Nurturing sustainable landscapes

The IU Indianapolis Campus Facility Services (CFS) Grounds team actively works to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily care of the campus landscape.  These initiatives have increased the operational efficiency of the campus while also reducing the long-term impact of our campus footprint and providing a thriving, urban habitat for pollinators, birds, and other creatures.

A selection of our most innovative practices are highlighted below.  For a full list of our campus grounds efforts, visit the CFS sustainability page.  


Preserving our urban canopy

Campus tree plantings

At least twice a year, IU Indianapolis hosts native tree plantings to help us reach our campus canopy coverage goal of 28%, including an annual celebration of Arbor Day.  Thanks to our partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), we've adopted all 68 blocks of campus as Indianapolis' largest Adopt A Block captain.  As Adopt A Block captain, IU Indianapolis receives trees, educational programming, and other resources from KIB in support of our campus trees.  Interested in volunteering for our tree plantings?  Sign up on the events calendar.

Tree Campus Higher Education

IU Indianapolis has been a certified Tree Campus Higher Education university since 2012.  A program of the Arbor Day Foundation, the Tree Campus Higher Education program helps colleges and universities around the country establish and sustain healthy community forests while actively engaging the campus community in learning about native trees.  

A home for pollinators

Campus efforts

At IU Indianapolis, we are taking action to welcome pollinators into our urban environment. The grounds team utilizes a student-created Native Care Guide to properly care for native plants in our landscape. IU Indianapolis’s Integrated Pest Management policy reduces application of pesticides on campus.

Pollinator garden

Our campus features a 2,500 sq. ft. pollinator garden, originally designed by an undergraduate student as an Honors College project. Just east of Riverwalk Apartments, this dedicated space features a variety of native plants that provide critical habitat and forage to pollinators on the IU Indianapolis campus and downtown Indianapolis. 

Campus beehives

The IU Indianapolis urban gardens provide refuge for bees in our urban environment. The New York Street garden features native bee hives, as well as two honeybee hives, each housing about 100,000 honeybees a piece. The Urban Beekeepers at IU Indianapolis care for the honeybee hives and educate the campus on the importance of pollinators. Learn more about how we maintain our beehives.


Bee Campus USA

IU Indianapolis became the 31st educational institution in the US to be certified as a Bee Campus USA in 2017. IU Indianapolis is the first state university in Indiana, and the first IU campus, to earn this designation.

The Bee Campus USA program endorses a set of commitments for creating a sustainable habitat for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet.


Electrification of grounds equipment

Thanks to a winning Greening IU Indianapolis Grant, the IU Indianapolis Grounds team is converting its fuel-powered handheld grounds equipment to 100% electric.  The conversion currently includes backpack and handheld blowers, hand and pole saws, string trimmers, tillers, self-propelled mowers, and ride-on zero turn mowers.

Electric grounds equipment provides many benefits, including improved worker safety, no fuel costs, and zero emissions during use. 

Water efficiency in grounds


IU Indianapolis uses Smart Irrigation technology, which utilizes rain sensors to conserve water by only irrigating when needed, and uses solar power to control timers where it is not possible to utilize sensors.  

Additionally, IU Indianapolis utilizes rainwater recovery systems to power two irrigation systems. Rainwater from the roof of Glick Eye Institute and SELB are collected and held in cisterns. This recovered water is then used to supply drip irrigation to the surrounding landscapes.

Rain gardens

IU Indianapolis is home to a handful of rain gardens, which capture, filter, and absorb rainwater runoff from roofs, sidewalks, and parking lots instead of rainwater flowing into stormwater drains.  Through water filtration, these gardens help cut down the amount of pollution reaching local creeks and streams by up to 30%.

It is important for the Grounds department to constantly improve our practices to preserve the natural beauty of this land and reduce our environmental impact. Our partnership with IU Indianapolis Sustainability enables us to use resources to innovate and leave campus better than it was today for future generations of not just Jaguars, but all Hoosiers.

Jesse Beck, Grounds Program Manager