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Board of Trustees learn about UNC's new environmental goals

Andy Kant, speaking at the Board of Trustees meeting on the Commercialization & Economic Development Committee on Jan. 27th.
Andy Kant, speaking at the Board of Trustees meeting on the Commercialization & Economic Development Committee on Jan. 27th.

Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises, explained the goals — net zero water use, zero waste and net zero greenhouse gas emissions — to the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday.

“They’re not just lofty aspirations — they’re really business musts,” Ives said.

UNC’s energy use is nearly flat from 2003 to 2015, and the University is using much less water per square foot than it did in 2000, Ives said, but the third goal — reducing greenhouse gas use — will be a challenge.

UNC won’t achieve the 2020 coal pledge to stop using coal by the end of the decade, Ives said.

“The biggest challenge for us is the coal plant on Cameron Avenue,” he said.

Ives said attempts to make the plant greener by converting it to burn biomass didn’t work out as planned.

According to his slideshow, the coal pledge was “quietly abandoned,” with a wait-and-see approach adopted in 2012 without public announcement.

He said by the end of 2016, UNC will have a new plan for how to stop using coal.

Odum demolition

Along with renovations to Beard Hall in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and a new fire sprinkler system for Kenan Laboratories, trustees approved the demolition of Odum Village, which doesn’t meet fire safety standards.

“Odum Village is the last of our residence hall facilities without sprinklers,” said Anna Wu, associate vice chancellor for facilities services.

UNC had previously received an extension for the 2015 deadline to close the apartment-style campus housing, where 450 students currently live, at the end of this school year.

Wu said power generation and chilled water plants will be built on the site along with other projects.

UNC’s venture fund

Members of the board’s Commercialization and Economic Development Committee meeting congratulated former trustee and investor Sallie Shuping-Russell on the progress of the Carolina Research Venture Fund, which made its first investment in December.

Shuping-Russell said she knows some other universities are making investments like this as part of their endowments, but she thinks UNC is the only school contributing its own money to start a venture fund.

UNC needs a venture fund so it can take advantage of investment opportunities at all funding rounds, Shuping-Russell said.

“These are opportunities that we could have taken advantage of had we had this fund, and we can take advantage of now we’ve got it,” she said.

The fund has $10 million dollars right now, half of which comes from UNC. Shuping-Russell said that’s a good starting point.

Shuping-Russell refused to name the company that received the fund’s first investment, though she said it makes cancer therapeutic drugs and has connections to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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