Focus Carolina

Focus Carolina: Mike Piehler

As chief sustainability officer, Piehler harnesses faculty expertise to link sustainability practices across research, teaching and public service for North Carolina and to champion student ideas for change.

Mike Piehler in a lab
An environmental scientist, Mike Piehler leads Carolina's sustainability efforts and the Carolina Sustainability Council. (Image courtesy of UNC Research)

An environmental scientist and noted researcher, Mike Piehler is Carolina’s chief sustainability officer.

Piehler oversees the University’s sustainability enterprise, which is distributed throughout operations and academic units, and brings them together to provide maximum value to the University in this space. In his role, he harnesses the University’s deep faculty expertise to link sustainability practices across research, teaching and public service for North Carolina and to champion student ideas for change.

“This means really looking hard within our University for people who are doing innovative things, have exciting ideas and will be able to help us find solutions to some problems that are pretty challenging,” he said in his Focus Carolina interview.

He is also developing a consistent plan to reach short- and long-term sustainability goals, and he chairs the Carolina Sustainability Council.

The Council will support the transition to Sustainable Carolina, a new comprehensive initiative to move Carolina’s sustainability efforts forward, including the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative, the integrated approach to reducing Carolina’s environmental footprint through three goals: net-zero water usage, zero waste to landfills and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

A coastal ecosystem ecologist at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Piehler joined Carolina’s faculty in 1998. He has served as director of the UNC Institute for the Environment since 2018 and has joint appointments in the Department of Marine Sciences, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, and the Environment, Ecology and Energy Program.

Learn more about sustainability at Carolina by listening to this week’s segments.

Every day, faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that makes an impact in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM.

Read a transcript of this interview.

Read a transcript of this interview.