Three CCCU Schools Win Chill Out Awards

May 09, 2011
Many students at EMU participate in a student-led bicycle co-op. Photo credit: EMU
EMU's campus garden provides produce for the university dining hall. Photo credit: EMU
RESTON, Va. -- Two Council for Christian Colleges & Universities member schools, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Montreat College, and one affiliate, Baylor University, were among six winners of the fifth annual Chill Out: Climate Action on Campus competition. Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Campus Ecology program, the awards honor schools for their conservation leadership. The sustainability initiatives of the six winning campuses were showcased in an April 13 webcast.

EMU in Harrisonburg, Va., took first place in the Campus Actions category because of the campus-wide sustainability initiatives directed by its Creation Care Council. The initiatives include an innovative program to collect recycling by bicycle and the largest solar deployment in Virginia, which has the capacity to generate 104.3 kilowatts of electricity from high-efficiency photovoltaic panels on the schools library roof.

Caring for God's creation is an important value at Eastern Mennonite University. When I heard about the National Wildlife Federation's Chill Out competition, I knew it would be a great way to show EMU's sustainability efforts, said Lindsey Kolb, lead videographer and photographer at EMU and one of the creators of EMUs award-winning video. There has been a buzz on campus about sustainability, and I wanted to share this with others. I hope that other universities and organizations will be inspired by our video to try their own sustainable initiatives.

Environmental stewardship projects at Montreat College in Montreat, N.C., led to the colleges selection as the winner of the Students in Action category. The student-led group, Seeds, spearheads projects like the campuss popular Residence Energy Challenge, in which the four residence halls compete to save the most energy. This year the competition, which promotes techniques for saving energy and encourages students to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle, resulted in a total of 3832 kilowatt hours saved. The Garden of Eatin initiative provides gardening training as well as fresh produce to the campus and surrounding community.

The Chill Out award has enabled our students to be proud of our environmental stewardship program and has helped students come to realize the biblical importance of our efforts, said Andrea Thompson, co-president of Seeds. We hope that the Chill Out award will continue bringing recognition to our school for our respect of God's creation both in and out of the classroom.

Baylor in Waco, Texas, was chosen as the winner in the Green Sporting Events & Programs category because of its game day community recycling efforts, which revolutionized recycling at home football games. More than 6.5 tons of trash were recycled during the 2010 season.

"Baylor is honored to be recognized alongside our fellow CCCU institutions as a result of the National Wildlife Federation's Chill Out competition, said Smith Getterman, Baylors sustainability coordinator. Receiving national attention for our sustainability efforts draws attention to the fact that we, as Christian institutions of higher education, are at the vanguard of addressing important environmental and societal issues. Paul writes in Colossians, for in him all things were created. Therefore, we should see our institutions emphasis on stewardship of God's creation as another way for us to be in service to the Lord our God."

Universities are a great place for students to learn about sustainability and then put what they learn into practice, added EMUs Kolb. Our student-run bike co-op and garden are just two examples of how students are learning life-long skills in sustainability. These places also foster community as students and faculty members work and learn together.

Three additional Chill Out awards were given for Green Jobs and Education; Innovative Research, Design and Technology; and High School Actions. Schools were selected based on original videos submitted last fall. The 2-minute videos highlighted campus initiatives and featured student and faculty interviews. Winners in each of the six categories received a $1,000 grant to fund campus sustainability programs. The competition promotes college and university innovation to reduce global warming pollution.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 184 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 111 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 73 affiliate campuses from 25 countries are part of the CCCU. The Councils mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help its institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.