27, 2005 SUSTAINABILITY - WHERE
CAROLINA LEADS THE WATER TABLE TO THE ROOF TOPS By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald
In recent years, the university has made considerable progress
on the sustainability front. Amid unprecedented construction
and growth, the campus remains committed to nurturing the
sense of place that Carolina has long enjoyed.
As this process has proceeded, the guiding principles of
the campus master plan have helped remind us of the need to
protect the natural resources that support us. Stormwater
management, tree and site protection, and transportation policies
that favor alternatives to the single occupant vehicle have
become standard practice. Efficient use of energy, water and
materials, reduced life-cycle costs, and a comfortable and
healthy environment are goals of every project. In the process
of creating 5 million new square feet of building, we are
adding 10 acres of green space.
Rams Head Center is an example of the new connective tissue
forming on campus. Students in the residence halls of south
campus are no longer relegated to a bedroom community. They
have easy access to many amenities. Being able to stop in
for a workout, a good meal or to pick up a few groceries on
the way back from class has improved the quality of life for
thousands of Carolina students this year.
Rams Head also hosts the first green – or vegetated
– roof on campus. Rainwater is captured on site and
used to irrigate new green space, rather than contributing
to downstream sediment loading and flooding. Half a dozen
porous pavement parking lots, along with infiltration beds
and underground cisterns, demonstrate the innovative approach
this campus has taken to stormwater management.
The School of Nursing’s Carrington Hall addition has
the second green roof on campus and is a milestone in addition.
This building is the first in the 16-campus UNC system to
apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building
features openings allowing lots of natural sunlight in, it
is water efficient, and its design incorporates renewable
The Carrington Hall team was one of many construction teams
on campus that worked hard to protect the trees at the site.
Logging mats distributed the weight from construction vehicles
and building materials so that tree roots were not damaged.
And a report from the Chancellor’s Task Force on Landscape
Heritage and Plant Diversity now provides better guidance
to campus design and construction teams, including landscape
protection suggestions and ideas of types of plantings best
suited to various campus locations.
Our reclaimed water initiative with OWASA will save an average
of 625,000 gallons of potable water each day when installed
in 2007 and is projected to save more than 2 million gallons
per day by 2050. It also will extend the life of OWASA’s
existing potable water resources, thereby saving the entire
community the expense of costly capital improvements.
Innovation and creativity will even more strongly guide our
development of the Carolina North campus. Sustainability,
though, involves more than water and vegetation.
We have spent more than $18 million on energy conservation
projects in the past five years, adopting design guidelines
that include energy-efficient components, energy modeling
for new facilities and building commissioning. We also are
installing a solar hot water system in the renovated Morrison
residence hall, funded in part by a renewable energy fee that
students imposed on themselves.
Transportation is an area where Carolina has made great progress.
The fare-free bus systems provided more than 5 million rides
last year. Our nationally recognized Commuter Alternatives
Program has registered 3,500 members, 700 of whom gave up
their on-campus parking spaces.
As we’ve embarked on this quest to expand our campus
to add research, teaching and living space, we’ve endeavored
to concurrently green up this campus. Among the lessons we
have learned is that providing new on-campus parking spaces
is incredibly expensive. Zipcars and the bicycle pump installed
at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union serve members of
the campus and greater community who have opted not to drive
single occupant vehicles to campus.
Waste management and recycling is another area where Carolina
excels and continues to get better. Forty-one percent of daily
discards are now collected for recycling. Keeping these materials
out of the landfill avoids more than $200,000 annually in
waste transportation and disposal fees. Meanwhile, food waste
from assorted eateries on campus is composted. In fact, the
Rams Head kitchen was designed so that food waste from the
dish lines could be easily pulped, dehydrated to reduce its
weight and size and sent off-site for composting. The company
that picks up the food waste also picks up the waste grease
and runs its equipment on the biodiesel fuel made from the
Carolina recycles 50 percent to 70 percent of the construction
and demolition waste generated on campus. And a new program
collects and recycles the plastic cups and containers so prevalent
at athletics events.
Earlier this year, the state awarded the university the State
Government Sustainability Award. This honor recognized our
“green” building strategies that guide construction
planning; stormwater management strategies; and the interdisciplinary
Carolina Environmental Program, which offers bachelor’s
degrees in environmental studies and environmental sciences.
I invite you to examine our sustainability report and learn
more about Carolina’s sustainability efforts by visiting
James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages