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Appalachian renews its commitment to sustainability

earthdayplaque_t.jpgBOONE—Appalachian State University is committed to sustainability – both in education and in practice. The university further demonstrated that commitment April 11 by unveiling a plaque along Sanford Mall on campus that reads, “We have genuine respect for the natural environment and a commitment to principles of sustainability.”

The unveiling kicked off Earth Month 2011 activities that run through April 20 at the university.

Ged Moody, left, Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock and Sean P. Moody_t2.jpg
Ged Moody, left, Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock and Sean P. Hayes helped unveil a plaque celebrating Earth Month 2011, Earth Day and the university’s commitment to sustainability. Moody is director of Appalachian’s Office of Sustainability. Hayes is a graduate student and chair of the Renewable Energy Initiative on campus. (Appalachian photo by Marie Freeman)

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock said sustainability was “important to Appalachian State and what we stand by,” adding that the university is reducing its carbon footprint, as well as energy and water use, as it implements programs aimed at climate neutrality by the year 2050. “This (plaque) will remind us of our commitment to sustainability,” he said. “From energy to transportation to waste to travel to water, Appalachian State has always been a campus that adopts ambitious goals, but I am convinced this is a dream that will come true for all of us.”

Also speaking at the event was Sean P. Hayes, chair of the student-run Renewable Energy Initiative (REI) and a graduate student at Appalachian. REI, a self-imposed $5 a semester student fee, has helped finance many renewable energy projects on campus, most noticeably the wind turbine behind the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center and the solar panels in front of Raley Hall on campus.

“Personally, I never tire of driving into Boone and seeing the wind turbine watching over campus like a sentinel announcing to new arrivals ‘This is Appalachian. Sustainability matters here.’ As an Appalachian student, I have a lot of pride and satisfaction in knowing that I attend a university that cared about these topics long before they became fashionable,” Hayes said.

Appalachian’s leadership in alternative energy and sustainability education dates back more than 30 years. The university houses the nation’s longest running sustainable development program, established in 1991, and has offered appropriate technology programs since 1984. More than 60 faculty members in more than 20 disciplines focus their research on sustainability-related topics such as food production, land use, climate change, renewable energy and economics.

Recently, Appalachian was one of only six academic institutions recognized by the Appalachian Regional Commission for its work to train students on ways to build homes more efficiently and develop new ways to harness the power of the wind and sun.

Peacock also announced the adoption of the university’s sustainability mission, vision and values statement (http://sustain.appstate.edu/mission-vision-values), developed by the university’s Sustainability Council, and adoption of the university’s Climate Action Plan (http://sustain.appstate.edu/climate) that followed the university’s adoption of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2008.

“The real focus of sustainability on our campus is education,” said Ged Moody, director of the Office of Sustainability at Appalachian. “If all of our students leave with a holistic education of what a sustainable community is, they will go out and be leaders to continue to change the world.”

A list of lectures, tours and other programs planned for Appalachian’s Earth Month 2011 and Earth Day observance is online at http://sustain.appstate.edu/.

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