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The Daily Tar Heel

Report: Universities More Environmentally Aware

Universities nationwide are becoming more environmentally conscious, according to a report released last month by the National Wildlife Federation.

According to the report, titled "State of the Campus Environment," there has been an increase in the number of programs on campuses geared toward conservation of the environment.

The report also stated that environmental studies programs need improvements. It was composed of voluntary responses from about 22 percent of all institutions nationwide.

Julian Keniry, senior manager of the NWF's Campus Ecology program, said she found the results of the survey to be surprisingly positive overall.

Keniry said the survey showed water conservation is an increasingly high priority at universities.

Water conservation efforts at 72 percent of the schools surveyed include using more efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads and using plants in landscaping that can live solely on rainwater.

Keniry also emphasized that colleges are increasing recycling efforts, but the programs are not entirely successful.

She said the separation of different types of garbage on campuses is a relatively successful program. But she added the percentage of total recycled waste is not up to par.

Keniry said there were other downsides revealed in the report. Only 8 percent of colleges responding require students to take a course in environmental studies. She added universities received the lowest score in their efforts to orient students and faculty to conservation programs and goals.

Although UNC did not participate in the study, Keniry said the University tends to be a good school environmentally.

UNC Sustainability Coordinator Cynthia Pollock Shea said the University has made a significant effort to protect the environment on and around campus, especially in plans for campus expansion.

"The new buildings are more energy, water, and materials efficient than their predecessors," Shea said. "With the new buildings, volume, rate and pollutant load of storm water leaving campus will not increase."

She said there were also plans for vegetative roofs on three of the new buildings and a large green space on top of the new Ramshead parking deck to make the campus more ecologically sound.

Shea added fare-free busing, which will go into effect in January, will help curb air pollution from single-person cars.

Shea also said the University has increased environmental awareness in the classroom, citing the environmental studies program and the Sustainable Enterprise Initiative at the Kenan-Flagler Business school as two examples.

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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