What We're Doing

Johnson C. Smith University has been a fixture in Charlotte, N.C., for 145 years, and we plan on staying here for another 145 years. In order to continue to exist, we are working on becoming more sustainable in all areas - financially, socially and environmentally.

The university is working on a number of initiatives and projects that cross disciplines and jobs across campus to showcase the many ways in which we are working to be better environmental stewards and better managers of our resources.

We have broken these efforts down into 10 categories:

Building Green

In working to radically change our institution, we are also taking on a number of building projects. In these efforts, we are researching new and innovative strategies that will help us to maintain eco-friendly building practices and allow for better long-term management of our resources.

Green in the Community

As a part of our focused mission, we have elected to move the university “beyond the gates” and into the surrounding community. We realize that we are not an isolated silo. Rather, we are part of a thriving metropolitan center, and we are working to empower those around us to work with us in order to reach shared sustainability goals.

Academics & Outreach

As an institution of higher learning, we know that we have a high capacity for teaching and have identified built-in opportunities to educate our students so that they can become better stewards of our environment. We are also using our educational expertise to reach out to partners and allies in the community and beyond so that we can share a message of environmental sustainability.

Energy and Climate

Our campus is a small community with big needs. We house hundreds of students and run numerous buildings for educational, staffing and administrative purposes. In this effort, we are aware that we consume a great deal of energy and impact the local environment. Therefore, we are working to reduce our energy consumption and needs so that we can lessen our impact.

Food, Health and Wellness

Every meal served on campus has an impact, not only through the amount of energy needed to prepare it, but also by the CO2 emissions used to transport food onto campus and the agricultural resources used in its production. The choices we make in this arena affect not only our environment, but also the health and well-being of our students, staff and faculty. Through the discovery of alternate methods of supplying our food and examining our campus community’s health, we are working to sustain our “people power” along with our other resources.

A Greener JCSU

Becoming good environmental stewards means making choices and examining how you are currently doing things. Only by looking inward and changing our behavior and culture can we begin to make a positive impact on and off our campus.

Our Urban Environment

Our campus is located in a unique urban ecosystem. Protecting it is paramount to our sustainability efforts. As we look to the future, we need to not only expand our reach, but we must also work to protect the natural balance that our campus has maintained for our first 145 years. As change takes root and grass gives way to concrete, we must find places and ways for the environment to grow and thrive alongside us.


Getting from here to there has been the focus on much of the discussion of how individual efforts can add up to create lasting change. By pooling resources and making small sacrifices, our campus community can work together to make a big environmental difference.

Managing Waste

Looking for ways to recycle, reduce and reuse resources is smart, not only because it furthers our sustainability efforts, but also because it helps our bottom line. We are always diligently looking for new ways to prevent waste, big and small.

Water Management

Though we are blessed to be located along the Catawba River watershed, we do not have an infinite source of water. As Charlotte grows in our backyard, we will work with the city to reduce the burden it places on the surrounding environment through better management of natural resources like water. This will ensure that future generations will also be able to live and play along the Catawba River.