Landscaping and Ecology

Outdoor Landscaping

UMB has integrated thoughtful design into its landscaping to provide more green space onto campus, whether that be a small bump-out to incorporate a flower garden along walking paths, finding creative solutions to lessen the impervious area on campus, or saving older trees from new construction and “recycling” them by placing them in other spaces.

Stormwater management on campus also provides opportunities for additional greenery and usage of native plants. When you walk around campus, look around. Something that might look like a simple garden could actually be working hard to help treat rainwater.

In accordance with the specifications from Maryland’s Department of General Services, UMB prioritizes environmental-preferable landscaping materials and practices. This includes replacing non-native trees, shrubs, and other plantings with natives where possible, planting perennials in place of annuals, and using innovative landscaping techniques to reduce soil nutrient loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

Campus Trees

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Office of Sustainability formed a Tree Advisory Committee in 2022 as part of its efforts to apply for the Tree Campus Higher Education designation through the Arbor Day Foundation.

The University established a UMB Tree Care Plan in 2022, with input from the Tree Advisory Committee and UMB’s Resilience Working Group. The plan establishes care and maintenance guidelines as well as outlines the following tactics:

  • Support the city of Baltimore’s goal of establishing 40 percent tree cover by 2030 to combat urban heat island effect for UMB and its neighbors by increasing tree plantings on campus.
    • Increase the total number of campus trees by 10 percent over five years
  • Utilize UMB’s landscaping contract to ensure maintenance and care of existing trees on campus.

In 2022, UMB received a grant through the Chesapeake Bay Trust Urban Trees program to plant 65 new trees in support of our goal to increase our campus’ urban tree canopy. Learn more about the project here.

UMB also is a proud recipient of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ People Loving and Nurturing Trees (PLANT) Award.

Campus Tree Advisory Committee 

The tree advisory committee aims to meet twice a year in late summer and late winter, or as needed, to discuss tree plantings and selections on campus and to prepare for the submission of the Tree Campus Higher Education designation. Membership is voluntary, and term limits are laissez-faire. The current sitting committee members include:

  • Kimia Abtahi, Fourth-Year Medical Student
  • Lane Victorson, Clinical Instructor at School of Social Work and Director of Community Organizing and Field Education at Social Work Community Outreach Service
  • Anna Borgerding, Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Operations
  • Elizabeth Main, Director of Sustainability and Special Projects
  • Angela Ober, Senior Specialist, Sustainability
  • Mark Drymala, Assistant Director of Environmental Services (Administrative)
  • Anthony Consoli, University Architect
  • Sean Ryan, BrightView Landscape Services Account Manager
  • Bill Joyner, Associate Vice President of Community Engagement

To inquire about joining, please submit this form. Inquiries will be reviewed and considered during the summer and winter, prior to the campus tree advisory committee meeting. 

Tree Canopy and Tree Equity in Baltimore

In 2021, UMB performed an analysis to estimate the campus tree canopy using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The results indicated that UMB’s current tree canopy is at 10 percent. In 2023, UMB created a Tree Campus Inventory to allow the University to protect existing trees and find opportunities to plant more trees on campus. In addition to the inventory, the Office of Sustainability has created a StoryMap on Tree Equity in Baltimore.

Download Other Educational Tree Materials Here

Green Roofs

Green Roof on Health Sciences Research Facility III

UMB has several green roofs on campus, including three separate roofs at Health Sciences Research Facility III. One of these roofs at HSRF III is accessible (second floor).

Benefits of Green Roofs 

Green roofs have a number of benefits:

  • Help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Help reduce building temperature
    • Reduce cooling costs/energy use
  • Help reduce heat island effect
    • Increase human health and comfort
  • Provide a source of stormwater runoff treatment

Green roofs cool and humidify the surrounding air, provide a natural habitat for animals and plants, create biodiversity, reduce dust and smog levels, and absorb contaminants from rainfall and the air.

Additionally, green roofs reduce stormwater runoff, typically, by 50 to 90 percent. Not only do they greatly reduce the volume of stormwater runoff, but they also minimize the impact of stormwater on existing sewer systems.

Buildings with green roofs boast reduced cooling costs and dampened noise pollution. They also increase the life expectancy of a roof by protecting building materials from climatic extremes.

For additional information, visit EPA Green Roof Information.

Bees at UMB

bee hives on green roof

In June 2023 UMB placed a bee hive at the Health Sciences Research Facility III (HSF III)'s seventh floor green roof. The bees are maintained by Bee Friendly Apiary. These bees will benefit the local community by pollinating native plants and local agriculture.

Did you know bees travel 1-2 miles from their hives in search of nectar? They have also been observed traveling up to 5 miles from their hives. UMB's Office of Sustainability created a map with UMB and UMMC's hives to show you how many urban farms the campus and hospitals' bees can visit. View the map in our resources page here.