Recognizing the potential threats from global climate change to the environment, society and economy, Dr. Linda Brady, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in October 2011, pledging the University to develop a strategic plan to achieve climate neutrality. This declaration was the culmination of years of effort by several faculty, students and staff to have UNCG emerge as a local and national leader in implementing and promoting sustainable practices. It was also an acknowledgement by UNCG of its obligation to prepare its graduates to meet the current and future challenges posed by climate change.
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Development of this campus Climate Action Plan (CAP) was led by the UNCG Sustainability Coordinator, Trey McDonald. A CAP team comprised of more than 50 UNCG students, staff and faculty was established, divided into six (6) working groups around specific focus areas – University Administration, Infrastructure Energy Use, Transportation, Materials Management, Water, and Academics and Outreach. Five of the working groups were asked to develop potential actions to further UNCG’s goal of climate neutrality, with estimates of financial costs and potential greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. The Academic working group focused on creating strategies to make certain that UNCG students gain an understanding of sustainability via research and coursework; this knowledge can result in practical benefits for campus carbon reduction. The actions proposed in this document include many adapted from best practices at other universities as well as some unique to UNCG.
Though most campus sustainability programs originate through student and faculty grassroots efforts, no comprehensive sustainability strategy can succeed without support from the University administration. Meeting the challenge of the Climate Commitment will require that UNCG develop financial and personnel resources to implement the strategies to attain climate neutrality, and ensure continuity in this support from one administration to the next. Creating and adopting formal policies and practices will help the administration establish a clear and powerful message around its dedication to sustainability; as such, proposed new policies are presented throughout this Plan.
This Plan is written with the knowledge that it is a living document that will grow and change as external influences change. The CAP will be reviewed annually for progress and revised periodically to reflect changes in the political and legislative arenas, economic conditions, climate science, enrollment projections, and other factors. Attainment of neutrality will require implementation of not only the strategies listed in this plan but also additional actions that will be submitted by future UNCG Climate Action teams. Establishing some of these measures is also highly dependent on the State of North Carolina budgetary process. The flexibility within the CAP process ensures that these factors can be taken into consideration and adjustments to the Plan be made such that UNCG continues forward in its journey to climate neutrality.