UCF Arboretum

Research

Landscape & Natural Resources and the Arboretum partner to collect, analyze, and report on meaningful urban ecology research projects on the UCF campus.  Projects include collection of GIS data, and development of best management practices for the Landscape and Natural Resources programs.

RAMP

The aim of this program is to encourage more students from those populations who are traditionally underrepresented in graduate education to attend graduate school. For more information visit http://arboretum.ucf.edu/research/ramp/ or contact the UCF RAMP department.

Vegetation Monitoring

As a part of the University’s commitment to the long term conservation and management of the campus natural areas, a vegetation monitoring program has been implemented to document plant composition, both native and invasive, throughout campus.  Once populations of invasive species are identified this monitoring program helps track the progress and effectiveness of our current land management practices.  This approach assists Landscape and Natural Resources in protecting and enhancing our campus ecosystems. The vegetation monitoring program consists of 37 established plots in the campus natural areas that were randomly generated using ArcGIS software.  These plots are visited twice a year by staff, during the summer growing season and in the winter dormant season, to record plant species and environmental conditions in the surrounding habitat. This procedure is also used to monitor the University’s compliance projects with St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and campus restoration projects.

Urban Forestry Effects (UFORE)

Student interns have done research on the urban forest and its potential in sequestering atmospheric carbon through a research strategy called Urban Forestry Effects (UFORE).  The UFORE study attempts to set the baseline carbon sequestration rate for all of campus by measuring the structure of the campus’s urban and natural forests. This information has been collected by student interns and will be used in the policies and master planning processes for the future land uses on campus.  This information can also be used to determine the hourly pollution removal rate and the cooling effect trees have on nearby buildings.

Learn More at UFORE.org

Results from UCF UFORE Study

Carbon Storage and Sequestration from Tree Canopy and Understory

  • Total campus & Natural Lands emission reduction equivalent to:
    • 555,498 gallons of gasoline
    • 972 passenger cars
    • 11,523 barrels of oil

Green Roofs

What is a Green Roof?
A green roof is a roof that is either partially or completely covered with plants. There are two types of green roofs – intensive and extensive. An intensive green roof requires more maintenance, thus it has deeper soil and can support plants, and even trees, with larger root systems. A roof garden would be an example of an intensive green roof. Extensive green roofs, like the ones on campus, have small shrubs and grasses with smaller root systems and require less maintenance.
What are the benefits of a Green Roof?

  • Reduces energy use: lowers the cost of cooling and heating a building
  • Green Roofs can lower roof temperatures up to 45-50 degrees.
  • Reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduces storm water runoff
  • Prolongs lifespan of roof
  • Creates a habitat for wildlife
  • Reduces the Urban Heat Island effect

Our Green Roof

  • Located on the Physical Science Building
  • Weather station data can be found at:

https://www.hobolink.com/p/db62930c89556241a85c6ec2988650d0

While vegetated roofs have been used for centuries to insulate buildings, especially in areas of northern Europe, the technology has been slower to catch on in most of the developed world. The modern version of the “green” roof wasn’t developed until the 1960’s in Germany and has only become somewhat popular in the United States within the last decade. This lag may be due to the significant overhead cost of constructing a green roof compared to a traditional roof. However, recent studies have shown that the wealth of benefits associated with a vegetated roof may far outweigh the costs.

Research has shown that green roofs reduce storm water runoff amount and rate, filter both air and water, sequester carbon, create wildlife habitat, increase sound abatement, and reduce the urban heat island effect. In addition, vegetated roofs have been shown to drastically reduce energy costs for heating and cooling as a result of thermal insulation, shading, and evaporative cooling (via transpiration). Cost-benefit analyses have revealed that the overhead cost of installing a green roof could be negated in a short period of time as a result of the money saved on energy consumption, especially in a building with a large roof to wall ratio.

Additional research has demonstrated that soil moisture and leaf area index (LAI) are key variables in the effectiveness of thermal reduction by green roofs. In particular, studies have shown that thermal conductivity decreases with increasing soil moisture and increasing LAI. Our green roof research is focused on quantifying the differences in the temperature profile and soil moisture content between two native plant species.