University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899


As part of the university’s commitment to sustainability, we surveyed faculty in the fall of 2011 and again in fall of 2015 to inventory the nature and extent of research, scholarly activity, and creative production associated with or focused on sustainability. This data has been or will be used to:

  • identify expertise that can benefit our community and region by enhancing our sustainability efforts in campus operations;
  • identify faculty research interests and form multi-disciplinary research clusters;
  • identify external funding resources; and
  • serve as a metric for the 2014 - 2019 university's strategic plan: The Appalachian Experience: Envisioning a Just and Sustainable Future.

The data contributed to Appalachian’s participation in a comprehensive, industry-standard sustainability assessment developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The assessment is the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System™ (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their campus-wide sustainability performance.

According to the newly released AASHE’s 2016 Sustainable Campus Index (Oct 24, 2016):

That is good enough for

  • First on the Overall Top Performers list for Master’s institutions. (p 82)
  • Second on the Top Performers list for Curriculum in the nation (p 8)
  • 3-way tie for 5th on the Top Performs list for Buildings in the nation (p 31)

The most recent research survey was conducted of all tenure-tracked faculty members at Appalachian State University. The survey sought to capture names, departments and research title and abstract information for all research and creative endeavors that relate to sustainability. The survey was conducted in coordination with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning, Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics and the Office of Sustainability. The survey was conducted in Fall 2015. The survey had a 14% (not high enough to claim a representative sample so not sure if we want to advertise this) response rate and indicated the following:

  • 15% of the research faculty are involved in research on or related to sustainability;
  • 40 out of 46 of the university's academic divisions had at least one sustainability focused or related course;
  • Over 310 courses (graduate and undergraduate) focused on sustainability are offered;
  • Over 1164 courses (graduate and undergraduate) related to sustainability are offered;

View of all faculty engaged in research as it relates to sustainability

Centers for research at Appalachian with a focus on sustainability

Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics (RIEEE)

The mission of the RIEEE is to build an internationally recognized and applied multi-disciplinary research entity that enhances Appalachian's academic programs and fosters interdisciplinary research addressing environment, energy and economic issues. The RIEEE facilitates the highest quality research and application in the areas of environment, energy and economics. Learn more

Appalachian Energy Center

The Energy Center is committed to research, development, policy analysis and demonstrations in all areas of energy, with a stated mission to facilitate the work of faculty and students engaged in teaching, research and outreach activities associated with energy technologies, conservation and policy. Read the Appalachian Energy Center 2010 annual report (DOCX 62K). Learn more

Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA)

The Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) is a multidisciplinary unit. The mission of CERPA is to improve policy and decisionmaking by producing rigorous research and disseminating relevant information on current economic and policy issues. To that end, CERPA maintains research programs in the specific areas of economic development, environment and energy and public finance. Learn more

Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Center (SAEREC)

Appalachian has proposed the establishment of the Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Center. The mission of the Center focuses on the reconciliation of local and regional economic development with conservation of those ecosystems that make economic development feasible. Learn more

Wind Applications Energy

To better understand our wind resource potential and the effects of harvesting this renewable resource, an extensive amount of research is constantly undertaken in North Carolina and around the world. The North Carolina Wind Applications Center provides a comprehensive list of research as it unfolds. Some of the reports on this site are the result of the centers's current research projects at the Research and Demonstration Facility on Beech Mountain including: product durability testing, power curve verification, noise emission and avian impact studies. Learn more