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Appalachian receives national Climate Leadership Award

BOONE—Appalachian State University has received a national Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature, a national nonprofit agency, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Center for Green Schools.

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Appalachian was recognized in the four-year higher education category for its ongoing commitment and leadership in sustainability. Winning the award in the two-year institution category was Western Technical College, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The award recognizes innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience at college and university campuses that participate in Second Nature’s Climate Commitments.

“Appalachian’s longstanding sustainability leadership and practices are the foundation of who we are as an institution,” said Chancellor Sheri N. Everts. “The work of our faculty, staff, students and alumni ensure a bright and sustainable future for our community, state and beyond. Our commitment, combined with a dedication to deep engagement with communities, leads to positive and powerful learning and service.”

Appalachian’s commitment to sustainability includes implementing green building practices, developing a campus culture that embraces local sourcing, supporting alternative transportation methods, engaging in innovative partnerships with surrounding communities and cultivating a sense of individual responsibility among students, faculty and staff.

In addition, the university received a gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™(STARS), which measures sustainability performance; has a 70-member sustainability council and newly established student sustainability council; has a carbon neutral commuter program; supports the student Renewable Energy Initiative fee that pays for sustainability related projects on campus; has the oldest sustainable development degree program in the country; and sponsors the annual Appalachian Energy Summit, which offers workshops, panel discussions and presentations focused on energy innovation, sustainability and savings to attendees from across the state.

“The Climate Leadership Awards celebrate and support those at the leading edge of sustainability and climate action in higher education,” said Tim Carter, president of Second Nature. “We are continually impressed by what our network is capable of, and know they will keep pushing what is possible for higher education further.”

This year marks the most competitive year yet, with close to 50 institutions vying for only two awards. The winners were chosen from a pool of 19 finalists: seven finalists in the two-year category, and 12 in the four-year category.

“The leadership demonstrated by this year’s Climate Leadership Award winners is inspirational. These schools, their students, faculty and staff are committed to change through action,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “By choosing to address sustainability issues head-on, involving members of their broad communities and drawing on their resources as places of higher learning, these schools show that great achievement is possible with dedication and a willingness to innovate and iterate.”

Award winners will be recognized as part of the 2015 USGBC Leadership Awards luncheon at the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, to be held Nov. 19 in Washington, D.C.