There has long been enthusiasm around making UNCG a more sustainable institution. Efforts in facilities, academic circles, as well as student groups have helped UNCG progress in positive ways. Complementing these efforts was the appointment of an “Environmental and Sustainability Manager,” a position that expanded the responsibilities of the Recycling Manager. The Environmental & Sustainability Manager was charged with reducing the overall environmental impact of the university in addition to waste management responsibilities. In 2004, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling oversaw a comprehensive sustainability assessment of UNCG’s achievements in sustainability as well as possible areas for improvement.
Despite the independent initiatives of the OWRR and within the campus community, a unified, cross-campus collaboration was lacking. In Fall of 2006, resulting from an initiative of faculty senate president Anna Marshall-Baker, Provost A. Edward Uprichard, and Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs Reade Taylor, the University Committee on Sustainability was created and over 50 staff, faculty, students & administrators joined. The Committee brought to light UNCG’s commitment to becoming a sustainable institution.
UNCG established sustainability as one of its five Core Values through the 2009 Strategic Plan. In this document, the University defined sustainability as: Academics, operations, and outreach… conducted with careful attention to the enduring interconnectedness of social equity, the environment, the economy, and aesthetics. This action led to the creation of the Office of Sustainability in with the hiring, the university’s first full-time Sustainability Coordinator in April 2010, as well as the formation of the UNCG Sustainability Council in September 2010.
In October 2011, Dr. Linda Brady, Former Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging the University to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality. This action was the culmination of years of effort by faculty, students and staff to have UNCG emerge as a local and national leader in sustainable practices. It was also the primary reason for development of the campus Climate Action Plan (CAP), led by the UNCG Sustainability Coordinator, Trey McDonald and involving a team comprised of more than 50 UNCG students, staff and faculty. The CAP team was divided into six (6) working groups around specific focus areas – University Administration, Infrastructure Energy Use, Transportation, Materials Management, Water, and Academics and Outreach – and the final Plan was officially adopted on July 31, 2013.
The university has further expanded sustainability efforts into academics by appointing an Academic Sustainability Coordinator (ASC). This position was initially held by Dr. Aaron Allen, Associate Professor in the School of Music. In collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, Dr. Allen hosted faculty workshops on integrating sustainability into the curriculum and bridged the gap between academics and operations through his “Intro to Sustainability” class. Each semester, student groups work with UNCG staff to develop Green Fund proposals and secure funding for sustainability projects on campus. Dr. Allen was named Director for the Environmental Studies Program in spring 2015, which planted the seed of opportunity for Dr. Marianne LeGreco, Associate Professor in Communication Studies, to serve as the current Academic Sustainability Coordinator. Not waste any time in the new role, she hosted a “Local Foodstorm” event to share her local food policy expertise and raise much-needed awareness about food deserts in the City of Greensboro. Dr. LeGreco is also working with her colleagues in the Faculty Fellows program to establish a Sustainability Research Network at UNCG.
Achievements and Recognition:
- Best Workplaces for CommutersSM Best University 2012; Gold Medal 2011, 2012, and 2013
- League of American Cyclists – Bronze level Bicycle Friendly University.
- Sierra Club Cool Schools: 51st (2011), 39th (2012), 76th (2013)
- STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System):
- Charter Participant
- Silver Ratings: 2011, 2012, 2013
- Sustainable Endowments Institute:
- 2010 D+, 2011 B
- 10 LEED certified buildings on campus
- Tree Campus USA 2009-2013
Previous Staff Members:
Trey McDonald – Sustainability Coordinator (April 2010 – October 2015)
Trey comes to UNCG from the University of Richmond, where he served as that school’s first sustainability coordinator. He has been in the environmental field for over 15 years, both as a whale biologist and environmental scientist. During his time as a wetlands scientist in Florida, he observed the pace and scale of development, and the resulting need for smart growth and green building. He earned his LEED accreditation in 2006, and in 2008, he completed his M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida. His thesis focused on sustainability on university campuses, and used USF as a case study. He was also a founding member and co-chair of Emerging Green Builders Chapter at USF. He earned his B.S. in Marine Biology from Auburn University, and has also studied at the University of British Columbia, the University of Oregon, and Florida Institute of Technology. Beyond his role at UNCG, Trey enjoyed restoring large, expensive things such as houses and cars. He is an avid distance runner, with two marathons to his credit, and a self-avowed science fiction geek.
Jessica Trotman – Education & Outreach Specialist (August 2010 – January 2013
Jessica Trotman is a native of Greensboro with a long history at UNCG, beginning, as an All Arts & Science camper, followed by years of Music Camp, and soon will be a graduate of the University. Her professional experience includes print and public radio journalism, and non-profit development and marketing. Her career shift toward sustainability began after completing a documentary that covered factory-farming practices in North Carolina. Jessica has served on the board of directors for Sustainable Greensboro, and is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. She will begin her master’s degree in environmental management through the Harvard Extension School’s professional studies program this spring. Outside of the office, Jessica enjoys vegan cooking, running, and spending time with her family.
Previous Student Workers:
Spencer Schneier – Federal Work Study Student (August 2013 – May 2015)
Spencer was born in Northport, New York and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina before the sixth grade. He attended Leesville Road High School and is a Freshman Economics major at UNCG. He works in the field of sustainability because he believes that capital runs much deeper than the financial context many view it in, and that capital is instead all of the available resources in a society. He believes that through social, financial, and environmental lenses, capital can be used in a way that allows for an equitable and thriving society. Outside of sustainability, he is an avid baseball fan, Philadelphia Eagles fan, and Liverpool Football Club supporter. He also enjoys Americana, maps, and narrative non-fiction literature.
Anneliese Hitcho – Sustainability Office Student Worker (August 2011 – May 2014)