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The Champion Sustainability Fund is a revolving fund model. Carolina community members are encouraged to submit project ideas focused on energy efficiency to the advisory group, made up of sustainability leaders from HanesBrands and Carolina.

Selected projects will receive seed funding to put plans into action. Once a project is approved and implemented, the cost savings created through the project will be reinvested back into the fund, allowing sustainability initiatives to keep moving forward. By reinvesting savings, the fund will build future funding levels to continue offering opportunities for the Carolina community to achieve its sustainability goals.

All projects must be completed by Facilities.

Advisory Board

  • Mike Piehler, chief sustainability officer and director, Institute for the Environment
  • Melanie Elliott, sustainability analyst, Sustainable Carolina
  • Chris Fox, chief sustainability officer, HanesBrands
  • Jessica O’Hara, energy analyst, UNC Energy Management
  • Erin McElligott, project office manager, UNC Energy Services
  • Jeff Mittelstadt, professor of the practice and executive director, Center for Sustainable Enterprise, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • Erin Riggs, executive director, Environmental Finance Center, School of Government
  • Ileana Fenwick, PhD candidate, Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences

Application Process

The application includes questions that assist the board in determining the viability and impact of a proposed project. The application questions are intended to inform the advisory group on the project description, costs, benefits, and university impact. To download a copy of the application, click the on the application image.

To calculate CO2 emissions savings, use this calculator.

Once an application is submitted, the advisory group will review the project based on the selection criteria and determine whether the requested funding should be approved. Projects will be reviewed by the following criteria:

  • Length of payback period (no more than 5 years)
  • Reasonable cost
  • Total energy/water savings
  • Anticipated duration of project implementation
  • Innovative technology
  • Educational opportunities
  • Positive social impacts


Project Implementation

If the application is approved, submit a project request through Facilities. An estimated budget will be provided. To receive the loan funds, submit the budget to the fund committee. If the budget is found to be reasonably similar to the budget provided on the application, the funds will be distributed.

Fund Recovery

After the project has been completed, units will pay their regular energy bill to Energy Services. On an annual basis, funds will be recovered based on the payback period provided in the original application via an additional utility bill from Energy Services until the loan is repaid in full. After total repayment of the loan, 25% of the savings will be retained by the fund throughout the life of the project. For example, a $50,000 loan with a 5-year payback and 10-year lifespan will incur a $10,000 annual bill for five years and a $2,500 annual bill for five years after the loan is repaid. This strategy will grow the fund so that more projects can be funded.

Please email with questions.