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Pomona College's 2010-11 Sustainability Report Shows Progress in Water, Landfill Waste Reduction

Pomona College, recognized as a national leader in college sustainability, has released its 2010-11 Sustainability Annual Report, which outlines the College’s sustainability efforts and provides an update on progress towards environmental goals. Among the highlights are a significant increase in the amount of sustainable food purchased by dining services, a reduction in total energy use, and significant reductions in synthetic fertilizer use and waste sent to landfills.

Pomona, which has 1,550 students, reduced its energy use for the first time since the College started tracking total energy use almost 10 years ago. Last year there was a reduction of eight percent, in electricity and natural gas use. The largest total reductions were in the science district,campus dining and academic-administrative buildings. In addition, Pomona won the Pomona-Harvey Mudd-Claremont McKenna College Power Down dorm energy challenge, with all residence halls reducing their power during the month of November by 10.5 percent.

The College’s January 2011 move to a self-managed dining operation allowed Pomona to quickly increase the amount of sustainable food used to 36.6 percent of purchases; including increases in organic and/or local produce and humanely raised meat, and switching to cage-free eggs and fair trade and organic coffee and tea. More than 31 percent of food products are produced locally. In June, Pomona became the first liberal arts college to receive Marine Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certification.

During 2010-11, the College decreased the waste sent to landfills by 10 percent over the previous year. Since 2006-07, the amount of waste sent to landfills has decreased more than 29 percent, from 699 tons to 490. Ongoing waste reduction programs include green waste mulching; pre-consumer composting of kitchen scraps; trayless dining; compost bins throughout campus; a compost bucket checkout program; and a construction waste diversion program, which diverted 96 percent of construction waste from landfills last year.

In terms of pollutants, the Pomona College Grounds crew decreased synthetic fertilizer use 40 percent from 2009-10, from 1,250 pounds to 750 pounds.  Over the last two years, the College has reduced synthetic fertilizers 92 percent. This was achieved with a number of practices to reduce stress on turf and ornamental plantings, reducing turf and a change to new organic fertilizers.

The Pomona College Sustainability Annual Report is compiled by the College’s Sustainability Integration Office. A link to the full report can be found at http://pomona.edu/administration/sustainability/resources/publications/AnnualReport1011.pdf [pdf] . More information on the College’s sustainability goals, can be found in the Pomona College Sustainability Action Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2011, and can be found at http://www.pomona.edu/administration/sustainability/action-plan/introduction.aspx. The extensive Plan focuses on seven broad goals for sustainability and includes quantitative and qualitative 10-year goals.