UNC Asheville’s buildings have set new campus standards for energy efficiency and sustainability because of our long-term planning process for sustainable building. UNC Asheville follows LEED Design Guidelines, with new construction stressing a high‑performance building envelope and use of high‑recycled‑content materials. UNC Asheville’s Sam Millar and Whitesides Hall buildings were designed and built to LEED Silver standards. The university has opted to renovate rather than replace older buildings wherever possible, conserving embedded energy, maximizing reuse and recycling of building materials, and adding energy efficiency design features. Ponder Hall, for example, features room by room plug load monitoring and a 24 kW solar array.
UNC Asheville recently celebrated Rhoades Hall earning the LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), making it the first award on campus!
In addition to the award, Rhoades Hall, which opened in 1961, was renovated. New plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems were installed. Larger, energy efficient windows were installed, and gypsum interior wall covering aids in sealing the building. Occupancy sensors turn off lights when rooms are empty, and a rainwater cistern collects water for low-flush toilets. At the start of the project, about fifty percent of the materials removed from the building were recycled in separate waste streams. Wood cabinets and shelving, fume hoods, electronics, and heating and cooling materials were removed and reused in other buildings on campus.
Sam Millar Facilities Management Complex
The Sam Millar building, which houses the UNC Asheville Office of Sustainability, incorporates a number of environmentally sustainable design features: the building’s solar thermal system provides domestic hot water for the building, a 10,000 gallon rainwater catchment system supplies water for the building’s toilets, landscape irrigation and vehicle washing, the surrounding bio-retention ponds clean water before it enters the campus streams that feed into nearby creeks and the local river system, pervious pavement is used outside of the building to prevent water runoff, the building is insulated with recycled cotton batt, the entire complex uses a geothermal heating and cooling system, which draws energy from the earth’s crust.
UNC Asheville is dedicated to decreasing our carbon footprint by offering a wide range of alternative transportation. Not only does our campus provide charging stations for electric automobiles, we also offered preferred parking for carpools, offer campus shuttles and provide free public transportation to our students. Learn more about multimodal transportation options.
UNC Asheville is a bike-friendly campus. There are secure bike racks all around campus as well as lockers for bike commuters. The UNC Asheville Bike Shop, located in the lowest level of Highsmith Student Union, offers free commuter bike rentals, as well as mountain bike rentals for a small fee. The Bike Shop was created as a learning environment — free basic bike maintenance is offered for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as education for cyclists who would like to learn how to repair their own bikes while working with a trained mechanic.
Some four and half miles of established walking trails are used daily by faculty, staff, and students. One trail passes by the University’s low ropes course, located in the wooded section of South Campus.
UNC Asheville partnered with the City of Asheville to create the Glenn’s Creek Greenway that extends along W.T. Weaver Boulevard from Merrimon Avenue around to Broadway, which is immediately adjacent to campus. The Grounds Crew planted trees, landscaped the riparian buffer along the creek, and developed and maintain the storm-water wetlands that are on campus and feed into the creek.
A new greenway that will connect UNC Asheville’s campus to the downtown core has been made possible by the recent acquisition of the 525 Broadway property, allowing students to walk or ride on a protected path the entire way. The official dedication of the newest section of the Greenway took place on October 9, 2014.
Sustainability and food go hand-in-hand at UNC Asheville, and UNCA Dining Services knows the impact institutional dining can have on the environment. They are making strides to improve that impact every day, and developed their own sustainability brand, FEEDS, to share everything dining is doing with the campus community. Some of the highlights of sustainable dining include:
Since 2015, Dining Services has partnered with Food Connection, a local nonprofit who recovers unused, leftover food and delivers it to community organizations that feed people who need it most. Any food that cannot be served back to the UNCA campus is packaged and picked up by Food Connection volunteers. During the school year, UNC Asheville donates on average 170 pounds a week.
Fair Trade Campus
UNC Asheville became the first designated Fair Trade Campus in North Carolina. Dining Services offers fair trade certified products in every outlet and in the dining hall. There is a fair trade committee on campus–consisting of students, faculty and staff–who host multiple educational events every semester. To get involved or stay up to date, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dining Services has a strong waste diversion program, with an 81% diversion rate that strives to reuse, donate, compost and recycle before sending to the landfill. In addition to back of house waste management, Brown Hall runs a campaign every semester to reduce food waste among diners. The goal is to raise awareness on how wasting food is a large contributor to global warming and wasted resources, and to get diners to start considering ways they can change behavior to waste less in the future. Please see Dining Services’ Waste Reduction resources.
Reusable Cup Program
Dining Services is a trying to reduce landfill waste one cup at a time. They proudly offer a 15¢ discount every time someone brings a reusable cup. In addition to the customer discount, Dining Services also donates 15¢ to Food Connection to fight hunger in our community. It pays to reuse!
Want to take food to go? Reduce one-time-use packaging by renting an eco-clamshell to use throughout the school year. The eco-clamshell is available in the dining hall (at the register) for a small fee. Associates in Brown Hall are happy to run your eco-clamshell through our industrial dishwasher whenever you’d like it clean. At the end of school year, return your clamshell and receive your deposit back!
You’ll find many locally-made products in UNC Asheville’s retail outlets and in the dining hall, like Poppy’s Popcorn, the Hop Ice Cream, Dynamite coffee, Dolci di Maria vegan and gluten-free desserts, No Evil Foods plant meats, Smiling Hara Tempeh and much more. You’ll also find local and regionally-sourced produce served in Brown Hall, designated with a callout card of a specific color.
Once a month, on Mondays, Brown Hall features an even larger assortment of vegetarian and vegan dishes to highlight complete meals can be made without meat on the plate. Select meat options are still available during this meal period. Dining Services also tables on Mindful Mondays to raise awareness about the resources it takes to raise animals for food, and how even skipping meat once a day, week or month can go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint. For more information or to get involved, contact email@example.com.
The grill in Highsmith Student Union offers a burger blended with local and humane certified Hickory Nut Gap beef and local mushrooms. Blending meat requires less animal product per burger, adds veggies to your meal and uses a high quality, local product.
Rosetta’s is a local restaurant with their satellite location on UNC Asheville’s campus, offering healthy local, vegetarian and vegan options. This partnership is a great way to support the local economy and offer students a more varied and delicious dining experience.
Ground-Source Heat Pump Systems
The university installed a geo-exchange system under the Main Quad as the new source of heating and cooling for Rhoades Hall. Thirty-four wells are buried five hundred feet deep, and are connected by seven miles of pipe. This ground-source heat pump system operates by continuously circulating liquid through the well-and-pipe system. The earth’s constant 58 degree temperature is used to warm the building in winter and cool it in the summer. UNC Asheville also has ground-source heat pump systems at the Sam Millar Facilities Complex, Pisgah House, and New Hall. As an example of the impact that these systems can have, Whitesides Hall’s energy costs are 85% lower than Carmichael’s, which has about the same square footage. The systems buried under the main quad (and the mini-quad by Whitesides Hall) are ground source heat pumps. Sometimes they are erroneously called “geothermal” systems.
Building Automation Systems
Another aspect of UNC Asheville’s commitment to energy conservation was the installation of a central, campus wide Building Automation System. The system allows the university to remotely fine-tune heating and cooling in nearly all of the campus’ facilities. Not only does this save a lot of energy, but it also saves the campus a significant amount of money by allowing the university to find unnecessary operations and system instabilities. Campus Operations strives to maintain a sustainable and efficient environment, following guidelines laid out by TPM.