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ECU adopts sustainability master plan


By Jules Norwood
ECU News Services

Saturday, November 3, 2018

East Carolina University has adopted the newly developed ECU Sustainability Plan, which outlines five-year goals in the areas of climate change mitigation, academics and research, campus grounds, and materials management.

“Being good stewards of our environment and natural resources requires individual responsibility and campuswide engagement, but it also demands that we assume a leadership role in our region,” Chancellor Cecil Staton said. “Sustainability is not just a one-and-done project. It is an ongoing commitment to a more thoughtful approach to the way we live, the way we learn, and the way we grow our university and the communities around us.”

More than 60 faculty, staff, students and members of the community participated in developing the plan over the past year, said Chad Carwein, who came to ECU in 2016 as its first sustainability manager.

ECU has had a recycling program since 1990 and has recently rolled out new initiatives such as the LimeBike program and the installation of a pair of solar-powered tables with charging stations at the Brody School of Medicine. Those efforts have already had an impact, as ECU recently received a score of 88 out of a possible 99 on the Princeton Review’s Sustainability Report and was included in its “Guide to 399 Green Colleges.”

The sustainability plan sets goals in each of four categories and outlines specific strategies to achieve those goals.

The list of goals and strategies includes cutting greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent, adding an academic sustainability coordinator position, reducing reliance on potable water for irrigation and improving stormwater management, and reducing consumption of disposable products.

Carwein said he’s most excited about the academic aspects of the plan because of the potential for exponential impact.

“Where we have an opportunity to make a real impact is educating students, and by integrating it into their coursework, into their projects, into their research, we can make a much bigger difference because they’ll take it out and embrace it in their personal lives as well as their professional careers,” he said.

Among the academic and research initiatives laid out in the plan is the development of an interdisciplinary environmental studies or sustainability studies minor, which Carwein said would help attract students and faculty members who are interested in and committed to sustainability.

The plan aligns with ECU’s strategic plan and its comprehensive campus master plan, said Sara Thorndike, vice chancellor for administration and finance. “It will help guide the university leadership on sustainability in the eastern North Carolina region and provide direction for on-campus improvements,” she said. “We are especially proud of how this plan builds on the history of ECU, is created by members from both the campus and the local community, and connects ECU’s strengths in engineering, public health, diversity, social entrepreneurship, service learning and community engagement.”

The ECU Sustainability Plan is available at https://news.ecu.edu/wp-content/pv-uploads/sites/2/2017/07/ECU-Sustainability-Plan-spreads.pdf.