Campus energy and water use are down

Appalachian decreased its energy use by 16 percent between 2003 and July 2010, and water use decreased 22 percent between 2007 and July 2010.

The reduction was achieved in part through two major projects: The University Energy Savings Performance Contract with Pepco Energy Systems Inc., and federal stimulus grant funding applied to energy efficiency projects.

"This is a great accomplishment given the fact that we have added energy intensive air conditioning to every renovated residence hall during this same period, and more and more students are loading up rooms with energy consuming appliances such as computers and plasma TVs," said Mike O'Connor, director of the physical plant.

University Energy Savings Performance Contract

In this multi-year project, Appalachian contracted with Pepco Energy Systems Inc. for $5.4 million to improve energy efficiency in campus buildings. The investment is estimated to save Appalachian $600,000 per year.

Projects include replacing 8,800 light fixtures and adding state-of-the-art LED lighting in the both parking decks and John Thomas Hall; installing efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption by 3.5 million gallons per year; and installing solar water heater systems and high efficiency HVAC systems in several campus buildings. A green roof was also installed on a section of W. Kerr Scott Hall.

Since the changes have been made, O'Connor said Appalachian's annual energy use has decreased by:

  • more than three million kilowatt hours of electricity
  • 7.75 million pounds of steam
  • 2,500 gallons of oil
  • 1,900 gallons of propane

Federal stimulus funding

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the university secured more than $500,000 in grant funding. This was applied to energy efficiency projects in several residence halls, as well as Edwin Duncan Hall, I.G. Greer Hall, Sanford Hall and Broyhill Music Center. Work included replacing lighting and installing water efficient fixtures as well as variable speed drives on large motors and compressors. The university also has pursued an additional grant to hire an energy analyst for one year to assist in developing future energy saving projects.

Small steps, big difference

In addition to these savings, the university has invested in green construction features to make new buildings LEED® certified as mandated by the Appalachian Board of Trustees. The university also has adopted "Green Cleaning" products and standards in all academic buildings, as well as Plemmons Student Union.

New buildings and their features are:

Frank Residence Hall - renovated in 2009

What: LEED® Gold certified

How: 41-panel solar array for heating water, low-flow shower and sink fixtures, water-source heat pumps in each room, energy-efficient hand dryers, duel flush toilet valves, and energy-efficient lighting and energy-efficient windows.

Plemmons Student Union addition - under construction

What: seeking LEED® Silver certification

How: solar hot water system, extensive day lighting spaces, sustainable forest wood products, improved indoor air quality, energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems, high efficiency window glazing and a potential vegetated green roof.

More than 20 different sustainability actions have been taken in the student union since 2007. These initiatives—developed by students, faculty and staff on the Plemmons Student Union Greening Committee—include replacing all light bulbs with high efficiency light bulbs, installing high-efficiency water aerators in sink faucets, installing two water bottle filling stations, and implementing use of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

Reich College of Education building - to open this summer

What: seeking LEED® certification

How: vegetated green roof on one portion of the building, use of low-flow plumbing fixtures, solar hot water, certified sustainable forest wood products, LED exterior lighting, high efficiency window glazing, improved indoor air quality and energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems.

Mountaineer Apartments replacement - under construction

What: seeking LEED® Silver certification

How: solar water heating, high efficiency lighting, high efficiency heat pumps, extensive insulation of rooms to reduce energy use, and bike racks and access to a major bus route to encourage use of alternative transportation. Also, all material from the demolition of Mountaineer Apartments was reutilized. Metal wiring and piping were reclaimed and fixtures and furniture were recycled or reused.

Beasley Broadcast Center - under renovation

What: seeking LEED® certification

How: rainwater catchment system, green vegetated roof, high efficiency LED lighting, reuse of architectural features and high-efficiency heating and ventilation. This building stands at the corner of Depot and Rivers streets.

AppalCart Transit Building - under construction

What: seeking LEED® Gold certification

How: rainwater catchment and reuse system for flushing toilets and rinsing buses, a solar hot water system, and foam insulation in office areas to improve energy efficiency. AppalCart is a public transportation partnership between Appalachian, the Town of Boone and Watauga County. This facility will be located off the Highway 105 Bypass.