BOONE, N.C. — Around 40 people gathered on the first-floor patio of Kenneth E. Peacock Hall at Appalachian State University today for a ribbon-cutting at the solar charging picnic tables. The bystanders were treated to fruit, juice, as well as smoothies made using bicycle-powered blenders.
The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with Earth Month celebrations on campus. The three solar-powered, smart picnic tables were installed in February. The tables feature charging stations — including wireless charging, USB ports and regular outlets.
Walker College of Business Dean Heather Hulburt Norris praised Appalachian students for supporting the Appalachian Renewable Energy Initiative (REI) — a student-led, student-funded organization that installs renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus — and REI members for initiating projects like the charging stations. She said the Walker College of Business advocates sustainable business practices as part of its core curriculum.
Paul Matney, a senior business management major at Appalachian and student chair of the REI, encouraged students to get involved with the REI, reminding them tonight is the last opportunity to apply to be a member.
Dr. Lee Ball, Appalachian's chief sustainability officer, said he was thankful for the sunny, albeit blustery and cold day, and said he hoped to have more charging stations located across campus in the future. He encouraged the Appalachian Community to let the university's Office of Sustainability know of locations that might be suitable.
After the remarks, REI members Matney, of Wilmington, and Tomiwa Olufolabi, a senior from Durham, cut a ribbon held by Norris and Ball. Olufolabi is a building sciences major with a concentration in sustainable building systems and a minor in marketing.
Two of the solar charging picnic tables were purchased by Appalachian's Office of Sustainability and one was a gift from the REI.
By Elisabeth Wall