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Appalachian among greenest schools in the nation

BOONE—Appalachian State University is the 22nd greenest college in the United States according to Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools of 2014.”

View larger imageAppalachian State University’s ability to produce green energy on campus through the use of eight photovoltaic solar arrays, as well as a wind turbine, helped it earn a spot on Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools of 2014.”

In the Sierra Club magazine’s eighth annual publication of the list, 173 schools are ranked and scored on the “greenness” of their schools’ engagement in categories including: co-curricular activities, energy investments, food, innovation, academics and research, planning, purchasing, transit, waste and water.

Ged Moody, director of Appalachian’s Office of Sustainability, stated, “Once again we are honored to be included in Sierra Club’s list of coolest schools. Sierra Club provides a great service to our sustainability community by promoting and recognizing sustainable practices. In reviewing this year’s list of high achievers, we are proud to be mentioned alongside such fine institutions that, like us, place such a strong and urgent emphasis on the sustainability of our campuses and our collective future.”

Appalachian received a total score of 719.06 out of a possible 1,000 points. The No. 1 school, University of California, Irvine, received only about 90 points more than Appalachian. Appalachian received a perfect score of 70 out of 70 for planning.

Along with Appalachian, the top 25 “Cool Schools” list included:

  • Stanford University (ranked 6th)
  • University of South Florida (ranked 7th)
  • University of Connecticut (ranked 9th)
  • Colorado State University (ranked 11th)
  • UNC-Chapel Hill (ranked 15th)
  • Cornell University (ranked 16th)
  • Harvard University (ranked 19th)
  • Duke University (ranked 23rd)

“The Cool Schools ranking is yet another indication of how deeply young people understand the benefits of clean energy and of how adept they are at turning awareness into action,” said Karissa Gerhke, director of the Sierra Student Coalition.

The data and information used for scoring was self-reported by Appalachian to the Sustainability, Tracking Assessment Rating System (S.T.A.R.S.) for the 2013-14 academic year.

According to that data at that time, Appalachian offered 141 sustainability-focused courses in 2012 and 848 sustainability-related courses as of fall 2011. One hundred and sixteen faculty within 34 academic departments also engage in sustainable research.

Also highlighted in the data, were Appalachian’s two LEED certified buildings, Frank Hall and Mountaineer Hall, as well as Appalachian’s six buildings, including Plemmons Student Union, Reich College of Education and Belk Library and Information Commons, that were designed and constructed in accordance to green building guidelines and policies.

Appalachian also reported that Food Services purchased 10 percent of its food locally and that 100 percent of meals’ pre-consumer scraps were composted. It was also reported that starting in fall 2013, student programs events would have mandatory post-consumer compost.

Appalachian also produces its own green energy through the use of the wind turbine on campus and eight photovoltaic solar arrays, according to the report.

Appalachian’s Office of Sustainability is currently in the process of updating sustainability information for the new S.T.A.R.S. 2. 0 platform which will examine an expanded data set for 2015.

Complete rankings, along with institutional reports and more information on the ranking system, can be found at

About Sierra magazine

Sierra is the official publication of the Sierra Club, the United States’ largest grassroots environmental organization, with more than two million members and supporters. The organization protects millions of acres of wilderness and has helped to pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Recently, the Sierra Club has worked to lead the move away from fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy. For more information, visit