“Sustainability is what drives us”
The Appalachian State University Solar Vehicle Team is dedicated to going beyond technological innovation in creating a holistic approach to sustainability through responsible purchasing, carbon offsetting, and maintaining a mindset of conscious decision-making in the face of a compromising transportation field. Team Sunergy seeks to not only put a solar-powered vehicle on the track, but to also stimulate a community to think globally and act locally.
The Appalachian State University Solar Vehicle Team looks not only to innovate from a technological standpoint, but also to inspire the Boone community and other teams to adopt sustainable practices. As an operator within Appalachian State University, we look to continue this institution’s tradition of sustainability. Exemplified through its campus-wide commitment to stewardship and activism, Appalachian State University fosters and propels students and faculty to practice sustainability and foster a community of responsible global citizens. Through zero waste projects or the Sustain Appalachia awareness program, Appalachian State continuously exemplifies its dedication to being “green”. Their biggest commitment to sustainable technology is demonstrated through the incredible initiative taken by Appalachian State University Renewable Energy Initiative (ASUREI) here on campus. Team Sunergy and ASUREI work together to continually fund and sustain our collective vision. This awareness is not only limited to members of the university, but to all residents affected by its position. Boone and the High Country is continually changing and developing into a hub for sustainable practices. Team Sunergy aspires to reflect this culture of environmental, economic, and social responsibility in the field of renewable technology through sustainable operations and community involvement.
Being a team of students dedicated to making transportation more sustainable and less of a contributor to the growing global carbon emissions, we take pride in the efficiency and sustainability of our actions. Team Sunergy has fully committed to having and maintaining carbon neutral operations, the first university sponsored solar vehicle team to do so. The team received a donation of 58 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions reductions from Sterling Planet, the sustainable energy solutions provider, and GM, who acquired the necessary credits through their electric vehicle program. There are numerous factors that go into determining the total carbon outputs of an operation, including energy usage, transportation, and many others that you can find in the worksheet attached below. Sterling Planet calculated and confirmed the specific volume required to fully offset our carbon footprint. You can even be a carbon neutral commuter yourself right here at App State through
The team currently runs nearly all of its planning operations out of the Office of Sustainability which assists the team in new and innovative ways to keep their actions environmentally responsible.The Office of Sustainability is the headquarters for nearly all of the sustainable initiatives established on this campus, and also serves as a complementary workplace for Sunergy to accomplish all of our goals. Team Sunergy and the Office of Sustainability are committed to keeping every aspect of our efforts to be as socially, economically, and environmentally as possible, from our purchasing to our community outreach.
Team Sunergy was recognized for their outstanding achievements in the field of sustainability by the International Solarcar Federation (ISF) through their Spirit of the Event award. This award is given to the solar vehicle team which has best exemplified the mission of ISF by increasing sustainable awareness through technological innovation and promoting the concept of “Brain Sport”. Although there is an expansive field of universities who have their own teams of students dedicated to creating new and efficient solar cars, no other team matches the holistic dedication to sustainability that Team Sunergy possesses.
To build a fully operational solar-powered vehicle requires a multitude of mechanical and electronic components, and while it may be more cost efficient to buy from international manufacturers, our decisions compose who we are as a team and what values we want to stick to. With sustainability in mind, we wanted to keep our business as local and responsible as possible. By targeting companies or products with their own mission of sustainability or environmental responsibility, we can maintain our operational duties without compromising our values. For instance, to power our vehicle we are choosing to utilize Silicon-based photovoltaic cells instead of opting for Gallium Arsenide cells. The difference is in the production; Gallium Arsenide might hold energy more efficiently, but Silicon is less taxing on the environment to produce. Team Sunergy also wants to practice a foundational aspect of sustainability by keeping our operations as local as possible. Before making any purchasing decisions, we make sure to investigate all local manufacturers services and products first. By keeping our providers local we can cut down on transportation emissions and support local businesses.