Greening the Campus
The Richard C. Seaver Biology Building was Pomona's first facility designed using the sustainability guidelines of the LEED program.
The students at Pomona have consistently taken the lead on issues of climate change and sustainability, initiating a far-reaching study of the College's impact on the environment and continuing to improve and expand the student-run Organic Farm.
"Our students haven't thrown up their hands, but have actively taken on the issue of climate change," says David Oxtoby, president of the College. "They've analyzed the College's practices and proposed specific strategies to reduce our carbon footprint and laid the groundwork for other critical steps, ranging from reducing water consumption to cutting the number of cars on campus."
The College has taken its own steps toward sustainability by constructing its three most recent buildings according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building standards. The Seaver Biology Building was awarded a silver LEED certificate, placing it in the top one percent of all academic laboratory buildings in the country in terms of energy-conscious design. Pomona also established the President's Sustainability Committee and created a $15,000 fund for student projects, such as an initiative to replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs and providing drying racks in laundry rooms.
In 2007, President David Oxtoby signed the President's American College and University Climate Commitment, an agreement which commits Pomona College to a variety of deadlines and programs for moving toward carbon neutrality. And in 2008, the College hired its first-ever Sustainability Coordinator, Bowen Patterson '06, and a new Environmental Policy was approved by the Board in May 2009, officially created the Sustainability Integration Office. Through the Sustainability Action Fellowship, students are hired to assist the SIO with event programming, outreach, and project development.
"The College is finding ways to work with students who are interested in moving toward sustainability," says Richard Hazlett, professor of geology and environmental analysis. "A student who wants to get involved in improving the environment has some real support and opportunities to thrive here."
Two new residence halls are currently under construction on the north side of Pomona's campus and are expected to not just be certified LEED gold, but to integrate sustainability in students' daily lives. “From educational signs talking about the fixtures and building features to making it clear that the ceiling fans are supposed to be the ‘first line of attack’ in cooling your room, students will be expected to adopt new behaviors in engaging first-hand with the environmental impacts of the campus and their residence hall,” says Patterson.
One building will have a rooftop garden, and the other will have a sustainability demonstration area, where students and the campus community can learn about the features of the building. Many sustainability efforts will be chugging away in the background of students’ lives, from renewable furnishing materials and solar thermal hot water heating to redirecting storm water back into the Wash, rather than the sewer system, and window sensors and other efforts to reduce air conditioning use.
The sustainability issues occurring at Pomona are too numerous to list on this page, but here are just a few recent projects:
- In the dining halls: Kitchen scraps from our three dining halls, Coop Fountain and Sagehen Cafe are composted at our Organic Farm; all dining halls are trayless, reducing food waste by 20 pounds per meal; all to-go containers are biodegradable and all napkins are 100% recycled; and a students are currently exploring opportunities to integrate produce from the student-run Farm to campus restaurants.
- Transportation: Our student-run Green Bikes program loans used bikes free to students and repairs bikes with free labor. Students can also borrow foldable bikes to use on public transportation, like the Metrolink train to Los Angeles. Our Zipcar car-sharing program
is another way we encourage students to not bring cars to campus, and our Rideshare Program for staff and faculty offers monetary incentives for employees who carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation for commuting. Students, faculty and and staff are in the process of determining whether quality biodiesel can be produced from Dining Services' used oil, to then be used in campus grounds vehicles.
- Waste and recycling: The College provides extensive recycling services, including programs for larger items like electronics, furniture, lumber and academic supplies. The ReCoop is a student-run thrift store that collects all the usable items (mini-refrigerators, fans, lamps, furniture) left behind by students at the end of each year and sells them back to students throughout the year.
- Energy: The College has 90.7 kW of solar photovoltaic arrays, which produce approximately 118,834 kWh per year. Students can check out drying racks for laundry and CFL light bulbs for their rooms, and the College is committed to purchasing EnergyStar-certified energy-efficient appliances whenever available and financially reasonable. Recent building efforts have included an emphasis on "daylighting" to reduce electricity use, occupancy and motion sensors for lights, and roofing materials designed to reduce the "heat island effect" and thus cooling loads for buildings. The Seaver Science Complex is chilled by a central chiller plant with an underground thermal energy storage system, which significantly reduces the energy needs for cooling the buildings. The College requires green building techniques for all new construction and major renovation projects, and the College is exploring opportunities to incorporate more solar into campus.
To read more about Pomona College's many sustainability efforts, please visit the Sustainability Integration Office's website.