Sustainability and Creation Care at EMU
EMU was encouraging creation care long before “green” became trendy. EMU students live in LEED-certified, energy efficient residence halls; draw power from the first commercial-scale solar installation in the state at its time (2010); compost dining hall scraps to later nourish campus gardens; and much more.
Sustainable choices and simple living are at the core of many Mennonites’ faith. The values are a strong part of EMU’s community ethos. Some highlights:
- Our energy-efficient buildings are some of the best performing college facilities nationally;
- LEED-certified dorm facilities, including Cedarwood at gold level for new construction;
- Sustainability and creation care are incorporated across the undergraduate core curriculum;
- Dining hall waste is composted via bicycle for the five campus gardens, managed by students;
- EMU was officially named a bike friendly campus in 2012 by the League of American Bicylists;
- Our 2015 Climate Action Plan lays out goals and projects for the next 20 years that will help EMU achieve climate neutrality as a university by the year 2035.
Sustainable Lessons In and Out of the Classroom
“One of the things that makes EMU different is that sustainability is not just a grassroots effort.”
– Jim Yoder, biology professor
We’ve been pioneers in constructing energy-efficient buildings and installing innovative heating and cooling systems since the 1980s.
Residence hall Cedarwood set college precedent in 2011 when it received LEED “gold” certification, one of the highest environmental standards construction can attain. Gold level LEED-certified renovations to Elmwood and Maplewood residence halls followed soon after.
Majors such as environmental sustainability and peacebuilding and development incorporate sustainable conservation practices and creation care into real-life studies of our world and global community. Our conservation photography class is an example of the how the arts can support sustainability.
Professors develop sustainability-focused courses such as green design and compost research and applications, courses with real-life results; students take lessons and apply them to campus issues.
Five campus gardens – tended by students, faculty and staff – and edible landscaping provide fresh produce for the dining hall and student cooks in apartments. Students groups such as Earthkeepers and the Sustainable Food Initiative manage these initiatives and continue to promote new ideas.
The SFI also partners with the nearby Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community on gardening and harvesting for the EMU and VMRC community.