Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Milan Stijepovic
Submission Date Nov. 19, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Pitzer College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Brinda Sarathy
Associate Professor of Environmental Analysis and Director of the Redford Conservancy
Environmental Analysis
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Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Other ---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Professors at Keck Science, of which Pitzer is a part, study and engage students in air pollution research to investigate pressing environmental issues from both a chemical and policy perspective. Prof. Katie Purvis Roberts, for example, focuses on air pollution, using modern analytical chemistry techniques. This research program not only addresses critical environmental concerns, but also allows undergraduate students the opportunity to perform hands-on research in the laboratory and prepare them for future research opportunities.

Prof. Roberts' state-of-the art air pollution characterization laboratory consists of the following components: 1) A Particle Into Liquid Sampler (PILS) that allows for chemical speciation and mass concentration of ambient particulate matter pollution, 2) a Tapered Elemental Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) for measurement of total particulate matter mass, 3) filter samplers for monitoring the chemical speciation of particles, and 4) analytical equipment such as ion chromatographs and gas chromatography-mass spectrometers.

She has recently worked with undergraduate student researchers on air pollution control technologies in coal burning power plants, funded by Mellon Foundation monies. This has been in collaboration with researchers at UC Riverside as well.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In 2001, Pitzer reimagined its campus, with students, staff, and faculty integral to this process. 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.

The first phase 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.

Five years later, Phase II of the project earned LEED Platinum, USGBC’s highest possible endorsement. Home to more than 300 students, Phase II houses the Mosbacher/Gartrell Center for Media Experimentation and Activism, the Pitzer Archive and Conference Center, the Kallick Family Gallery and the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs. The four Phase II buildings feature seminar rooms, multimedia editing suites, a demonstration kitchen and apartments for live-in staff and faculty.

The campus is also currently finishing up a comprehensive energy audit as well as a solar master plan to figure out ways to further conserve energy and move towards renewable/sustainable sources of power.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Pitzer's main dining hall service provider is Bon Apetit. They source local foods and support farmers in our region. Their website notes:
According to the Worldwatch Institute, in the United States, food now travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table, as much as 25 percent farther than two decades ago. That shipping and trucking does incredible damage to the environment in the form of global warming and air pollution. Eating locally also helps reduce the immense amount of non-renewable resources wasted in transporting food. Fuel conservation isn’t only about driving less: it’s also about buying things that don’t travel half-way across the globe.

In addition, local farmers, who use more sustainable growing practices, act as stewards of the land. By buying from local growers you help support sustainable farming practices that nourish and replenish the local land rather than stripping it. You have the power to ensure that the food you buy is produced in a manner that steers away from pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

The purchases you make can have a profound impact on your community. The family farm is dying and when the family farm dies so too does our agricultural heritage. However, if you eat locally then you are simultaneously investing in your own community and helping to preserve local farmers and artisans ensuring their traditions continue. If you buy local, you are helping to ensure that we can savor these authentic flavors in the future.

In addition, Pitzer students run the Grove House kitchen and Shakedown Cafe.

The Shakedown Cafe is a student-run restaurant, located on the second floor of the Gold Student Center (GSC) at Pitzer College. We strive to incorporate locally-grown, organic produce into our menu. Additionally, we provide a space for the community to meet, enjoy a delicious meal, do homework, listen to music, play games, and share talent.

Our Philosophy
From the “Shakedown Manifesto” written by founders Fred Beebe, Alden Towler, Josh Lipkowitz, Dane Pollock, and Gabriel Guerrero.
“The Shakedown is about reconnecting people with their food. The Shakedown is about showing people that beauty that lies within the act of planting a seed that has been saved for generations upon generations, taking care of that seed as it germinates and grows into a plant, and then harvesting the fruit that the plant has reaped. That fruit is purchased at a fair price from a farmer who worked under fair and humane conditions and turned into a delicious creation served at The Shakedown made with love by our staff. That fruit then serves the catalyst to a great conversation, to a beautiful meal between friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Over that meal, people will come together and share their thoughts and experiences, they will listen to music, they will look at art, they will get some work done, they will read a book, or they might partake in any number of activities and it all starts with that simple seed grown on a piece of land that has been cared for with love by a farmer.”


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

One way in which the campus is utilized as a living laboratory for Energy is through the PowerDown energy reduction competition (part of Campus Conservation Nationals) that takes place every year between the Claremont Colleges. Last year's competition saw Pitzer students reduce their energy consumption in the residence halls by 6.4%.

The campus is also currently finishing up a comprehensive energy audit as well as a solar master plan to figure out ways to further conserve energy and move towards renewable/sustainable sources of power. Our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions (based on 2014 data) by 25% by the end of 2016.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Garden Club utilizes the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds via the student-lead organic garden. The garden is a completely student-operated space; garden club members are responsible for planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. Garden club members also are responsible for composting some of the food waste that is generated by the dining hall and other student-run campus cafes.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

One way in which the campus is used as a living laboratory for Transportation is via the Green Bike Program (GBP). The GBP is a student-run organization created to promote cycling, bike safety and sustainability at The Claremont Colleges and the surrounding community. Founded in an attempt to counter Los Angeles’ renowned car culture by encouraging people to use bikes, the GBP accomplishes its goals through the reuse of old bikes and parts along with the organization of cycling events. The GBP also gives community members free access to bicycles, tools, repair lessons.

The College also has taken innovative steps on an administrative level to limit the number of cars arriving on campus. Freshmen and sophomores are prohibited from bringing cars to campus, and the TRIP program provides a monetary incentive to employees to use alternative modes of transportation to commute to/from campus.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Examples of the campus being utilized as a living laboratory for Waste include the ReRoom Initiative and the College's composting program. The student-lead ReRoom Initiative aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill during the annual move-out. To accomplish this, ReRoom staff accept donations of commonly used residence hall items (refrigerators, microwaves, school supplies, books, etc.) and hold these items in storage until the next fall, where they are resold to incoming and returning students. This has the added benefits of providing low-cost alternatives to buying these items new. Students are also able to learn more about Waste by participating in the College's composting program. Students may participate either by depositing their food waste from meals in the dining hall's food waste receptacles, or by joining the Composting Club and composting food waste at the campus garden.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In response to California’s historic drought, on April 1, 2015, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order mandating a 25% statewide reduction in water use (compared to the amount used in 2013). Locally, the City of Claremont must reduce its water consumption by 32%. To reduce water consumption at Pitzer, the College has implemented a number of conservation measures this summer, including:

Removing Turf
0.7 acres of the College’s 3.5 acres of turf have been removed. Affected areas include Chung Field, the turf area south of the basketball court, the turf area immediately north of the McConnell Center concrete apron, and the turf area surrounding the ParFitness station east of the McConnell Center. Signage has been placed in these areas to educate the Pitzer community on these conservation measures.

Reduced Watering
This summer Pitzer has reduced its irrigation to 2 days per week. In previous summers, the turf areas had been watered up to 6 days per week.

Installation of Waterless Urinals
In addition to the 15 waterless urinals already installed on-campus, the College will install 11 more by the end of the summer. Each waterless urinal is estimated to save 1 gallon of water per use.

Replacement of McConnell Dining Hall Dishwasher
As part of the McConnell remodel, the dining hall’s old dishwasher has been replaced with a new, energy and water-efficient model.

Shower Signage
Stickers encouraging students to limit their showers to 5 minutes have been placed in every residence hall bathroom on-campus.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Presidential Committee on Sustainability is a vehicle for students, staff, and faculty to use the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance. The Committee has been charged with working with relevant campus groups and institutions to propose projects and policies that promote reduced resource consumption and environmental sustainability at Pitzer College and the Claremont Colleges. The Committee is also responsible for developing a comprehensive plan for enhancing campus sustainability, and will oversee and evaluate programs and policies that foster the development of an environmentally sustainable campus.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

One example in which the College is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work is through the work of the Pitzer Peer Health Educator Team (PHE).
The Team is composed of four Pitzer students that have been trained as Peer Educators through Health Education Outreach. This team works to address the health concerns of students by providing resources (sunscreen, condoms, etc), health education, and programming around various topics of interest. Some of the areas covered in Pitzer PHE programming thus far include sun safety, sexual health, nutrition, and spiritual health. In addition to continually increasing personal knowledge about health & wellness through workshops provided, the PHE’s also receive mentoring from Public Health graduate students. The overarching goal of this team is to provide opportunities for continued holistic wellness for all Pitzer College students.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Pitzer Board of Trustees recently adopted an Environment, Social, and Governance Policy which will evaluate our investments based on these values. The Trustee Investment Committee includes student members and is currently investing part of Pitzer's endowment in an environmental sleeve portfolio, which includes renewable resources and green energy projects. The College also divested from substantially all fossil fuel stocks at the end of 2014.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Pitzer students use the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement in a number of ways. Redford Conservancy Fellows have brought environmental leaders to campus to speak to the campus community, Pitzer in Ontario student interns have partnered with Huerta del Valle to facilitate the growth of a local, sustainable food system, and the Community Engagement Center supports students in forwarding social responsibility and community engagement in surrounding communities through research, service, advocacy, and action.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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