2020 Sustainability Report
NC State University’s sustainability progress in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020)
Amid this year’s unprecedented challenges, NC State has continued to make important progress toward its sustainability goals. In this 2020 NC State Sustainability Report (download PDF), you will find a year’s worth of sustainability impact in areas such as research, teaching, outreach and campus operations.
Goal: Integrate sustainability into education, experiences and research.
HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE STUDENTS DESIGN, BUILD KILGORE HALL GARDEN
Students in the Department of Horticultural Science’s Design Build Studio transformed an existing landscape into a rain garden to improve accessibility and stormwater management in the area.
GLOBAL HEALTH GRANTS
Three College of Veterinary Medicine professors won seed grants from the college’s global health program to support research of major global health challenges, strengthen global partnerships and broaden the impact of global health research at the college. The grant recipients will study animal welfare in Ecuador, microbiome of children and animals in Ethiopia, and bacteria in animals in India.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Two undergraduate students began exploring how sustainability is integrated into the curriculum across the various colleges and departments at NC State. The next student project, which is mentored by College of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty member Seth Murray, is creating a listing of university courses that connect to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals.
HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
NC State’s Center for Human Health and the Environment (CHHE) was awarded a $7.6 million grant over five years to continue working to better understand environmental effects on human health. The grant was awarded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.
POOLE COLLEGE RECOGNIZED FOR B CORP
The Financial Times highlighted B Corp Clinic as a best teaching practice among business schools from around the globe. Poole College’s Business Sustainability Collaborative director Jessica Thomas was also named president of B Academics, a network of educators and researchers from around the world who are committed to accelerating the sustainable business movement by studying B Corporation certification and benefit corporations. In fall 2019, B Corp Clinic became part of the MBA 582: Sustainability and Business. Every spring, B Corp Clinic is open to all students interested in participating.
COASTAL DYNAMICS DESIGN LAB
The Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, based in the College of Design, engages students in trans-disciplinary research to address critical ecological and community development challenges in vulnerable coastal regions and shoreline communities. A project in Creedmoor, N.C., that informed conservation planning and programming for sustainable stewardship of a 70+ acre property earned a 2020 Award of Excellence in Research from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NCASLA).
SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH DISCOVERIES
NC State researchers throughout the university’s academic colleges continue to make numerous contributions to sustainability-related research. In 2019, the university debuted five strategic research areas – many of which connect directly or are related to sustainability:
• Designing Healthy and Resilient Societies
• Harnessing Data for Decision Making
• Enriching the Human Experience
• Creating Safe, Secure and Intelligent Systems
• Driving Food, Water and Energy Solutions
NEW MINOR IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
A new interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in Environmental Education is now offered to equip students with skills and experiences needed to foster environmental literacy. Coordinated by the Departments of STEM Education and Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, the minor also provides students with the opportunity to obtain NC Environmental Education Certification, which is highly preferred or required by many employers in environmental fields.
STUDENTS CREATE SUSTAINABILITY PLAN FOR ATHLETIC FACILITY
Students in an interdisciplinary “LEED Lab” course were tasked with evaluating Weisiger-Brown Athletic Facility’s sustainability performance and identifying ways to decrease environmental impact and costs. At the course’s final presentation, students shared their results and recommendations, such as incorporating composting into building operations. This is the sixth year the LEED Lab course has been offered and the first time an athletic building has been the focus.
TINY TENTS ARE BEE RESEARCH AT WORK
Tiny tents placed around NC State’s campus this winter enabled researchers to record what types of insects, including bees, emerge from different types of ground cover, such as grass, mulch or bare soil. Grounds Services will use the results to inform future campus landscape management to help make bee-friendly landscaping selections.
ENVIRONMENTAL FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE
By bringing students with similar interests together across majors, the Environmental First Year Program encourages students to consider real-world environmental challenges. This year, students in the program attended tours focusing on stormwater management, collected water quality data in Rocky Branch, and completed a scavenger hunt to learn about Talley Student Union’s energy efficiency. Students also participated in a service learning project by removing invasive plant species at Walnut Creek Wetland Center.
THREE MINUTE THESIS
Hafizul Islam, a graduate student in industrial and systems engineering, won this annual research competition for his work on developing a data-driven mathematical model to accommodate challenges food banks face in equitably distributing food to those in need. Second place winner Fracisco Jativa, a graduate student in civil, construction and environmental engineering, focused on replacing the water used in cement with seawater to conserve potable water.
SUSTAINABLE SENIOR DESIGN
Several projects in Textile Engineering, Chemistry & Science (TECS) Senior Design course focused on sustainability, including reducing pre-industrial textile waste, developing automobile seat fabric made from natural fibers, upcycling textile waste into shipment packaging, and developing eco-friendly insulation for jackets.
CLIMATE SCIENCE REPORT RELEASED
The North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS) at NC State released the North Carolina Climate Science Report, an independent scientific assessment of observed and projected climate change in North Carolina. The report is intended to inform the citizens of North Carolina about important climate trends and potential future changes.
LEADING SUSTAINABILITY JOURNAL
The university’s own academic journal called BioResources is the world’s largest publication in the category of “Materials Science: Paper and Wood”. The journal, which is by the Department of Forest Biomaterials in the College of Natural Resources, publishes many articles with sustainability as a main theme.
STUDENTS LEARN WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT, PREVENTION
The Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources in the College of Natural Resources is contributing to forest sustainability by partnering with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s wildland firefighter certification program in the teaching, training and certification of wildland firefighters. NC State students learn to restore and maintain resilient landscapes through the use of prescribed fire, create fire adapted communities, and respond to wildfires safely and effectively. Students gain hands-on experience as fire crew members on prescribed burns on NC State experimental forests.
Goal: Engage students in initiatives that promote leadership and service in sustainability.
NC STATE STEWARDS
Thirty-one students participated in the NC State Stewards sustainability leadership program. Together they hosted 18 outreach and education events, received $33,000 in grants for their sustainability projects on campus, attended 3 industry tours, launched their own social media, met with the Chancellor about sustainability projects and teamed up with the Student Government Sustainability Department to develop its structure and unite sustainability groups on campus.
SUSTAINABILITY MEETS INNOVATION AT MAKE-A-THON
More than 163 NC State students in 44 teams spent January 24-26, 2020, competing to design and prototype sustainability solutions. The winning idea was a concept for a zero-packaging health grocery store on campus called Pack’N’Bulk.
BLACK BIRDERS WEEK
Graduate student Deja Perkins helped to lead an effort to raise visibility for Black people in the outdoors, and specifically in birding. Launched as a social media campaign, Black Birders Week celebrated Black naturalists and broke down stereotypes of Black peo.ple in the outdoors and STEM.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD FOREST
NC State undergraduate students Jesse Tysinger and Will Voelker established an orchard at the campus Agroecology Education Farm with a grant from the NC State Sustainability Fund.
REDESIGNING AN ARBORETUM
Horticultural science graduate student Dallas Bretzman’s final project was a master plan to transform Gardner Arboretum. As part of a service learn.ing project commemorating Arbor Day and NC State’s designation as a Tree Campus USA, dozens of students recorded soil temperatures and pH balances as well as observing how people use the space.
STUDY ABROAD TRIP INSPIRES ON-CAMPUS PROJECT
Bag the Pack was developed by 10 students in a summer 2019 study abroad course focused on sustainability in Chile. During the trip, students attended lectures given by Chilean specialists including topics such as climate change, energy poverty, urban development and indigenous approaches to sustainability. The Bag the Pack project was developed in response to distribute reusable and biodegradable bags of different sizes with the NC State logo.
BUSINESS STUDENTS HOST FOODCON 2020
NC State’s Net Impact chapters hosted FoodCon 2020, an annual conference co-hosted by the business schools of NC State, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University, that celebrates the food and agri-business community.
In the NC State 2020 Lulu eGames entrepreneurship competition, Summit Kinetics took top honors in the Social and Environmental Impact category for giving freedom of movement back to those in need via a passive lower-body exoskeleton.
NC State’s Social Innovation Fellows worked on several sustainability-related projects focused on issues of sexual assault, child nutrition, the health of migrant farmworkers, textile waste, and the safety and prosperity of female artisans in Bangladesh.
ECOVILLAGE BOOSTS WASTE REDUCTION
Among the service projects led by students in the NC State Housing EcoVillage were waste audits performed of campus walkway bins. This data is used to improve recycling diversion.
AWARD-WINNING BUSINESS PLAN
A team of NC State engineering students finished second in a business plan competition at the National Academy of Engineering’s 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit in London. The five students created the business Peak Coffee Processing and developed an affordable treatment process to filter wastewater from coffee production into clean water and fertilizer that can be used by coffee growers to increase crop yields and reduce topsoil erosion.
JOGGING WITH PURPOSE
NC State students started a Plogging Club in 2019 to bring students together to collect litter while running. Coming from the Swedish word “plocka upp” (meaning to pick up), plogging is a jog with environmental benefits.
Community and Culture
Goal: Accelerate a culture of sustainability, inclusivity and well-being on campus and in the community.
Community and Culture
ACC SPORTS 2020 SUSTAINABILITY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
More than 325 student-athletes, sustainability and athletics representatives participated in the May 20-21 ACC Sports Sustainability Virtual Symposium, which kicked off with comments from NC State Athletics Director Boo Corrigan and UNC-Chapel Hill Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham. The event highlighted the impact student-athletes can have for sustainability, best practices for engaging fans in sustainability, and building relationships with sponsors.
WELLNESS PROGRAMS INCREASE
NC State kicked off work toward its 2020-2024 Wellness Strategic Plan. Many programs are underway including employee wellness champions, wellness certifications and numerous events and partnerships. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many wellness efforts and events transitioned to virtual settings to provide critical wellness support to the campus community.
76% of incoming NC State students in 2019 indicated the university’s commitment to the environment and sustainability influenced their decision to attend NC State.
LEARNING FROM EXPERTS
NC State hosted a variety of sustainability experts for events:
• The Poole College of Management Business Sustainability Collaborative hosted sustainability leaders from Home Depot, VF Corporation and Burt’s Bees.
• In October 2019, the Center for Geospatial Analytics hosted a forum on “Just Sustainabilities and the Future of North Carolina: How Does Who Can Belong Determine What the State Can Become?”
• David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth, visited campus to speak about the motivating force of climate change.
• Several academic seminar series that focus on sustainability-related themes.
In fall 2019, NC State climbed to No. 17 in The Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Green Colleges.”
EARTH MONTH 2020
Due to COVID-19, events were virtual, including online Earth Fair with sustainability campus and community organizations and a social media campaign called #PackAtHome with more than 1,200 participants. Other groups also joined in the virtual programming such as the Geospatial Graduate Student Organization that held a virtual sustainability challenge.
SUSTAINABILITY FUND GRANTS AWARDED
In April 2020, the NC State Sustainability Fund announced recipients of $162,000 in grant funding for projects including:
• Inaugural Energy Week of events that increase the visibility of the university’s energy use, research and opportunity to shape a clean energy future
• Cooking kitchen at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm
• Expansion of paper towel composting into more residence halls
• Development of low-cost, high-resolution air quality monitoring on campus
• Infrastructure for increasing compost collection at Wilson College of Textiles
• Expansion of NC State’s Compost Facility and Research Cooperative
• Additional installation of shower timers or water flow meters in West Campus residence halls
• A new outdoor amenity called SolarSpace where students can charge electronics and learn about renewable energy
• A sustainability-themed event for new students during NC State’s Welcome Week
• Installation of new water bottle refilling stations in the NC State University Libraries
• Outreach and education about sustainable laundry practices in NC State residence halls
• Development of a campus waste station kiosk that helps users more accurately sort waste into composting, recycling or landfill containers
• Increased education about and use of reusable cups and bottles at Wilson College of Textiles, which will install two water bottle refilling stations and promote use of fewer disposable options.
ENVIRONMENTAL CAREER MONTH
When COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of Environmental Career Day, the College of Natural Resources instead hosted a month-long series of virtual events focused on environmental careers. More than 100 students participated in panel discussions, at-home activities, presentations and other online events.
TOWARD EQUITY AND JUSTICE
Equity is a vital part of building a sustainable community. Both locally and globally, NC State has ongoing research and initiatives that work toward a healthy future of social, environmental and financial balance. One of these efforts is environmental justice, which aims for everyone to have the same degree of environmental protection and equal access to the decision-making process that shapes the environment in which they live. A campus working group focused on environmental justice facilitates events and provides meaningful connections to resources.
70 sustainability-related offerings hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at NC State in fiscal year 2020. The program provides non-credit courses, study trips and events for adults aged 50+.
102 sustainability-related events on campus during fiscal year 2020.
43 campus events achieved sustainability certification during fiscal year 2020.
TEACHERS FOR THE BIOECONOMY
Sixteen high school teachers attended a July 2019 workshop hosted by the Sustainable Bioproducts and Bioenergy Program, a collaboration between NC State’s College of Natural Resources and College of Education.
CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19
First and foremost, the university prioritized the health and safety of the campus community. NC State developed a community standard of safety and modified campus operations, such as teleworking for many employees, in order to reduce potential for the virus to spread. The economic impact of the pandemic affected many students. In response, the Student Emergency Fund and Pack Essentials program, including the Feed the Pack campus food pantry, helped reduce student food and housing insecurity. Though residence halls closed in March as the pandemic began, students without a housing alternative were allowed to remain in NC State Housing. In addition to donations from alumni and others, the Student Emergency Fund also received proceeds from the NC State Bookstores’ sale of reusable face coverings beginning in May. Faced with shortages in the supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE), NC State academic colleges stepped in to fill critical voids. College of Textiles made face coverings, as well as filter material. NC State’s Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center worked with local biotechnology company Novozymes to produce more than 600 gallons of hand sanitizer. The College of Veterinary Medicine and other campus departments also donated medical supplies and PPE to local hospitals.
Operations, Planning and Design
Goal: Model sustainability through efficient, innovative facilities and operations that educate the campus community and improve the quality of life.
Operations, Planning and Design
CAMPUS ENERGY USE PER GROSS SQUARE FOOT:
CAMPUS WATER USE PER GROSS SQUARE FOOT:
48% reduction in total water use
55% reduction in potable water use
CAMPUS WASTE DIVERTED FROM LANDFILL
• 54% of campus waste diverted
• 90% of non-hazardous materials were recycled or reused from campus construction and renovation projects.
• Total: 3,423 tons landfilled, 2,348 tons of organics diverted (composted), 1,467 tons recycled, 255 tons reused
LOCAL FOOD PURCHASES
• 20% of NC State Dining’s food purchases were from campus, local or regional sources.
• 16,000+ pounds of campus-grown produce from the Agroecology Education Farm were used in NC State dining halls or donated to Feed the Pack Campus Food Pantry or a local nonprofit.
• 341 members of the campus community participated in the Wolftrails Alternative Commuter Program. Plus, 4,817 GoPasses were distributed for travel on the regional bus system.
• 2,851,245 passenger boardings on the Wolfline campus bus system during fiscal year 2020.
CAMPUS BUILDING LIGHTING UPGRADE
For the first time, Energy Management upgraded an entire academic building with new light fixtures. About 1,500 outdated lights were replaced with LEDs in Biltmore Hall and Pulp and Paper Labs. Occupancy-based controls and fixture-integrated sensors were also added to maximize energy efficiency by automatically turning lights off when no activity is detected.
The Facilities Division Commissioning Team made mechanical system improvements to Engineering Buildings II and III, cutting utility bills by 50% in one building and nearly 40% in the other.
THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE
NC State finished construction on a 3.3 million-gallon tank for chilled water storage. Instead of cooling water on demand, the Centennial Campus Utility Plant will generate chilled water at night when electricity rates are lowest and pump the water to the tank for storage until it’s deployed later in the day when electricity is most expensive.
HOLIDAY ENERGY SAVING INITIATIVE
While campus was unoccupied during winter break, hundreds of NC State buildings collectively avoided $380,000 in energy costs through the university’s Holiday Energy Saving Initiative. The savings initiative began in 2004 and has saved nearly $4.5 million.
As the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in very limited occupancy on campus beginning March 2020, the Facilities Division enacted aggressive conservation efforts in campus buildings to reduce utility use. Later in the semester as some buildings were reactivated for use, each campus building underwent indoor air quality and water testing along with mitigation efforts as needed. Over summer 2020, campus buildings received signage and operational changes to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.
RESIDENCE HALL PLUMBING UPGRADE SAVES WATER
The Division of Academic and Student Affairs replaced 60-year-old, 2,000-gallon water tanks in Bragaw Residence Hall with a much smaller instantaneous water heater and upgraded the recirculation loop that runs the hot water around the building. This simple change resulted in a 40% decrease in water consumption.
AN EFFICIENT MOVE FOR DATA CENTER
The Office of Information Technology retired the aging Data Center 1 on campus and now leases facilities in the N.C. Department of Information Technology Eastern Data Center. The move eliminated the demand for space, power and cooling in the less-efficient campus facility.
MAKING MAIL MORE SUSTAINABLE
Through a partnership with Waste-Free Mail to reduce junk mail, Campus Mail Services saved more than 18,800 trees from being cut down for printed materials. They also use fuel-efficient paths on their routes around campus, reuse packaging materials and recycle plastic film that wraps large, incoming pallets of packages.
DRIVERLESS SHUTTLE PILOT PROGRAM
In February and March 2020, the state’s first autonomous and battery-powered shuttle operated as a temporary pilot project on NC State’s Centennial Campus. The project was a partnership between the university and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
COMPOST FACILITY AND RESEARCH COOPERATIVE COMPLETES FIRST YEAR
In the first year of operation, the campus facility processed 583 tons of food waste and 282 tons of animal bedding from the College of Veterinary Medicine. Compost from the facility has been used in campus landscapes and also at the student-led SOUL Garden, Agroecology Education Farm and in research projects with the Soil Science department and the Department of Forest Biomaterials. More than 125 people visited the site for tours, and hundreds of youth took a virtual tour as part of two online summer 4-H campus offered by NC State Extension.
WASTE REDUCTION HIGHLIGHTS
Innovative strategies for diverting materials from landfills:
• Plastic film diversion expanded to 14 campus locations, resulting in 1,583 pounds of plastic film diverted from the landfill.
• 4,035 pounds of residence hall mattresses were recycled.
• 1,627 pounds of syringe cases from the College of Veterinary Medicine
• 57,648 pounds of recycling and 3,400 pounds of compostable materials diverted from the landfill during residence hall move out. As part of the Wolf Pack-N-Give program, students also donated 10,500 pounds of clothing and small goods, which were provided to a local nonprofit, and 667 pounds of food, which was donated to Feed the Pack campus food pantry.
ZERO WASTE WOLFPACK
The Wolfpack diverted nearly 30 percent of gameday waste from the landfill in a record-setting season for the Zero Waste Wolfpack composting and recycling program. In its fifth year, Zero Waste Wolfpack sent to landfill nearly 30,000 fewer pounds of waste than in the previous year. During the 2019 football season, 279 volunteers engaged fans in diverting nearly 75,000 pounds of recyclables and more than 21,000 pounds of compostables during seven home games.
MORE COMPOSTABLE PRODUCTS
Planning zero waste events on campus became easier with Waste Reduction and Recycling now offering compostable supplies at cost as part of their zero waste event services. Plus, Howling Cow Creamery opened at the Lake Wheeler Field Labs in summer 2019 with compost collection bins on site to collect compostable products, such as ice cream cups and spoons.
SCHAUB HALL GOES ZERO WASTE
Schaub Food Science became a Zero Waste Workplace during summer 2019. With a grant provided by Wake County, Schaub received bins for mixed recycling, miniBins for improved collections in offices, and composting bins for restrooms, break rooms and labs.
Goal: Propel awareness and sustainability at NC State and beyond.
INCOMING STUDENTS REQUESTING INFORMATION ABOUT CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY
FOLLOWERS ON NC STATE SUSTAINABILITY SOCIAL MEDIA
PAGEVIEWS ON SUSTAINABILITY.NCSU.EDU
AVERAGE WEEKLY READERS OF NC STATE’S SUSTAINABILITY E-NEWSLETTER
Awards and Honors
The Princeton Review ranked NC State 17th on its 2019 “Top 50 Green Colleges” list with the highest possible score — a 99 out of 99.
Lonnie Poole was the 2019 honoree for the North Carolina GCOA’s Sustainability Award to recognize the ability to incorporate sustainability and environmental stewardship into operating practices.
NC State’s Talley Student Union received the Marquee Green Building Award from the U.S. Green Building Council North Carolina and South Carolina as part of its annual Sustainable Business awards. The awards recognize excellence in sustainable design, environmental stewardship and community impact.
NC State University Housekeeping has been honored with the Business Innovation for Environmental Stewardship Award by the City of Raleigh. The award, which is part of the City’s annual Environmental Awards, is presented for practices that demonstrate the business case for environmental stewardship.
Zero Waste Wolves, a student organization affiliated with NC State Waste Reduction and Recycling, won the 2020 Carolina Recycling Association Annual Award for Organics Diversion for their work to provide composting bags, signage, and outreach to students living on campus.
The NC State 2020 Sustainability Award winners are Sriya Gottumukkula (student category), Dr. Michelle Shroeder-Moreno (faculty category), Veronika Maynard Simon (staff category), the Social Innovation Fellows (department/organization category), Zero Waste Wolves (student organization category) and LEED Lab (innovation/impact category).