Appalachian State on ‘Cool Schools’ List for sustainability


Tommy Culkin

Sierra Magazine recently released its rankings of the greenest schools in America,  “Cool Schools,” and Appalachian State University was included on the list of 153 total universities.

Appalachian State was ranked 23, and earned 719.16 out of a possible 1,000 points.

The Sierra Magazine, which is published by the Sierra Club, bases its scores off of data compiled by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using the data borrowed from the AASHE, it then implements its own grading scale.

The ranking for the list looks at a number of categoies, and assigns points to each one. The categories include co-curricular activities, food, innovation, academics and research, and transit.

The report praised Appalachian for its number of co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives.

“Engaging in sustainability issues through co-curricular activities allows students to deepen and apply their understandings of sustainability principles,” the report said.

Some of the co-curricular programs and initiatives the report cites are the Appalachian State University Renewable Energy Initiative (ASUREI), Appalachian Recycles, and the emphasis put on sustainability during freshman orientation.

“Appalachian has extensive outreach and service opportunities off campus,” said Lee Ball, the director of university sustainability. “A lot of people are doing things above and beyond the classroom.”

Food was another area where Appalachian State ranked highly. The report cited the school’s preference for local food and the student-run gardens outside of the Living Learning Community.

“The local food movement here in the High Country is really large,” Ball said. “They are working together with the university to provide as much local food as possible in the dining hall.”

Ball added that Appalachian State’s food services are trying to remove styrofoam from the dining halls.

Appalachian’s transit was praised for the fact that the Appalcart was free to all locals, greatly reducing Boone’s carbon footprint.

Ball said he believes one of Appalachian’s greatest strengths is the dedication that the professors have for creating a greener environment.

“Our faculty have been striving to make things more sustainable since before sustainability was even a word that was being used,” Ball said. “We’ve been doing this for decades.”

Ball stressed that every school should have a focus on being green.

“I think that sustainability is our time’s greatest cause,” Ball said. “With climate change, species extinction, the loss of biodiversity, the marginalization of oppressed people, and all those other things, this is the one issue that is truly all encompassing.”

Story by: Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter