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Sustainability is Part of Culture at UNC-Chapel Hill


Sustainability is implemented as a core value at Chapel Hill in teaching, research, engagement, and operations. More than 150 sustainability-related courses are offered, and a concentration in sustainable enterprise is available to both MBA and undergraduate business students. A minor is sustainability is available to all undergraduates. External research funding has doubled over the past decade, including such projects as a new $17.5 million Solar Energy Research Center focusing on the next generation of photovoltaic technologies and solar fuels.

UNC-Chapel Hill committed to climate neutrality by 2050 and completed its first climate action plan in September. Short-term, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to 2000 levels by 2020. This is after adding 6 million square feet of space expanding the student population by 15 percent since 2000. Potable water consumption is down 27% per square foot since 2003 and energy consumption is down 8%.  Green roofs, cisterns, and permeable pavement are some of the 160 innovative stormwater practices. A new reclaimed water system provides cooling tower makeup water for UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals chiller plants, 290 million gallons per year, raising the potable water use reduction to over 50% and postponing a supply expansion by the local water utility for 20-30 years.

The new Education Center at the North Carolina Botanical Garden is expected to be the first public LEED Platinum building in North Carolina. The building will use only half as much fossil energy as a typical building because of a geothermal heating and cooling system, photovoltaic cells that generate electricity from sunlight, and daylighting that reduces the need for artificial light. The gardens are watered with harvested rainwater and the toilets are flushed with water from the reclaimed system.  Other features include using local materials, avoiding toxic substances, and recycling 90 percent of the construction and demolition waste.

Fare-free bus transit for the entire community, supported by $6 million annually from the university, will provide 7.5 million rides this year. Carolina Dining Services, which serves 13,000 meals per day, purchases 21 percent of its food and beverages from producers within 150 miles of campus. For more information, please see the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2009 Campus Sustainability Report.


For further information, please contact:

Cindy Pollock Shea

Director, Sustainability Office

UNC Chapel Hill