Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University’s longstanding practices in sustainability ensure a bright future for students, faculty, the surrounding community, and beyond. The university administered multiple campaigns and initiatives such as water conservation initiatives, a Carbon Neutral Commuter campaign, CCN Battle of the Plug participation, and the zero waste stadium initiative. All practices were widely implemented and supported by students and the community. In addition, Appalachian State University is a sustainability leader across the state. As the host for the annual Appalachian Energy Summit, Appalachian has brought together campus leaders from across higher education to focus on energy innovation and reducing climate impact.

Student Preparedness           

The university supports sustainability at the highest level — their 2014 -2019 Strategic Plan, “The Appalachian Experience: Envisioning a Just and Sustainable Future” uses STARS metrics to evaluate their progress. More than 70 faculty, staff and students serve on the Sustainability Council; a new Student Sustainability Council (Fall 2015) will engage student leaders from clubs and organization on campus and the Office of Sustainability will engage in outreach more than 30 student workers directed by interns in the coming academic year. More than 1700 courses across the graduate and undergraduate curriculum are sustainability focused or related. All incoming freshmen receive a Sustainable Living Guide and are encouraged to sign a pledge; their Sustain-IQ will be tracked over the next four years through a mixed-methods assessment. The Renewable Energy Initiative is a committee of students, with faculty and staff advisors, responsible for allocating money towards the implementation of renewable projects on campus. Student/faculty community outreach/engagement opportunities are rife and include regular campus stream clean-ups and water conservation initiatives, monitoring equipment on all renewable energy systems (most diverse in the state), school gardens and the university-operated Goodnight sustainable farm, Carbon Neutral Commuter campaign (17.4 percent participation year one), CCN Battle of the Plug participation. May’s Don’t Throw it Away (reclaim and recycle) event involved 230 volunteers, 1060 hours of sorting/cleaning and 70,000 pounds of landfill diverted materials.

Climate Innovation

A four-station electric vehicle charging station with high community visibility will be operational by mid-July. Integrated into the design of the station are 21 solar panels capable of producing up to 5Kw of clean, renewable energy to the charging process. The station is a result of the university’s partnership with the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge. Additionally, Appalachian State University offers a robust portfolio of alternative transportation options including car sharing provided by UHaulCarShare and ridesharing provided by Zimride. These options accompany a no-fare bus system, regional bus routes and their first electric vehicle.

The university operates the state’s largest wind turbine with an average yearly production of 104,000 kWh. The turbine is funded by ASUREI (58%), New River Light and Power (%42), and a contribution from the class of ’09.

Fall semester 2014 more than 70 faculty across all disciplines independently created a sustainability forum and devoted a number of sessions to Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything.” Faculty defined strategies for integrating meaningful discussion on climate change in the classroom. The forum spawned a spring semester sustainable climate film series framed around climate change. The series played to SRO audiences exceeding 1200 and included post film panel discussions and Q&A. It will be expanded to both semesters 2015 – 2016 and the faculty forum will reconvene this fall.

The university’s inaugural zero waste stadium initiative, launched during the 2014 football season, netted a 74 percent waste diversion. This year’s initiative will expand the educational aspect with student staff facilitators and outreach to tailgaters.

Creating Opportunity

As host of the annual Appalachian Energy Summit, a gathering of the UNC Energy Leadership Challenge, Appalachian has led the UNC system’s efforts to decrease by at least 30 percent annual energy costs. Through this initiative, campus leaders from across higher education share goals to reduce energy expenditures, transform energy utilization, and reduce the environmental impacts of both higher education and the state. Appalachian is on track, by this July’s fourth annual summit, to report $500 million in avoided energy costs system-wide; $1 billion in avoided costs by 2020.

Financed by an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) that allows the university to pay for energy efficiency upgrades with guaranteed utility savings dollars, they are mid-way to completing a $16.5 million campus-wide energy efficiency project that includes heating and air conditioning systems and controls upgrades, lighting improvements and water conservation upgrades. The project, contracted with Pepco Energy Services, provides upgrades to 2,000,000 square feet of campus facilities and is highlighted by Aircuity’s energy efficiency solutions in three science facilities. CREE LED outdoor lighting is installed throughout the campus.

The university supports a well-organized student club focusing on transparency in university investments and eventual divestment of university endowment of the fossil fuel industry.

New River Light and Power, a university-owned energy provider, this spring donated 100 trees that were planted by student and faculty volunteers during Earth Week.

Appalachian State currently has eight Photovoltaic systems and eight solar thermal systems.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)