The 2018 Three Zeros Day Celebration highlighted all of the past year’s accomplishments in waste, water and greenhouse gas reduction, while looking ahead to projects that will improve UNC-Chapel Hill’s environmental footprint over the next several years. Two events marked the occasion; first a fair on Carolina’s Polk Place educated and engaged students in learning how they are able to have a direct impact on the University’s sustainable goals through displays of plastic bags, water jugs and a bike-powered blender that served up smoothies. Maple View Farms provided ice cream for those who took the opportunity to learn more about the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative and the projects planned for the coming years.
Following the fair, a reception was held at the new Carolina Performing Arts CURRENT ArtSpace in Carolina Square where Chancellor Folt recognized the significance of supporting environmental efforts.
“I think it is important that we realize that it is our role to do more than to take care of ourselves, but to think about what we’re passing on to the future,” said Folt.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises and Chief Sustainability Officer Brad Ives provided an overview of previous successes and looked ahead to new projects that would help Carolina achieve these goals.
Ives announced a Solar and Storage project on campus, to begin construction before the end of 2018, which will offset some of the University’s energy purchases and reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the Solar and Storage site, Three Zeros will combat pollinator decline by providing a pollinator garden supported by Burt’s Bees and the North Carolina Botanical Garden, with bees provided by the Carolina Beekeepers Club at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Ives also explained that the Cogeneration facility on campus will undergo construction in order to allow the burners to burn more natural gas. By fall 2019 the University anticipates being online with the ability to burn 50 percent natural gas, which will lower overall greenhouse gas emissions on campus by approximately five percent.
Carolina is working with corporate partners to accomplish the more complex aspects of the Three Zeros goals. In order to support the zero waste goal, Three Zeros’ North Carolina partner, Unifi, who produces yarns made from recycled PET bottles for companies like Nike, Patagonia and The North Face, has agreed to fund a waste audit of the campus to determine where waste reduction efforts should be directed.
Three Zeros Day also recognized the first Three Zeros Environmental Leadership Award recipient, a student from the previous year who demonstrated leadership in moving the University toward waste, water and greenhouse gas reduction. This year’s recipient, Zach Walker, is the co-president of Carolina’s Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee (RESPC), and worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through RESPC’s Efficient Freezer Rebate Program. This project is projected to save 828,000 kilowatts of energy per year.
“With continued focus on important sustainability issues and a commitment to the Three Zeros goals, UNC-Chapel Hill will remain positioned as a leader in environmental efforts well into the future,” said Ives. “This Initiative will take all of us working together to be mindful of our impact and change our behavior, but the goals are within our reach.”