Colleges and universities are expanding at unprecedented rates, creating new hazards for our increasingly fragile natural environments. Higher education administrators and planners are finding that campus development, like suburban sprawl, can disrupt functioning natural systems and destroy the natural, historical, and cultural fabric of the place. To address environmental issues and new regulations, proactive institutions of higher education are taking the lead as stewards of the land by including an environmental component in their campus master plans. An environmental approach to planning incorporates ecological information into campus master plans to ensure a sustainable campus landscape that is beautiful, durable, and distinctive. These Environmental Master Plans are best developed using a democratic process, considering each site’s unique essential environmental resources, the constraints of the regulatory environment, and a continuing education and outreach program. A case study of an Environmental Master Plan at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill illustrates how such a plan was created at one of the nation’s oldest and largest college campuses.
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