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The UNC Institute for the Environment focuses its research on critical issues that lie at the heart of our most pressing environmental challenges. Each issue is addressed by campus-wide collaborations between Institute faculty and essential disciplines, integrating research, education and engagement in solving the world’s pressing environmental issues and advancing the health and well-being of communities in North Carolina and around the world.

The Institute’s critical areas of study focus on:

  • Financial risk in environmental systems.  The Center on Financial Risk in Environment Systems is a newly launched partnership between UNC’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, a part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the UNC Institute for the Environment. The center seeks to demystify the financial risks that environmental events impose on society through developing integrated models of the environmental, economic and engineered systems related to each sector to more fully understand their financial vulnerabilities.
  • Air quality modeling. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute’s Center for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development, focusing on the development of advanced computational and visualization tools needed to understand the relationships between environmental policies, environmental processes and key indicators of environment and health.

These programs build on UNC’s long and distinguished tradition of environmental research. You can learn about the Institute’s work in these areas, as well as that of collaborating campus centers, programs, and institutes, departments and individual faculty, by visiting any of the links above.

Faculty and fellows can utilize the Institute’s Research Services to complete their research in the above topics. The Institute’s affiliations with several research facilities across North Carolina bring access for faculty and fellows at those locations as well.

Latest Research News


UNC Institute for the Environment takes actions to advance racial equity

UNC Institute for the Environment Director Mike Piehler shared a statement with faculty, staff, and students outlining the actions the Institute is taking to become a racial learning organization. “At IE we know that systemic racism has and does pervade … Continued


New UNC-Chapel Hill center helps prepare North Carolina for increasing environmental threats (UNC News | June 1, 2020)

Preparing for a hurricane is more than just last-minute modifications and taking temporary measures to protect lives and property. It requires complex long-term planning that examines nearly every aspect of a community, from establishing proper building codes to determining where … Continued


Carbon emissions down 17 percent during COVID-19 pandemic (ABC 11 WTVD | May 20, 2020)

Another dramatic number is coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world’s carbon emissions decreased by 17 percent at the beginning of April. “It was somewhat expected given that the global economy has come to a grinding halt,” said Dr. … Continued

Phil Berke

Berke rejoins Institute to lead Center for Resilient Communities and Environment

Research professor Phil Berke recently returned to Chapel Hill and was selected to lead the Institute’s newly launched Center for Resilient Communities and Environment. “The Institute for the Environment, by its nature, cuts across the campus. We will be doing … Continued