The Appalachian Energy Summit 2012 - 2016



Appalachian Energy Summit – The Beginning

In late fall of 2011 Kenan Smith, ’84, and Hayes Smith,’82, came to Boone to talk about energy.  The brothers  — both dedicated supporters of the university —  settled into a small conference room in the Design and Construction department and began a conversation with then Director of Sustainability Ged Moody and Mike O’Connor, director of the Physical Plant. The outcome was the seed of an idea that would become the first annual Appalachian Energy Summit, held on the campus of Appalachian State University the following summer, 2012.

“After we talked for a while,” Moody said, “Kenan and Hayes recognized what we at Appalachian already knew: our campus was already very good at energy reduction and sustainability. During a pause in the conversation Kenan put his hands on the table and said,  ‘Let’s do something big.’ The idea of hosting an energy summit for the system was born. “

The goal for the Summit as defined over the next few months was to jump-start a national transformative effort across higher education. Embraced by UNC General Administration as a system-wide initiative, objectives include:

·       Educate our students to be leaders of tomorrow;

·       Reduce and stabilize the UNC system's average annual energy expenditures;

·       Transform and stimulate the North Carolina economy;

·       Position our colleagues in the UNC system and private universities as national leaders;

·       Create a culture of environmental and economic sustainability.  

Invited guests attend the three-day summit for free and optional resident hall accommodations are provided. The event is paid for by individual and corporate sponsors and does not require any state funding.

 

The future of the Appalachian Energy Summit

“For year five [of the summit] we are working hard to truly leverage the success we have had on the campuses beyond just saving. ” Moody said.  “The important conversations and energy innovations that have been happening in North Carolina can have positively disruptive benefits globally. The university system and Appalachian are creating collaborations and achieving successes that show how higher education can lead first in energy then broaden that scope to address the biggest challenges that face our world – sustainability.” Kenan Smith concurs. “ We have 20,000 students now at Appalachian,” he said. “As we reach out to other systems, other states, other countries. . .  suddenly you have 2 to 3 million students talking together. That’s the power for change. That’s big.”

 

Appalachian Energy Summit -  A Timeline

Fall 2011 – The idea is born. The Smith brothers, Moody and O’Connor meet and plan “something big.” At a follow-up meeting two weeks later a team comprised of Department of Sustainable Technologies and the Built Environment Director Jeff Ramsdell, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Susan Pettyjohn, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Greg Lovins, the Smith brothers, Moody and O’Connor rough out the concept and structure for the first Appalachian Energy Summit.

           

January 2012 – Following an introduction by Fred and Alice Stanback, avid supporters of Appalachian, the leadership group travels to Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). In meetings with RMI Chief Scientist Amory Lovins and Marty Pickett, managing director at RMI and advisory board member for the Center for the Environment at Catawba College, the idea of the summit is solidified and Lovins signs on as keynote speaker. The energy visionary has participated in every summit since and provides on-going leadership and direction. “Pickett is a NC native with local knowledge of what we were about,” Moody said. “She knew our strengths, both apparent and hidden, and helped translate our potential to RMI. “

Other key leadership includes David Orr, special assistant to the president, Oberlin College, and Dr. Tom Ross, former president of the UNC system.

           

February 2012 – A planning group including other UNC campus energy and sustainability leaders develop a detailed agenda designed to engage and challenge the UNC system, GA and campus leadership – ultimately operating as the University of North Carolina Energy Leadership Challenge.

 

July 2012 – Lovins packs the house at Schaeffer Auditorium in Boone, delivering his “Reinventing Fire” speech [link] at the first Appalachian Energy Summit. UNC President Tom Ross speaks and commits to the system’s full support. He invites each of the system’s chancellors to sign the Leadership Challenge, a commitment to  reducing and stabilizing the university’s average annual energy expenditures, positioning the UNC system as national leaders in sustainability education, and stimulating the North Carolina economy through the support of green energy business infrastructure. Before summit’s end 100 percent endorse the signatory.  [link]

 

March 2013 - First mid-year summit held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Working groups around transportation, energy supply and operations, academic integration, financial and regulatory issues, technology integration and building efficiencies formed at 2012 summit gather and report.  A student poster competition component is added to the summit to further engage students in energy issues.

 

July 2013 – More than 200 guests attend the second annual summit entitled, “Imagine a University…” Lovins once again delivers the keynote and is joined on the agenda by Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Energy, Installations and  Environment. Roger Natsuhara The first industry panel of corporate energy leaders is introduced. UNC system adopts the goals set in 2012 verbatim and initiates the UNC Leadership challenge.

 

February 2014 - Mid-year summit hosted by North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro. 

 

July 2014 - The third annual summit invites participants to recognize and embrace ‘The Disruption/Innovation Cycle’ precipitated by turbulent times and marked by the innovations that disrupt our time-tested technologies, processes and business models. Attendance continues to grow with 239 college and university attendees including a record number of attending chancellors, provosts, and CFOs. David Orr joins Amory Lovins on the dais.

 

February 2015 – Mid-year summit hosted by University of North Carolina at Charlotte in recently LEED-certified downtown annex.

 

July 2015 – “ A New State of Energy” is the theme, and 425 guests, the largest and  most geographically expanded attendance ever,  convene once again in Boone. Attending are  80 students, 15 out of state universities, 30 student posters, 15 community colleges, representatives from eight states, five non profits and 12 industry organizations. Featured speakers are Robert F. Kennedy, Lovins and Orr.

 

February 2016 – Mid-year summit held at UNC Pembroke.

 

July 2016 - The summit’s theme is “Knowledge. Collaboration. Action,” which represents a continuation of the work of summit participants to build on the collaborative opportunities among the academic institutions that participate, and further develop relationships with private and business partners. Featured speakers include author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.