UNC Asheville Celebrates Green and Gold Accolades from The Princeton Review and US Green Building Council

January 22, 2021

UNC Asheville’s newest residence halls, The Woods, have been certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification considers sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The Woods, which include Aspen, Beech, Cedar, Magnolia and Willow Halls and were completed in 2018, are UNC Asheville’s second buildings to be certified LEED Gold, after Rhoades Hall.

Sustainable features of The Woods residence halls include three 3,000-gallon rainwater cisterns to capture rainwater from the buildings’ rooftops, which is reused for irrigation; five bioretention gardens; two stormwater conveyances; native landscaping; compost and recycling bins in each apartment; energy recovery ventilation units; ultra-high efficiency plumbing fixtures; 100% LED lighting; low-emitting materials used in construction; and individual lighting controls. The site for the residence halls was also selected to avoid flood hazard areas, wetlands, or habitat for endangered species. Construction of the buildings began with an environmental assessment: topography, streams, solar exposure, prevailing winds, precipitation and temperature were studied and used to influence building form and site layout in order to reduce costs, promote occupant health, and honor the site’s unique characteristics.

The LEED certification is just one of several sustainability recognitions UNC Asheville has received in the year 2020. UNC Asheville was again a featured university in Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges.” The guide considers environmentally friendly practices such as the school’s use of renewable energy, its recycling and conservation programs, the availability of environmental studies in academic offerings, and career guidance for green jobs. The University also won the 2020 Carolina Recycling Association Annual Recycling Award, and was designated a Tree Campus USA for the second year in a row. Additionally, UNC Asheville has been certified as a Bee Campus USA, a designation that recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators. UNC Asheville was the eighth school in the nation to receive the Bee Campus USA designation, and the first in North Carolina.

Other sustainability-focused programs at UNC Asheville include campus gardens, the Seed Library, stormwater management, the Student Environmental Center, Greenfest, the Farm to Table Dinner on the Quad, and the fossil fuel divestment campaign. For more information on these and many other sustainability initiatives at UNC Asheville, read the University’s first Sustainability Annual Report and visit sustainability.unca.edu.