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Sustainability and the environment

At Carolina, faculty, staff and students are seeking and creating solutions to address the effects of climate change and seek environmental justice. Students also learn about and practice sustainability through field sites, organizations, internships, coursework and research in the field and in the lab.

With an eye toward the future, pan-University teams are thinking strategically about water conservation, waste management and building designs. Keep scrolling to learn more about these efforts.

Climate progress

The University brings technological advancements to energy operations, decreasing carbon emissions and pushing forward its transition from fossil fuels. The University's Climate Action Plan enables the UNC Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Carolina to link campus operations with schools, departments and centers.

Carolina is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. These statistics illustrate the University's progress in sustainability.

  • 67%decrease in water use intensity since 2002
  • 36%decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since 2007
  • 43%of campus waste recycled or composted

Groundbreaking research

A more sustainable North Carolina

  • Students walking along brick pathways on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill holding trasha pickers and trash bags.

    Trash Force picks up after campus

    What started as an extra credit opportunity grew into a club who has fun keeping Carolina clean.

  • Two people in a field on a sunny day.

    Tar ֲý in the field

    In the mountains, coastline and cities in North Carolina and even the tropical rain forests of Thailand, undergraduates at the UNC Institute for the Environment's field sites have a semester-long opportunity to explore real-world issues.

  • Graphic with glass of beer, waterfall and greenery

    EFC steers NC breweries to sustainability

    Improving water usage in the craft beer industry is the focus of a UNC Environmental Finance Center project.

  • a campus scene

    Battle Grove: soothing sounds and scenery

    A 2017 restoration has made this water-centric outdoor space an environmentally friendly place to see spring in bloom and maybe glimpse an otter or “KP” the turtle.

Learn more