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Sustainability at ESF

ESF is a multi-campus institution that includes approximately 1 million square feet of facilities, over 186 buildings on 25,000 acres of land. Facilities for education and research are provided on the main campus in Syracuse, NY and at five regional campuses and three field stations. You can explore our Syracuse campus through this virtual video tour and through our self-guided sustainability tour.

The ESF quad in fall is overlaid with white text: "SUNY ESF Campus Sustainability Tour" "Explore the sustainable features across SUNY ESF's Syracuse Campus" "Office of Sustainability, SUNY ESF January 19, 2022"

Bee Campus USA

ESF became a Bee Campus USA affiliate in May of 2022. The joint Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA programs are initiatives of the Xerces Society and are comprised of universities and cities across America that have pledged to protect wild pollinators and the critical services that they provide to our planet. Prior to this commitment, ESF had already been practicing integrated pest management and used pesticides as a last resort measure to manage invasive and potential harmful plants on campus. Our campuses do not have installed irrigation and do not use fertilizers. 

Multiple pollinator-friendly landscape beds are being installed and replanted as part of our Bee Campus program. Visit the Bee Campus USA project page for more detail. 

volunteers planting small plantsVolunteers assist in a Bee Campus engagement activity and add pollinator friendly plants to ESF's Northern Hardwood Forest Restoration Area on campus

Student Garden

The picturesque grounds at ESF's Lafayette Road Experiment Station (LRES), four miles south of the Syracuse campus, are home to the student garden. Each year the garden provides job opportunities for multiple students. These students lead garden maintenance and upkeep. This includes all basic tasks such as planting, weeding, mowing, and general plant and space management.

The garden is divided into three distinct sections:

  • an annual vegetable garden;
  • a small orchard of fruit trees and shrubs;
  • and a perennial edible forest garden.

Visit the Student Garden project page for more information about this unique experiential resource. 

fruit in ESF's forest garden

Green Infrastructure

ESF has numerous plantings designed to manage stormwater runoff from rooftops and impervious surfaces. These features can be found by Illick Hall, the Gateway Center, and Marshall Hall. The campus also installed pervious pavement in front of Moon Library and between Bray and Walters Halls. Walters Hall and the Gateway Center both feature green roofs.

Electric Grounds Equipment

Enjoy the relative quiet of electric grounds equipment on the Syracuse campus, and increasingly, at all of ESF's campuses throughout NYS!  We hope to replace our traditional gas-powered zero turn mower with an electric version in the near future. Staff use the following electric equipment to maintain many campus spaces:

  • Leaf blowers (hand held and backpack)
  • String trimmers
  • Pole saw
  • Hedge trimmer
  • Push lawn mowers
  • Chainsaws
  • Snow blower
  • Snow shovels

This transition to electric power equipment provides numerous benefits to campus, including reduced noise and air pollution, decreased stress on equipment operators and reduced fossil fuel usage.

grounds crew member tilling a landscape bed with electric tiller

grounds crew member trims with electric string trimmer