Cindy Shea joined the University in 2001 to found the Sustainability Office. The goal was to catalyze the development and implementation of more sustainable policies, practices, and curricula. Shea co-chaired the development of the UNC System sustainability policy in 2008 and received the Chancellor’s Award for Innovation in 2010. Shea is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional, a designation awarded by the US Green Building Council, and participates in the design of new buildings. Shea served on the AASHE STARS (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System) Steering Committee for six years until 2015. Shea also leads the STARS reporting at UNC: Carolina has earned a Gold rating since 2014.
At Carolina, Shea is the advisor to the student-led Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee (RESPC) that allocates the green energy fee. Shea chaired the development of UNC’s Strategic Sustainability Plan that led to the Three Zeros Initiative of carbon neutrality, water neutrality, and zero waste. Shea serves on multiple campus committees and regularly leads capstones and internship projects. The formal link between finance and operations initiatives and academic pursuits occurred in 2021 when Shea joined the new Sustainable Carolina program housed in the Institute for the Environment. Shea has published widely on sustainability while at UNC and previously as the research and outreach manager at the International Institute for Sustainable Development and as a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute. Shea is grateful for the nine years she spent working outside the United States in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.