Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 73.93
Liaison Jim Dees
Submission Date April 19, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Appalachian State University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Sierra Milosh
Data Analysis
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

A graduate student’s thesis, called “Daylighting and occupant density: an indoor environmental quality analysis of Appalachian State University classrooms,” gathered “daylighting and occupant density data” and compared it against the industry standard values. “The study concluded with recommendations for future classroom design to better adhere to industry standards and to increase the well-being of classroom occupants” (Hooper, 2017, p. iv).


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

The Healthy Buildings course taught by Susan Doll allows students to collect indoor air quality data in Walker Hall and to perform airflow characterization in Katherine Harper Hall. Indoor environmental quality is very important to occupant well-being and productivity. Building airflow is important to understand for its’ potential impact on energy consumption and air quality, especially from some of the lab areas.

Just one of the many recent projects headed by Appalachian State University’s IDEXlab (Integrative Design Experience Laboratory -- See Notes) was the MOBILab and mobiLANDING project. This is an energy self-sustaining mobile classroom and research station that will connect students and community members with the remote sustainable research facilities in the surrounding area. Using its resources to create an engaging learning framework, it becomes a catalyst for expansion and a conduit for outreach in climate zone 4. The mobiLANDING is the Beech Mountain Small Wind Research and Demonstration Site counterpart to the recently completed IDEXlab project, the MOBILab. The mobiLANDING will serve as a crash pad and docking station to its mobile counterpart, and will operate independently with a sheltered work space, storage, and restroom facility. When the MOBILab is present, they mutually increase each other’s potential. The mobiLANDING will not only provide much needed support at Beech Mountain, but it will promote long-term growth by advancing organization, professionalism, and research-based education, while engaging with the surrounding community. Our project will help the site realize its full potential as a hands-on educational facility while acting as a showpiece for Appalachian State University


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

A team of students is currently working on designing and building a photovoltaics system integrated into BikeApp’s trailer. This trailer will be used for students in BikeApp to perform workshops and tuning clinics on campus.

A graduate student is currently taking a Technical Competency course, a course that allows students to undertake a large project in exchange for a class, and is working under the Energy Analyst at Appalachian State. She is conducting a building audit of Peacock Hall and performing Return on Investment (ROI) analyses of several suggested Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that the building could take to reduce its energy consumption.

Several of the classes in the Sustainable Technology department allow students to put their hands on the technology. For example, in Photovoltaics, students are asked to mount and wire up several PV systems throughout the semester, all in the “backyard” of the building. This allows not only for a theoretical understanding of photovoltaics but also for a more comprehensive understanding of systems through real-life applications on campus.

A team of two students is currently working on expanding Events2HVAC, a software that communicates between room scheduling and HVAC systems in a building, to an additional 300 rooms across campus. This project is estimated to the reduce the university’s energy consumption by over 450 MMBTUs per year.

NEXUS a multidisciplinary team whose research lies at the intersection of agriculture, energy, and natural resources. NEXUS is developing inexpensive and efficient biomass greenhouse-heating technologies that provide an affordable and sustainable means to improve the food-growing capacities and the standard of living for farmer communities in rural Appalachia while reducing the use of fossil fuels. This is done by using on-farm biomass resources/wastes such as wood chips, manures, and agricultural waste to produce energy through small-scale systems including pyrolysis (biochar), anaerobic digestion, and compost heating. These systems produce soil amendment co-products that become valuable farm inputs to build soil. Application of passive and active solar systems and thermal storage complement these greenhouse-heating systems. Heated greenhouses extend the growing season, which increases the availability of local food throughout the year, expands available markets, and increases farmers’ profits. This research serves our community by enhancing access to fresh local produce, farmers by increasing their income throughout the year, and the local environment by conserving fossil-fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions normally associated with greenhouse heating and transportation of non-local produce. The Nexus team maintains and operates the “Nexus” research facility at the Watauga County landfill site and works with area farmers on design and implementation of greenhouse heating systems.

The North Carolina Wind Application Center (NCWAC) is a collaborative project supported by Appalachian State University Department of Sustainable Technology & the Built Environment, the Appalachian Energy Center and the National Renewable Energy Lab. Growing out of several years of wind energy research, the NCWAC is part of the national Wind for Schools program and serves all wind energy stakeholder in our state. The NCWAC supports schools hosting wind turbines, leads wind education and outreach activities, consults for stakeholders interested in wind energy and is recognized nation-wide among the industry for its Small Wind Research & Demonstration Site on Beech Mountain, testing state-of-the-art turbine technology and demonstrating wind systems currently available on the American Marketplace and provides support for wind energy applications. This facility features 7 small wind turbine systems suitable for residential, farm, or business applications and provides a truly unique hands-on training experience with educational workshops and seminars. Find out more at http://wind.appstate.edu

The Department of Technology and Environmental Design's Solar Research and Teaching Laboratory is located at Appalachian State University’s State Farm Complex. The facility includes an 11 m2 instrument hut and an assortment of roof, pole, and ground mounted solar collectors, and has both solar thermal and grid tied photovoltaic capabilities. The facility hosts the most comprehensive meteorological station in the region. Find out more at https://solar.appstate.edu/


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

The Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm is a student and faculty-powered operation that offers students an opportunity to immerse themselves into a living lab. The goal of the SD Farm is to become a multi-purpose, integrated farming system that produces healthy food, fiber, and other raw materials that can be cultivated successfully on a small scale. Students utilize the farm to enhance their classroom lessons about agroecology, agroforestry, and sustainable farming practices. Results from research on the farm are shared with local community members to encourage sustainable agricultural practice in the region. The farm is approximately 35 acres of pasture, 130 acres woodlot and woodlands, a large greenhouse, and late-nineteenth century barn. The SD Department operated a farm for several years on leased land in Valle Crucis to educate students and assist local farmers in researching best practices. Now, thanks to a recent acquisition of 369 acres from the estate of Beulah and Reeves Vannoy, the university moved its operations to neighboring Ashe County in Fall 2011—and faculty and students are excited about the property's significant expansion of opportunities related to sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, forest and watershed management, and livestock production.

NEXUS a multidisciplinary team whose research lies at the intersection of agriculture, energy, and natural resources. NEXUS is developing inexpensive and efficient biomass greenhouse-heating technologies that provide an affordable and sustainable means to improve the food-growing capacities and the standard of living for farmer communities in rural Appalachia while reducing the use of fossil fuels. This is done by using on-farm biomass resources/wastes such as wood chips, manures, and agricultural waste to produce energy through small-scale systems including pyrolysis (biochar), anaerobic digestion, and compost heating. These systems produce soil amendment co-products that become valuable farm inputs to build soil. Application of passive and active solar systems and thermal storage complement these greenhouse-heating systems. Heated greenhouses extend the growing season, which increases the availability of local food throughout the year, expands available markets, and increases farmers’ profits. This research serves our community by enhancing access to fresh local produce, farmers by increasing their income throughout the year, and the local environment by conserving fossil-fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions normally associated with greenhouse heating and transportation of non-local produce. The Nexus team maintains and operates the “Nexus” research facility at the Watauga County landfill site and works with area farmers on design and implementation of greenhouse heating systems.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

The Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm is a student and faculty-powered operation that offers students an opportunity to immerse themselves into a living lab. The goal of the SD Farm is to become a multi-purpose, integrated farming system that produces healthy food, fiber, and other raw materials that can be cultivated successfully on a small scale. Students utilize the farm to enhance their classroom lessons about agroecology, agroforestry, and sustainable farming practices. Results from research on the farm are shared with local community members to encourage sustainable agricultural practice in the region. The farm is approximately 35 acres of pasture, 130 acres woodlot and woodlands, a large greenhouse, and late-nineteenth century barn. The SD Department operated a farm for several years on leased land in Valle Crucis to educate students and assist local farmers in researching best practices. Now, thanks to a recent acquisition of 369 acres from the estate of Beulah and Reeves Vannoy, the university moved its operations to neighboring Ashe County in Fall 2011—and faculty and students are excited about the property's significant expansion of opportunities related to sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, forest and watershed management, and livestock production.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

The Appalachian State University Renewable Energy Initiative is a student-run, student-funded organization that decides which renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to fund on campus. In the most recent school year alone, the group of students funded over $100,000 of projects. The organization is a fantastic opportunity for students to prioritize which projects to fund. A subcommittee of the group, the Public Relations subcommittee, is in charge of an additional $20,000 budget per year. The committee comes together weekly to make decisions on how to manage the budget for public outreach projects.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Team Sunergy is made up of graduate and undergraduate students at Appalachian State University. Since 2013, the eam has sought to represent North Carolina and Appalachian State's commitment to sustainable energy initiatives at international solar vehicle competitions. Their mission statement is: “Team Sunergy is a multi-disciplinary, student-led, and student-driven research project. We research the most advanced technology and utilize solar-powered car competitions as a platform to advance sustainable transportation technologies. We also educate the Appalachian Community on the imperatives for finding an alternative fuel solution for transportation, so a sustainable future can be enjoyed for generations.”


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

A math class collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to develop and host the "Mess on the Mall" event where a 24 hour collection of all landfill waste from the student union was sorted and audited. This data was used to determine the percentages of waste that should have been recycled and/or could have been composted. This project was set-up right in the middle of campus on "the mall" so it was a very visible outreach effort to bring awareness to consumption habits, and educate toward our zero waste commitment. In addition, it provided some data toward proper recycling habits and future composting potential. This class participated in the refection assignment at the end of the semester and this was one of the most impactful projects they had throughout the semester according to their reflection papers.

A PR Campaign class within the Communications Department collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to assist in the development of a PR Campaign around Zero Waste. The Office of Sustainability serves as the client for the student project teams, and they work with the office to develop the best plans for a campus wide campaign to educate about and promote zero waste and resourceful consumption habits. This project will allow the University to further their outreach efforts around zero waste and educate on more sustainable, responsible personal habits as well. This campaign will focus on faculty, staff, and student education.

A Sustainability Leadership and Engagement course has been tasked with a project to address the issues of improper recycling habits on campus. The student team collaborated with the campus Zero Waste Leadership Team to discuss problem areas and develop solutions to effectively educate on proper sorting habits. This allows these students to take on a leadership role on campus to address a particular problem associated with sustainability and develop their leadership skills simultaneously.

A journalism class asked their students to focus on sustainability as the beat topic and several students chose to focus on the University Zero Waste commitment for their article development. These interviews allowed these students to gain further knowledge of the commitments and efforts toward zero waste. Some of them also created a blog associated with these articles as well which was used to educate their fellow students and the campus community.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

Dr. Bill Anderson studies how groundwater interacts with surface water in a variety of hydrogeologic settings - in coastal aquifers such as the barrier islands of North Carolina and England, in mountain streams such as Boone Creek (click here for more info and real-time data) - and how climate variations such as the El Nino - Southern Oscillation affect groundwater resources.

Dr. Chuanhui Gu studies environmental pollution - particularly the combined hydrological and geochemical processes behind many environmental issues such as greenhouse gases emissions and water quality degradation (e.g. eutrophication). His research includes mountainous streams, coastal creeks, freshwater lakes, estuaries, as well as residential lawns.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:

The office of Multicultural Student Development (MSD) has a staff of graduate students that work at the LGBT Center, Women's Center, and the MSD office. These students run a peer education group, participate in developing a learning community, and organize outreach/awareness events. Student led events reoccur annually and have fostered personal growth and greater collaboration between cultural groups on campus. Programs provided by students working at the MSD have led to a safe environment to learn about others while encouraging exploration of differences.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:

The Finance Student Association (FSA) is open to all students. Its main goals are to better acquaint our members with the many career opportunities in banking and finance, and to promote networking with finance professionals. Its guest speakers, who are often alums, discuss topics along the lines of investments, commercial banking, and corporate finance.

The Finance Student Association is an organization of students who have an interest in finance, including non-Finance and Banking majors.

Its purpose is to promote:
- learning of and exposure to finance and banking by the students;
opportunities for employment to finance and banking students;
- a better understanding of how instruction received in the classroom can be applied in practice; and
- relations among the members, faculty and practitioners.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

The MOBILab and mobiLANDING is an energy self-sustaining mobile classroom and research station that will connect students and community members with the remote sustainable research facilities in the surrounding area. Using its resources to create an engaging learning framework, it becomes a catalyst for expansion and a conduit for outreach in climate zone 4. The mobiLANDING is the Beech Mountain Small Wind Research and Demonstration Site counterpart to the recently completed IDEXlab project, the MOBILab. The mobiLANDING will serve as a crash pad and docking station to its mobile counterpart, and will operate independently with a sheltered work space, storage, and restroom facility. When the MOBILab is present, they mutually increase each other’s potential. The mobiLANDING will not only provide much needed support at Beech Mountain, but it will promote long-term growth by advancing organization, professionalism, and research-based education, while engaging with the surrounding community. Our project will help the site realize its full potential as a hands-on educational facility while acting as a showpiece for Appalachian State University

NEXUS is a multidisciplinary team whose research lies at the intersection of agriculture, energy, and natural resources. NEXUS is developing inexpensive and efficient biomass greenhouse-heating technologies that provide an affordable and sustainable means to improve the food-growing capacities and the standard of living for farmer communities in rural Appalachia while reducing the use of fossil fuels. This is done by using on-farm biomass resources/wastes such as wood chips, manures, and agricultural waste to produce energy through small-scale systems including pyrolysis (biochar), anaerobic digestion, and compost heating. These systems produce soil amendment co-products that become valuable farm inputs to build soil. Application of passive and active solar systems and thermal storage complement these greenhouse-heating systems. Heated greenhouses extend the growing season, which increases the availability of local food throughout the year, expands available markets, and increases farmers’ profits. This research serves our community by enhancing access to fresh local produce, farmers by increasing their income throughout the year, and the local environment by conserving fossil-fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions normally associated with greenhouse heating and transportation of non-local produce. The Nexus team maintains and operates the “Nexus” research facility at the Watauga County landfill site and works with area farmers on design and implementation of greenhouse heating systems.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

The Healthy Buildings course taught by Susan Doll allows students to collect indoor air quality data in Walker Hall and to perform airflow characterization in Katherine Harper Hall. Indoor environmental quality is very important to occupant well-being and productivity. Building airflow is important to understand for its’ potential impact on energy consumption and air quality, especially from some of the lab areas.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
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A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.