Previous Winners

Thursday April 25, 2023

Flex Gen and Green Heffa Farms Win

Earth Month ended with our 2023 UNC Sustainability Awards, a wonderful celebration of North Carolina businesses, alumni and students who all work to take initiative through innovative products or practices that have a positive impact for people and the planet. Our undergraduate and graduate students determine who wins our business awards by researching North Carolina businesses, nominating them and then voting to determine the winner. The 2023 UNC Distinguished Business Winner in Sustainability is Flex Gen. We also launched a new award this year; Green Heffa Farms won the inaugural UNC Sustainability Distinguished Entrepreneurial Venture Award. Finally, Bennett Wetch, Sr. Director of Analytics at Nike, won our Distinguished Alum award.

Thursday April 28, 2022

Honoring sustainability

There was a lot to celebrate at the 2022 UNC Sustainability Awards and Graduation event. The big news was the announcement of an $11 million gift to support the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and renaming it as the Ackerman Center for Excellence in Sustainability (ACES) in the honor of the donor, the late Charlie Ackerman (BSBA ’55).

Thursday April 22, 2021

Seal the Seasons, Smith Receive 2021 UNC Sustainability Awards

Earth Day was highlighted by the Center for Sustainable Enterprise’s UNC Sustainability Awards, sponsored by Bank of America and Trane Technologies.

Friday September 6, 2019

Firsthand Foods, Vlahoplus receive 2019 UNC Sustainability Awards

A women-owned food hub for local pasture-raised meat farmers and an advisor for an energy and utility industry management consulting firm are the recipients of the 2019 UNC Sustainability Awards, presented Sept. 5 at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill.

Friday May 11, 2018

Unifi, Kirkpatrick Receive UNC Sustainability Awards

The makers of a synthetic fiber made from recycled plastic bottles and the co-founder of a venture capital firm that focuses on green sectors are the recipients of the 2018 UNC Sustainability Awards, presented on May 10 at The Carolina Club in Chapel Hill.

Distinguished Alumni in Sustainability Award

2014 Lisa Shpritz

2015 Brett Smith

2016 Napoleon Wallace

2017 Katie Kross

2018 Dave Kirkpatrick

2019 Chris Vlahoplus

2021 Val Smith

2022 Chantarella De Blois

2023 Bennett Wetch


The Ackerman Center for Excellence in Sustainability

The Ackerman Center for Excellence in Sustainability drives responsible thought leadership and inspired action to accelerate progress in social and environmental sustainability through innovative and profitable business solutions.

We accomplish this by engaging with and connecting stakeholders to empower students, faculty and businesses to create impactful solutions, strengthen resiliency and identify breakthrough opportunities.


Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise is a nonpartisan business policy think tank affiliated with the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. Founded in 1985, the nonprofit institute facilitates collaboration between the private, public and nonprofit sectors to build a greater understanding of how entrepreneurship, economic development and global commerce can work for the public good. It leverages best-in-class research to develop market-based solutions to today’s most complex economic challenges; in doing so, the Kenan Institute aims to better the lives of people in North Carolina, across the country and around the world.