Conservation to preserve natural resources is woven into the fabric of Princeton. Beatrix Farrand, one of America's foremost landscape designers, worked on Princeton's campus from 1915 to 1941. She acknowledged the challenges of dealing with a "living institution," in that each project she built at Princeton added another dimension to an already complex relationship between the operations of the campus and the built and natural environments. Farrand pioneered an approach to the efficient care and management of the campus environment by treating the basic mediums of landscape architecture — planting, soils, paving and rainwater — not as individual issues but as components in a self-sustaining integrated system. With a campus already significantly larger than during Farrand's tenure and facing further growth, land management and sustainable development are more critical than ever, and the need to translate the spirit and intent of Farrand's work into modern techniques could not be more important.
A 5,000-gallon underground stormwater storage tank that is collecting and recycling rainwater to irrigate landscaping in Butler Memorial Court at Butler College is a modern version of Farrand's cisterns that collected rainwater for passive irrigation at Holder Courtyard and Cuyler Terrace in the first half of the 20th century.
- 86 percent of departments are using 100 percent post-consumer recycled printing paper in 2009 following early adoption in 2004, and paper consumption is declining.
- 45 percent of the food purchased by Dining Services comes from within 200 miles.
- The two highest volume custodial cleaning products are Green Seal certified.
- A Life Cycle Assessment program has been instituted to scrutinize products for their composition and environmental impact.
- 100 percent of appliances purchased are Energy Star rated.
- Since 2008, 4.7 acres of mowed open areas have been converted to wooded buffer landscapes that absorb stormwater loads and help protect ecologically sensitive habitats from invasive species; these areas do not require irrigation or maintenance once established.
- 100 percent of landscape trimmings and leaves are composted and reused on site.
- A 12,000-gallon rainwater collection cistern has been installed in the new Chemistry Building and will provide capacity to flush toilets in the building.
Princeton has been historically sensitive to water use, chemical inputs and maintenance costs in landscape planning. The Princeton Sustainability Plan commits the University to preserve green space, enhance rainwater collection and retention on site, manage stormwater through an ecosystem approach and implement sustainable design principles in all projects. Since 2002, the University has employed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, applying pesticides, herbicides or insecticides in a targeted, limited fashion.