Track Our Progress
Sustainability at NC State is about creating impact where it matters most: the economy, the environment and society.
The university’s sustainability efforts are driving down costs, improving efficiency, advancing transformative research, educating a new generation of leaders and ultimately helping create a better world.
Browse the highlights to learn how our programs are engaging campus and community in preparing for a more sustainable future.Download 2014-2015 Report
“At NC State, we solve global challenges and create economic, societal and intellectual prosperity. These advances result in a better, more sustainable future for our campus, state, nation and world.”Randy Woodson, NC State's Chancellor
Courses Use Real-World Sustainability
Sustainability was integrated in many courses including:
- “LEED Lab” in which students evaluated Nelson Hall’s operations, maintenance and potential to earn LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Textiles senior design project that challenged students to develop prototypes of products that could be made from upcycled rice bags.
- Sustainability in business: researched how grocery store merchandising and local meat availability influences consumer shopping behavior and perceptions, developed a draft business plan for sustainable tourism in Micronesia, and audited metrics published in NC State’s 2013-2014 Annual Sustainability Report.
Students Solve Sustainability Challenges
Between PackLink, an online listing of campus sustainability projects, and courses that integrate experiential learning, NC State’s Facilities division participated in 20+ projects that connected student learning with campus sustainability improvements.
New Programs Boost Sustainability
The Office of Faculty Development and the University Sustainability Office partnered to offer two Sustainability in Teaching workshops in 2014. Also, two programs started along the N.C. coast: a Coastal Design Lab and a semester-long academic program for NC State students to study marine science.
Researchers Advance Sustainability
NC State researchers addressed many sustainability-related issues, including:
- Energy: Breakthroughs in biofuel production, more efficient solar cells, cost-effective hydrogen production, smart grid energy scheduling and electric vehicle range estimators.
- Health: Development of new Center for Human Health and the Environment and studying toxic impacts of arsenic in international waters.
- Food: Celebration of 20 years of sustainable agriculture research, improving local food access for immigrants and developing low-tech solution to high-cost pests in Africa.
- Planet: Studying the future of forests, preparing East Africa for a population surge, analyzing the vulnerability of shrinking habitats globally.
- Through the 2014 Chancellor’s Innovation Fund, several sustainability ideas may move to market.
Certified Sustainable Program Grows
Sustainability Aids in Student Recruiting
On a survey, incoming students indicated that NC State’s sustainability commitment influenced their decision to attend the university.
Sustainability Fund Awards Campus Grants
In May 2015, the student-led board of the NC State Sustainability Fund awarded $117,000 of
grant funding to 10 project proposals that further sustainability. The grant funding is generated
by a $1.50 per semester student fee that students voted to create in 2012. This year’s funded projects include solar-powered trash and recycling compactors, performance of the Great Animal Orchestra Symphony on campus, funding for the student-led SOUL Garden, a “BioBlitz” to survey the diversity of campus wildlife. aquaponics system for University Dining, marketing for Campus Farmers Market, solar charging station near Tucker Hall, and student internships at NC State’s Compost Training Facility and Agroecology Education Farm.
Students Engage in Sustainability
Student engagement highlights in 2014-2015 include:
- Sustainability-themed Alternative Service Break trip to Costa Rica.
- Earth Month featuring nearly 40 campus sustainability events.
- Students and families combat cankerworms on campus trees.
- Successful year for the NC State Stewards sustainability student leadership program.
- Expansion of social entrepreneurship plus diversity and sustainability efforts.
- 110 students collected 555 pounds of litter on campus during Rubbage Ride.
- Development of online sustainability map increases student awareness.
Campus Energy Use
Goal is 30 percent reduction by 2015.
Campus Water Use
Goal is 50 percent reduction by 2015.
Seasonal Programs Save Energy
NC State saved $274,987 in avoided energy costs during winter break. Since the Winter Holiday Energy Savings Initiative began in 2004, $2.76 million in utilities have been avoided. In July 2014, cooling was reduced in campus buildings when classrooms were not in use in order to save energy. The initiative expanded summer-wide in 2015.
Buildings Earn LEED Certification
Wolf Ridge Student Apartments and Cates Utility Plant earned LEED Silver certification for sustainability. Seven other buildings on campus are expected to receive LEED certification in addition to the 8 buildings — about 618,085 square feet — on campus that are already LEED certified.
Students Add Garden, Apiary to Campus
With a grant from the NC State Sustainability Fund, a group of College of Veterinary Medicine students established a habitat for bees and an educational community garden just outside the college’s main building. Also, the NC State Stewards student group created GIS-mapped campus plant walks that highlight native plants and trees.
Sustainability Standards Integrated
Since LEED certification is only pursued for the construction of major campus buildings, an NC State-specific sustainability standards checklist was developed to ensure that sustainability principles are incorporated into smaller campus projects, including more than 650 in fiscal year 2014-2015.
Where Does Campus Material Go?
Campus Compost Efforts Grow
Compost collection expanded to Talley Student Union, which collected 26+ tons during the fiscal year, while pizza box composting soared to 10,760 boxes. Meanwhile, students aided in two projects testing whether compost and compost tea could replace the use of traditional fertilizer on campus. Other waste reduction efforts include a 32-dumpster Waste Characterization Study as well as the addition of solar-powered trash and recycling compactors on campus courtesy of the NC State Sustainability Fund.
Local Food Purchases Hold at 27 Percent
Local purchasing continues to build as University Dining’s primary food vendor increased its inventory of local products. Purchasing local is still the primary goal, along with supporting increased production at NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm. With the purchase of two season-extending hoop houses for the farm, Dining has demonstrated its commitment to the farm and the value of serving campus-grown food in on-campus dining locations.
Wolfline Tops 3 Million Riders
The Wolfline campus bus system transported more than 3 million riders in fiscal year 2014-2015. The
Wolfline also expanded service with six new buses added during fall 2014.
First Campus Bike Lanes Installed
Along Varsity Drive on Centennial Campus, about 2,000 feet of bike lanes were added to promote safer cycling. Campus also added two new ZipCars for its 1,000 registered car share users. NC State issued 8,557 GoPasses for regional transit and had 835 student and employee participants in its alternative commuting program.
Alternative Vehicles Join University Fleet
In 2015, NC State Transportation added a hybrid car to its fleet and NC State Repair and Renovation added a power-assisted bike, creating more sustainable methods of employee travel around campus. Also, Facilities Operations — one of the university’s largest fleets — decreased its fuel usage.
Awards and Honors
The Princeton Review named NC State in its annual Guide to 322 Green Colleges.
Net Impact’s 2014 Business as UNusual Guide named NC State’s Jenkins MBA program as a leading program making a social and environmental impact and the NC State graduate Net Impact chapter was highlighted as a Gold chapter.
NC State University received the 2014 APPA Sustainability Award in recognition of sustainability
excellence in campus educational facilities.
NC State’s 2015 Green Brick Awards honored student Hannah Frank, staff member David Johnson, faculty member Danesha Seth-Carley and University Student Centers.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Zeta Sorority and Sigma Chi Fraternity received the Most Sustainable Chapter Awards at the 2014 NC State Greek Life Awards.
Winds of Change, the journal of the American Indian Society for Engineering and Science, named NC State as a leader in academic programs focused on sustainable energy.
NC State received Carolina Recycling Association’s Outstanding College or University Program Award for its pizza box composting program.