Appalachian State University

Conservatory for Biodiversity Education & Research

Appalachian State University is launching the Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research (CBEaR), a groundbreaking project in environmental science education and research. Designed by Lord Aeck Sargent, this 50,000-square-foot facility in the scenic Southern Appalachian region will set new standards for educational centers with its net-zero energy principles and top-tier sustainability standards. Scheduled to open in fall 2025, CBEaR will be the first academic building in App State’s Innovation District, serving as a hub for interdisciplinary cooperation and connecting the university with the broader community. The Innovation District master plan encompasses three main components: Buildings (including housing and research facilities), Energy (geothermal wells, wind turbines, and a central energy plant), and Site (performative native landscapes). This holistic approach aligns with App State's commitment to sustainability and academic excellence.


Boone, NC


Targeting Living Building Core and Energy Petals


  • Full Architectural and Interior Design
  • Sustainable Design
  • Programming
  • Master Planning


50,000 sf


Innovation Districts, Learning Spaces, Visitor Center, Green Infrastructure

Photo: Lord Aeck Sargent

Photo: Lord Aeck Sargent

The sustainable design of CBEaR prioritizes environmental stewardship and energy efficiency, blending functionality with sustainability. Solar power generation, rainwater harvesting, and green roofs minimize energy consumption. Locally sourced materials and biophilic design principles enhance the structure's educational value and ecological responsibility.

The conservatory and adjacent Nature Preserve will highlight the Southern Appalachian region's biodiversity through scientific exhibits and App State's research. The facility will feature four climate zones, biology labs, classrooms, and event spaces, with adjacent public and research gardens highlighting regional flora.

Photo: Lord Aeck Sargent

App State's Innovation District, powered by a zero-carbon district energy system, marks a significant shift from steam power and showcases the university's leadership in renewable energy. Designed to support all district facilities, including the Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research and housing, this system integrates wind turbines, rooftop solar panels, geothermal wells, and a central plant, aiming to be operational by 2025 and adaptable to future energy technologies.

Photo: Lord Aeck Sargent

Photo: Lord Aeck Sargent