Grounds

A vibrant and healthy environment is a key part of a sustainable campus, and that requires programs and policies to manage our campus lands.

Native species  |  Pesticide use  |  Green roofs  |  Permeable pavement 
Constructed wetlands  |  Green spaces

Native species

In 1997, Plant Operations worked with faculty and students to develop a list of plant species that were native to our geographic area and climate zone.  Since then, all new plantings have come from this list.  Native species help reduce invasiveness, improve tolerance to climate conditions, and can have higher resilience to local wildlife.

Pesticide Use

Plant Operations phased out all pesticide use across campus by 1998. With the exception of sports fields, which need to be treated for safety purposes, the grounds team manages weeds through natural methods such as:

  • Planting native species
  • Hand-weeding
  • Using hot water to kill off weeds

Green roofs

Green or "living" roofs are an excellent strategy to handle storm water and improve the natural beauty of the campus.  The following buildings have green roofs:

  • Environment 3
  • Centre for Environmental and Information Technology
  • Engineering 5
  • Hagey Hall (new addition)
  • Quantum Nano Centre

Permeable pavement

Permeable pavement helps control runoff during heavy rainfall.  When a lot of rain hits hard surfaces such as concrete, it picks up speed and can overwhelm municipal stormwater systems.  This can cause flooding and erosion.

Pavers installing permeable blocks next to Davis CentreIn 2014, Sustainable Campus Initiative led a demonstration project next to the Davis Centre to control this runoff.  The pavement stones allow water to seep through, slowing its travel and allowing gradual release. This project was made possible by the Dean of Math, Math Endowment Fund, Math Society, Federation of Students, Plant Operations, Oaks Pavers, and Helmutz Interlock.

The Arts-Environment Gardens between Hagey Hall, Environment 1, and Psychology also uses permeable pavement to improve natural irrigation.

Constructed wetlands

Wetlands provide many ecosystem services for communities and society, including flood control, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitats. On campus, Environment 3 makes use of wetlands' ability to absorb and purify water from its roof.  The building sends rainfall into an underground cistern. A vertical flow system then allows the plant roots to purify the water for reuse in EV3's toilets and green wall!

Constructed wetlands with flowers in bloom and informational signage

Green spaces

Whether for studying, relaxing, or throwing a Frisbee, green spaces are an important part of a modern campus environment.  UWaterloo's campus master plan is designed to maintain existing open areas by moving new buildings and development to the edges of campus.  Learn more about how the Campus Master Plan is shaping a vibrant and sustainable future for UWaterloo.

Benches overlooking trees and green space on South Campus