Of the people, for the planet Published in 2021

At Carolina, environmentalism and sustainability are priorities every day, and in honor of Earth Day we're celebrating the Tar Heels who are making our University greener, conducting research, launching programs and leading change to protect habitats across our state.

A new Climate Action Plan

With the increasingly urgent need for climate action, Carolina has recently updated its Climate Action Plan to set an aggressive strategy for the University to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

Climate change is no longer a future issue. We are working to face its challenges now.

Learn more about the plan

unc students hand paint on a banner saying

As a great research institution, the University needs to be on the frontline of being responsible, proactive and innovative, and coupling our climate activities with our conventional pillars of education, research and service.

Mike Piehler, Carolina’s chief sustainability officer and special assistant to the chancellor for sustainability.

Read Piehler’s vision

Mike Piehler poses on the beach

Click on a story below to learn how our Tar Heels
are creating a sustainable Carolina

Tar Heels leading change

Carolina's dedication to sustainability is driven by Tar Heels with a passion for helping others and the planet. Students, faculty and staff are making strides toward meeting environmental challenges both in Chapel Hill and across the world.

Through their research, innovations, service and expertise, they're working toward a greener future.

    High above campus, on the roof of the FedEx Global Building, a group of students are caring for one of Carolina’s most valuable resources: bees.

    Press the play button above

  • Carolina student and author Jessica Reid.

    Carolina junior Jessica Reid has written a book to help people understand climate change and communicate more effectively about the issue.

    One student’s effort to communicate the urgency of climate change
  • A photo the UNC mascot inside a reycling logo.

    Dana Haine and Grant Parkins are helping North Carolinians take steps to reduce their carbon footprints through the UNC Institute of the Environment‘s outreach programs in the Center for Public Engagement with Science.

    How to reduce your carbon footprint

Preserving nature

  • A research stands in a creek.

    Carolina researchers successfully remove hazardous chemicals from water

    Working across disciplines, UNC-Chapel Hill environmental engineer Orlando Coronell and chemist Frank Leibfarth have developed a filtration resin that has thus far been successful in removing most PFAS from water.

  • A person standing in the ocean with science equipment.

    Protecting North Carolina’s seagrass

    North Carolina is home to extensive seagrass meadows, creating a dynamic habitat for vibrant wildlife. As more hurricanes strike our coast, Carolina researchers are taking a closer look to see how resilient these critical seagrass meadows are.

  • A man holds red plants in hands.

    The Life Botanic

    Alan Weakley has spent his career cataloguing the plants of the Southeastern United States. Most recently, he has compiled this work into a digital guide that will aid fellow botanists and citizen scientists alike as they unearth and admire the colorful flora of the South.

  • The landscape of Bartolomé Island

    The Galapagos Paradox

    Carolina researchers at the Galapagos Science Center have been working to find the balance between helping the islands’ economy thrive while also protecting the iconic species.