UNC has received a $1 million investment from the Champion Athleticwear brand to kickstart a series of efforts aimed at creating a more sustainable campus and facilitating the continued innovation of new strategies by the university community.
The brand, as part of a multi-faceted initiative, will not only fund sustainable innovations as UNC works to meet its recently updated Climate Action Plan, but will support the university’s faculty, staff, and students in bringing research-based ideas to life.
“As a leading global public research university,” said UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guzkiewicz, “we know the importance of environmental stewardship and what’s at stake if we don’t act swiftly. Our students, faculty and staff have long been committed to creating a more sustainable Carolina. The Champion Sustainability Fund will open new doors for our sustainability work and allow us to invest in projects and practices that benefit our community and our world.”
In its revolving fund model, the Champion Sustainability Fund will recycle the capital saved by converting to cleaner sustainability practices back into the fund to be used for programs that inspire and encourage university community members to develop innovative ideas for future measures. By reinvesting the savings, the fund will continue to offer the university opportunity to pursue new sustainability initiatives.
“Hopefully the returns will come back to the fund pretty quickly, and we’ll be able to support programs that will fund innovative student and faculty ideas or competitions that will call for proposals from students, faculty, and staff,” UNC’s chief sustainability officer Michael Piehler told 97.9 The Hill’s Aaron Keck. “And that will be a great way to not only achieve the core group of things we’re hoping to get the savings from, but also this broad sweep of projects related to sustainability and our movement toward our goals.”
“We’re really committed to putting resources into sustainability efforts,” Piehler added, “because we know that early investments return well and are really a great way to start meeting these challenges in a timely manner.”
Some of the confirmed programs that will be funded by the reinvested savings include the Champion Sustainability Research Accelerator, which will annually award $50,000 to Carolina faculty with research programs aimed at improved sustainability and environmental outcomes, and the Sustainable Carolina Opportunity Fund, which will provide seed funding for various efforts to advance sustainability at UNC.
The university will also partner with HanesBrands to pursue additional educational opportunities, such as a paid internship program that will provide UNC students with experience working on HanesBrands’ comprehensive sustainability program.