2022 Sustainability Report
2022 Sustainability Report
July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022
The 2022 NC State Sustainability Report highlights the latest progress toward the university’s sustainability goals and its commitment to wise stewardship of resources, prudent financial planning and environmentally responsible operations.
In this report, you will learn about new and existing sustainability programs, projects and practices from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. These initiatives contribute to a more efficient and resilient campus, foster important research breakthroughs and equip students to tackle the world’s toughest environmental, social and economic challenges.
Goal: Integrate sustainability into education, experiences and research.
New Center For Phosphorus Sustainability: The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center opened in Sept. 2021 on Centennial Campus. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it is a joint effort between NC State and eight partner institutions to produce effective solutions for food systems and environmental quality.
Reducing Plastic and Water Pollution: College of Natural Resources researchers have developed a new biodegradable material made from leftover sawdust and agro-residues to replace single-use plastics, saving environmental resources and addressing plastic pollution. These researchers are also working with the Wilson College of Textiles to extract cellulose from wood chips to print iridescent designs on clothing, reducing the need for dyes and other toxic coloration agents that often pollute water systems.
Moving From “Think” to “Do”: Faculty and staff members connected the global Sustainable Development Goals to campus operations, instruction, research and co-curricular student activities in an article published by the United Nations Chronicle. The United Nations’ Academic Impact group also invited co-author Dr. Seth Murray to present NC State’s work at an international workshop in January 2022.
Tools To Boost Sustainability: New tools developed by NC State researchers include:
- Model that determines best sites for electric vehicle charging stations
- Tool that helps solid waste systems reach costs and efficiently achieve their environmental goals
- Ethical Apparel Index that identifies unethical working conditions in apparel supply chains
Smarter, Healthier Transportation Systems: College of Engineering faculty are guiding students to develop transportation systems that support a community’s physical, mental and sustainable well-being.
Research Highlights: Sustainability-related research is throughout the university’s academic colleges. Here are a few research highlights:
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences researchers explore the use of paper-based electrodes to sanitize produce, eliminating the need for packaging in grocery stores and water to wash produce at home.
- College of Design students use drones with thermal cameras to identify ways landscapes and design can mitigate the negative impacts of urban heat islands.
- College of Education researchers examined environmental teacher training programs abroad, finding that teachers influence the sustainability practices of students and their families.
- College of Engineering researchers developed a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly strategy to boost efficiency of large-scale perovskite solar cells.
- College of Humanities and Social Sciences research suggests that U.S. electric utility climate pledges have the potential to collectively reduce power sector emissions by one-third.
- College of Natural Resources established the Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiatives to study, develop and promote alternative fibers for packaging, hygiene, textiles and other products.
- College of Sciences researchers examine the connection between environmental contaminants and liver health in diverse populations.
- College of Veterinary Medicine plays a key role to preserve and repopulate red wolves by providing medical care and research.
775+ NC State undergraduate and graduate courses feature content that relates to at least one of the global Sustainable Development Goals.
29 students, faculty, staff and recent graduates from the College of Veterinary Medicine traveled to the Galapagos Islands to study sea lions, sharks and stingrays.
474 first-year and transfer students completed the Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions summer 2021 course on Global Change.
11 graduate students focused on interdisciplinary global change research were selected for the Global Change Fellows program.
83 students took part in Environmental Sciences Capstone Course tackling environmental challenges including sea level rise along the N.C. coast to the impact of COVID-19 on women in forestry.
9 faculty members joined the inaugural cohort of the Global Engagement Institute Fellows which uses the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for collaboration.
Goal: Engage students in initiatives that promote leadership and service in sustainability.
New Sustainability Internship Program: The University Sustainability Office launched the Campus As A Classroom internship program as a new professional development program that advances campus sustainability. 11 undergraduate students participated in the program’s pilot year, working on a variety of projects.
Students Add Campus Garden: Tucked behind Carmichael Gym along Rocky Branch Trail is a new garden planted by the Sustainability Stewards with assistance from Grounds Services and the NC State Sustainability Fund. The site features native, pollinator-friendly and edible vegetation.
Ocean Advocacy Workshop: More than 120 students across the UNC System learned how to champion oceans and the environment through this first-of-its-kind event and co-hosted by the College of Natural Resources with support from the Sustainability Fund.
Education About Campus Waste: NC State Student Government approved a Social Innovations Fellows bill to require waste sorting training for incoming students.
Pack of Ideas: A Poole College of Management student team placed seventh in an international competition, Ideathon Experience. The students designed a solution focused on ecology and climate change using electricity-generating stationary bicycles located in gyms, houses and schools that not only powered the participant building but would also feed into the electrical grid.
Sustainable Student Innovation: 72 students in 21 teams spent January 27-30, 2022 competing to design and prototype sustainability solutions as part of NC State Make-A-Thon. The winning team designed an Arduino-based device that can turn off lights in residence hall rooms using an audible prompt.
Compost Carnival: Over 150 students attended a Compost Carnival, hosted by the Student Government Sustainability Department in October 2021, which combined games, compost pail giveaways and educational outreach by sustainable student organizations.
Education About Reuse: Students in the Sustainability Stewards hosted a campus-based thrift store in March 2022 to reduce textile waste and spread awareness among students about the opportunity to reuse.
Energy Week Pitch Contest: The winning student solution in the NC State Energy Week Pitch Contest was a solar-powered pavilion at On The Oval to boost awareness and use of alternative energy on campus.
Sustainable By Design: College of Design students worked alongside industry partner Eastman to create food packaging with a new compostable material.
10 students were selected as part of an inaugural cohort of the Climate Leaders Program, which is led by the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science (KIETS) and focuses on climate change solutions.
30 students participated in the Sustainability Stewards leadership program, which hosted 13 outreach and education events and received grant funding to create a green terrace at Talley Student Union.
112 students participated in Mystery Service Saturdays to engage and provide direct service for the local community.
64 students participated in Alternative Service Break opportunities hosted by Student Leadership and Engagement focusing on water quality, sanitation, affordable housing and other issues.
25 students participated in an NC State and USDA Ag Tech Hackathon to accelerate agricultural sustainability using machine learning and robotics.
30 students were selected for the Social Innovation Fellows Program, which explores the intersection of ethics, sustainability and innovation.
2 community gardens were built with $3,600 raised by the Park Scholars Class of 2022 at child care centers that serve under-resourced families.
Community and Culture
Goal: Accelerate a culture of sustainability, inclusivity, and well-being on campus and in the community.
The Planet is Our Classroom: The College of Natural Resources launched a future-focused strategic plan to deepen their commitment to the environment and people of North Carolina. The College aspires to build a world in which everyone is welcomed and empowered to explore, protect, and enjoy the full diversity of our environment and our communities, while building justice and sustainability for all.
Advancing Climate Climate Resiliency: NC State researchers were awarded a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to lead a multi-institutional effort on developing climate resilience solutions in the Carolinas.
Exploring Equity: NC State’s Inaugural Equity Research Symposium included discussions on environmental justice learning, equitable community-university partnerships, and the dynamics of social activism.
Flourishing Pack: Prevention Services and Horticulture Science offered Flourish drop-in spaces for students to engage in horticulture therapy, learning how to propagate plants and how to grow food at home.
Sustainable Wolfpack: NC State Athletics hired its first sustainability intern to implement sustainability-themed games across sports and develop ideas to promote more sustainable operations.
- The B Corp Clinic worked with 16 global companies, engaging 62 Poole College of Management graduate students on practicum projects to improve the companies’ social and environmental impact.
- The NC Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State hosted 90 events, workshops and presentations while also providing 26 facility energy assessments that could potentially save $6.7 million in energy costs.
- The College of Natural Resources and a hospitality firm launched the Lighthouse Fund for Sustainable Tourism to support research and outreach activities across the Outer Banks.
- The Business Sustainability Collaborative at Poole College of Management hosted a Speed Networking with Change Makers event for students to meet and learn from Triangle community leaders who use business as a force for good.
- NC State Staff Senate’s Resources and Environment Committee continued its Sustainability Partners event series to advance sustainability knowledge and practices on campus and beyond. Events focused on transportation, energy savings, waste reduction, gardening, local food and pollinators.
Sustainability Fund Grants Awarded: The NC State Sustainability Fund awarded $176,000 in grants to these 13 projects including:
- An outdoor terrace garden at Talley Student Union Inaugural climate leaders symposium on campus
- Installation of water bottle refilling stations in the Wilson College of Textiles
- Creation and distribution of education magnets for students about campus recycling and composting
- Addition of edible plants and other infrastructure at the student-led SOL Garden
- Student internships at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm
- A project to grow perennial plants for use in campus landscapes
- A research project at the campus Compost Facility and Research Cooperative to monitor microbial composition of compost and create educational and engagement activities for students
- A hydroponics system at Interfaith Food Shuttle, which donates produce to the Feed the Pack Food Pantry and other community organizations
- Transition of gameday scripts and information from print to a new digital-only process for NC State Athletics
- Enhancement of an educational orchard at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm
- Development of a landscape plan to preserve a campus habitat for ground-nesting bees Construction of hiking trails at Lake Raleigh Woods
29 university events and student organizations earned NC State Sustainability Certification during fiscal year 2022 in recognition of sustainability actions and impact.
75% of incoming students in 2021 indicated NC State’s commitment to the environment and sustainability influenced their decision to attend NC State.
125,405 pounds of food was distributed by Feed the Pack Food Pantry on campus.
$1,361,000 was raised in support of the Student Emergency Fund and Endowment, Meal and Housing Scholarships and Feed the Pack Food Pantry.
3,435 campus dining meals were donated by students to provide free meals to students facing food insecurity.
Operations, Planning and Design
Goal: Model sustainability through efficient, innovative facilities and operations that educate the campus community and improve the quality of life.
Built With Sustainability In Mind: The NC State Plant Sciences Building opened in April 2022 as the global home for plant science innovation and tackle agricultural global challenges. The building is expected to achieve LEED certification.
Lighting Projects Boost Efficiency: LED fixtures installed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences greenhouses off of Method Road are expected to save nearly $130,000 in annual electric utility costs. New energy-efficient LED lighting was also installed throughout the central utility plants on Centennial Biomedical Campus and Centennial Campus and the third floor of Polk Hall.
Service Raleigh: Students sorted 24 hours of landfill waste collected from Talley Student Union in April 2022. The results identified landfill-bound items that could have otherwise been reused, recycled or composted. The data provides campus partners a more targeted approach for diversion efforts.
A Space to Explore Solar: A new outdoor hub for students to study, socialize and charge their electronics was installed by the Sustainability Stewards with a grant from the NC State Sustainability Fund.
Holiday Energy Savings Initiative: Buildings across NC State avoided $416,000 in energy costs over the university’s winter break. The savings initiative began in 2005 and has saved over $5 million in energy costs.
Physical Master Plan: Stewardship of campus resources is one of the guiding principles in the collaborative effort to create NC State’s next Physical Master Plan, which will be completed in 2023.
Microbial Research of Compost: Two student interns worked with faculty member Carlos Goller to study the microbial composition of compost created at NC State’s Compost Facility and Research Cooperative with the aim of identifying process improvements.
New Campus Emissions Dashboard: NC State is working to reduce emissions associated with university operations and launched an interactive online dashboard that displays results of campus greenhouse gas inventories. From fiscal year 2008 to 2021, emissions declined 24.5%.
Forging New Paths: New signage and development of hiking and biking trails are in progress at Lake Raleigh Woods.
Growing Sustainably: 20% of the annual flowers and plants installed on campus in spring 2022 were grown on campus by Grounds Services, which received an NC State Sustainability Fund grant for a greenhouse.
Stormwater Renewal: A stormwater pond was updated using natural elements to control the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff from nearby parking lots before it reaches Rocky Branch Creek.
35% reduction in campus energy use per gross square foot since 2003.
59% reduction in campus potable water use per gross square foot in 2002. Overall campus water reduction per gross square foot is 51%.
15,000 pounds of produce grown at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm was donated to NC State Dining.
10% of NC State Dining’s food purchases were from campus, local or regional sources.
1,000 pounds of paper was avoided by NC State Transportation by transitioning to digital brochures and reports.
357 new bicycle registrations on campus.
240 compost pails were installed in University Housing campus apartments.
224 Zero Waste Wolfpack volunteers helped fans divert 53,826 lbs of recyclables and compostables at Carter-Finley Stadium during home football games.
209,212 pounds of unwanted e-waste recovered, repurposed and recycled by Surplus Property Services and 105 tons of e-waste was diverted.
35,130 pounds of clothing, housewares, toiletries and food was collected during campus move-out in May 2022. These student donations were given to NC State Feed the Pack Food Pantry and local community nonprofits.
$2.7 million in campus utility costs avoided by the Building Maintenance and Operations’ Commissioning Team through mechanical calibrations to improve HVAC system efficiency.
2,246,720 passenger boardings on the Wolfine campus bus system.
164 participants in the WolfTrails Alternative Commuter Program.
Goal: Propel awareness and sustainability at and beyond NC State.
Football Fan Engagement: Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management faculty collaborated with DELTA and NC State Waste Reduction and Recycling to create a series of videos and a digital game to promote zero waste at football games. The materials were used as part of classroom curriculum and as in-game video messages to fans at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Education About The SDGs: The Office of Global Engagement launched a two-year programming initiative focusing on the global Sustainable Development Goals. For 2021-2022, goals focused on quality of life and environmental responsibility framed campus-wide events and discussions. Also, NC State offered SDG Action and Awareness Week in March 2022 to increase visibility of research, engagement and projects connecting to the SDGs.
Sustainability Events Abound
- NC State celebrated its second annual Energy Week in September 2021 to increase visibility of the university’s energy use, research and opportunity to shape a clean energy future.
- 52 events were part of NC State’s Earth Month in April 2022.
- NC State Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrated startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
- The Wilson College of Textiles hosted the first annual Evolving Textiles Conference focused on circularity, alternative fibers, and the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable textile industry.
- University Libraries sponsored a series of online and in-person Global Change Games to help students understand how climate change affects people, wildlife and civilization.
- Active Citizenry Workshop Series taught students about governmental systems and how to create purposeful change in their communities. Sponsored by Student Leadership and Engagement, workshops included discussions on climate action, policy and social change.
137,495 pageviews on sustainability.ncsu.edu
10,115 followers on NC State’s sustainability social media accounts.
4,255 average weekly readers of NC State’s sustainability e-newsletter.
1,664 incoming students in fiscal year 2022 requested information about campus sustainability.
74 sustainability-related offerings hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at NC State which provides non-credit courses, study trips and events for adults aged 50+.
234 sustainability-related events on campus during fiscal year 2022, an 80% increase from 2021.
231 new campus employees completed a campus sustainability online course as part of a revamped onboarding process for staff and faculty.
712 students participated in 10 events hosted by NC State Global to discuss the Sustainable Development of good health, zero hunger, clean water and energy, zero hunger and poverty and climate action.
Awards and Honors
Global Ranking for Sustainability Impact: NC State ranked in the top 200 globally for sustainability impact in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Report. NC State also ranked:
- No. 7 among U.S. universities
- No. 4 in the U.S. and tied for No. 26 (tied) in the world for “Life Below Water” (SDG Goal 14)
- No. 5 in the U.S. and No. 50 in the world for “Clean Water and Sanitation” (SDG Goal 6)
- No. 9 in the U.S. and top 200 globally for “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure” (SDG Goal 9)
Top Green College List: The Princeton Review ranked NC State 18th on its 2022 “Top Green Colleges”.
Campus Sustainability Achievement Award: NC State’s efforts to address food and housing insecurity were recognized with a national Campus Sustainability Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
Zero Waste Wolfpack: Waste diversion efforts at Carter-Finley stadium won the 2021 Gameday Recycling Challenge Award for Waste Minimization Per Capita.
NC State Sustainability Awards: Winners include Ann Winstead (student category), Dr. Carol Seals Price (faculty category), Dennis Kinsler (staff category), Center for Environmental Farming Systems Business and Events Team (department/organization category), Facilities Division Commissioning Team(innovation/impact category).
2021-22 Awards and Honors: NC State faculty, staff students and alumni have garnered significant recognition for their accomplishments over the past year.