UNC Asheville-Buncombe County Partnership Creates New
Use for Landfill Methane;
New Craft Campus to Model Green Building, Add to Region's Craft Economy
Thanks to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, UNC Asheville is
on its way to creating a new Craft Campus that will provide a much-needed
facility for its students, serve as a national model for green building,
and add to the region's growing craft economy, which generates some $144
million a year in Western North Carolina.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on April 6 approved, in
concept, the use of county land by UNC Asheville for development of a
craft site. The commissioners authorized the county manager to work with
the university to create a lease allowing UNC Asheville to use land
adjacent to the county's former landfill for $1 a year for 50 years,
renewable for an additional 50 years. Methane from the capped landfill
will serve as the primary energy source on the 153-acre site, located
north of Asheville on the French Broad River.
"We are grateful for the bold and visionary leadership of the
Buncombe County Commissioners," said UNC Asheville Chancellor Jim
Mullen. "That a landfill, the community's old monument to a throwaway
culture, will become a symbol of environmental sustainability and the new
creative economy is itself a source of pride and success. The Craft Campus
is an extraordinary example of partnership between local government and
This unique project partners UNC Asheville's policy of
high-performance, toxin-free green buildings with Buncombe County's desire
to return the land to sustainable, productive public use.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with the university.
Every successful community has a great university and we have the best.
This project will enhance our craft community and enable us to recycle
available property in a win-win situation," said Nathan Ramsey,
chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
In addition to Buncombe County, others collaborating with UNC Asheville
on the craft site initiative are The Center for Craft, Creativity &
Design, in Hendersonville; the Western North Carolina Green Building
Council; HandMade in America; and Energy Xchange, in Yancey County. Energy
Xchange is HandMade in America's prototype project that employs landfill
methane for craft studios and greenhouses.
UNC Asheville's Craft Campus will be a fully "green"
facility, including its energy sources, building materials and studio operations. UNC Asheville has a record of leadership
in environmental sustainability within the university community. In a
recent project to replace the 1960s-era Governors Village dormitories, the
campus recycled 700 tons of material rather than sending it to the
landfill. In addition, UNC Asheville is currently pursuing "green
building" certification on two major, bond-funded buildings to begin
construction this summer.
The Craft Campus will ease UNC Asheville's cramped studio space and
allow the university to expand its craft education offerings. "Space
limitations on campus make significant growth impossible in
three-dimensional arts, such as sculpture, metalworking and clay,"
said Dan Millspaugh, a UNC Asheville art professor and nationally known
sculptor. "Every year we're forced to turn away students who are
seeking 3-D classes because we don't have studio space for all of them.
This project will allow us to meet our needs."
As project director, Millspaugh is among those helping UNC Asheville
develop the site plan. The Craft Campus is envisioned to comprise studios
for clay and sculpture, for metalsmithing and wood, and for glass. A
separate visitors' center will house "green building" exhibition
and demonstration space, a gallery, classrooms and office space. As a
national demonstration site, the Craft Campus will use the visitor's
center to share the lessons it has learned about green building while
giving visitors a look at what goes on in craft studios. It will showcase
Buncombe County as a national leader in the growing creative economy.
UNC Asheville is seeking private funding to develop the craft site, and
hopes to have the initial phase of the project completed within five
Ultimately, the Craft Campus will be a sustainable home to the region's
current and emerging craft economy. "This project is particularly
timely in Western North Carolina, where craft is one of the strongest
economic generators in a region that has suffered loss of furniture and
textile manufacturing," Chancellor Mullen said. "By working
collaboratively, UNC Asheville and our community partners will help meet each other's
needs and grow in a mutual commitment to expand the economy of our region
in ways that model partnership and environmental sustainability."
"We are excited about expanding opportunities for craft education and collaboration to occur in this region. Penland School of Crafts, Haywood Community College, the John C. Campbell Folk School and now UNC Asheville are ensuring the future of a vital field of study and building on the richness of craft in Western North Carolina."
-- Jean W. McLaughlin, Director of Penland School of Crafts
"This project will showcase UNC Asheville as a leader in craft education, recognizing craft as a major economic generator for Western North Carolina. UNC Asheville and Buncombe County have partnered in a dramatic creative solution for the utilization of harmful landfill methane gas, transforming it into an energy source for pottery kilns, metal and glass furnaces. It expands in size and scope the Energy Xchange model in Yancey County, developed by HandMade in America, and incorporates it into a liberal arts education. The UNC Asheville commitment to energy efficient green-building design of the site and structures will serve as a public education demonstration project for the community and visitors from outside the region. The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design is proud to be a part of the planning and realization of this exciting program."
-- Dian Magie, Executive Director of The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design
"UNCA, Buncombe County and the other partners in this endeavor are to be commended for their initiative. The creative economy to some is simply a catch phrase, but to those in Asheville, it is action. The successful conclusion of this project will add to our reputation as one of the leading centers for the creative economy."
-- Rick Lutovsky, CEO of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce
"I am proud to be a part of the process and I look forward to our university's collaboration with the county."
-- Bill Stanley, Buncombe County Commissioner
"The uniqueness of this project is not only the integration of craft and the environment into the university's academic program but also the partnership of the university, county government and community organizations that will support and enhance it."
-- Becky Anderson, director of Handmade in America
"This is a model project and a model collaboration. Our communities must begin to think as communities with everyone coming together to make the most of our natural resources and our workforce. I'm proud of be a part of such an outstanding endeavor.
-- David Young, Buncombe County Commissioner
"The Craft Campus gives Buncombe County an opportunity to partner with craft, education, and environmental interests. We appreciate UNCA and Chancellor Mullen's interest in bringing together this unique group of diverse interests. Our Board has always championed the smart use of taxpayer assets. We welcome this chance to recycle and sustain new development out of existing land and facilities. The arts and crafts community often gets overlooked in economic development measures. The Craft Campus is one way to emphasize, energize, and expand the huge contributions our arts and crafts community already give to Buncombe County. This project should enable both arts and crafts and UNCA to further their missions. All of Buncombe County will benefit from this progressive program."
-- David Gantt, Buncombe County Commissioner
"I find the whole concept absolutely thrilling environmentally and artistically. I am honored to be able to support such an exemplary concept. This is clearly a valuable opportunity for our community."
-- Patsy Keever, Buncombe County Commissioner
- Merianne Epstein, UNCA Public Information director, 828/251-6676;
- Jill Yarnall, UNCA Public Information Assistant Director,