Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS)

Now Accepting Applications (PDF) | Print Out flyer (PDF)

Apply Now


The Institute for the Environment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers the Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS) as an urban field experience located on and near the UNC campus. With its proximity to strong academic departments and pioneering private and nonprofit enterprises, the STFS offers students the opportunity to pair academic studies in the environment, urban planning, geography, health, and related fields with practical experience delivered through internships and Capstone research projects.

Headquartered in Whitehead Hall on the west side of the Carolina campus and an easy walk to downtown Chapel Hill, the STFS is a unique and flexible field program that serves students in residence at UNC-CH. Rather than living in a remote location with a small cohort for a semester, students participating in the STFS retain their established Chapel Hill residences, relationships and school base. They learn and grow as a group through common courses, Capstone team projects, field experiences, and seminars. Internships place students at nonprofits and private companies around Chapel Hill and in nearby communities. These range from applied activities (such as the small-scale, self-sustaining systems at the Pickard Mountain Eco-Institute), to institutional placements at government agencies or nonprofit organizations, to experience in sustainable business. By exploring how sustainability is practiced on and near their own campus, STFS students incorporate into their UNC experience an understanding of how communities, industries, and government and nonprofit organizations can work together toward a sustainable future.


The field site is designed to run spring semesters, with all components offered concurrently. However, students are not required to complete the field site requirements in one semester, if course sequencing or other factors prevent a student from doing so; some courses (e.g., capstones, internships) may be picked up in fall semester. Note that the rotation of STFS and other Sustainability Minor courses, along with students' own scheduling constraints, call for careful academic planning so that students can successfully incorporate the field site into their UNC undergraduate experience.

Testimonials from former STFS participants

"Upon completion of this internship, I feel that I have learned a great deal about the renewables industry in North Carolina. My knowledge of the inner-workings of North Carolina renewable policy has been expanded greatly, and I feel comfortable holding complex discussions with professionals in the field. I feel strongly that this internship has provided me with the skills and knowledge to compete for jobs in my future, and in some cases, this experience has already done so for me this summer." – Michael Titus on his internship during STFS 2014

"I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to study and learn about biomass energy sources, a type that I had (relative to other renewables) little knowledge of in the past. I also enjoyed studying to political realm of how and why biomass resources are being used in the ways they are today, and how SACE makes an effort to promote their interests." –James Linden on his internship during STFS 2014

"The STFS was an excellent way to finish my time as a student at UNC. The experiences of the internship and capstone project allowed me to apply what I learned in the classroom to real world scenarios and projects that I could easily work on after graduation. My experiences in both were instrumental in helping me land my first job after graduation. Along with the wealth of real world experience, the STFS was a great opportunity to collaborate with like-minded students, without having to leave UNC for an extended period of time. I decided to participate in the STFS my last semester at UNC and it was without a doubt one of the best things that I did while at Carolina." –Rachel Gaylord-Miles STFS 2014


The Sustainable Triangle Field Site delivers much of the curriculum associated with the Sustainability Minor. Students will take three core course that count toward the minor: System Design for Sustainability (ENEC 431), Smart Cities (ENEC 490) and Community Design and Green Architecture (ENEC 420).  An internship with a local agency, non-governmental organization, or business and a capstone research project round out the requirements for the STFS.

Systems Analysis for Sustainability (ENEC 431) examines trends in urbanization worldwide and the implications for resource consumption, food security, human rights, environmental health, climate change and the design and livability of cities.

Smart Cities (ENEC 490), explores the influence of urban networks, digital infrastructure, smart grids and the role of data and information technology in the making of smart cities.

Community Design and Green Architecture (ENEC 420), examines the impact of building on the environment and health from the perspective of land use planning, water resource use, energy, materials, and indoor environment.

Sustainability internships (ENEC 207) are arranged through the Institute for the Environment, drawing on a growing suite of sponsors from the private and public sectors who have committed to mentoring an intern. Students who have an internship sponsor in mind may work with the internship coordinator to develop such placements.

Environmental capstones (ENEC 698) fulfill a requirement for all environment sciences and environmental studies majors, and for students doing the sustainability minor. The Institute generally has several capstone projects running concurrently each semester. The STFS enrollees will be clustered together in a single capstone project (or two related projects) with a clear sustainability framework that considers economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Faculty and Staff

The site is directed by Dr. David Salvesen, whose areas of research and teaching are land use and urban planning. Core courses will be taught by Salvesen and other faculty members. Other courses with a sustainability orientation are currently taught across the campus by distinguished UNC-Chapel Hill faculty.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact David Salvesen at (919) 966-2134 or email

Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS)

Walking and Biking

Microscopic examination