Making Green Space Even Greener at BU

Based on new research from Boston University College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) senior Wiley Hundertmark, who majors in earth and environment, BU’s Facilities Management team will be changing the way it maintains the landscaping on the Charles River Campus.

Working with faculty researchers Lucy Hutyra, a CAS associate professor of earth and environment, and Pamela Templar, a CAS professor of biology, Hundertmark embarked on a mission to understand how green spaces on the campus-namely trees, lawns, and garden beds-were contributing to the carbon cycle. To do so, he spent hundreds of hours scouring bird’s-eye view maps of the campus, digitally blocking off 5,100 different sections of the campus and labeling them as brick, concrete, paved surface, building, trees, lawn, or mulched garden areas. By measuring the carbon emissions from the different campus surface types, Hundertmark made a counterintuitive discovery about how the presence of mulch and the maintenance of grass lawns impacts the campus’ carbon cycle.

His findings not only surprised him and his research advisor Hutyra, but spurred them to reach out to BU Facilities to try and improve the University’s carbon footprint. This spring and summer, BU Facilities will be using Hundertmark’s research to inform the way they plan and manage green space on the Charles River Campus.

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