Thomson Rotarians took a graduate course in campus planning Thursday.
Ben Liverman, the campus planner for the University of Georgia, outlined the environmental initiatives at the Athens campus.
"A lot of times, what is ecologically sustainable is economically sustainable," Liverman said.
He said pedestrian greenways have replaced narrow streets, storm water is being funneled into fountains and decorative channels, and rainwater is being captured for irrigation and even to flush toilets.
"Most of the landscapes we install now have more than one purpose," he said. The landscapes beautify the campus and offer places to gather.
For more than 13 years, the campus has pressed a policy of making the inner campus friendlier to pedestrians. Parking lots have been pushed to the perimeter. Walk times have increased between some sections of campus, but the view has been enriched. As an example, he said the Herty Field parking lot was revamped. "It was a rather sacred parking lot," Liverman said. The new arrangement has more greenery and produces less runoff, he said.
Liverman said the newer South Campus was less densely developed than the older campus, and it was often necessary to drive from one section of the grounds to another. He said D.W. Brooks Drive has become "a great pedestrian drive that stretches through South Campus and gives it that North Campus quality."
Other features include green roofs over parking lots, retention areas, increased green space, more trees to reduce runoff, more rainwater harvesting, and porous pavers to allow more water to soak into the ground. Water harvesting directs rain to 15 cisterns with a combined storage capacity of 530,000 gallons.
Native plants are used whenever possible, he said, and many native species work well in the wet retention areas.
Targeted grazing helps control invasive plants such a kudzu. Sheep are placed in an area for two weeks and then removed for two weeks.
Landscaping work produces all the mulch needed on campus, he said.
Rotary President Don Powers said it's amazing to see the world-class project take shape at the campus.
The speaker was the guest of Tommy Dudley of Dudley Nurseries in Thomson.