Reducing our carbon footprint in the Residence Halls

Like many higher education institutions, UNCG has been environmentally conscious and focused on sustainability for years. Our campus has programs like the Green Office Certification Program, organized through the Office of Sustainability, which challenges departments to reduce the resources they use in the work environment in order to become more sustainable. Currently, HRL is focused on recertifying for the Green Office Program version 2.0, having completed the first program.

As HRL has made sustainability a chief concern, other efforts include ensuring that all recent renovations incorporate efficient water consumption fixtures and motion sensor lighting/heating/AC controls, equipping the Housekeeping staff with Green Seal products, creating a microfiber floor cleaning process and securing a $200,000 grant to replace inefficient lighting fixtures with efficient lighting fixtures.

As a student at UNCG, you can help reduce the campus carbon footprint by making small yet impactful changes in your lifestyle and choices. Your actions will not only ensure that the residence hall grounds remain clean and inviting, but can impact the environment. HRL requests that you engage in the following sustainable-conscious practices to become eco-minded students and citizens.

In addition to what we are doing behind the scenes, it is our hope to educate students on an ongoing basis to recommend responsible behaviors and sustainable practices in the residence halls, specifically, and on campus, in general.

All of the steps that students take to follow sustainable practices not only ensure that the residence hall grounds stay neat and inviting, but result in a large impact on the environment.

  • Turn off the lights when leaving any unoccupied room.
  • Only use the lighting you need – open blinds for more natural light. When you do need a light, you must use an energy efficient bulb – LED or CFL.
  • Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use.
  • Default your computer to sleep or hibernate when not in use over short periods, and shut it down when it won’t be used for several hours. Screensavers are not a substitute – they conserve no energy.
  • Many devices use power even when they are not “on.” Unplug power adapters, chargers and appliances (coffee makers, stereos, TVs) when not needed, or use a power strip that can be switched off. Why? If everyone on campus were to do this, UNCG could reduce its annual energy use by 5-10%. Plus, the lifespan of your computer may improve.
  • If possible, set the thermostat to 68 degrees F in the winter, and turn down the heat further if you will be gone for more than a few minutes. Set thermostat to 74 degrees F or higher in the summer, and turn the thermostat up when away.
  • Dispose of your waste properly.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Most of our buildings have fresh air brought in through the HVAC system. Air fresheners are full of chemicals that are not environmentally friendly.
  • Recycle! Residence Life provides students with a reusable GAPPS (glass, aluminum, paper, plastic and steel, pizza boxes, yogurt containers, plastic cups and more) recycling bag in each room, which should be placed in the hall’s recycling dumpster when full. Alternative recycling is also available in the residence halls. Receptacles can be found in every CRL’s, ACRL’s and RCC’s office. Some examples of unusual items that can also be recycled are electronics, cell phones, ink cartridges and batteries. If you have broken electronics that need to be recycled, call the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (OWRR) at 336.334.5192, or email
  • To save paper, print assignments on both sides of a piece of paper. See an expired flyer? Use them to make lists, brainstorm ideas, outline an essay or practice math problems instead of getting a new piece.
  • Only do laundry when you have a full load of clothes, and then wash clothes in cold water, which does not use as much electricity since it does not need to be warmed by a hot water tank. Fewer loads of laundry means that washers and dryers are in use less often, using less electricity.
  • For best results, use only 2 tbsp. of concentrated HE detergent, specially formulated for the high-efficiency machines that are provided.
  • Use a drying rack or clothesline instead of a dryer.
  • Regardless of the season, dress appropriately for the weather and your building conditions. If building conditions are uncomfortable, please contact Facilities at 334-3498, or submit a work request.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. This not only eliminates the energy needed to move the elevator, it also helps you burn calories.
  • Bus, bike, carpool, walk or use the HEAT or GTA buses more often. Try the new ZipCar program.
  • Don’t buy bottled water (saves money too). If you do, please recycle the bottle. Check out the UNCG water bottles at the bookstore!
  • Participate in the UNCG Garden.
  • Take only as much food as you can eat in the dining hall.
  • Use a reusable bag or backpack when shopping on or off campus.
Going green in a college residence hall does not mean drastically changing your lifestyle. Altering a few habits can lead to a more eco-friendly environment and a decreased carbon footprint. If you are interested in getting involved with sustainability efforts, check out all the environmental groups we have on campus here.
GAPPS stands for “Glass, Aluminum, Paper, Plastic and Steel” recycling, and each room has a bin devoted to recycling of these items, in addition to pizza boxes, yogurt containers, plastic cups and more. GAPPS should be placed in the commingled (blue) recycling bins in each residence hall room. Once full, please empty them in the hall’s recycling dumpster and reuse the recycling bin. Please dispose of large bags of trash in the dumpsters provided behind the building (or trash chutes). Exterior waste and recycling receptacles are not for student room trash disposal. When students dump room trash in these small bins they are quickly filled up and soon overflow with other incoming wastes that often cannot be recycled.

Alternative Recycling

In addition to the usual recycling recommendations, alternative recycling is also available in the residence halls. Receptacles can be found in every CRL’s, ACRL’s and RCC’s office. Some examples of unusual items that can also be recycled are: electronics, ink toner cartridges, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, floppy disks, and all types of batteries. If you have broken electronics that need to be recycled, call the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (OWRR) at 336.334.5192, or email
WHAT IS VAMPIRE ENERGY? Vampire energy comes from “appliances in passive mode (the clock on your microwave) or standby mode (your VCR scheduled to record something) accounting for 5-8 percent of a home’s total electricity usage per year, according to the Department of Energy, which is equal to about one month’s electricity bill — for every household in the United States.” Statistics according to If you consider that UNCG houses thousands of people each year and that each room is like a consolidated “house,” the electricity wasted is astronomical.
Students who use bicycles on campus as an easy means of getting around should be attentive to where they park or store them afterwards. Bikes are allowed to be stored in resident rooms, designated storage spaces and bicycle racks. Bikes left in undesignated locations will be confiscated by the University Police. All questions regarding confiscated bikes should be directed to the University Police at 336.334.5963.

Bike Engraving

In order to easily identify your bike in a crowd, University Police can engrave your bike.

Parking Operations and Campus Access Management

Find out everything you need to know about parking permits and parking areas, sustainable transportation, the Spartan Chariot, Park and Ride, ZipCars and more at Parking Operations and Campus Access Management (POCAM).

Sustainable HRL practices

Sustainability is a chief concern of Housing and Residence Life.
As of now:

  • All recent renovations have addressed water consumption in showers and toilets. Lavatories in all residence halls now have low flow water fixtures.
  • Housekeeping chemicals are Green Seal products.
  • Housekeeping is using a microfiber floor cleaning process.

Following are more details.

Sustainability Efforts:

  • Jefferson Suites and Spartan Village are certified LEED Silver and The Quad is LEED Gold. (See more about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) >) LEED projects must have the following sustainable features:
  • Low flow water fixtures
  • Electrical controls
  • Low E windows (Reflect heat from sun)
  • White reflective roof coverings
  • Local suppliers for construction materials
  • Sustainable furniture manufacturers
  • Low VOC paints and adhesive
In addition, Jefferson Suites, the Quad, and Spartan Village have water and electrical features in place.
  • Low flow toilets
  • Low flow shower heads
  • Low flow sink faucets
  • Bottle fillers
  • Motion sensor lighting controls
  • Motion sensor heating and A/C controls

Reducing Resources Used at Work

Housing and Residence Life staff members completed the Green Office Certification Program to reduce the resources used in their work environments. The Green Office Program is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability. The Green Office Certification Program is designed to take the guess work out of campus sustainability and provide ample resources and tools. HRL is taking steps to get re-certified in version 2.0 of this program. Helpful Links about campus sustainability and sustainability in general are also available online.