Since 2007, UNC has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent overall, even as the campus expanded in size.
The University works to become greenhouse gas neutral by reducing emissions through improving efficiency on campus, reducing coal use at the Cogeneration facility, increasing on-campus renewable energy and by working toward a strategy to purchase renewable energy. Innovative, renewable energy solutions, smart operational practices, individual choices to save energy, and new high-performance buildings have all contributed to significant energy and GHG emissions reductions. A summary of the emissions inventory is released annually and the full inventory report is released every 3-5 years.
Our water conservation and reclamation efforts saved more than 350 million gallons of water in 2021. That’s more than half of the water in University Lake.
Following two severe droughts, the University invested in innovative sustainable water management practices and conservation efforts, which have reduced potable water consumption by 43% since 2007, or an average of 229 million gallons annually for the last 5 years, even with a growing campus population. Today, UNC-Chapel Hill is recognized internationally for its water conservation efforts.
In 2020, we diverted 43 percent of our waste from the landfill by recycling and composting.
Minimizing the waste we allow onto campus and recovering reusable resources are crucial components of achieving the University’s goals for a zero-waste campus. Efforts to reuse and recycle campus waste have significantly reduced the total amount of material UNC sends to the landfill: diverting 3,633 tons from the landfill in 2020, for a diversion rate of 43 percent, compared to 12 percent in 1990. This requires campus-wide sustainable materials management and individual behavior change.