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University of North Carolina Wilmington

Climate Resiliency Plan

Letter from the Editors

Building with Community

Climate resiliency is a global issue, uniting communities and organizations worldwide to develop critical solutions to mitigate the present and future impacts created by the intensifying climate crisis. Although concerns regarding climate resiliency vary geographically, politically, and socially, the strategies to anticipate and respond to climate-related events are interconnected. This plan strives to address the currently anticipated hazards related to climate resiliency at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and build further partnerships locally, regionally, and globally to further strengthen our mission.  

For the Future, By the Future

The development of UNCW's Climate Resiliency Plan (CRP) has been collaborative from its inception. Dr. Ian Weaver spearheaded student engagement through coursework in the English Department. Science writing, environmental writing, and document design students from a range of majors participated, including students from English, Environmental Science, Public Administration, Science and Medical Writing, Communications, History, Marine Biology, Business Administration, Film Studies, and Creative Writing. Students in these courses and participating in internships researched climate resiliency and recommended strategies for UNCW to physically build a more substantial infrastructure to prepare for climate change. The work was magnified through various forums, the Sustainability Committee and the Chancellor's Sustainability Council were consulted on the priority and feasibility of the student's recommendations.  

Delivery & Design

The final plan will be brought to life through an Appreciative Inquiry Summit attended by key stakeholders. Partners invited from the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, the UNC System, Duke Energy, and others are essential in executing these goals and strategies. The summit provides a platform to discuss resources, solidify roadmaps to achieve goals, and cross-pollinate efforts where possible. As a living document, the Climate Resiliency Plan will be updated at least every three years, reflecting the newest UNCW Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory results. The potential to expand the summit to broader connections is an exciting possibility in the future! 

Backed by Data

An inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions from UNCW is published every three years through the Office of Sustainability. The sections of this plan, Energy & Operations, Transportation, Natural Areas & Landscaping, Waste Diversion, Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise, and Campus Dining, are presented in order of their potential impact on climate resiliency based on the 2018-2020 GHG Inventory. Excluding Supply Chain, Building Energy and Refrigerants (Energy & Operations) accounted for 78% of the GHGs in 2020. Fleet & Business Travel and Commute (Transportation) contributed the other 22% in that year. The planting of 1,587 trees (Natural Areas & Landscaping) will absorb 14.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide over ten years, working as an offset. Although minimizing waste (Waste Diversion) has multiple positive impacts, the flaring of methane at the NHC Landfill has eliminated the GHG impact. It should be noted that the total amount of GHG potential sequestered by composting has not been calculated and should be in the future. To make the plan more specific to issues of the climate crisis, the areas of Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise and Campus Dining were added. The goals in Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise will prepare the university for the effects of the climate crisis. The goals in Campus Dining are critical to the holistic impact of the UNCW campus but are more specific to the impact of the provider. Additionally, the specific goals are identified by the Chancellor's Sustainability Council as short, medium, or long-term.

Equity in Implementation

The climate crisis disproportionally impacts people with fewer opportunities. While this plan focuses on the built infrastructure of the campus, it will be implemented through a lens of social equity and environmental justice. Procurement and distribution of goods and resources should be carefully chosen to ensure negative impacts are not transferred to those persons and communities creating and accepting the resources. The creation of balance and fairness in the execution of this plan is critical to the Sustainability of the work.  

Document Philosophy

We recognize that our sense of how the climate will change and affect our community depends on the implementation and exploration of various practices, the emergence of new hazards, and developing research. Our documentation and communication of the CRP will be as flexible as possible and will evolve as new information and best practices emerge. We keep track of community and expert comments in a table to properly place them into our ever-growing document. We hope to make our understanding of the climate in and outside of this plan adaptable as time moves on. 

Resiliency Overview

The scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that climate change is one of the most significant challenges of the modern era. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are found naturally in our atmosphere. Still, the release of these gases from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, acts as the primary contributor to global climate change (Holm & Berardo, 2020). The main GHGs in our atmosphere include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (n.d.), the primary GHG emitted from human activities is carbon dioxide at 80%. With the atmosphere acting as a large greenhouse, a higher concentration of these gases equals a higher percentage of trapped heat. The trapping of heat causes the Earth to warm, leading to the phenomenon known as global warming.  

Global warming, however, is only one extension of climate change. The Earth's warming can lead to other consequences such as increased evaporation and precipitation, droughts, ocean warming and acidification, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers, sea level rise, biodiversity loss, and more. These consequences do not solely influence the environment; they impact human health, local and global economies, and even social and cultural factors like social justice. 

Although rising GHG emissions impact everyone, coastal zones and universities like UNCW often have elevated risks with sea level rise, tropical storm intensity and frequency, and potential flooding that result from increased air and water temperatures.  

The more GHGs that are released into the atmosphere, the warmer the water temperatures will become (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], n.d.). Rising water temperatures contribute to increased heat energy in the ocean, giving rise to climate events such as tropical cyclones (Berardelli, 2019). Since 1975, human-induced climate change has led to an increase in the frequency of destructive hurricanes, negatively impacting people and property in the wake of the storm (Berardelli, 2019). For the past fifty years, the cost of tropical cyclone damages, adjusted for inflation, has risen by 6% each year (Berardelli, 2019). The built infrastructure and number of coastal residents have also increased. UNCW has experienced a higher frequency of storms in recent years, with at least one tropical storm or hurricane each year since 2018. 

Over the years, UNCW has tracked campus emissions through greenhouse gas reports. Figure 1. outlines campus emissions over the past ten fiscal years, as well as a closer look at the past three years. Included in scope 1 emissions are emissions from stationary combustion, fugitive emissions, and fleet fuels. Scope 2 emissions are from purchased electricity. Finally, scope 3 emissions are those from business travel, commuting, solid waste, supply chain, and transmission and distribution losses.  

The two graphs show the total greenhouse gases contributed by UNCW over time. The first chart shows Scopes 1, 2, and 3 from 2019 to 2020, each year they all are lower in number except Scope 3 between 2019 and 2019. The second shows the total emissions over the past ten years, showing an overall downward trend with a small spike in 2015-2017.
Figure 1. Greenhouse Gas data over ten years at UNCW with a closer look at the past three years. 


The Climate Resiliency Plan and the Sustainability Action Plan

The UNCW Office of Sustainability has created two interconnected plans that work towards climate action and overall Sustainability. First, the Climate Resiliency Plan (CRP) focuses on preparing the physical infrastructure to withstand the impacts of the climate crisis on the university itself. In addition, the plan focuses on building physical resiliency to the increased strength and number of storms, changes in air quality, and the heat island index. The second plan, the Sustainability Action Plan (SAP), encourages behavioral change in all aspects of Sustainability at the university. The SAP includes programming, education, and encouragement for individuals and departments to reduce their impact by making small changes in their daily practices.  

While the CRP focuses on the resiliency of the built environment and the SAP on behavioral change, it is essential to note that the goals overlap. Changes to build environment resiliency must happen sustainably, and sustainable actions must consider resiliency. More so, sustainable behavioral changes related to climate change and its impacts. Therefore, UNCW needs to home in-depth plans and projects that thoroughly address sustainability needs and climate change impacts. 

Executive Summary

UNCW aims to complete the CRP with guidance from the UNC System Policy 600.6.1 and with a focus on coastal resiliency. The purpose of the plan is to achieve climate neutrality- net zero carbon emissions- by 2050 while simultaneously adapting to the changes and challenges of the current climate crisis. UNCW has taken an innovative approach to the project's design in that much of it has been researched and written by university students. This unique approach acknowledges that the students are the future and puts them at the center of cocreating the plan. Thus, the CRP has been written: "For the Future, by the Future." This noteworthy approach aligns with several values defined in the University's Strategic Plan, such as student engagement, diversity, and innovation. 

Students have focused their efforts on six broad areas: Energy & Operations, Transportation, Natural Areas & Landscaping, Waste Diversion, Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise, and Campus Dining. Within each of these, students have written resiliency plans on various topics to create infrastructural and operational modifications at UNCW. Additionally, each section includes short- and long-term goals, resiliency projects, and means for tracking progress.  

While efforts have been focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions at UNCW, it is essential to note that the motivation for such actions spans beyond the university. UNCW acknowledges our responsibility to act as a change agent and leader in the greater community to address environmental problems. 

Goals & Strategies

1. Energy & Operations (SDG 7, 9, 12)

In 2020, 33,052.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted by UNCW through purchased electricity alone. While emissions from purchased energy are declining, it is still the number one producer of greenhouse gases on campus (Figure 2). This trend reflects that power provided on campus relies heavily upon emitting carbon dioxide. Therefore, fostering Sustainable action and resilience on campus will require evaluating energy production and strategies for implementing increased renewable resources.  

Non-renewable energy sources are often considered the most feasible option for powering large universities because of convenience, supply, and low cost. However, electricity generated by burning fossil fuels has repercussions for universities and their surrounding communities as it feeds into growing climate crisis concerns. It should be noted that UNCW’s energy is procured predominantly from nuclear and natural gas with minimal diesel used for non-mobile sources.  

According to the EPA (n.d.), the release of GHG is primarily caused by energy production through non-renewable resources. For this reason, public universities in North Carolina must transition to low and no carbon emissions sources to reach carbon neutrality goals by the year 2050 according to the UNC System Sustainability Policy 600.6.1. The UNCW 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory conducted at UNCW shows that 31% of greenhouse gas emissions came from purchased electricity. Additionally, electricity is second only to transportation in GHG emissions in the United States (EPA, n.d.).  

Chart showing the amount of energy used from electricity, natural gas, and diesel from non-mobile sources from 2018-2020. The overall trend in down.
Figure 2. Data from the last three years of emissions from purchased energy at UNCW's main campus and Center for Marine Science. 

Energy & Operations Goals

1.1 Support the development and use of energy from clean and renewable sources. (short-range goal)

  • Implement photovoltaic (PV) pilot/demonstration projects. 
    • Prioritize projects that will store electricity to be used during power outages. 
  • Leverage House Bill 1292 (2009-2010 session) funds for more energy-saving projects.  
  • Create solar-powered social spaces with PV on umbrellas and park benches. 
  • Develop siting guidelines for on-campus renewable energy projects. 
1.2 Track energy use and production with meters to increase efficiency and troubleshooting. (short-range goal) 
  • Utilize metering systems on old and new systems to highlight energy surges and track clean energy usage. 
    • Create visual dashboards for the metering. 
  • Provide loaner kW devices to show people how much energy appliances are using. 
    • Provide the amount of use to the UNCW community to gain support for and interest in use and efficiencies. 
1.3 Encourage behavior change with signs and visibility. (short-range goal) 
  • Install prominent light switch/water reduction stickers into all buildings. 
  • Encourage ENERGY STAR appliances and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) electronics through Purchasing.
1.4 Build and renovate with energy efficiency best practices to create net-zero energy campus status. (long-range goal) 
  • Request a statement from building designers identifying sustainability aspects that would align with green building certifications. 
  • Utilize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) condensate as a source of water for chillers. 
  • Utilize the lessons learned from the previous Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPC) to apply to all campus buildings. 
  • Install motion-sensor lighting throughout campus (already the standard for renovations and new design). 
  • Install PV-powered golf cart charging station where possible. 

2. Transportation (SDG 7, 9, 12)

Transportation is measured in the GHG inventory by fleet & business travel emissions, and daily commute emissions. The commute of students, faculty, and staff is the second biggest contributor to GHGs at UNCW. The university calculates this type of emission, although it is considered an indirect GHG contribution. The campus fleet & business travel contribute the third-highest amount of GHG and are considered a direct emission from the university (Figures 3 & 4) 

Transportation in all forms affects more than GHG emissions. Parking lots contribute to the heat island effect and use space that could be used for buildings or green space. Additionally, the impervious surface creates stormwater runoff that will be described further in Natural Areas & Landscaping. 

Creating an equitable and inclusive transportation system is critical to providing equal experience and opportunity for a diverse population. Community members of all physical abilities and economic status should not be negatively affected by transportation needs. Additionally, transitioning to an electric fleet and providing the infrastructure for electric vehicles on campus will reduce air pollution.  

The following examples illustrate ways our campus can adapt: 

  • GHG free transportation methods such as walking, biking, and skateboarding will be supported through sidewalk and bike lane connectivity, improved signage, and increased safety standards.  
  • In addition, means of transportation that release GHG's such as driving or taking public transit will also be enhanced through parking pass reforms, implementing solar electric charging stations, and maximizing the efficiency of the campus fleet.  
Trends in air travel and university-owned vehicles over the past three years trends down. The air travel data was extrapolated by using a line of best fit.
Figure 3. Data from the last three years of air and ground business travel emissions for UNCW's employees and students. 
The student, faculty, staff, and shuttle daily commute trends mostly down from 2018-2020. The total number of faculty and staff did increase between 2019 and 2020.
Figure 4. Data from the last three years of students, faculty, and staff daily commute emissions. 

Transportation Goals

2.1 Enhance transit options by providing resources to enable and encourage alternative transportation. (short-range goal) 

  • Develop end-of-trip trip facilities with showers and other amenities. 
  • Implement bike racks on all buses and shuttles. 
  • Design bus stop facilities with amenities such as shade and (cell phone) solar charging stations. 
  • Establish a minimum bike parking requirement for all new and existing buildings. 
  • Install covered shelter on bike racks in multiple campus locations, and especially near bus stops with solar charging stations. 
  • Implement a carshare or rideshare program. 
  • Expand shuttle routes beyond a 1-mile radius and to the north side of campus. 
  • Install additional electric vehicle charging stations in all surface lots and parking decks. 
2.2 Enhance Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and align with the City of Wilmington’s plans and goals. (short-range goal) 
  • Encourage offices to allow for telework and alternative work schedules, where applicable. 
  • Increase awareness of bus routes with signs. 
2.3 Maximize fuel efficiency for UNCW fleet and Wave Shuttles. (mid-range goal) 
  • Conduct a fleet audit to determine underutilized vehicles. 
  • Implement telematics on vehicles to identify wasteful and unsafe driving habits 
    • Define optimal routes for fuel efficiency. 
  • Transition fleet to enhance fuel efficiency. 
  • Transition shuttles to fuel-efficient buses. 
2.4 Improve the safety and convenience of walking, biking, skateboarding, and other alternative transportation methods between the campus and the surrounding community. (mid-range)
  • Build a pedestrian bridge over College Road 
  • Establish the connectivity of pedestrian pathways and cycling lanes in all aspects of university planning. 
    • Perform a Multi-Modal Transportation Study 
  • Create and expand a university bike rental program and include modes for all abilities. 

3. Natural Areas & Landscaping (SDG 6, 14, 15)

UNCW's natural areas offset the carbon emissions on campus by acting as a carbon sink (Figure 5). In terms of resilience, natural areas reduce climate change impacts and mitigate the effect of storms and stormwater. Natural areas and landscapes can also lessen the elevated temperatures associated with the built environment that cause heat island effect. Therefore, the natural university-owned areas are helpful to the campus and community and should be preserved and enhanced to maximize ecosystem health and climate resilience.   

The preservation of high-value University-owned natural areas also benefits research, applied learning, and ecosystem health. UNCW's unique geographical location provides opportunities for students to interact with species of "Special Concern-Vulnerable," a wide variety of ecosystems, and an ever-changing coastal environment. Critical skills are gained by utilizing the university's natural areas in the classroom and educational programming, and these skills will equip students for success in the job market after they leave the university 

1,587 plants and trees were planted during the FY 2018-2020 timeframe. These carbon offsets will result in a total uptake of 14.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of ten years. Approximately 200 Longleaf Pine saplings drowned during Hurricane Florence in September of 2018.
Figure 5. Trees act as a carbon sink and offset total greenhouse gas emissions. 

Natural Areas & Landscaping Goals

 3.1 All high-value University-owned natural areas to be preserved and enhanced to maximize ecosystem health. (short-range goal) 
  • Establish "official" protection recognition for the "back 110" acres. 
  • Replace vegetation (including shrub and midstory vegetation) and include timeframes and standards in disaster recovery planning and landscaping standards destroyed by storms.  
  • Remove invasive species. 
  • Implement, as much as possible, the rotational controlled burn strategy to best maintain and enhance the longleaf pine ecosystem. 
 3.2 Reduce chemical use and pollution. (short-range goal) 
  • Retain the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. 
  • Reduce the impact of geese waste by planting tall grass around pond edges. 
  • Utilize low-maintenance vegetation and native vegetation wherever possible in new construction and maintenance. 
  • Use organic fertilizer in landscaping practices. 
  • Use the compost made with UNCW food waste in landscaping, gardens, and lawns as much as possible.  
  • Support and promote the policy not to change car oil on campus (outside of the UNCW Garage). 
3.3 Incorporate landscape and other measures that mitigate the impacts of increased storms and change in the climate. (long-range goal) 
  • Incorporate stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in any stormwater management plans or campus building plans.  
    •  Clear all blue line streams and ditches of debris and wood regularly and before storms. 
    •  Redirect downspouts to encourage water flow over pervious surfaces versus impervious surfaces. 
    •  Install rain barrels near landscaped and garden areas. 
    •  Install additional pervious pavement in areas prone to flooding—transition to more pervious pavement and surfaces wherever possible. 
    •  Build French drains and bioswales where possible. 
    •  Retrofit parking lots with curb cutouts in old and new parking areas. 
    •  Install stormwater tree boxes. 
    •  During maintenance, transition to pervious pavement/stormwater infrastructure. 
  • Combat heat island effect. 
    • Install authentic or modified green roofs on-campus buildings that have the structural design to support one. 
    • Plant vegetation wherever possible; shrubs and trees are better than lawn grasses. 
    • Create natural borders on sidewalks 
      • Utilize trees to create shade. 
    • Mindful landscaping to avoid the creation of desire lines. 
  • Proactively seek to improve the campus habitat for species affected by the change in the climate (long-range goal). 
    • Create habitats that support native species that include state rare, threatened, and endangered species – such as butterfly gardens and longleaf pine groves. 
    • Utilize proven management techniques such as prescribed fire to enhance ecosystem resilience.

4. Waste Diversion (SDG 6, 9, 11, 12)

Continuing and expanding recycling and composting practices on UNCW's campus and within the Wilmington community is a highly beneficial climate resiliency strategy. Food waste in landfills undergoes anaerobic decomposition, meaning there is no oxygen involved in the breakdown of food. In turn, this releases the GHG methane into the atmosphere. More than 20% of all methane emissions in the United States come from landfills (UNC Chapel Hill, n.d.). Compositing is a proactive approach to slowing the effects of climate change while also being a solution for waste reduction and a source of natural fertilizer. Composting is an investment in the future vitality of the university.  

UNCW will also promote recycling across all campus operations and activities by using recycling containers, recycling dumpsters, and office recycling programs.  

Waste diversion and recycling play critical roles in campus resilience and are vital elements in campus infrastructure, strategic planning, and operations. Such efforts on campus will support the longevity of the regional landfill while reducing costs and the use of virgin resources. In addition, this effort will help promote a personal investment from staff, faculty, and students in achieving campus-wide waste diversion and recycling goals.  

Although the New Hanover County landfill, where UNCW sends waste, started flaring methane, waste diversion is a priority for the university, aligning with UNC System Policy 600.6.1. After the implementation of methane flaring, solid waste emissions decreased to zero in fiscal year 2020 because these emissions are combusted (Figure 6). A secondary goal will be encouraging the translation of zero waste practices beyond the campus and into the daily lives of the community.  

The amount of carbon dioxide from waste was level for 2018 and 2019, then it dropped to 0 in 2020 due to flaring.
Figure 6. Data from the last three years of emissions from solid waste for UNCW's main campus, CMS, and auxiliary buildings. 

Waste Diversion Goals

 4.1 Implement the Waste Bin Standardization across campus. (short-range goal) 
  • Remove trash cans from classrooms. 
  • Provide composting bins in as many locations as possible, including educational buildings, residence halls, and dining locations. 
  • Provide all types of waste bins in all residence halls. 
  • Twin bins in all outdoor locations. 
  • Continue to provide waste recovery at all events (such as athletic events). 
4.2 Encourage Gold Talon Suite practices of reducing and reusing. (short-range goal) 
4.3 Reduce the amount of waste created from packaging and non-sustainable products. (short-range goal) 
  • Offer bar shampoo, facial bars, sustainable period products, and bamboo toothbrushes in the P.O.D. markets. 
  • Expand the reusable to-go box to all dining locations. 
  • Create signs about waste diversion efforts 
    • What can be recycled in the P.O.D. markets. 

5. Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise (SDG 9)

Hurricanes and sea level rise are perhaps the most immediate and long-term consequences of climate change threatening campus infrastructure. This includes the main campus and the Center for Marine Science (CMS). The main campus is just 3.75 miles from the ocean, and CMS is directly adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Hurricane Florence highlighted the potential severity of impacts due to storms, and the campus has had at least one storm each year for the past four years. It is expected the university will continue to be exposed to the increased frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones. In addition to the impacts on the built environment, eroding shorelines and coastal flooding are consequences of tropical activity, and hurricane mitigation practices need to be addressed. The following examples illustrate ways our campus can adapt: 

  • Implement pervious surfaces and other stormwater BMPs. 
  • Support living shoreline research and implementation.  
    • Evaluate the location and type of future builds and infrastructure.

Hurricanes & Sea Level Rise Goals

5.1 Support and encourage research areas related to coastal resilience and local infrastructure mitigation. (short-range goal) 
  • Support barrier island restoration and salt marsh conservation. 
  • Support research into the Dutch Dialogues. 
5.2 Collaborate with the greater community to align plans and actions. (short-range goal) 
  • Identify resources and review policies for post-storm action. 
  • Address and implement social equity within each plan. 
  • Support the following existing plans and projects: 
    •  UNC System Eastern Campuses Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan 
    •  FEMA Planning for Future Conditions 
    •  North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan 
    •  Community Resilience Pilot Project Wilmington, North Carolina 
5.3 Develop a risk management planning database using existing hurricane impact modeling such as HAZUS developed by FEMA. (short-range goal) 
5.4 To reinforce and adapt buildings to be the most resilient against strong winds and heavy rains. (mid-range goal) 
  • All new construction should be fitted with special FRP (Fiber-Reinforced Polymer) connectors instead of corrosive metal clips on the roofs, and existing buildings should be retrofitted with the connectors.  
  • All existing buildings should be retrofitted with FRP connectors. 
  • A protective layer should be added to the windows. 
  • Stormwater best management practices (BMPs) should be used wherever possible and designed for maximum holding 24-hour stormwater events. 
    •  Especially for roads and sidewalks. 

6. Campus Dining (SDG 10, 12, 13, 14, 15)

One significant challenge for food security is the variability and impact of climate change. Variable changes in temperature, freshwater availability, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles (essential factors of soil quality), and more will directly influence the agricultural and food production industries (United Nations [UN], 2012). Even more, the socioeconomic inequalities of food insecurity will be unjustly borne by low-income communities that rely heavily on agriculture to sustain their livelihood and are financially less equipped to adapt to climate change variability (UN, 2012). Therefore, expanding and implementing climate-resilient dining strategies now will aid in ensuring food security into the future while also tackling environmental injustices.  

Expanding and implementing climate-resilient dining strategies will reduce our campus's carbon footprint from a highly used service. This simultaneously builds resilience to the impacts of climate change. The below examples depict how our campus can contribute to climate-resilient dining strategies: 

  • Buying local means that supplies are not impacted by political and meteorological disturbances elsewhere in the country or world. When local sources are not available, products created with sustainable processes are more likely to be stable than those produced unsustainably because of a forward-thinking mindset. For environmental benefits, buying local can drastically reduce the carbon emissions and pollutants created by long-distance shipping.  
  • Providing sustainable and climate-friendly foods available for purchase and consumption on campus is essential. Developing personal connections to the food we eat will ensure a better understanding and the prolonged adoption of sustainable practices. 
  • Food waste in landfills undergoes anaerobic decomposition, meaning there is no oxygen involved in the breakdown of food. In turn, this releases the GHG methane into the atmosphere. More than 20% of all methane emissions in the United States come from landfills (UNC Chapel Hill, n.d.). * 

* (Figure 6) While New Hanover County's landfill flares our methane, it is our responsibility to create habits in students that support best practices no matter where their post-academic journey takes them.  

Dining Goals

6.1 Increase zero waste policies and programs in each Campus Dining location. (short-range goal) 
  • Support the Waste Bin Standardization by implementing twinned bins. 
  • Expand the compost pilot project to include bins at the food trucks and outside the Fisher Student Center, University Union, and Teaching Lab. 
  • Hold waste hauler to contract obligations, including providing the total weight for each tip  
6.2 Support Aramark's (UNCW's Campus Dining vendor) research of low-carbon dining options. (short-range goal) 
  • 5% increase of local foods from a 2019 baseline by 2030. 
  • Expand plant-forward options in the dining halls. 
6.3 Expand campus gardens and utilize the produce in Campus Dining, either as it becomes available or at one big event. (short-range goal) 
  • Install more FarmShelf (cultivation systems) in dining halls to grow microgreens at each location. 
  • Collaborate between Campus Dining, UNCW Campus Garden stakeholders, and the UNCW Garden Club to identify what produce is of value to campus dining that can be grown on campus. 
6.4 Expand the number of Campus Dining locations awarded Green Restaurant Certification. (short-range goal)  
  • The Shore and Wagoner Dining Hall should be certified by 2024. 
  • Establish a Memorandum of Understanding for any new dining facility built to Green Restaurant Certification three-star standards. 
  • Research other certifications that illuminate sustainability work in Campus Dining, for example, Ocean Friendly Establishment or the USGBC True Zero Waste. 
6.5 Energy and water enhancements should be installed at all Campus Dining locations. (short-range goal) 
  • Create standards for water features and appliances. 
  • Install aerators for hand & prep sinks, as kitchen upgrades are needed. 
  • Install high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves in the dish room. 
  • Upgrade all equipment to ENERGY STAR-rated equipment.
6.6 Serve as a resource for post-hurricane relief efforts. (mid-range goal) 
  • Collaborate with the local Emergency Management to identify resources that relief organizations could utilize, such as freezers. 
  • Install photovoltaics as backup generators.


Glossary of Terms

  • Alternative Transportation: Mode of commuting other than single-occupancy vehicles. 
  • Built Environment: As defined by the US Green Building Council, all the man-made surroundings that are needed for human activity, from roads to buildings and neighborhoods.  
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs): Stormwater solutions directing rain away from storm drains and into the water table. 
  • Bioswale: Vegetated depressions designed to capture stormwater. 
  • Climate Change: As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period. This includes substantial changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, over several decades or longer.  
  • Compost: Organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. 
  • Composting: The aerobic decomposition of organic and biodegradable matter. 
  • Desire Lines: An unplanned path in the ground by pedestrians in preference to or in the absence of a designated walkway. 
  • Dutch Dialogues: A process the City of Charleston is undergoing to reduce the impact of stormwater and other water issues.  
  • Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT): A global ecolabel for the IT sector that helps purchasers, manufacturers, resellers, and others buy and sell environmentally preferable electronic products. 
  • Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPC): A partnership between an agency and an energy service company (ESCO) that allows agencies to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress. 
  • ENERGY STAR: A joint program of the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) to help consumers, businesses, and industry save money and protect the environment by adopting energy-efficient products and practices. 
  • French Drains: Stormwater infrastructure to redirect water that uses a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel or rock. 
  • Safety and Security Window Film: Plastic film is applied to glass for reinforcement and is meant to hold that window together if shattered. 
  • Global Warming: The increase in the Earth's average atmospheric temperature. 
  • Green Restaurant Certification: Certification by the Green Restaurant Association that measures the environmentally sustainable accomplishments of a restaurant. 
  • Green Roofs: Roofs of a building that is wholly or partially covered by vegetation. 
  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG): A gas that traps heat energy in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Such gases include carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. 
  • Gold Talon Suite: Various programs provided by the Office of Sustainability to encourage participants to reduce their environmental impact and support social equity and fiscal vitality. 
  • Heat Island Effect: The increased temperatures experienced by areas with more built environments and less natural areas due to the dark-colored, non-reflective surfaces absorbing heat and releasing it into the environment. 
  • Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC): The mechanical system that conditions the air to provide hot or cool air to a building. 
  • House Bill 1292 (2009-2010 session): "An act to provide that any energy savings realized by the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina shall remain available to the institution and a portion of those energy savings shall be used for other energy conservation measures; and to expand the use of operational leases by local boards of education." 
  • Low-Maintenance Vegetation: Plants that are hardy in zone 8 (Wilmington's Hardiness Zone) tolerate hot, humid summers, are suited for the soil's pH, are in their preferred level of sunlight, and can tolerate periods of rain and drought.  
  • Natural Areas: Space outside the built environment that is not managed with irrigation, pest, weed control, and limited maintenance such as mulching trails, tree removal post-storm, and safety modifications. 
  • Net Zero: When there is no more contributed than is simultaneously removed. 
  • Non-Renewable Resource: A natural resource that is consumed faster than it is produced. 
  • Ocean Friendly Establishment: A business committed to reducing its plastic waste and seeking out sustainable alternatives.  
  • Plant Forward: A diet or eating pattern that prioritizes plants before meat options but does not necessarily eliminate meat. 
  • P.O.D. Markets: Convenience store on campus offering snacks, beverages, and other resources. 
  • Photovoltaic (PV): As defined by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the process of converting light (photons) to electricity. 
  • Resiliency: As defined by the EPA through several public and private organizations, the capacity of a system to anticipate risk, potential harm, prepare, plan for, absorb impacts, bounce back, and recover from adverse, disruptive events. 
  • Special Concern-Vulnerable 
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): set in place by the United Nations that address global challenges including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and injustice.  
  • Stormwater Tree Boxes: An engineered high-performance bioretention system (stormwater treatment filtration) providing a low-impact development solution for tight, highly developed sites. 
  • Transportation Demand Management (TDM): Strategies set into place to educate users regarding transportation options and encourage more efficient use of resources.  
  • Twin Bins: Act of implementing a recycling bin adjacent to where a waste bin is present. 
  • US Green Building Council (USGBC) True Zero Waste: A whole system approach administered by Green Business Certification Inc. aimed at changing how materials flow through society so that all products are eventually reused and diverted from the landfill, incineration, and the environment. 
  • Virgin Resources: Materials manufactured from their natural source. 
  • Zero waste: <10% of generated materials sent to the landfill. 


Berardelli, J. (2019). How Climate Change is Making Hurricanes More Dangerous. Yale Climate Connections.  

Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] (n.d.). Overview of Greenhouse Gasses. EPA.  

Holm, F. & Berardo, R. (2020). Coalitional Architecture of Climate Change Litigation Networks in the United States. Review of Policy Research. 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] (n.d.). Greenhouse Gasses and Temperature. NASA.  

UNC Chapel Hill. (n.d.). A Tarheels Guide to Composting [Brochure]. UNC Chapel Hill. 

United Nations [UN] (2012). Climate Change and Food Systems. UN.  

University of North Carolina Wilmington [UNCW] (2017). Greenhouse Gase Inventory. UNCW.  

The University of North Carolina Wilmington Announces Climate Resiliency Plan

A Cutting-Edge Approach:

“For the Future, By the Future”


August 30, 2021 - The UNCW Climate Resiliency Plan (CRP) is open for a community comment period.

July 11, 2021 - Small groups of subject matter experts are meeting to review The Climate Resiliency Plan (CRP). Best practices and goals are being set, along with suggested completion timelines. Meetings with experts will continue through the summer. Input from experts will be added to the document at the end of the summer/early fall semester.  

May 31, 2021- Sections of the UNCW Climate Resiliency Plan (CRP) were written and/or designed through three classes taught by Dr. Ian Weaver from Summer 2020 through Spring 2021. During this time, three public forums were also held that were designed to elicit feedback and further ideas for the CRP.  

September 28, 2020- UNCW's Office of Sustainability has set forth the goal of completing the first Climate Resiliency Plan for the university by May of 2021. The goal of the plan is for UNCW to achieve climate neutrality- zero carbon emissions- by 2050 while simultaneously adapting to the changes and challenges we are facing in the current climate crisis.

Universities are uniquely positioned to act as change agents and leaders at the forefront of the fight against climate change. The Climate Resiliency Plan will assess the potential impacts of climate change at UNCW and will allow university stakeholders to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of decision-making at the university. The plan will also outline several implementation projects that will most effectively help UNCW lower its carbon emissions to the goal of being carbon neutral. The goals of the plan will be achieved through continued research, education, and operational change at the university.

UNCW has taken an innovative approach to the design of the project in that much of it will be researched and written by university students. This unique approach acknowledges that the students are the future and puts them at the center of planning for it. This aligns with several of the values of the university’s Strategic Plan such as student and community engagement, diversity, and innovation. UNCW and Wilmington area professionals will also provide insight into the project, creating what will be a truly collaborative project. Stakeholders of all backgrounds are invited to review the Climate Resiliency Plan website for more information and opportunities to provide feedback on the project.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state's coastal university, is dedicated to learning through the integration of teaching and mentoring with research and service. Guided by our Strategic Plan, the university is committed to nurturing a campus culture that reflects its values of diversity and globalization, ethics and integrity, and excellence and innovation. A public institution with an anticipated enrollment of more than 17,000 students, the university is focused on supporting and enhancing the student-centered learning experience that has been a hallmark since its founding in 1947. As a doctoral university with high research activity, UNCW offers an array of programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and doctoral programs in marine biology, educational leadership, psychology, and nursing practice. UNCW is one of the 17 institutions that make up the UNC System.


Media Contact: CARLY JARVIS