A goal of the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative is to move the University away from fossil fuels and increase our use of renewable energy.
One aspect of the Zero Greenhouse Gas goal is to increase use of renewable energy at UNC-Chapel Hill. On-site solar PV, solar thermal, and geothermal wells play an important role in diversifying UNC’s energy supply, serving as a testing ground and teaching tool for solutions that will move us away from fossil fuels. In addition, we are working to purchase more of our electricity from renewables.
Although UNC has an efficient, award-winning cogeneration facility, coal is a carbon-intensive fuel. We are working on increasing the use of natural gas and reducing coal use, while constantly reviewing viable alternatives such as biofuels.
Solar energy technologies provide significant opportunities for space and water heating and for generating electricity. Photovoltaic panels covering the south-facing roof of the North Carolina Botanical Garden Education Center generate nearly eight percent of the building’s electricity from sunlight and is the first to sell solar-generated electricity back to the campus grid. Morrison dormitory on South Campus has implemented its own solar heating installation with help from RESPC. One-hundred seventy-two solar thermal panels mounted on the roof of all four building wings provide heat to the domestic hot water and building heating system, two sets of which face southeast and two which face southwest. The residence hall’s plumbing system draws first on solar-heated water from a 6,000 gallon storage tank and adds steam-heated water when needed.