College Achieves Carbon Neutrality Seven Years Ahead Of Goal

Catawba College in North Carolina is the 13th in the nation and first certified institution in the Southeast to reach Net Zero.

Seven years ahead of its 2030 climate commitment, Catawba College has successfully achieved full carbon neutrality. Last week, Second Nature confirmed the four-year, private, liberal arts college located in Salisbury, NC has become the 13th college nationwide and first institute of higher learning in the Southeast to meet the non-profit organization’s standards for determining carbon neutrality.

To meet its goals ahead of the 2030 target, Catawba College is using a mix of renewable energy, energy efficiency, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and carbon offsets. This includes RECs and offsets from local, North Carolina sources including the Scotland Neck Solar Installation in Halifax County, the Chocowinity Solar Project in Beaufort County, as well as the Buncombe County Landfill Gas Project. This approach not only reduces campus emissions and covers the college’s direct emissions impact, but also covers the harder-to-address, indirect emissions from activities like commuting, business travel, and operations waste.

Catawba College
Catawba College recently became the first campus in the U.S. to install Haven solar shelters by Spotlight Solar. The shelters use bifacial solar panels to generate power on both sides to create clean energy that is stored in batteries under the tabletop.

“Achieving carbon neutrality reflects our values as an institution,” said Catawba College President David P. Nelson. “Out of the over 400 institutions of higher learning that made a commitment to carbon neutrality with Second Nature, Catawba College’s success in meeting and surpassing our timeline reflects our longstanding commitment to sustainability and the environment in the classroom and in our operations.”

Catawba College leaders also credited $242 million in donations the school has received in the last year and a half, part of which will help support additional sustainability and environment programs for students, as a significant boost.

Catawba College
A Haven solar shelter’s 16 different charge options provide up to 650 watts of power. Shelter lights come on automatically in the evening, and when it’s cloudy the battery backup will last at least three days.

“This is only the beginning,” said Brad Ives, Director of the Catawba College Center for the Environment. “Meeting our carbon neutrality goals ahead of time provides an opportunity for the College to demonstrate leadership to our students while also providing a model for other institutions of higher education in North Carolina and across the country.”

Catawba College recently became the first campus in the U.S. to add Haven solar shelters from Research Triangle Park, NC-based Spotlight Solar. The total of five shelters, which incorporate U.S. based components and materials, use bifacial solar panels that allow for power generation on both sides to create clean energy that is stored in batteries under the tabletop – with built-in charging ports for students and faculty.

The campus is also home to a solar-powered trash compactor bin from CleanCUBE, which holds up to five times more waste compared to traditional bins and reduces collection frequency by up to 80%.

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