& climate

Town Hall

Town Hall


In 2006, the Town of Chapel Hill became the first U.S. municipality to commit to a 60 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 through the Carbon Reduction Program. As of the last carbon inventory, the Town has reduced operational emissions 6.7% per capita below 2005 levels (the base year).

In 2017, the Council passed a resolution stating that the Town will do its part to meet the United Nations Paris Agreement – a 26 to 28% carbon reduction from 2005 levels by 2025. At its 2019 Retreat, the Council made the environment their top strategic priority and expressed support for a community-wide Climate Action Plan.

Staff: Manager’s Office | Sustainability

Chapel Hill Transit’s Bike & Bus Program

Chapel Hill Transit’s Bike & Bus Program


The Town Council has asked the Manager and staff to proceed with the development of Chapel Hill’s first official Climate Action Plan. Based on early feedback from Council, the Plan is likely to include key categories such as land use, transportation, building efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction, water conservation and natural area protection. The process for creating a Plan will seek input and collaboration from Town Advisory Boards, UNC, the Chapel Hill Carrboro School System, Orange County and other community partners. Staff is currently researching best practices in U.S. cities and abroad. More project details will be released by the late summer.

Staff: Manager’s Office | Sustainability

Storm Clean-up

Storm Clean-up


We share the view that resilience is not about preventing bad things from happening. Instead, its about preparing ourselves to bounce back more quickly when we are faced with disruption. In partnership with other Triangle area cities and counties, the Town completed its first Resilience Assessment. This report helps the Town plan for greater resilience by identifying risks and vulnerabilities related to climate stressors like increased rainfall and extreme temperatures. With this information, we are now looking at ways of building our “adapative capacity” — the ability to withstand and respond to sudden change.

Staff: Sustainability | GIS | Emergency Management | Planning | Public Works


Energy Efficiency & Conservation

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Energy Upgrades in Town Facilities

As part of its first guaranteed energy savings contract, the Town implemented lighting and mechanical system upgrades at Town Hall and two other locations. Each year, this project yields about $80,000 in avoided utility costs and a carbon savings equal to taking 100 cars off the road.

Staff: Public Works | Facilities | Sustainability

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Green Building Ordinance

New or expanded Town buildings must be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. In 2017, the Council strengthened this commitment by requiring that Town buildings also meet the carbon reduction targets of the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

Staff: Sustainability | Public Works

Energy Saving with Rezonings

The Council’s 2007 energy policy sets the expectation that all applicants seeking a conditional use rezoning will provide an Energy Management Plan for their development project. The Plan must demonstrate how the project will perform at least 20% better than the energy standard ASHRAE 90.1.

Staff: Planning | Sustainability

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Northside Energy Saver Program

Through Duke Energy’s Neighborhood Energy Saver Program, 819 homes in the Northside area received home energy efficiency assessments and improvements that can save up to $95/year in utility bills. More than 70% of the homes in Northside participated in this first-time program for Chapel Hill.

Staff: Mayor’s Office | Manager’s Office

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LED Lighting Upgrades

The Town has made the switch to more efficient, longer lasting LED lighting at several facilities including Town Hall, the Wallace Parking Deck, and the Homestead Aquatic Center. Chapel Hill Transit has also upgraded the lighting at both the Eubanks and Southern Village park and ride lots to LEDs.

Staff: Public Works | Transit | Sustainability


Transportation & Mobility

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Fare Free Transit

The Chapel Hill Transit partnership is one of the largest fare free bus systems in the United States, providing more than 6.5 million rides a year. Chapel Hill was also one of the first systems in the state to implement hybrid electric buses, and will be adding three new all-electric buses in the coming year.

Staff: Chapel Hill Transit

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Mobility Plan

The Town’s Mobility Plan envisions a transportation network for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders that safely links neighborhoods, parks, employment centers, transit stops, and other destinations. The goal of the Plan is for 35% of all commuters to bike, walk and ride transit to work by 2025.

Staff: Planning | Transportation

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Green Municipal Fleet

Through the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles and the use of low-carbon fuels like biodiesel, E85, and electricity, the Town’s vehicle fleet operates at 15% lower annual emissions than in 2005. In 2016 the Town earned a Champion Level NC Smart Fleet designation by the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition. (The Fire truck above uses B20 biodiesel.)

Staff: Public Works | Fleet | Sustainability

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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Chapel Hill is among North Carolina’s highest ranking cities for residents who drive electric vehicles. While most charging takes place at home, there are more than 25 publicly available charging stations throughout Chapel Hill. The Town manages stations downtown and at the Aquatic Center.

Staff: Parking Services | Sustainability


Drive-thru Ordinance

For the majority of Town, the construction of new drive-thrus must be approved by the Council through the special use permit process. Having fewer drive-thrus reduces the air pollution associated with idling and makes our community more pedestrian-friendly.

Staff: Planning

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Trails and Greenways

Chapel Hill currently has more than 17 miles of greenways and natural surface trails, which help connect the community and provide great opportunities for walking and biking. There are plans to construct more than 30 miles of future trails, as described in the Greenway Master Plan.

Staff: Parks & Recreation


Commute Alternative Program

The Go Chapel Hill Commute Alternative Program offers resources and encouragement through campaigns, events and partnerships to anyone wanting to drive less. The goal is to increase air and water quality while reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, working to make Chapel Hill a healthier place to live, work and play.

Staff: Planning


Water ConservatioN & Management

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Stormwater Management

The Stormwater Master Plan is a vision for how the Town will manage stormwater infrastructure, mitigate flooding, and protect Chapel Hill’s bodies of water. This work includes water quality monitoring, pollution prevention, maintenance and flood risk assessment.

Staff: Public Works | Stormwater


Illicit Discharge Ordinance

Chapel Hill prohibits the discharge of harmful pollutants to stormwater systems. This ordinance helps maintain stream water quality and ecology by establishing categories of pollutants and penalties for illicit discharges. Learn about prohibited pollutants and how to report suspected illicit discharges.

Staff: Public Works | Stormwater

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Agua Vista

Agua Vista is a new online portal from OWASA, where customers can view and track their water use, set leak alerts, and get custom water-saving tips. Watching for leaks can help conserve water and save money. Agua Vista is made possible by OWASA’s efforts to upgrade over 21,000 meters.

Staff: OWASA

Jordan Lake Rules

Chapel Hill’s Jordan Watershed Riparian Buffer Protection Ordinance added new stream buffer requirements for areas within 50 feet of streams in the Jordan Lake watershed. These requirements help reduce nutrient flow to the lake and make this important site for drinking water and recreation less polluted.

Staff: Public Works | Stormwater

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Subwatershed Studies

The Town’s Stormwater Management Program continues to develop subwatershed plans for the Booker Creek Watershed. The goals are to recommend and prioritize projects that will control existing flooding, stabilize streams and improve overall water quality in the Town’s watersheds.

Staff: Public Works | Stormwater


Education & Innovation

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Explore More at Pritchard Park

Certified as a North Carolina Environmental Education Center in 2018, Explore More at Pritchard Park offers outdoor nature play, environmental education programs, and citizen science opportunities for people to connect with nature at Chapel Hill Public Library.

Staff: Chapel Hill Public Library

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Smart City Project

The Town is piloting smart city technology to improve public services through the Spotlight City initiative. With its partners AT&T and Hitachi, Chapel Hill is improving public safety and traffic flow at crosswalks. The project also uses parking data to increase space utilization and reduce traffic.

Staff: Technology Solutions


Renewable Energy

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Solar on Town Buildings

The Town hosts rooftop solar photovoltaics and/or hot water systems at the Chapel Hill Library, the Town Operations Center, Transit and Fire Station 1. These installations were made through renovation, new construction or a grant-funded initiative. The systems help offset energy demands at each site.

Staff: Public Works | Sustainability

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In partnership with Orange County and the Town of Carrboro, Chapel Hill earned gold designation as a SolSmart Community. Through participation in this federal program, the Town has taken steps to grow the local solar market by making solar more affordable for residents and businesses.

Staff: Development Services | Sustainability

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Renewable Energy Evaluation

Chapel Hill is currently evaluating the potential for additional solar installations at all major Town facilities. The evaluation will look at how much solar energy can be produced at each location relative to the cost of the system. The Town will also consider other financial models like equipment leasing.

Staff: Sustainability | Public Works


Tree & Natural area protection

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Tree Program

Trees are a big part of Chapel Hill’s identity. We are exploring ways to grow and protect our tree canopy throughout town. This work includes a community tree planting committee that will work to educate, promote and help plant trees on public and private land in Chapel Hill.

Staff: Parks & Recreation | Mayor’s Office

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Open Space

The Town currently holds over 947 acres of open space, most of which is located within the Town’s greenway system. These natural areas include places like Bolin, Booker and Morgan Creek, as well historic open space like Merritt’s Pasture (shown above).

Staff: Parks & Recreation

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Coal Ash Remediation

Coal combustion products (CCPs) were placed at the Police Station property before the Town acquired it in the early 1980s. The Town has begun to investigate current site conditions, develop options for near-term and longer-term remediation, assess risk, and consider possible future re-use.

Staff: Manager’s Office | Emergency Management


Waste Reduction & Recycling

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In partnership with Orange County, waste diversion rates reached 64% in 2014. This exceeded the 1997 goal of 61% and was in large measure due to steady increases in curbside and commercial recycling. For more information about recycling, check out Orange County’s A to Z Recyclery.

Staff: Orange County Solid Waste

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Composting Pilot

Starting this summer, staff at Town Hall and Fire Station 1 will participate in a composting pilot. CompostNow will collect and transform the Town’s food scraps into soil amendments for local gardens. Staff will learn about this and other waste reduction methods for work and home.

Staff: Town Hall | Fire Station 1

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Green Purchasing

The Town has policy and guidance on how employees can make responsible purchases that are both economical and good for the planet. Green purchasing includes everything from fair trade products to recycled content to resource efficient vehicles, fixtures and equipment.

Staff: Business Management | Sustainability