Letter from the Chief Sustainability Officer
Since its founding as the nation’s first public university, UNC-Chapel Hill has been characterized by innovation and service to the people of North Carolina. In the past, this service has focused on supporting our local communities and working towards accelerating economic development across the state. Looking forward, we anticipate new and different needs for the state in the face of a changing world and a changing climate.
Sustainability is at the forefront of the challenges that the University will face in the decades ahead. We are ready to rise to that challenge by engaging our students, our faculty, and our staff in exciting and interdisciplinary efforts to transform our campus into a living laboratory for sustainability. We envision UNC-Chapel Hill as a “triple zero” campus, achieving neutrality in our greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing our landfilled waste, and reducing our water use to be in balance with the local hydrologic cycle. We further aspire to create a healthier, happier campus community able to anticipate and respond nimbly to future challenges.
Many people are not yet aware of Carolina’s recent sustainability achievements. From interdisciplinary courses and pan-campus themes to investments in water infrastructure that have enabled us to reduce potable water use by 60% per square foot since 2000, we have already positioned Carolina as a leader among our peers. We are ready to embrace a host of new, sustainability-related opportunities by building upon UNC-Chapel Hill’s unique culture of service and innovation.
Equipping our students, staff, and faculty with the skills and resources to contribute to solutions at every scale — from individual behavior to global impact — is essential. Every member of the Carolina community has an important role to play in defining our joint future. We want to empower every person who passes through UNC-Chapel Hill to carry their learning beyond our campus boundaries and to replicate our successes and lessons learned in communities across the state and the world. Much of this work has already begun, from the Carolina Campus Community Garden that supplies fresh produce to low wage workers to the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee through which student leaders plan and fund energy-saving and renewable energy infrastructure across our campus.
Continuing to transform UNC-Chapel Hill into a living laboratory for sustainability will be a journey, and we’re only just beginning. To advance our efforts further, Carolina will need each and every one of us to connect what we learn to what we do.
This Sustainability Plan contains ambitious goals for our campus and our community. Every step depends on your participation. While our responsibility for the world around us is collective, the actions we can take to scale our impact are individual. We need your unique skills, passions, and perspective to solve the problems that will be faced by Carolina and the world in the coming century. What positive impact will you make?
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises
Chief Sustainability Officer