The iconic Broyhill Wind turbine, installed on campus in 2009, is 153 feet tall and generates enough electricity to meet the demands of 11 typical American households.
The iconic Broyhill Wind turbine, installed on campus in 2009, is 153 feet tall and generates enough electricity to meet the demands of 11 typical American households.

Solar Thermal

Solar Thermal systems work on a very simple principle; if you lay something out in the sun, it gets hot. With that basic concept, you can then design and engineer elaborate systems that harvest the sun's heat and transfer it to an area of need. The most common use is heating water. The environmental benefit comes from reduced demands on fossil-fuel based hot water heaters. By preheating supply water with sunlight, there is less work to do by traditional, carbon based fuels (electric, natural gas or steam) to bring the water up to the desired temperature.

Appalachian State currently has eight Solar Thermal systems producing hot water on campus

NAME: Summit Hall Solar Thermal System

Location: 240 Locust Street Boone

Installation: 2012

Nameplate Capacity: 363,000 BTU/Hr

Funding Source: REI

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The Story: Ten-story Summit Hall is the tallest building on campus and is expected to achieve LEED® Gold designation because of its sustainable construction. Summit Residence Hall hosts a commercial scale solar thermal system. This system preheats water used by the 330 students living in Summit Residence Hall.


Name: Mountaineer Hall Solar Thermal System

Location: Mountaineer Hall, 711 Poplar Grove Road, Boone

Installation: 2011

Nameplate Capacity: 229,000 BTU/Hr

Funding Source: University Housing

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The Story: Mountaineer Residence Hall has a LEED® Gold Certification from the USGBC. A substantial contribution to the high marks in this prestigious rating system is the 40-panel renewable energy system that to provides hot water for the building’s 460 residents.


Name: Frank Hall Solar Thermal System

Location: Frank Hall 342 Stadium Heights Drive, Boone

Installation: 2009

Nameplate Capacity: 41,475 BTU/Hr

Funding Source: University Housing

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The Story: Frank Residence Hall is Gold Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program and was the first residence hall on campus to have a renewable energy system incorporated into its design. The 42-panel system heats domestic water and provides space heating for residents.


Name: Reich College of Education Solar Thermal System

Location: 151 College Street Boone, NC (on the roof of the Reich College of Education Building)

Installation: 2011

Nameplate Capacity: 5,000 BTU/hour

Funding Source:

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The Story: Our newest solar thermal system on campus, this relatively small solar thermal system uses just four panels for preheating the hot water needs of the College of Education restrooms. The Reich College of Education Building has received a LEED Silver certification. This system has web-based monitoring that provides real time production data that is availble by clicking the "Real-Time Data" button below.


Name: Biofuels Facility Solar Thermal System

Location: 161 Ayers Lane Boone, NC. On the grounds of ASU Physical Plant complex

Installation: 2005

Average Yearly Production: TBD

Funding Source: REI/EPA grant

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The Story: The Collaborative Biodiesel Project is a student-led initiative at Appalachian State University and was funded by the EPA P3 Award: Student Design Competition for Sustainability and the ASU Renewable Energy Initiative (ASUREI). This facility researches ways to close the loop in biodiesel manufacturing. Students and staff at Appalachian State's Technology Department installed this grid-tied system in 2007. This relatively small, four-panel solar thermal system provides process heat used for the production of biodiesel. When the sun is shining, this system can provide virtually all heat energy needed to make biofuel.


Name: Plemmons Student Union Solar Thermal System

Location: 263 Locust Street, Boone

Installation: 2009

Nameplate Capacity: 47,425 BTU/Hr

Funding Source: REI

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The Story: Plemmons hosts the first large scale solar thermal system installed on campus and served as a pilot for commercial scale domestic hot water solar thermal systems to both the High Country and the University. The logistically complex, 42-panel system preheats water used in the Plemmons Student Union rest rooms, the Mt. Mitchell Life Fitness Center locker rooms, and the building's food service areas.


Name: Varsity Gym Solar Thermal System

Location: 530 Rivers Street Boone

Installation: 2010

Nameplate Capacity: 11,850 BTU/Hr

Funding Source: Appalachian State Physical Plant

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The Story: The Varsity Gymnasium solar thermal system was the second renewable energy system installed on campus without the financial support of the ASU Renewable Energy Initiative. The 12-panel system provides heating for the domestic hot water system for Varsity Gym's restrooms and locker rooms.


Name: Blackburn Vannoy Farm Solar Thermal

Location: 608 Water Tank Road, Fleetwood NC

Installation: 2012

Nameplate Capacity: 25,680 BTU/day

Funding Source: REI

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The Story: 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. When conditions are favorable, the hot water needs of the farm's daily operation are met by a 30-unit evacuated tube solar thermal system mounted on the roof of the house. Like the PV systems at the farm, the ST system was installed by graduate students from Appalachian State University in the spring of 2012.