What is the Economic Value to Students from Appalachian's Sustainability Projects?

Sustainability at Appalachian is a critical component of its central mission. As part of this mission, Appalachian developed the Renewable Energy Initiative (REI), funded through student fees, to develop and construct energy efficient projects on campus. Appalachian’s commitment to sustainable practices has enabled it to position itself as a leader in suitability among U.S. institutions. While the costs of the REI projects are known, the benefit, or economic value, to Appalachian is not. This report examines the benefit of REI projects to Appalachian’s student body.


Using the contingent valuation method, we capture the value of the REI projects to students by surveying and eliciting their willingness to pay for REI projects. After adjusting for potential hypothetical bias in the survey instrument, we find student average willingness to pay for REI projects to be $108. In aggregate, with 18,000 students attending Appalachian, findings indicate a one-time snapshot economic value of Appalachian’s sustainability mission to be $1.22 million. In terms of a rolling annual value, with approximately 4,500 new students each year, the annual economic value of Appalachian’s sustainability mission is estimated as $441,000.

The full report can be found here.