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Appalachian included in Sierra magazine’s 2015 list of greenest colleges and universities

BOONE—Sierra magazine has released its 2015 list of “Cool Schools” and once again Appalachian State University is included among the nation’s 153 “greenest” colleges and universities.

Sierra magazine is the official publication of the Sierra Club.

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Using a customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards. Appalachian came in at No. 23 on the list, down slightly from last year’s 22nd ranking among schools responding to the magazine’s survey. This year, Appalachian received a score of 719.26 out of a possible 1,000 points.

The annual publication measures the “greenness” of schools based on engagement in categories including: co-curricular activities, energy investments, food, innovation, academics and research, planning, purchasing, transit, waste and water.

Green features at Appalachian include:

  • Photovoltaic panels installed on Plemmons Student Union, Frank Residence Hall, in front of Peacock Hall and at bus stops on campus
  • Solar trash compactors on campus
  • Centralized water bottle refill stations in every residence hall, the student union, dining halls, and some academic buildings
  • Free bus transportation for employees and students on the AppalCart transportation system
  • The oldest sustainable development programs in the country, offering Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees since 1991

In addition, through a variety of energy saving measures, the university has reduced water use by 23 percent since 2002-03. In 2014-15, a total of 1,252.7 tons of recyclable, compostable material and reusable material was diverted from the landfill.

“We’re so inspired to see how colleges are taking the lead on addressing climate change,” said Avital Andrews, Sierra magazine’s lifestyle editor. “From building green to saving water to offering hundreds of eco-classes, these schools’ efforts are profound, and are changing not only the campus grounds, but also the minds of the students they’re educating.”

The magazine ranks schools based on sustainability data reported to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The magazine’s researchers then score each response and ranked each of the participating institutions. There was no cost for participation, and no affiliation or relationship between a school and the Sierra Club or its employees, past or present, influenced the ranking.

The magazine collects data from the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) and the Princeton Review.

“Young people understand the need to confront climate disruption and jump-start our economy. That’s why students across the country have joined the Sierra Student Coalition’s Seize the Grid campaign – demanding 100 percent localized clean energy on campuses,” said Karissa Gerhke, national director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “‘Cool Schools’ is a showcase of campuses taking concrete steps toward those goals. We look forward to working with these schools in taking the next step and committing to 100 percent clean energy.”

Other North Carolina schools on the list are UNC Chapel Hill (15), Duke University (27), Warren Wilson College (54), UNC Greensboro (63) and Elon University (103).

The full ranking of 153 colleges, including each school’s completed questionnaire, is online at