California Colleges Sweep National Awards For Campus Climate Innovations

State Wins Big In 2009 Chill Out Competition With Student Solutions To Global Warming

04-15-2009 // Amanda Cooke

Four California colleges and universities have won national recognition in the National Wildlife Federation's annual competition Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming. This award program is the nation's only campus competition to promote sustainability and honor U.S. schools that are advancing creative solutions to global warming on their campuses. Half of this year's eight winners are from California.

Environmental visionaries and advocates from higher education and the entertainment industry have come together to celebrate the leadership of these campuses in Wednesday's webcast, which can be viewed at campuschillout.org. The colleges will also receive a monetary award from the National Wildlife Federation.

"I am so proud of these pioneering students who are not only creating real solutions to confront climate change, but are keeping California on the cutting edge of innovation," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. "The fact that half the winners from this nationwide contest are from California proves once again that we are home to some of the brightest minds in the world who are spurring new technologies while helping to create a better environment for future generations."

California's colleges and universities have demonstrated numerous effective solutions to global warming. The California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office has partnered with a major energy provider to bring solar power to the state school system. CSU-Northridge maintains the largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world. Humboldt has made alternative transportation a viable option on its campus and greatly increased the county's public transportation ridership. Lastly, the University of California, San Diego won a video award for its creation "UC San Diego: A Living Laboratory for Real-World Solutions."

"Every one of our Chill Out winners deserves an Oscar for the example they have set," said Julian Keniry, Director of Campus and Community Leadership for the National Wildlife Federation. "But California's campuses truly shine. These schools demonstrate that by combating global warming emissions, we can conserve resources, and save money all at the same time. It is an honor to recognize California's commitment to climate stewardship and we applaud the students, faculty and administration at these schools for their desire to create a healthier planet.

The Chancellor's Office of the California State University system: The state of California has partnered with energy provider SunEdison to bring affordable solar power to the California State University system. These installations will create a zero-emission, 8 MW solar photovoltaic power system, estimated to cut 9,485 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to removing 48,000 cars from the road over the life of the energy contract. The California State University system also purchases up to 20 percent of its electricity from green sources.

California State University--Northridge has a 1 MW fuel cell power plant--the largest such installation at any university in the world. The ultra-clean plant produces 18 percent of the campus' electricity, and simultaneously eliminates associated heating, cooling, and maintenance costs. Because fuel cell technology is combustion-free, it produces nearly zero particulate emissions. Energy performance gains made possible by the fuel cell installation will also save operational expenses and reduce the campus' environmental impact for many years.

Humboldt State University in Arcata has made alternative transportation a viable option. One of the university's most helpful and innovative projects is the "Jack Pass," an unlimited-ride bus pass for all Humboldt students. Since implementing Jack Pass, the Redwood Transit Service announced a 30 percent increase in ridership, which translates to huge reductions in the county's carbon footprint. After the introduction of the Jack Pass, 526 fewer parking permits were sold on the campus, eliminating the need to construct a new multilevel parking structure.

University of California, San Diego created a video entitled "UC San Diego: A Living Laboratory for Real-World Solutions," detailing how the campus saves $12 million annually through energy efficiency measures. Among the many innovations on campus are specialized climate-controlled boxes for housing computers and servers, and student-built weather stations used as data collectors to increase climate control efficiency. The school is currently researching algae as a biofuel source. To view the whole video, visit the Go Green Tube site. This year's video contest was hosted by GoGreenTube.com, a new online video site focused solely on environmental and green videos. The winners were selected by the online community through a voting process. GoGreenTube.com partners with Carbon Fund to offset one pound of CO2 for each video that is watched by a logged-in user, via a carbon credit donation.

Young adults across the nation are speaking out about the need for greenhouse gas reductions, and Chill Out is the third event this school year that demonstrates how they are making their voices heard. The National Teach-In, held on February 5, 2009, engaged campus and community members at 750 colleges and universities around the country in a teach-in on global warming solutions. This event brought members of Congress face-to-face via video conferencing with their constituents to discuss global warming solutions. National Wildlife Federation is also a member of the coalition behind PowerShift, the youth-led movement that brought 12,000 young activists to Washington, D.C to express their message of bold, comprehensive federal climate action to Capitol Hill.

The 2009 Chill Out campaign was shot by world-renowned cinematographer Eric Adkins ("Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow"), directed by Melissa Balin ("Green Means Go"), and produced by Melinda Esquibel of Mundo Maravilla, Carey Stanton of National Wildlife Federation, and Balin.

The webcast features an all-star cast of students, faculty and staff from the winning campuses and a broad range of advocates and activists in today's environmental movement, including: Academy Award-Winning producer Lawrence Bender; actor Courtney Gains ("Sibling Rivalry"); musician and composer Ethan Gold; comedian and host of Planet Green's "Wa$ted" Annabelle Gurwitch; musician Nick Jago, Actor Efren Ramirez ("Napoleon Dynamite"); actor Alisa Reyes (Nick's "All That"); Founder and CEO of Karmaloop.com Greg Selkoe; director, screenwriter and actress Angela Shelton; actor and stuntman Isaac Singleton Jr.; producer, first president of eBay and founder of Participant Media Jeff Skoll; Tony-Award-winning poet "Poetri" Smith; actor Douglas Spain (HBO's "Walkabout"); actor Michael Welch ("Twilight"); actor Jose Yenque ("Traffic"); and actor Shawn-Caulin Young ("Dreams and Shadows"), and music by Austin band The Steps.

The webcast is a low carbon footprint production, going well beyond the industry's sustainable filmmaking guidelines, and has been recognized by the Environmental Media Association's Green Seal Program for using the film industry's best environmental practices. The production used the Red Camera--a 4K camera system that is filmless and tapeless, cabling directly into a hard drive, eliminating wasted film, tape, and chemicals. The lighting was Lite Panels' LED system, and the lights and production were powered by solar energy thanks to a solar generator provided by Pure Power Distribution and a portable solar-capturing tent from FTL Solar. Even the teleprompters were made from recycled materials! Campuses around the country are encouraged to host events to watch the green webcast. The program will be part of Earth Day-related events scheduled at more than 275 college campuses, high schools, and organizations nationwide and abroad.

Join students and faculty to register for and view the webcast, and learn how to take action throughout the year, at www.nwf.org.

Contact: Jennifer Fournelle at 703-438-6002 or fournellej@nwf.org.

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