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Cindy Shea (above, right), launcher and director of UNC’s sustainability office, gives students a green tour of the Carolina campus.  Starting at the FedEx Global Center, a LEED certified building constructed from local materials, utilizing natural daylight, a green roof, and water efficient plumbing with underground cisterns, the students make their way down towards the brand new Genome Science Building, where Cindy continues to talk about rainwater, reclaimed water, and energy efficiency.

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Under this amphitheater between Kenan Stadium and Genome Science Building is an enormous underwater cistern which collects and stores rainwater, naturally, adjacent to the watershed.  Signage like the one above, reading “UNC conserves drinking water by irrigating with reclaimed water in this area,” raises public awareness of resources as passerby’s (students, faculty, visitors, and football patrons) frequent this nice outdoor area.  We hope to design and print similar signs in regards to waste disposal for our project.

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Green roofs like this one on top of the Ram’s Head parking deck are perfect opportunities for mixed-use development, and to reduce the urban heat effect that would otherwise occur with a paved roof.

final waste audit

On Thursday, March 28, the team conducted their final waste audit.

Our waste audits have been a few members of our Capstone group traveling to the Durham Waste Transfer Station in order to get a cross-section of what types of trash come into the Transfer Station. We are looking to document the fact that many recyclable and reusable items are thrown away and lost as resources.

Below you’ll see one of our members exposing a trash bag filled with recyclable cans.

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We have found that this occurrence is not uncommon, and so we’re looking at ways to work with the Transfer Station to make recycling easier and the drop-off process more efficient.

strata solar

On March 20, our team visited a solar farm run by Strata Solar, a company based in North Carolina that offers “project Development, Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Financing Solutions for any size project – from utility scale solar farms to commercial retailers and residential projects.”

Our visit included a tour of the solar farm and an explanation of how Strata makes solar more competitive and affordable by using a large-scale assembly line model for their business. The farms that Strata installs have a projected 40 year life span and include infrastructure that’s able to be removed at the end of this life span. The company also hires youth that otherwise have trouble finding employment.

Ultimately, we hope to work with Strata Solar in the future as a way to power parts of the Durham Reuse District.

We are on the second draft of our Googledoc-based survey. We have been creating a survey to assess businesses that are interested in our re-use district creation of the Durham Waste Transfer facility drop-off zone.

Hopefully, we can being drafting a contacts list with the help of our contacts for businesses that did not come to our initial interest meeting.

If you are a business interested in sustainability/waste reuse, feel free to fill out this questionnaire!

On February 27th, our team of students and our faculty adviser, Dr. Shay, traveled to Durham to meet with the newly formed Durham Re-Use Network at the Scrap Exchange. The Scrap Exchange, a Durham-based nonprofit focused on collecting materials that would otherwise be dumped in a landfill and lost as resources. Their products are often either reused by individuals or upcycled into pieces of art. You can learn more about the Scrap Exchange on their website.

Our meeting included our team; our faculty adviser; Ann Woodward, the Executive Director of the Scrap Exchange; Blair Pollack of Orange County Solid Waste; Muriel Williman from the Orange County Office of Waste Management; Rick Morgan from the Reuse Warehouse; Larry Hearst from Triangle E-Cycling; Bob Savino of Greensboro’s Mattress-Go-Round; and Steve Schewel of Durham City Council.

During our discussion of the feasibility of creating an Eco-Industrial Park, we found that a Reuse District setup seemed far more plausible. In this type of arrangement, the businesses cooperating in our project would be located in the near vicinity of the Durham Waste Transfer Station in order to more efficiently pull the so-called waste from the waste stream and reuse or re-purpose these items. People dropping off trash would also have increased access to the services of these businesses and would hopefully be more likely to try and keep useable items out of the landfill.

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