ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — UNC Asheville announced its sustainability council has approved the university’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) to reach carbon neutrality on campus in less than 30 years.

The university’s CAP outlines goals to reduce greenhouse emissions on campus, and the plan marks the first step in upholding the pledge signed by then-chancellor Nancy Cable in 2021 for UNC Asheville to go carbon neutral by 2050.

One of the requirements in the pledge was that UNCA develop a Climate Action Plan within two years. The CAP provides a framework for measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and related climate impacts.

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The CAP was initially developed by students in the Communicating Climate Change course, in collaboration with Alison Ormsby, director of sustainability at UNCA, and Evan Couzo, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at UNCA, along with pro bono consulting from Brailsford & Dunlavey. The plan will provide guidance to the university for decades to come.

Some examples since 2021 of ways progress towards the 2050 goal has been implemented include:

A new solar array at the Reuter CenterStudent research calculating carbon sequestration in UNC Asheville’s forested property Expansion of electric vehicle charging stations Student research on a solar feasibility study for campus

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“We have a lot of work to do in order to be a carbon neutral campus in just under 30 years,” said Alison Ormsby, director of sustainability at UNC Asheville. “The Climate Action Plan is a vital step in engaging in that work, and incorporates everything from fertilizer use to classroom curricula.”

Further examples of measures to be implemented on campus include a short-term project of launching an on-campus compost processing program and a long-term project of installing green roofs.

“The Climate Action Plan and the Carbon Commitment benefit the University in so many ways, even beyond the positive environmental impact,” Ormsby said. “We’ll see cost savings, curriculum connections and learning opportunities, and we’ll be providing a model of community stewardship. Sustainability is one of our core values at UNC Asheville, and this is a crucial and meaningful way to act on those values.”

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Brittany Whitehead