Sustainable Landscaping at State Facilities

With over 550,000 acres of land owned and managed by state entities across the Commonwealth, there is a significant opportunity to enhance native habitat, reduce emissions, and improve local environmental health by implementing sustainable landscaping practices. This includes converting lawns to pollinator-focused habitats, adding green roofs to buildings, and utilizing battery-powered landscape equipment.

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Pollinator Habitats

283 acres of pollinator habitats at MA state sites

Pollinator Habitats on State Lands as of August 2021

Converting lawns or underutilized lands into pollinator habitats can lead to a number of fiscal and environmental benefits, including reduced fuel and labor costs and improved air quality. 

Pollinator habitats are managed to benefit local insects and wildlife. Management strategies may differ across properties, agencies, and regions depending on the specific landowner goals and logistics of the site, but typically involve limiting mowing, minimizing use of herbicides and pesticides, and planting native species.

In general, pollinator habitats can be created through one of or a combination of three general strategies: 1) Limited-mow zones; 2) Managed meadows and grasslands; and 3) Pollinator gardens. Each of these strategies are described in the Pollinator Landscapes at State Facilities Guiding Framework under Resources Section below.

DOER regularly meets with state agencies and partners to support these efforts at state facilities. ​The Leading by Example Program and partner entities ​identify and share best practices, offer technical support, and track the development of pollinator habitats on state lands.

Benefits of creating and managing pollinator habitats include:  

  • Reducing fuel use and associated emissions from mowing
  • Increasing resilience to flooding
  • Increasing food and habitat for native wildlife
  • Improving staff efficiencies from reduced landscaping needs, such as mowing and watering
  • Reducing need for fertilizers and pesticides
  • Providing aesthetic value for residents and visitors

State Entities with Established Pollinator Habitats

The following state entities have implemented one or several pollinator habitat strategies. For more information about these sites, please visit DOER's interactive Leading by Example map and select "Sustainable Landscapes."

Public Colleges/Universities State Agencies
Bristol Community College Department of Conservation and Recreation
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Department of Correction
Massasoit Community College Department of Mental Health - Taunton State Hospital
North Shore Community College Department of State Police
UMass Amherst Department of Transportation
UMass Lowell Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Battery-Powered Landscape Equipment

Battery-powered landscape equipment, including mowers (zero turn, stand-on, and push), leaf blowers, and hedge trimmers are available on statewide contract FAC116: Lawns and Grounds Equipment, Parts and Services as an environmentally preferable purchasing option. See the FAC116 Contract User Guide on the COMMBUYS link above for more information.

Benefits of commercial battery-powered equipment can include:

  • Eliminating on-site greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from combustion of gasoline
  • Curtailing need to store and transport gasoline and most chemicals required for maintenance
  • Lowering ongoing costs typically associated with traditional equipment, including maintenance and gasoline purchases
  • Reducing noise levels for workers, residents, staff, faculty, neighbors, and wildlife

You can hear Chris Hoffman, Park Supervisor at Walden Pond State Reservation, speak to the many benefits of battery-powered landscaping equipment on this video developed as part of Climate Week 2021.

BPLE on statewide contract and user endorsement

A two-page infographic outlining the benefits of BPLE and how to learn more can be downloaded below

Piloting Equipment: Ride and Drives and the DCAMM Tool Barn

On September 13th, 2021, LBE, OSD, and DCR hosted an information session on battery-powered landscaping equipment, followed by a 'ride and drive' featuring vendors from statewide contract FAC116. A slide deck and pictures from this event can be downloaded here:

LBE may host additional 'ride and drives' throughout the year. Please contact if you may be interested in hosting or attending an event.

Interested in trying out battery-powered landscaping equipment at your facility? Executive Branch agencies can borrow battery-powered equipment from the DCAMM Tool Barn. See information on how to request this equipment on the Tool Barn Program website.

Additional Resources

Resources and Tools to Get Started

Several resources have been developed by the Leading by Example Program and the Operational Services Division to assist state agencies and public institutions of higher education seeking to adopt sustainable landscaping practices.

Pollinator Habitats

  • Pollinator Landscapes at State Facilities Guiding Framework- Includes an overview of the importance of pollinator habitats, benefits of converting traditional lawns to habitat, and strategies state agencies have undertaken to create these habitats on their lands.
  • Lawn to Pollinator Habitat Savings Calculator - Designed to provide high-level estimates of potential cost savings, labor savings, and greenhouse gas emission reductions associated with converting lawns into pollinator-focused habitats.
  • Pollinator Seed Checklist for State Entities 3.16.22 - This two-page guide contains basic information that facilities may want to factor into their decision-making process before procuring seeds for pollinator meadows and grasslands, as well as criteria that can be sent to seed vendors or included in a scope of work to ensure selected species are appropriate for their site, while avoiding non-native species.
  • Interagency Pollinator Meadow and Garden BMP 3.16.22 - This two-page BMP is modeled after best practices developed and recommended by the DCR Pollinator Team, including guidance around site preparation, watering and weeding, and mowing. Guidance is intended to be broadly applicable to most state facilities, but may be adjusted to fit site-specific needs. 
  • Gardening with Climate-Smart Native Plants in the Northeast - This two-page guide from UMass Amherst provides basic information on the importance of using native plants as well as a list of native grasses, herbs, shrubs, and trees that may be suitable for the Northeast as the climate changes.
  • MassDOT Landscape Design and Roadside Maintenance - MassDOT has developed a series of guidelines to support the planting and maintenance of pollinator habitats along roadsides and in urban areas. Resources include native seed mix lists, guidance for establishment and management of habitats, invasive plant management guidance, and more.
  • Guidance for Federal Agencies on Sustainable Practices for Designed Landscapes - This document provides guidance to improve the sustainability of Federal landscape practices. While this guidance was written for Federal agencies, the practices herein can apply to state agencies when constructing new, or rehabilitating existing, owned or leased facilities or when landscaping improvements are otherwise planned.
  • Supporting the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators - This document is an addendum to the Sustainable Practices for Designed Landscapes guidance and includes information on landscape design and maintenance as part of the National Pollinator Health Strategy. While this guidance was written for Federal agencies, best practices are still applicable to state agency projects.
  • Pollinator Habitat Info and Resources - This document includes links to resources that can support development and management of pollinator habitats on state lands, including guidance on plant selection, certifications for pollinator-friendly solar arrays, resources for apiaries, and citizen science tools.

Battery-Powered Landscape Equipment

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