Campus Sustainability in Action

Since its founding in 1963, Pitzer College has been committed to sustainability. Its environmental studies program began in the 1970s and the College has been practicing what it teaches ever since. One of the colleges named in the Princeton Review’s 2011 Guide to 311 Green Colleges, Pitzer strives to protect what Environmental Analysis Professor Paul Faulstich calls this "marvelous gem of a planet."

Pitzer's campus-wide initiatives—ranging from innovative LEED-certified residential halls to low-water landscaping—reflect the College's commitment to making sustainability an integrated part of the way students live and learn at Pitzer.

Sustainability Facts at a Glance

    25% of Pitzer’s energy comes from renewable resources.

    • 2560 cubic feet of trash diverted from landfill through recycling/reuse program.

    • Pitzer announced its new Fossil Fuel Divestment-Climate Action Plan in April 2014. 

    • Currently, 100% of new construction is LEED certified; 48% of all buildings on campus are LEED Platinum or Gold-certified.

    Nearly 200,000 gallons of water saved through the greywater system in Phase II- used for landscaping in surrounding area.

Proactive Programs

Students head up an initiative that composts more than 1,000 pounds of food scraps a week from the dining hall and campus cafes, turning food waste into organic fertilizer for gardens and landscaping.

The College’s dining hall was one of the first in the nation to go trayless and one of the first on the West Coast to introduce reusable to-go boxes. The dining hall staff uses compostable packaging and collects fryer grease, which is turned into biodiesel fuel by an offsite organization.

Since 2002, Pitzer has decreased water usage across campus by nearly 50 percent despite opening eight new mixed-use residence halls since 2007.

Pitzer is home to the John Rodman Arboretum. Climate-appropriate, drought-tolerant and native plants dominate the landscaping, which Pacific Horticulture magazine described as “the most sophisticated and artfully presented collection of succulents, desert plants, and Mediterranean-climate plants outside of a botanical garden.”

Pitzer’s low-water landscaping requires minimal irrigation.

The student-run Garden Club cultivates an organic, community garden on campus and keeps a small flock of chickens.
The student-run Green Bike Program provides bikes, locks and repairs for members of The Claremont Colleges to encourage pedal-powered commuting.

As part of Pitzer’s orientation program, new students can sign up for an Orientation Adventure trip called Sustainability in Action, which introduces students to sustainability issues in the Los Angeles area.  

The Grove House café posts information about its suppliers, including how far food travels to campus. The closest supplier is less than a mile from the Grove House and the farthest is less than 20 miles away.

The Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station is located on approximately 85 acres of land. An academic resource provided to The Claremont Colleges by the Claremont University Consortium, the field station offers teaching and research opportunities to the students, faculty, and staff of The Claremont Colleges.

Pitzer follows green housekeeping practices designed to reduce the impact of harsh chemicals and solvents in residential buildings. Green cleaning products are made available for students to use in their own rooms.

Paper usage on campus has been reduced by an estimated 20 percent since 2008. Printers on campus default to double-sided printing.

Building Green


In 2001, Pitzer reimagined its campus. Aiming to increase its residential capacity, the College committed itself to expanding in an environmentally responsible fashion and proving that green blueprints could shrink carbon footprints. The 2003 Housing Master Plan proposed new residence halls designed with both architectural flair and eco-friendly features. 

Phase I of Pitzer’s Residential Life Project was so green it won gold, earning top marks from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  Opened in fall 2007, the new residence halls of Phase I—Atherton Hall, Pitzer Hall and Sanborn Hall—received USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, making it the first higher education student housing project in the country to reach this major milestone.

Phase II opened in August 2012 and was awarded LEED Platinum, USGBC’s highest possible endorsement. The four new structures in Phase II are home to about 300 students, the Mosbacher/Gartrell Center for Media Experimentation and Activism, the Kallick Family Gallery, the Institute for Global/Local Action and Study and the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs.

The sustainable features in these student housing projects include solar panels, a green roof and living wall. A greywater system, drought-tolerant landscaping and water-efficient fixtures all keep water usage on campus to a minimum.
For more details, please visit the Residential Life Project page.

The sustainable features in these student housing projects include solar panels and living roofs which help insulate buildings and improve air quality. A greywater system, drought-tolerant landscaping and water-efficient fixtures will combine to continue to reduce water usage on campus.

"Upon completion of the Residential Life Project, we will be one of the few liberal arts colleges in the nation to raze and completely rebuild our student housing,” said Pitzer College President Laura Skandera Trombley. “Our aim is nothing less than to re-envision and reinvent the student residential housing experience."

For more details, please visit the Residential Life Project page.

Environmental Analysis

The Environmental Analysis program offers interdisciplinary, cutting-edge courses for students interested in environmental issues. The EA major focuses on the interaction between human and non-human elements of the biosphere, offering an integrated, unifying perspective on life, as well as tools for affecting positive change.


In 2012, Pitzer was awarded a $600,000 grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support interdisciplinary programs that will explore the intersection of the arts and the environment. Over the next four years, the Mellon-funded project will:

    • Develop interdisciplinary and team-taught courses with faculty from The Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Graduate University that focus on art and the environment

    • Engage faculty and students in research and creative projects developed with organizations such as the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles

    • Create an artist-in-residence program, with the Native American conceptual artist Edgar Heap of Birds as Pitzer's first artist-in-residence

    • Mount joint environmental art exhibitions with Pomona College and Scripps College

    • Convene a capstone symposium on "Environmental Art Today" during the fourth year of the project

The project evolved from Pitzer's twin beliefs in the importance of environmental stewardship and the role of art as not only a means for personal expression, but as an impetus for interdisciplinary inquiry and critical thinking that "can model possible solutions for a better world."

American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

In 2007, Pitzer signed an agreement with the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement calls for participating institutions to develop and implement plans to become climate neutral.

Association for the Advancement of
Sustainability in Higher Education