KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has become just the fifth organization in the country to receive accreditation for landscape management and operations under a new, dynamic sustainability-oriented program established by the Professional Grounds Management Society.
In March, PGMS awarded WMU a four-star Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation, the highest level of accreditation possible. The only other entity accredited in 2015 was Georgia Tech University, which received three stars.
The accreditation program evaluates strategic grounds management principles and practices that produce and guide the delivery of properties to an attractive, healthy, sustainable and high-quality state.
"Obtaining the four-star accreditation rating requires a very proactive and aggressive approach to understanding and implementing sound grounds management practices," accreditation facilitator Joe Jackson said in announcing this year's two honorees. "WMU's Landscape Services Division effectively met this requirement while also displaying an appreciable propensity for continuous betterment."
Rare national honor
Universities and other organizations that have large campuses and a landscape services or grounds component could begin applying for Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation in 2014.
Only five campuses, all at higher education institutions, have earned any level of PGMS accreditation so far. Besides WMU and Georgia Tech, PGMS in 2014 bestowed grounds management four-star accreditation on the University of California-Davis and two-star accreditation on the College of Wooster and University of Delaware.
Tim Holysz, WMU landscape services director in the Department of Facilities Management, prepared WMU's accreditation submission and accepted the PGMS honor on behalf of the University.
"Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation offers the roadmap for organizations to effectively integrate their grounds and landscape operational functions with sound management practices so they meet current demanding environmental challenges and expectations," Holysz says.
"Bringing our campus up to the exacting standards required for accreditation has been decades in the making. We've now accomplished our goals for PGMS' Key Principles and Best Management Practices, but rather than the end all, we consider this a launching point for greater and better success as we look into the future."
About the accreditation program
Established in 1911, the Professional Grounds Management Society is an individual membership society of grounds professionals dedicated to advancing the grounds management profession through education and professional development.
Its Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation focuses on the areas of environmental stewardship, economic performance and social responsibility. The program has four levels of accreditation, from one to four stars, with four stars being the highest level.
To be granted accreditation, organizations must complete a nine-step process that includes completing a lengthy accreditation package, having their application reviewed by an accreditation committee and having their organization undergo a site visit by a team of evaluators.
Accreditation is initially awarded for three years. To be reaccredited, organizations must verify their continuing conformance to best practices and adherence to the principles of the accreditation.
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