The impact of climate change is apparent as we witness more storms and extreme weather. Flooding has been a big problem in our town, and we have watched our local businesses suffer because of it. Additionally, our mature canopy trees continue to be chopped down.
Chapel Hill needs to do the following to protect our environment:
  • Strengthen the Tree Protection Ordinance. We need to protect our mature, canopy trees. Right now, developers plant saplings in place of the large canopy trees that were cut. These saplings will take decades to grow to any substantial size. Either the developer should build around these trees or incorporate the trees in their design. Additionally, the penalty for clear cutting the trees should be harsher. At this time, the developer only has to pay $20,000 which is insignificant compared to the cost of the development project. 


  • Plant canopy trees along roadways to make for a pretty streetscape, to help absorb carbon, and to keep our town looking green.

  • Conduct an environmental impact study on the land before making a land use decision to know what is allowable. We should know what is feasible before moving toward making a decision.

  • Preserve the Rural Buffer, which is a beautiful aspect of our town, and generally try to preserve our green spaces. This will help to clean the air and absorb greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Salvage waste from demolished buildings for reuse instead of crushing and sending it to the landfill.

  • Encourage local businesses to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy by advocating for a revolving loan fund. For example, they could use the money to switch to LED lightbulbs, improve window insulation, upgrade to smarter heating/cooling systems, or install solar panels. This not only saves expenses for the businesses, but it can make a big difference to the environment. The town switched to all LED lightbulbs and did mechanical upgrades in Town Hall, the Wallace parking deck, and Homestead Aquatics Center. The reduction in Carbon from this project is equivalent to taking 100 cars off the road.

  • Encourage sustainable development. Buildings account for 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. We can create buildings with zero carbon emissions now. For example, the Sancar Turkish Cultural Center on East Franklin Street is completely sustainable. Buildings of up to medium height can be made sustainable with solar panels. We need to encourage development with this as a goal.


  • Design buildings to reduce environmental impacts such as storm water runoff into the streets, make sure that they include fewer impervious surfaces, and design with renewable energy as a top priority such as using solar panels, daylighting, or create rooftop gardens.

  • Protect our green space, parks, and wildlife habitats


  • Go electric. Install more electric charging stations for vehicles throughout the town. The town has 3 electric buses coming soon. Having a full electric fleet is a laudable goal.


  • Consider a bike sharing plan to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk and bike more once safe bike lanes are fully established.

Our environment is vital to our future, and Chapel Hill has a chance to be a leader as a sustainable, green town.



Paid for by Renuka Soll for Chapel Hill Town Council