Appalachian takes fourth place nationwide with sustainability assessment

Anne Buie

The university received a gold rating with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating system and fourth place out of all STARS Gold-Rated Institutions in the country.

Appalachian achieved the highest score after beating all participating North Carolina schools.
STARS, run by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is self-reporting and measures colleges and universities on their sustainability.

“I think it’s awesome,” Ben Paynter, senior sustainable development major said. “It attracts a good group of students and gets them excited to be at a sustainable school.”

Senior Ben Paynter is a Sustainable Development major with a concentration in agro-ecology and a student resident at the Sustainable Development Farm.

The 167-acre farm, university-owned and run by student residents, is another example of the university’s sustainable practices, as well as the extensive sustainability related courses available.

“We really shine in curriculum and STARS ranks that very highly,” Sustainability Specialist Crystal Simmons said.

Based on a recent survey of planning and research, over 25 percent of Appalachian courses are sustainability focused or related.

Sustainability research is also being performed by faculty in all seven colleges in the university.

The Office of Sustainability works with a multitude of other services on campus, allowing the university to collaborate in their mission of sustainability.

Although the ratings received for sustainable planning, investments and operations were lower than some other scores, Simmons was hopeful for the long-term benefits of the rating, especially toward involving sustainable steps in the more established sections of the university.

“We scored poorly in those areas, but STARS helped allowed us to even have that conversation with important people,” Simmons said. “This is really telling to me, and I’m very proud.”


Story: DANIEL STEVENSON, Intern News Reporter