Under all that Tar Heel blue, UNC has a heart that’s green. On the College Sustainability Report Card, an independent sustainability evaluation of 300 public and private colleges, UNC earned an A-.
We got kudos for having a university Sustainability Office, purchasing EnergyStar equipment, using energy-efficient lighting, buying local and organic food, and decreasing water use by 57% per square foot of building since 2005. Other big winners? The Report Card loved the Tar Heel Treasure yard sale during move-out in the spring, which generated 13 tons of stuff to sell for worthy causes. We also got big points for all of our sustainability-focused student groups and the Sustainability Living Learning Community.
So what do we need to work on?
Well, we got an F for endowment transparency. That means it’s tough for anyone other than UNC trustees to see the holdings of our endowment. Why is that important? According to the Report Card, a more transparent endowment encourages campus dialogue about investing in green initiatives and supporting responsible corporate practices.
Another thing to think about? UNC set a goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but our greenhouse gas emissions rose by 37% between 2000-2009. We’re always growing, so we’ll have to be creative to keep our emissions low as our student population and our square footage grow.
Visit the Report Card website and check out all the cool things happening across the country. Pomona College runs a Green Bikes Shop with shared bicycles, Dickinson College spends 50% of its food budget on local food and serves vegetables from its own campus farm, and UC Davis offers a trade-in program for inefficient appliances. What else can we do to make UNC a leader in sustainability?