Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Regional Model for Sustainability

By David Jones, Sustainability Coordinator

UNC Charlotte has and is making a commitment to become a more sustainable institution by planning to adopt and implement sustainable practices in all functions of the University.

Sustainability at UNC Charlotte is defined as more than only environmental, and includes economic and social aspects as reflected in the sustainability mission and vision statements.

Vision: To be the regional model of sustainable stewardship through the social, economic and ecological legacy we create.

Mission: All citizens of the university understand the impacts and consequences of our activity on the natural systems that support our life. And that this knowledge guides the research, education, outreach and operations of the University.

The goal of our sustainability program is to make sustainability a core value of UNC Charlotte. To achieve this goal we have developed a program that works for key areas: emissions reduction, resource conservation, stewardship enhancement and commitment. These four areas drive our practices that are then implemented across the key functions of the University, these being education and research, outreach and partnership, culture and community and business operations. This structure should support the implementation of a holistic sustainability program.

UNC Charlotte has made great strides in becoming a responsible global citizen through its sustainability efforts.

Our students established the first campus recycling program in 1987. Since then the students have continued to be instrumental in pushing the sustainability agenda at UNC Charlotte. In 2002 the Earth Club was established that promotes sustainability at UNC Charlotte through activism, education and social events. The Earth Club was the body responsible for spearheading a student lead campaign that lead to the establishment of the Charlotte Green Initiative. The Charlotte Green Initiative Committee is responsible for allocating student fees to pay for sustainability based projects at UNC Charlotte. The Student Government Association (SGA) appointed its first Secretary of Sustainability in 2007, to engage students’ faculty and staff in a dialogue about sustainability and to help further initiatives on campus.

Faculty at UNC Charlotte contribute to our mission and vision through their research and teaching roles. Members of the faculty through the Environmental Academy have been sharing information on sustainability research and courses, sharing experiences and lessons learned. UNC Charlotte engages the external community in sustainability initiatives through our Centers and Institutes such as the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the IDEAS CENTER (Infrastructure, Design, Environment and Sustainability) and the Daylighting Laboratory to name a few. Beyond this, faculty are involved in a diverse set of sustainability related and focused research efforts.

Our staff play a critical role in carrying out sustainability initiatives on a daily basis. From Materials Management (purchasing), building design and construction, energy and water efficiency programs through to our recycling and petroleum replacement award winning programs.

More and more educational institutions are taking on the challenge of implementing sustainability practices on their campuses. Institutions such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education have arisen to support colleges and universities in this effort, which in turn is leading to some national trends such as focusing on green house gas reductions, unified reporting on sustainability practices, partnering with the community and infusing sustainability into the curriculum. UNC Charlotte is aligned with some of these national trends and has signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, an undertaking by colleges and universities committing to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations. We submitted our first greenhouse gas inventory on January 15 and are now developing our climate action plan to reduce emissions form identified sources.

For more information on the UNC Charlotte sustainability program and specific actions being undertaken please visit the sustainability website at

# # #

No comments:

Post a Comment