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On the Web - December 2006

Pitzer Goes Green

Pitzer Residential Life Project
The Claremont Courier published a story about Pitzer College's Residential Life Project in December 2006.

Pitzer College is currently undergoing a massive campus transformation that could earn them the title of greenest college in America. If everything goes to plan, Pitzer will receive a gold rating from the US Green Building Council, which sets nationally recognized standards for green building designs.

The project entails the construction of 3 new residence halls built to have the most minimal impact on the environment, fully equipped with solar panels, recycled steel framing and a highly efficient cooling and heating system, which include sensors in each room to automatically shut them off if a window is open.

Many around campus are extremely proud of what is being done and feel that it fits perfectly into Pitzer's broader educational philosophy.

“I think it falls under our educational objective of social responsibility and environmental sustainability,” said Pitzer's Dean of Students Jim Marchant.

Others have also expressed the hope that builders will follow in their footsteps, and that green building will become the standard, not an exception.

“I think the overall goal is that this project would provide a model for sustainable building on a large scale that is not only affordable but practical and actually beautiful,” said Pitzer President Laura Trombley. “I do know that the city is already using our plans as an example for others who are thinking of building, and they see what we did as an excellent planning model. I have given tours for people in Claremont of the construction site and the process and how building sustainable has been affordable for us.”

President Trombley explained that extra costs incurred from the project would eventually be made back over the years due to efficient use of energy and because the building will not require on-hand experts to maintain.

The three residence halls currently under construction constitute phase one of a 3-part plan, which is envisioned to be carried out over the next 10 years. The phase one dorms are set to be up and running in July so that the incoming freshman class will be able to make them their new homes.

Sustainable living is nothing new to Pitzer College , which already boasts its own organic garden, a compost waste station, an arboretum and low maintenance plants and cacti, which require less water. Students have also come up with programs such as a bicycle-recycling program, where students fix up old bikes and use them to get around town instead of driving pollutant-producing automobiles.

However, green building design is not just for those who have a guilty conscious about polluting the planet. The city of Boston will be requiring large-scale private constructions to follow the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design minimum standards. The city of Pasadena and the state of New Mexico also require many private construction projects to comply with the standards. And a number of states and federal agencies require new public buildings to meet the standards of the council.

“Green building is becoming more and more central and more critical, and I'd like to think that Pitzer is leading the way on not only what can be done on campuses, but also in the broader community,” said Paul Faulstich, Environmental Studies professor at Pitzer and chair of the Project's master plan.

“This is the biggest campus change that has happened since the founding of the school, and it's happening in the right way,” said Professor Faulstich.


—Tony Krickl, Claremont Courier


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