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, 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.” This position is currently held by Dr. Aaron Allen, who is also an Associate Professor in the School of Music. To get up-to-date information on the UNCG Office of Sustainability, please visit their webpage: http://facsustainability.uncg.edu
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