-fertilizer free for Gold and Platinum Levels? 

Synthetic fertilizers contribute very little to soil health, to the ecosystem or to the structure of the soil. Many synthetic fertilizers actually decrease soil fertility due to chemical nitrogen stimulating excessive microorganism growth, which, over time, depletes organic matter in the soil. Synthetic fertilizers can also runoff and leach into local waterways and contribute to algal blooms. 

Why increase native plants on campus?

Native plants:

  • do not require fertilizers

  • require fewer pesticides and less water than lawns

  • help prevent erosion

  • significantly reduce water runoff and, consequently, flooding

  • help reduce air pollution

  • do not require mowing (Excessive carbon from the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming. Native plants sequester, or remove, carbon from the air.)

  • provide shelter and food for wildlife

  • promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage

  • are beautiful and increase scenic values

Why do you include a standard on an electric procurement policy? 

A significant portion of the equipment used in landscaping/facilities management runs on fossil fuels. Through a sustainable procurement policy, a school can slowly transition away from equipment that runs on fossil fuels towards electric technology. This will help to reduce the schools carbon footprint, as well as improve the overall sustainability of the grounds practices.