Going Carolina green

Targeting Three Zeros

Carolina's dedication to sustainability and the environment is driven by our commitment to the University's Three Zeros Environmental Initiative.

Launched in the fall of 2016, the initiative moves the campus toward water neutrality, zero waste and greenhouse gas neutrality. Implementing the Three Zeros goals has improved operational efficiency, generated cost savings and created a living-learning laboratory for students, faculty and staff to study and advance the most recent developments in sustainability policy and technology.

  • 350,000+ gallonsof rainwater and runoff collected across campus each year that is used for irrigation and cooling.
  • 38,833automotive miles offset by Tar Heel Bikes in the past year
  • 28,000gallons of fuel reduction by campus fleet each year
  • 43%less annual water usage since 2007
  • 8,000people reduced waste by using a reusable mug from Carolina Dining Services
  • No. 1American university for sustainability in the 2019 Times Higher Education Impact Ratings

Green initiatives

As the campus works toward its Three Zeros goals to create a greener Carolina, the University’s students and faculty are conducting impactful research on environmental challenges facing the world.

Environmental research

  • A man works with chemistry equipment.

    Maker of molecules

    Carolina's Frank Leibfarth and his team are working to remove harmful chemicals from the Cape Fear River Basin through chemistry. The team designed a fluorinated resin that, when ground into a powder and added to a water-filtration column, soaks up GenX.

  • A sign that reads

    Protecting the Galapagos Islands

    For the past 10 years, Carolina researchers have been shining a light on the challenges presented by human interactions on the Galapagos and working to find the right balance between helping the islands’ economy to thrive under tourism and protecting its iconic species.

  • A student stands in a creek while conduct research.

    Taking the classroom to the mountains

    A multicampus center of Western Carolina University, the Highlands Biological Station has served as a field site for the UNC Institute for the Environment since 2001, giving UNC-Chapel Hill students an opportunity to study and conduct research for a full semester.

  • A Venus Flytrap

    Carnivorous conservation

    Native only to a 90-mile inland radius around Wilmington, the Venus flytrap is a symbol of the Atlantic coastal plain’s unique ecology. Carolina researchers are working to preserve these carnivorous wonders.

  • student takes notes in a field doing research.

    Climate game-changers

    For thousands of years, the northern Andes Mountains have acted as a carbon sink, preserving organic matter as thick soil. As the planet warms, what will happen to all that carbon? This past summer, Carolina undergraduates traveled to Ecuador to take a closer look.

  • Ice cover on the Yukon River approaching its confluence with the Tanana River in Alaska

    New study estimates the global extent of river ice loss as Earth warms

    A new study from Carolina researchers found that annual river ice cover will decline by about six days for every one degree Celsius increase in global temperatures.