Sustainability

Oct 24, 2017
Can a suburban area be truly green? One city in Germany offers lessons in building a family-friendly environment with a small carbon footprint. Commentary.
Mar 06, 2017
A new initiative is using prizes as incentive to encourage people to reduce single-occupancy trips by car. The project runs March 1-Oct. 31.
Dec 13, 2016
Over our 50-year history at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, we’ve been committed to looking at the whole Charlotte region. So a growing divide – real or perceived – among urban, suburban and rural areas is something we take seriously.
Jan 12, 2016
The political and community debate over Interstate 77 raises a larger question: whether we as a region can move beyond a “business as usual” approach in seeking solutions and instead embrace new concepts about how we live and how we choose to travel around our region. Commentary.
Sep 23, 2015
Three environmentally minded Charlotte entrepreneurs contemplated food waste and instead of seeing a stinky mess, they sniffed out potential for a new business focused on sustainability. Enter Crown Town Compost.
Feb 18, 2015
After three years of citizen engagement, which led to a Regional Growth Framework for the Charlotte region, the CONNECT Our Future initiative moves into implementation, including a set of 31 quality-of-life indicators, now available online.
Nov 18, 2014
The 115 ideas for creating a more livable Mecklenburg range from protecting more historic buildings to better training the local workforce to rethinking local residents’ reliance on fescue lawns.
Sep 17, 2014
By 2050, residents in the Charlotte region would prefer to see more rural areas preserved, less suburban development and more areas that blend housing, stores and offices.
Sep 16, 2014
What would happen if Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte sprouted a series of small parklets? You can find out on Friday.
Aug 05, 2014
A new sustainability report card for Charlotte-Mecklenburg from Sustain Charlotte finds the area lags the nation on most measures, but it sees upward trends in five of nine categories. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 14, 2014
A Cabarrus County-run farm to help fledgling farmers, one of only two in the state, lost county funding, as well as its electricity, July 1. Can the incubator farm survive as a nonprofit? Its many supporters in the region hope so. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jun 18, 2014
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation has awarded the KEEPING WATCH initiative $10,000. The three-year environmental initiative is led by UNC Charlotte's College of Arts + Architecture and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
May 28, 2014
On Charlotte's least pedestrian- and bike-friendly type of street - a parkway - a new asphalt trail is open, connecting UNC Charlotte to apartments along University City Boulevard. It's part of the city's ongoing bike-ped enhancements. (Photo: Chuck McShane)
May 16, 2014
Transit advocate Benjamin Ross wondered why so many suburbanites fight development. After researching the founding values of U.S. suburbia he concludes it's based on status-seeking. He'll speak this evening at UNC Charlotte.
May 07, 2014
On May 16 the KEEPING WATCH initiative hosts a screening of Bag it: Is your life too plastic?, a panel discussion and a reception with local food and drinks. (Photo: bagitmovie.com)
May 06, 2014
On May 16 the KEEPING WATCH initiative hosts a screening of Bag it: Is your life too plastic?, a panel discussion and a reception with local food and drinks. (Photo: bagitmovie.com)
May 01, 2014
Charlotte-Mecklenburg ordinances do not require all businesses to recycle, and officials are unable to determine how much they do recycle. (Photo: Nancy PIerce)
May 01, 2014
Recycling containers sit in classrooms in every Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school, and students at nearly half of them make the extra effort to dump leftover liquid from milk and juice cartons before tossing them into bins.
Apr 23, 2014
If you're in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood on Tuesday nights, you'll likely see a bevy of bicyclists. The Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Rides are growing in popularity, due in part to biker Pamela Murray's push to encourage more Charlotteans to start pedaling. (Photo courtesy Pamela Murray)
Apr 23, 2014
Charlotte-Mecklenburg is making strides in recycling and reducing waste, yet residents still send more trash to landfills than the U.S. average. Why is recycling lagging here? One answer might be that it's mostly voluntary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Apr 23, 2014
What can and can't be recycled can be confusing. Here is a list of what can't go into your recycling bin and why. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Mar 24, 2014
Some hardy local city-dwellers are opting to take transit and bicycle even when they own cars and can just as easily drive. For some, it's about the environment. For some, it's about making the city more livable and urban. And for some, it's becoming a way of life. (Photo: Corey Conner)
Mar 05, 2014
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, in partnership with the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, has launched KEEPING WATCH, a three-year initiative designed to bring a higher profile to, and engage the public in, issues about the natural environment. This year's focus is plastics and recycling. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Mar 04, 2014
The City of Charlotte is starting to phase in LED streetlights, as an energy-saving move that will also lower the area's carbon footprint. (Photo: Department of Energy)
Feb 12, 2014
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan applied research institute offering consulting services and public outreach for more than 40 years. We provide research and information to help the public understand the Charlotte region. Through our websites we offer articles and data on a range of issues that could be useful to neighborhood groups. (Image: Dylan McKnight) 
Nov 18, 2013
Mary Newsom, associate director of urban and regional affairs at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will moderate a panel of local experts Thursday at AARP’s “Making a More Livable Mecklenburg Summit.”
Nov 07, 2013
Almost 70 percent of Mecklenburg County residents surveyed during the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute's Annual Survey said they think there’s solid evidence the Earth has warmed in recent decades. An even larger majority said it’s a somewhat or very serious problem. (Photo: Takver, via flickr.com)
Oct 23, 2013
Today (Oct. 24) is the last chance for members of the public in Mecklenburg County to add their voices to a series of workshops that are part of a Charlotte-region-wide effort to chart a future for ourselves. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Sep 19, 2013
TORONTO – Maybe the game-changer is 3-D printing. Or maybe it’s “autonomous driving,” and we’ll never again have to parallel park. Maybe it’s “the Internet of everything.” In any case, it’s obvious big changes will be coming to cities worldwide. Commentary. (Photo: Niels Dejgaard)
Sep 18, 2013
One lucky parking spot in NoDa gets to become a park for eight hours on Friday. Volunteers who’ll transform a space on North Davidson Street will ensure that Charlotte once again joins an international list of cities observing PARK(ing) Day. (Image: Keihly Moore)
Sep 16, 2013
Mecklenburg County is considering ordinance changes that could require residents to recycle plastics, aluminum cans, yard waste and paper. (Photo: Mary Newsom)
Sep 16, 2013
Charlotte-area residents will have an additional opportunity to voice their opinion on the region’s growth. A fourth Mecklenburg County workshop will be held Oct. 24 at Freedom Park as part of the  “CONNECT Our Future” planning program. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Sep 04, 2013
The solar-powered Urban Eden home took UNC Charlotte students two years to design and build, and now it's ready for a trip to California for the 2013 Solar Decathlon contest. The 800-square-foot home features a geopolymer façade made of recycled fly ash from coal-burning, a capillary system in its walls and a vertical garden. (Photo by Wade Bruton)
Aug 21, 2013
Charlotte area planning and sustainability enthusiasts can have their say about the future of the region in coming weeks by getting involved in two long-range regional planning efforts.
Aug 13, 2013
Last month, consultants for the City of Charlotte delivered their assessment of the city’s zoning ordinance. The study came in two parts – an Assessment Report and an Approach Report. Like the two parts of the report, after reading it I had two reactions: encouraged, and anxious to see more meaningful action. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 24, 2013
Charlotte’s zoning ordinance sometimes gets in the way of carrying out adopted plans, a consultant’s report concludes. It also can be confusing, with occasionally contradictory requirements. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 11, 2013
Does the Charlotte region need an advocacy group to push for transportation options beyond highways? Dozens of area nonprofit leaders, planners, developers and activists gathered recently to consider whether such a group needs to be launched. (Photo: John Chesser)
Jun 14, 2013
You’d think I would have known better. I’ve been writing about growth since before they called it Smart Growth. That’s why last week’s regional planning exercise made for an eye-opening glimpse of the real world. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Jun 05, 2013
How can the Charlotte region prepare for the thousands of new jobs and houses expected to come here? RealityCheck2050, part of the CONNECT process, let regional participants develop their own versions of the future. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
May 31, 2013
Aided by a $5 million federal grant, residents and businesses throughout the 14-county Charlotte region are engaged in a process to envision the region's best future and create a roadmap for getting there. This interactive article describes the process, plans and players for CONNECT Our Future. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
May 15, 2013
How can cities and towns grow in ways that meet market demand, are fiscally sound, and improve their quality of life? A lecture, reported on Twitter. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)  
May 08, 2013
How can Charlotte boost its neighborhoods? What national trends are changing city development? How do different development patterns affect the need for city spending? Those topics will be part of a public lecture sponsored by PlanCharlotte.org, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at UNC Charlotte’s center city campus. (Photo: Ayrsley development in southwest Charlotte, Bing maps)
Apr 29, 2013
A resilient city can thrive amid challenges and survive disasters like earthquakes, rising sea levels and economic depression. But unlike so-called legacy cities, for a city like Charlotte the challenge has more to do with the future than the past. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Feb 18, 2013
The new Quality of Life Dashboard is designed to assess the health of neighborhoods in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Users of previous reports were familiar with the old neighborhood names, so we created some tools to help you find your neighborhood in the new system.
Jan 30, 2013
While cities such as Memphis have gained national attention for proclaiming a bicycle-friendly goal, Charlotte has been quietly taking a number of steps to improve its own streets for cyclists. (Photo: Keihly Moore)
Jan 15, 2013
Are urban growth boundaries effective tools for curbing sprawl, or an infringement of property rights?
Dec 06, 2012
When I moved to Charlotte more than 30 years ago, Matthews was the suburb. Years of attracting people looking for a small town and a private getaway have built a fabric of large lawns and scattered houses, and more lawns and more houses. Where does a it go from here?
Nov 27, 2012
Learning to speak each other's language about urbanism means understanding New Urbanism, Landscape Urbanism and more. So let’s sort a few things out and get at some simple definitions.
Nov 15, 2012
By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004 – with Echo Boomers leading the trend. Here in Mecklenburg County, however, younger drivers are on the road more, not less.
Oct 24, 2012
There are many reasons public transit, such as a light rail system, is beneficial, even for those who don’t use it. Yet for commuters, Congress has cut a tax benefit for those using public transit to almost half that for those commuting by car.