Organized efforts to institutionalize sustainability at UNC began in 1999, as two converging factors led to the formation of the Sustainability Coalition. Executive Order 156 from then-governor Jim Hunt called on all state agencies to adopt more sustainable practices. Simultaneously, students requested that the university community become more aware of environmental issues.
After two years of volunteer efforts from students, faculty and staff, the university became the first in the state to hire a full-time Sustainability Coordinator. Cynthia Pollock Shea, LEED AP, was hired in 2001 and in 2003 the Sustainability Office grew to include an Energy Conservation Manager and administrative assistant.
Recognizing the need to involve decision makers from both the academic and operational arms of campus in sustainability efforts, the Vice Chancellor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee was formed in January 2005. Committee members broadly represent all campus constituencies; provide expertise in planning, operations, academics, research, and student life; and bring their unique familiarity with various aspects of sustainability.
Advising Richard Mann, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, the Committee recommends long-term sustainability goals for the University and the means to achieve them. Members examine existing incentives and disincentives and propose more effective strategies. Committee members champion these strategies and communicate them to each member’s respective area so that all stakeholders take ownership.
View a list of Vice-Chancellor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee members, the Committee’s charter, and the UNC Sustainability Policy.
Recent initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have reflected the increasing institutionalization of sustainability at UNC. In 2006, the university and the Town of Chapel Hill agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2050, becoming the first town-gown partnership in the country to do so. Later in the same year, Chancellor James Moeser signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging that UNC will become climate neutral as soon as possible and by mid-century at the latest.
Through the efforts of many staff, sustainability initiatives can be found in departments across campus. Progress in sustainability efforts is catalogued in the biennial Campus Sustainability Report.
2005 Campus Sustainability Report
As sustainability initiatives expand, communication is essential. Through the Sustainability Listserv, participants in sustainability efforts are able to share ideas, events, and updates on a number of sustainability-related activities on campus. Join the Sustainability Listserv.