Articles from the BSC Library NC Sustainability Connection Articles

  • NCEast Alliance celebrates sustainabile manufacturing practices

    April 15, 2015

    Bridgestone's Wilson tire manufacturing facility has not sent waste to the landfill since 2013. Photo credit: Bridgestone On March 26, NCEast Alliance hosted the “Sustainability in Manufacturing” conference in Wilson, N.C. The conference brought together representatives from three manufacturing companies with plants in eastern NC to discuss sustainability initiatives and share best practices. Michael Darr, plant manager of Bridgestone’s Wilson tire manufacturing facility, was on hand to talk about how the plant managed to eliminate landfill waste and use energy more sustainably. From Bridgestone’s press release: “During the panel discussion, Darr shared the sustainability journey of the Wilson passenger and… Read More

  • Researchers release strategic plan for North Carolina wine and grape industry

    April 6, 2015

      Roanoke Island's Mother Vine is one of the oldest in the state. Photo credit: NC Culture Grape vines have been an important part of North Carolina’s coastal plains and foothills since long before European colonists arrived and started planting vineyards. At the start of the 20th century, North Carolina was the leading wine-producing region in the nation, until prohibition destroyed the industry. Since the start of the 21st century, North Carolina’s wine and grape industry has seen explosive growth, with the number of wineries more than quadrupling in the last fifteen years. With funding from the North Carolina Wine… Read More

  • Bringing It Home conference looks to strengthen NC’s local economies

    March 31, 2015

    Photo credit: Bringing It Home On March 18th, close to two hundred people gathered at Asheville-Bumcombe Technical Community College to discuss strategies for strengthening local economies. The inaugural Bringing It Home conference brought together new economic pioneers from across North Carolina to share promising initiatives and models that are helping keep money circulating locally. Note: The following reports on specific panels are drawn from Mountain Xpress’s excellent write up of the conference—please take a look at the full article for a deeper overview of everything that was discussed. Some of the panels looked at particular sectors of the economy, like food,… Read More

  • Business community signs up to Durham Living Wage

    March 23, 2015

    Photo: Durham Living Wage From high speed fiber broadband to the proposed Durham-Orange County light rail, there are signs that Durham's economy is on a major upswing. Many in the community, however, still struggle to get by on low and stagnant wages, and a new voluntary certification scheme is hoping to change that—providing recognition for employers who pay a true living wage and, organizers hope, creating market demand for more businesses to raise their pay.  Durham Living Wage launched this month at a packed meeting of the Durham People's Alliance at Fullsteam Brewery in downtown Durham. It is modeled after the successful Living… Read More

  • How will fiber broadband impact sustainability?

    March 19, 2015

    Fiber Optic Spools. Photo credit: woodleywonderworks North Carolina is well on its way to having some of the fastest and cheapest broadband in the whole country. With private companies, municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives all investing in fiber, people across the state will soon enjoy significantly faster speeds at a much lower cost. These new networks have the potential to move our state towards a more sustainable future. They can change how work gets done, and reduce the need to travel or own a car. Abundant bandwidth creates new opportunities to develop sensors to track and communicate environmental indicators, like… Read More

  • Clean energy creates jobs in NC

    March 16, 2015

    Anticipated Job Growth in 2015. Photo credit: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association The NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) completed its seventh annual North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Census for 2014. This years’ report shows steady growth in the clean energy sector, outpacing the growth of any other sectors of the economy.  From the NCSEA press release: “According to the 2014 Census, North Carolina has experienced approximately 15 percent annual increase in revenues generated by clean energy activities since 2012, reaching $4.8 billion in gross revenues in 2014, up $1.2 billion from 2013. The Census also reports significant job growth in… Read More

  • NC BREATHE forum focuses on clean air

    March 12, 2015

    Photo: Creative Commons NC BREATHE, a free one-day event focused on clean air quality across the state, will be held in Raleigh on March 26. The conference will provide a forum for researchers, advocates, and policymakers to examine the intersection of environment, health, and air quality, and to discuss how improved policies can benefit the health and economy of state residents. Featured speakers include Michelle Bell of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Drew Shindell of Duke’s Nicholas School for the Environment, and a range of other leading healthcare and environmental professionals. The conference is sponsored by Clean Air… Read More

  • How an architect is reimagining the food system

    March 8, 2015

    Image: Community Food Lab/screen capture Food and farming isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about architecture, yet design plays a crucial role in influencing our food choices as a society. That's why Erin White (NC State master’s in architecture) has applied his design skills to improving the Triangle’s food system. White is the founder of Community Food lab, a design and consulting firm focused on local food systems.  The News and Observer recently profiled White's important, and perhaps counterintuitive, work: “He is a founding member of the Capital Area Food Network, which seeks to… Read More

  • NC GreenPower tests new focus on solar for schools & community

    March 4, 2015

    Photo Credit: Alex Snyder / Creative Commons NC GreenPower has announced two new pilot projects that signal a shift in the organization's focus. After more than a decade of helping to boost the state's voluntary renewable energy portfolio through production-based incentives, the group is transitioning its direction toward school solar installations and other community impact projects more likely to galvanize contributor support. A Changing Landscape for Renewable Energy Launched in 2003, NC GreenPower is a Raleigh-based non-profit that has supported nearly 1,000 projects across the state, with emphasis on residential solar PV. The first initiative of its kind in the… Read More

  • Is the Piedmont ready for rabbit?

    March 1, 2015

    Pastured rabbits at Polyface Farm in Virginia. Photo credit: Jessica Reeder Rabbit is a popular menu items at many local food restaurants in the Piedmont, but a lack of local certified processing facilities prevents farmers from meeting the demand locally. Rabbit raisers, like Mary DeMare and Dan Shields of Fatty Owl Farm, can sell their farm-processed meat directly to customers, but not to anyone who will re-sell it, like restaurants, catering companies or food trucks. Chefs wanting to include North Carolina rabbit on their menu must purchase it from a North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) certified processing facility in… Read More

  • Concord-based Alevo leads largest US energy storage deployment

    February 25, 2015

    Alevo / Screen grab Last fall we reported on Alevo's plans for a new battery plant in Concord, NC, that could bring thousands of jobs to the state. Now, the company has announced it is teaming up with energy services provider Customized Energy Solutions (CES) in the largest ever energy storage deployment in the country. Using Alevo's “Gridbank” technology, the two companies will coordinate to provide 200 megawatts of energy storage capacity across CES's operational network, which spans across more than 350 major companies in the U.S. and Canada. Gridbank is a frequency regulation technology that can facilitate the stable… Read More

  • Could carbon farming help reverse climate change?

    February 18, 2015

    New technologies like the roller crimper help farmers grow crops without releasing the carbon from their soils. Photo credit: SARE Outreach This is the second part of an article about the Climate Adaptation Conference. The previous article can be found here. Although agriculture is currently a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, some farms do the exact opposite, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and sinking it into soils. If these carbon sequestering techniques spread to agricultural lands all across the globe, we could offset a huge portion of our yearly emissions and eventually bring the amount of carbon dioxide… Read More

  • Farmers prepare for changing climate

    February 18, 2015

    Orchardist Guy Ames shared a story of not being prepared for a drought and having to use every container he had to haul water to his trees. The next year he invested in a farm cistern. Photo credit: Ames Orchard and Nursery Farmers, researchers and activists gathered in Pittsboro recently to discuss what climate change will mean for North Carolina’s agricultural producers. Abundance NC has hosted the Climate Adaptation Conference annually since 2013 in order to help farmers learn what types of climactic shifts they can expect, share practices that increase resiliency and connect to available resources. This year, Peter… Read More

  • Funds available for longleaf pine restoration

    February 16, 2015

    Bill Owen has completed several controlled burns on his longleaf pine stands through a burn contract with NRCS. Photo credit: US Department of Agriculture The USDA Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers funds to farmers, ranchers and forest owners who want help covering the cost of adopting or maintaining conservation practices on their land. Landowners who apply by February 27 will be eligible for the $100 million that the USDA has allocated to the CSP this year. For the first time this year, a portion of the CSP funds will be dedicated to specific conservation goals, including recovering longleaf pine ecosystems.… Read More

  • America’s leading producer of brewers yeast coming to Asheville

    February 10, 2015

    Photo: White Labs North Carolina brewers make some of the best beer in the country, but they can’t take all the credit. At the heart of every great tasting brew is a specialty yeast culture. Until now, most Carolina brewers had to rely on yeasts produced in California or Washington state, but that is about to change. In January, White Labs, America’s leading producer of brewers yeast, announced it will open a branch in Asheville, solidifying Asheville’s place as the craft brewing capital of the east coast. White Labs is a worldwide leader in fermentation sciences for brewers and winemakers.… Read More

  • Solarize races to enroll Triad residents

    February 8, 2015

    Photo credit: Creative Commons We've reported  previously on “Solarize,” a DOE-funded initiative with grassroots momentum to ramp up residential solar. NC WARN, one of many organizations running Solarize campaigns across the state, launched its first project in Durham a year ago in January. Now it is focusing efforts on the Triad region. The Solarize model aims to make home rooftop solar installation affordable through a tiered pricing scheme that drops as registration increases. Through April 17, Triad residents may enroll in Solarize Triad, which offers not only free solar assessments but also free energy efficiency audits, thanks to a project… Read More


    February 4, 2015

    Image removed due to copyright issues.  Last year, construction of the I-40 bike and pedestrian bridge was completed, joining the northern and southern sections of The American Tobacco Trail. Now bikers can travel the full twenty one miles from downtown Durham to Apex without having to bike on roads with cars. NC State’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education recently completed a study measuring the effects the trail completion has had on how the trail is used. Researchers found that completing the I-40 bridge contributed to a 133% increase in trail use. Many people used the trail to get to… Read More


    February 1, 2015

    Though Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s (REC) primary mission is to provide members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, it also aims to enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves. As we outlined in a previous article, the REC has a number of initiatives to empower members to invest in sustainability, and to help drive economic development in the seven counties where it operates. Since 2013, the cooperative has also taken an active role in helping prevent African American land loss through a sustainable forestry initiative. The initiative is a joint venture of the US Endowment for Forestry and… Read More


    January 26, 2015

    Institute for the Environment Director Larry Band. Photo credit: University of North Carolina Energy business professionals, policymakers, local leaders, and academics from across the state will gather in Chapel Hill for the second annual NC Clean Tech Summit, February 19 and 20 at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. The event, hosted by UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute for the Environment and Kenan-Flagler’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise, will feature panels on innovations and emerging technologies, and will provide a forum to discuss challenges and trends in the industry. Retired four-star general and former presidential candidate Wesley K. Clark… Read More


    January 25, 2015

    Photo credit: Creative Commons Duke Energy has plans to build an 80-acre solar farm at Camp Lejeune in Oslow County in eastern North Carolina. Estimated to cost $25 million to $30 million, the 13-megawatt facility will provide power to as many as 3,000 homes. The project, a partnership of Duke Energy Progress, the U.S. Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps, is still pending approval from the NC Utilities Commission but is expected to go online in 2015. Robert Griffin, Executive Director of the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office, is quoted in a recent press release: "Secretary of the… Read More


    January 21, 2015

    Image credit: screen grab / TED Colombian politician Enrique Peñalosa Londoño will give a public lecture on "Cities, Equity, and Quality of Life," at Duke's Field Auditorium on January 22 at 6 pm. Peñalosa has advocated for urban transformation as a matter of equity and democracy. In Bogotá, where he served as mayor from 1998 to 2001, more than 350 kilometers of protected bikeways have been created. From a 2013 Guardian news article: "Peñalosa's first and most defining act as mayor was to declare war: not on crime or drugs or poverty, but on cars. He threw out the ambitious… Read More


    January 21, 2015

    Seventy-five years ago, people living along the Roanoke River in northeastern North Carolina came together to bring electricity into their homes and businesses. Since its formation in 1938, Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) has steadily grown, now serving more than 14,500 members in Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan counties. REC is committed to making sure its members enjoy reliable, affordable energy and a high quality of life. However, the region is largely dependent on agriculture, and has struggled economically since the 1980’s, when small farm revenue began to shrink. The cooperative has created a variety of innovative programs… Read More


    January 20, 2015

    Photo Credit: Jonathan Drake Raw sewage flooded the offices of the Eno River Association last week, when a failed Durham city sewer main backed up, causing major damages that may total as much as $100,000. The oldest land trust organization in North Carolina, the Eno River Association is an environmental nonprofit that has been instrumental in acquiring parkland and promoting conservation since the 1960s. Now the group faces a daunting recovery effort. Staff arrived to work on Monday, January 12, to find sewage spilling out of the office’s four toilets and flowing throughout the building and HVAC system, in some… Read More


    January 14, 2015

    Photo: Good Food Awards Eight North Carolinian food producers received national recognition for their outstanding products at the 2015 Good Food Awards. The Good Food Awards take place at the beginning of each year to honor those producers making food that is simultaneously delicious and socially and ecologically responsible. Out of 1,462 entrants, 14 different North Carolina products made it into the final round and nine were awarded the top honor. Hillsborough-based Farmer’s Daughter Pickles and Preserves managed to snag two separate awards, one for their Sweet Corn & Pepper Relish and one for their Strawberry-Honeysuckle Jam. Two Chicks Farm,… Read More


    January 12, 2015

    On Friday, February 6th, Abundance NC will host the third annual Climate Change Adaptation Conference for Farmers at Central Carolina Community College in Pittbsboro. The conference will bring together farmers, homesteaders, activists, researchers and policy makers to discuss the effects that climate change and peak oil will have on the Carolina Piedmont, and share strategies to make our region more resilient. Peter Bane, author of the Permaculture Handbook and editor of Permaculture Activist magazine, will offer the keynote. Bane is a suburban farmer and homesteader, producing an abundance of food on seven-tenths of an acre just outside of Bloomington, Indiana.… Read More


    January 5, 2015

    From Strata Solar celebrating $1bn invested in NC projects to Duke Energy spending big on utility-scale solar, solar power—and in particular large-scale solar power—was on a roll in 2014. Developers had been concerned, however, that the North Carolina Utilities Commission might make changes to regulations governing how solar power producers are compensated by utilities. Among the items under review was a proposal from utilities to reduce the terms of a standard Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from 15 years to 10 years, and to change the size of qualifying projects from 5MW to just 100 kilowatts. Both of these proposed (along with… Read More


    December 30, 2014

    Photo: mdl70/creative commons From contributing to the state's solar boom to an expanding green events industry, Asheville, North Carolina has a strong and growing reputation for environmentally conscious business. Now the town is being profiled by Forbes in its ongoing series on innovation around the United States, and unsurprisingly, the focus is on sustainability. Among the initiatives that the article focuses on is Venture Asheville:  The brainchild of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, the Venture Asheville initiative works to energize a local high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem. Fittingly, investing and growing “green” businesses – those… Read More


    December 29, 2014

    A new report from Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center estimates that offshore can produce a third of the state’s energy needs, while also creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs in the state’s coastal region. North Carolina has more offshore wind potential than any other state along the Atlantic coast. This new report estimates that wind farms off the North Carolina coast could produce enough power for 2.7 million homes by 2030. If the state fails to develop its wind potential, the energy these homes need will likely come from burning coal or natural gas, which produce emissions… Read More


    December 22, 2014

    Food deserts in Guilford County Accessing healthy food is a challenge for many Greensboro and Highpoint residents. The nearest grocery store is often miles away, a difficult trek for the many low-income families who lack access to a car. Parents are forced to choose between paying a cab fare they can’t afford, spending hours navigating public transit or grabbing dinner from the neighborhood convenience store. Convenience stores generally accept SNAP/EBT benefits, but mostly offer processed food that is low in nutritional value. Food insecurity is a serious problem across the entire state of North Carolina, but nowhere as bad as Guilford… Read More


    December 16, 2014

    Credit: Triangle Transit The state will help fund construction of the Durham and Chapel Hill light rail, according to a draft of the NC Department of Transportation’s construction subsidy plan released earlier this month. Support from Governor Pat McCrory and the NC DOT is welcome news for backers of the 17-mile light rail project, which will span from Alston Avenue in Durham to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill. The project, slated to cost between $1.34 and 1.8 billion, will also receive local funding through a half cent sales tax in Durham and Orange Counties. Covering ten fiscal years, the plan… Read More


    December 11, 2014

        "If there is a way to build a successful, profitable business selling food to people in Northeast Greensboro, then we can figure it out. We can build it ourselves, and keep the jobs and the profit in the neighborhood." -Ed Whitfield, co-Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities When the Bessemer Center's Winn-Dixie supermarket shut its doors in 1998, the community in Northeast Greensboro was left without a place to buy healthy food. For sixteen years, the many residents nearby without access to a car were forced to take a bus to another store three miles away, or… Read More


    December 11, 2014

    Credit: Mother Earth News Fair For a second year, Asheville will host the Mother Earth News Fair in 2015.  Tickets are now available for the April 11-12 event, which will feature more than 150 workshops on sustainable and self-sufficient living. The fair, taking place in five locations across the country next year, will offer sessions on organic gardening and food preservation, natural health, renewable energy, and other aspects of rural and urban homesteading. The “Original Guide to Living Wisely,” Mother Earth News has provided practical guidance for simple living since the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. The publication, which recently… Read More


    December 3, 2014

    Triangle cyclists are advocating to make safer streets a community priority, in the wake of three recent bike accident fatalities in Durham and Orange County. Education and increased enforcement of existing laws were identified as areas of precedence during a community conversation on November 22, when more than 80 gathered at a public forum to discuss actions that could drive positive change for cyclists and pedestrians in the city. The event was sponsored by Bike Durham, a coalition formed last year to advocate for local bikers and to connect the community with resources on cycling issues. Advocates hope that the… Read More


    December 2, 2014

    YouTube screen capture / News and Observer "Jason Brown's Harvest" Giving Tuesday, which celebrates charitable action and the spirit of generosity, is an apt moment to highlight the social mission of a farm business in Louisburg, NC, where the first crops of every harvest go to those in need. Farming is a second career for First Fruits owner Jason Brown, a former Tarheel and St. Louis Rams lineman. Brown walked away from the NFL in 2012, inspired by faith to pursue his dream of feeding the hungry. This year the farm gave its entire sweet potato harvest—more than 100,000 pounds—to… Read More


    November 25, 2014

    Photo: princedd/creative commons   Without the help of a single drop of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, our oaks dropped an incredible crop of acorns on our heads this fall. This year is what scientists call a “mast year,” when the acorns are so plentiful that the squirrels, birds, deer, and bears can all eat their fill and still leave plenty to germinate. Until recently, humans were regular participants in the harvest. Most cultures that developed under the shade of the oaks treated acorns as an important source of nourishment for humans and livestock, including North Carolina's Cherokee, Catawba, Saponi, Tutelo,… Read More


    November 24, 2014

    Credit: Walk [Your City] On a January morning in 2012, Raleigh residents awoke to find 27 signs posted at three intersections in the city, noting “minutes by foot” distances to various public locations around town. The stunt, an installation intended to promote healthy and walkable communities, was coined "guerilla wayfinding." It received national and international media attention as a successful example of tactical urbanism, civic interventions to improve the urban environment. The unsanctioned signs were taken down within a few days and then unanimously approved by the city for reinstatement as an educational pilot program. With funding from Kickstarter and Blue Cross… Read More


    November 13, 2014

    Triangle Transit will host four public workshops next week to provide an update on the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. Attendees will have an opportunity to comment on a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement, and learn about how public input will be considered going forward. Project staff will be available to answer questions and listen to concerns. Workshop details are as follows: Tuesday, Nov. 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Durham Station Transportation Center, 517 W. Pettigrew St., Durham Tuesday, Nov. 18, 4 to 7 p.m. – UNC Friday Center, Chapel Hill Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4 to 7… Read More


    November 12, 2014

    Photo: Sami Grover/creative commons We reported before on the Durham-made ELF, a solar/pedal-powered hybrid "velomobile" that is dubbed by its makers as "the most efficient vehicle on the planet". Until now, the ELF was really only designed to carry one person—limiting its appeal for many families with small children. Organic Transit, however, has just announced that they are launching a two-seater upgrade option called the 2FR. The upgrade costs $499 on top of the standard RRP of $5,495, and the company is currently taking orders with a 6-8 week lead time for delivery.  This author recently took an ELF 2FR… Read More


    November 5, 2014

    EV Fleet's electric pickup trucks, called the Condor after the giant vultures that soar over the Andes and the Sierras, are now in production. The Charlotte-based company has spent years testing and prototyping different models before they arrived at the Condor. The lightweight and aerodynamic truck has the acceleration of a sport car, but can carry as much as 1000 lbs. It is set up to coast and can go as far as 100 miles on a single charge at 65mph, or 140 miles at 45mph. EV Fleet is initially focusing its sales efforts on large fleet managers, worried about what… Read More


    November 4, 2014

    Credit: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Dan Schnitzer’s job is to prove that sustainability pays off for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools. So far, the numbers are adding up. A district-wide composting and waste education effort, funded by savings from more efficient dumpster use, has led to these impressive results since the school year’s start ten weeks ago: • 19 bags of lunch trash generated daily by 15 schools, down from 155 last year • 32,940 pounds of waste diverted from the landfill • 12.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions prevented • 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions absorbed through… Read More

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