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Sunday January 17th

UNC Sustainability Council works to plan roadmap for new initiative

UNC’s Carolina Sustainability Council met virtually on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 to discuss sustainability efforts, how the council will run, and what the future roadmap of UNC will look like.
Buy Photos UNC’s Carolina Sustainability Council met virtually on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 to discuss sustainability efforts, how the council will run, and what the future roadmap of UNC will look like.

UNC’s recently-formed Carolina Sustainability Council met in a virtual meeting Monday to discuss sustainability efforts, potential roadmapping and visions for the future, as well as how they plan to structure the council as a whole.

The Carolina Sustainability Council was created to help UNC transition to the new Sustainable Carolina initiative, which includes the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative.

  • Mike Piehler, UNC’s new chief sustainability officer, said he attended several meetings with groups at the University and around the Chapel Hill area.
  • Discussions with Carolina Dining Services emphasized topics like composting.
  • Piehler said he talked to University Architect Evan Yassky about building design and renovation and how they might do a better job of thinking about sustainability. This would especially be important because big capital projects are an opportunity to see how goals such as "zero carbon" can be implemented in future projects, Piehler said. 
    • Such practices can be applied to the Kenan-Flagler Business School’s present renovations to the existing building, as well as its future 140,000 square-foot addition. 
    • Jeffrey Mittelstadt, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, said they are incorporating the three zeros goals (net zero water, zero waste to landfills and net zero greenhouse gases) during the construction of the additional space.
    • Piehler hopes to push construction and development practices to the university level as the business school invests in carbon neutrality, which could potentially serve as a landmark for future guidance and policy.
  • The council discussed House Bill 589, which includes a section called the Green Source Advantage. This bill requires the creation of a program for large businesses, universities and the military to acquire renewable energy.
    • Duke University recently participated in the GSA and now has a renewable power supplied from Duke Energy.
    • UNC’s future involvement in the GSA would decrease the University's greenhouse emissions by 20 percent, Piehler said.

Updates to the Sustainable Carolina Initiative

  • The council aims to release an update document in early 2021 that reflects the council’s intentions going forward, acting as a philosophical rock and as a loose five-year roadmap for the Sustainable Carolina initiative. 
  • The document will have a one-page synthesis of their current goals and past efforts, and four to five one-page documents for major topical sections.
  • The Sustainable Carolina Initiative document was updated to become more of a statement about the group’s future with reference to ongoing projects and what they will be building on. This will include an appendix of past efforts and projects. 
    • “Visioning processes like these also help with identity formation, so I think it’ll help create our Council’s outward-facing identity, along with helping for the buy in for folks,” Diamond Holloman, a doctoral candidate in the environment ecology and energy program, said. “Because once they can see the vision that we’re working for, they can identify it, and that’s usually helpful for folks to do whatever the activities are that are encouraged by the visioning process.”

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