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Riverside, Calif. (June 8, 2015) -- The expansive Front Lawn at California Baptist University is home to flag football and soccer intramurals, the Fortuna Bowl, the homecoming block party and the campus Christmas Party. The lawn has great practical value, but it also is the 200,000-square-foot heart of CBU.

"There's an iconic imagery," said Steve Smith, director of facilities and planning services (FPS). And the imagery will remain green even in the most severe droughts in California history.

Aware of public perception as one drives by the Front Lawn, Smith wants people to know that 80 percent of the irrigation is provided by two wells on campus that tap a local groundwater basin. One well was drilled before the founding of CBU, the other in 2012. The well water is non-potable, but well suited for irrigation.

Thanks to the campus water source, the signature Front Lawn is expected to retain its verdant beauty. But CBU continues making a number of other changes in response to California's record drought. For Smith, conserving water has been an ongoing process for the past several years. Low-flow plumbing fixtures have been installed. Sprinklers have been changed to drip lines and landscaping switched to drought-tolerant.

"We should all strive to be good stewards constantly, he said. "The biblical call on us is to care for these resources and make them long-lasting. That sounds idealistic, but I think that can be done and we're doing a good job of that here."

For landscape and irrigation, FPS created an Xeriscape plan. Xeriscape refers to landscaping and gardening practices and design that reduce, mitigate or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Water-wise plants and drip systems have been installed in front of the School of Nursing, in planters and strip areas in the housing areas and parking lots. Fewer annuals are being planted. Landscaping associated with new construction will follow that model.

"There is a strategy to convert more and more turf area to what we call our CBU native or sustainable planting," Smith said. Several areas on campus have been identified for turf removal that has already begun in some locations.

By the athletic fields, FPS, the environmental science program and Provider Food Services are collaborating on a garden. There FPS will test what new plants grow well; environmental science will use a portion for projects, and Provider will use herbs grown there for food preparation.

Along with conserving water, CBU is conserving energy. Lights are going to LED. In the newer buildings, light and temperature control sensors are linked to occupancy. Lancer Palms on Wayne Court is powered partially by solar. More solar panels may be coming.

While the goal is primarily to conserve natural resources, there's a higher goal, too. 

"Biblically, this idea of conserving and sustainability and stuff was not an invention by man," Smith said. "God appointed us shepherds of these resources."