The Natural Environment Assessment Results

Thank you for completing the Hazon Seal Natural Environment Assessment!

The suggestions below are based on your responses to the assessment, and are designed to get you thinking about what sort of projects your organization should consider to improve its sustainability impact. You are not required to take on all or even any of the suggestions offered.

Recommendations based on assessment taken June 22, 2022

  • We recommend creating a formal plan or set of policies for careful stewardship of the land your facility is built on. We encourage you to base that plan upon the contents of this assessment, any recommendations that appear below, and what is viable in your organization’s particular circumstances. Formalizing the plan will help ensure that it is followed and guides future decision-making.
  • We recommend assigning and empowering someone to ensure the Sustainable Outdoor Grounds Maintenance policies are implemented as intended. This adds a layer of accountability that is not present when the policy is left up to each member of the organization to interpret and carry out.
  • How we steward our lands can have a tremendous impact on both humans and other organisms living in our communities. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are ubiquitous and harmful to the environment, and land can be managed without them. Consider contracting with a landscaper who uses sustainable practices; look at directories on the Ecological Landscape Alliance, or Northeast Organic Farmers Association. Talk with your current landscaper about adopting more sustainable practice; check out Perfect Earth for tips on having this conversation.
  • Excessive and/or contaminated runoff can pose serious risks to both the natural environment and man-made systems and structures. Implementing measures to control runoff and reduce its impact range from simple redirection of downspouts to major overhauls of parking lots and roof structures. Here are a few possibilities to discuss with a contractor.
    • Rainwater capture and use: Directing water from gutters to rain barrels or cisterns can reduce runoff and allow you to reduce the amount of drinking water used to water lawns and gardens.
    • Rain Gardens: If there is a low spot on your property where runoff can be directed, it may be a suitable location for a rain garden. A well-designed rain garden sits on permeable ground that will allow ample rainwater infiltration and is densely vegetated to help filter the water as it enters the soil.
    • Constructed Wetland: Constructed wetlands are like rain gardens that remain saturated between rainfalls, allowing rainwater to infiltrate the soil. They can be more difficult to properly design but can host a broad diversity of plants and wildlife that typically cannot find habitat in built-up areas.
    • Directing flow through heavy vegetation: Known more formally as “Vegetated Filter Strips,” this method directs sheet water flow to pass through densely vegetated strips, filtering it, slowing it down, and allowing it to infiltrate the soil.
    • Bioswales: A swale is a broad shallow sloped channel for runoff, and a bioswale is a swale that is vegetated to filter the water, slow it down, and allow it to infiltrate the soil.
    • Permeable Hard Surfaces: Permeable concrete, asphalt, and pavers can all be used instead of traditional hard surfaces to allow water to infiltrate through your parking lots, sidewalks, and courtyards instead of pouring off them in concentrated runoff. Replacing existing surfaces is a major undertaking and may only be suitable if it is already necessary for other reasons.
    • Green Roof: A “green roof” is one that is covered partially or entirely in grass or other vegetation. On larger buildings, this typically entails special structural considerations for the soil, gravel, sand, and water on the roof. A green roof can reduce heating and cooling costs, as well as absorbing a good deal of rainfall rather than sending it to a gutter system. It can also reduce the urban heat island effect.