Small North Carolina College Achieves Net-Zero Emissions

Catawba College one of only 13 campuses to achieve neutrality.   May 5, 2023

By Dave Lubach, Executive Editor

Achieving a net-zero carbon footprint is a stated goal of many colleges and universities. While many of those schools are still working toward achieving those goals, a few have already attained it, like a small private college in North Carolina. 

Catawba College, with 1,200 students located near Charlotte, North Carolina, recently became one of only 13 campuses in the country to achieve net-zero, according to nonprofit Second Nature in an Energy News Network article.  

Catawba set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 but reached it seven years earlier. The college had a decent head start with a geothermal heating and cooling system that was installed in the 1990s and continued the momentum by installing solar rooftop panels that generated 800 kilowatts of power. It also constructed 20,000 square feet of LEED certified buildings. 

The school’s efforts to achieve net-zero required it to overcome emission events such as airplane travel for sports teams and other supply chain issues. To account for those instances, the college brought renewable energy credits from local solar farms. 

Brad Ives, director of the school’s Center for the Environment, said the school took a deliberate approach to its projects. The efforts cost the school less than $100,000 a year, according to Ives. 

Dave Lubach is executive editor for the facility market.  


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