Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability at CMC

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Dear Friends:


CMC is dedicated to the health of our planet through both our leading academic programs and our campus-wide environmental stewardship and sustainability efforts. I write to ask you to join and contribute to the development and realization of these shared commitments.


Learning to sustain our environment

Our most powerful impact is educational. We contribute to the health of our planet through the preparation of our students and the research efforts of our faculty and students to tackle climate change and other critical environmental challenges of our time.


First, we advance these commitments through our signature curricular and co-curricular programs.


One of three grand challenges in the vision and planning for our new Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences is the health of our planet. The thematic focus of the department on planet entails three interconnected, socio-scientific concerns (climate, energy, and the environment). With a computational focus and integrated research and hands-on experience, students will study atmospheric processes and the chemical, physical, and biological aspects of climate change and the interactions of human activities and the natural and built environments. Students will also study the policy, economics, and ethics of climate change reduction efforts. The Kravis Department will collaborate with the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment at Harvey Mudd College on its new investments in climate change education.


This ambitious program builds on pre-existing research, curricular development, and project-based learning on the complexity of environmental challenges through our Roberts Environmental Center, EnviroLab, the Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP) major, the Environmental Analysis Program (EAP), and CMC’s student-centered Sustainability Fund Committee and Environmental Affairs Committee.


Specifically, our students learn from:

  • The Roberts Environmental Center studies a combination of scientific, economic, and political considerations in the analysis of environmental issues, and supports student employment, community education, internships, and a speaker series.
  • The Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP) major is designed to prepare students for careers, as well as graduate study, in a variety of environmental fields.
  • The Environmental Analysis Program (EAP) is designed to prepare students for careers in many environmental problem-solving fields, including law, policy, medicine, chemistry, conservation, global climate change, urban planning, and resource management.
  • CMC has served as the lead college for EnviroLab, an initiative at The Claremont Colleges funded by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) Program. This initiative is a laboratory for cross-disciplinary research and experiential learning that links knowledge with practice. Through an intellectual exchange between the humanities and social sciences, environmental analysis, and other disciplines, EnviroLab explores relevant topics and generates new scholarship about environmental issues in Asia. Our research involves communities and partner institutions in the U.S. and Asia.
  • The Sustainability Fund Committee (SFC), an independent body of students, staff, and faculty, awards grants to student campus sustainability projects in amounts up to $2,000 through a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The Fund is sponsored by the President’s Fund at the Roberts Environmental Center. These grants allow students to pursue innovative and entrepreneurial ventures at CMC that increase sustainability and environmental awareness and have the potential to yield positive returns on investment. The RFP process takes place at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. Projects address one or more of the following criteria:
    • Reducing the use of electricity, carbon-based emissions, and water;
    • Mitigating pre- and post- consumer food waste;
    • Facilitating positive effects on the financial stability of the College, particularly with an understanding of future implications of the project;
    • Integrating environmental, social, and economic concerns;
    • Promoting collaboration among a variety of stakeholders;
    • Improving the health of the natural environment with understanding of local and global ramifications of the project; or;
    • Educating the campus community.


On-campus environmental sustainability and stewardship

Our commitment to environmental stewardship is also reflexive. We have a stewardship responsibility to environmental sustainability in our campus, operations, and policy.


Climate Action Plan – A Path to Carbon Neutrality

First, the College is currently in the process of developing a new Climate Action Plan (the “Plan”). The Plan builds on prior commitments that were initiated with the College’s participation in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. Specifically, we are exploring whether we can develop effective ways to accelerate our current carbon neutrality goal of 2050 through the new Plan.


To guide us in this effort, we have hired a climate action planning firm to help us update our Plan and implement the most effective measures, including methods for accurate measurement of our carbon footprint. We will capture and build on the many measures we have already taken. 


In addition, we also intend to draw upon our students, faculty, and staff through the CMC ACTS Committee to support the development of a new Plan. The CMC ACTS Committee was established in spring 2020 to serve as an advisory group to the president’s executive cabinet on the College’s policies and practices related to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The committee’s name, CMC ACTS, serves as an acronym for its four areas of focus: Awareness, Commitment, Tracking, and Sustainability. ACTS expects to convene open meetings in order to engage the community in the current planning process. The focus ranges from large construction projects and campus operations to daily, personal behaviors that reduce energy use or other forms of consumption.


Campus Construction

The College maintains a baseline LEED Silver Policy (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). All new recent construction such as the Kravis Center and Roberts Pavilion have been LEED Gold. The Robert Day Sciences Center is also on track for LEED Gold.


Energy and Air Quality

With respect to energy use and air quality associated with campus operations, notable highlights include:

  • Currently, 35% of electricity used is from renewable energy sources. As part of the Climate Action Plan, we are also evaluating opportunities to integrate solar power generation into future projects, including the Robert Day Sciences Center and the Roberts Campus Sport Bowl, and to pursue other green power purchasing strategies.
  • The College maintains an Energy Star Procurement Policy for applicable appliances and equipment. 
  • CMC’s hospitality and housekeeping teams employ cleaning chemicals that are either EcoLogo or Green Seal-certified. 
  • We have also converted a large percentage of campus lighting to LED. 

The College also supports a variety of efforts related to transportation in support of both emissions reduction and air quality. Examples include the Rideshare Incentive Program, which encourages employees to use alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles in arriving to work. We have also installed six electric vehicle charging stations in three parking lots (Bauer, Kravis, and south of Roberts Pavilion). Finally, all carts operated by Facilities and Campus Services are electric.


Water – Conservation and Stormwater Management

Water use is an issue of particular importance to CMC given our local and regional drought conditions, compounded by the effects of climate change. The College’s 2012 Campus Master Plan identified a number of potential strategies related to water conservation and stormwater management, many of which have been implemented or integrated into campus operations. This includes the substantial re-landscaping of the main CMC campus with an overall effort to:

  • Reduce grass (or turf) areas with a focus on where grass provides an active component to the landscape – such as for student use.
    • Through this process we have also shifted approximately half of CMC’s playing and recreational fields to turf varieties that are less water intensive.
  • Transition or replace prior landscape to native or other climate adaptive and drought tolerant plantings.
  • Install new drip and evapotranspiration irrigation systems where appropriate to replace our less-efficient legacy sprinkler systems. As part of this effort, the CMC Grounds team has installed a new WeatherTrak system that continuously monitors our 500 schedules/stations on a daily basis and automatically adjusts the watering times according to evapotranspiration rates for each station.
  • Implement stormwater management systems designed to minimize or eliminate on-site stormwater runoff. These systems are generally designed to mitigate pollution risk and to allow for infiltration for groundwater recharge of the regional aquifer.

Looking forward, the Roberts Campus Sports Bowl offers a unique opportunity for Claremont McKenna College to revitalize its sports venues within context of a native, sustainable landscape that will utilize plants that are native to the adjacent San Antonio Wash and San Gabriel Mountains.


Looking forward, the Roberts Campus Sports Bowl offers a unique opportunity for Claremont McKenna College to revitalize its sports venues within a sustainable landscape that will predominantly utilize plants native to the adjacent San Antonio Wash and San Gabriel Mountains. 


Waste Reduction

The College also supports a variety of programs associated with waste reduction, including:

  • Pre-sorting paper and plastic items for recycling through the City of Claremont;
  • Composting all organic waste with the City of Claremont and donating all edible leftovers from the Athenaeum, the Hub, and Collins Dining Hall to a local food bank in Upland;
  • Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles; filling stations are located in the majority of residence halls, administration, and academic buildings on campus;
  • Providing reusable, to-go containers and the use of permanent dining ware and flatware at Collins;
  • Recycling our tree trimmings and leaves via our green waste program;
  • Campus cardboard recycling through an independent service provider; and
  • Coordinating campus capital project construction waste through the LEED process to support building certifications.



President Klawe of Harvey Mudd and I have also asked the investment committee (the Claremont Investment Management Company) that manages endowments for both CMC and Harvey Mudd, to find effective ways to put our endowment to work, consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities, and to accelerate investment in the transition to sustainable technologies, including low- and zero-carbon industries that reduce climate change and its current and future impacts.


We look forward to working with you on these important commitments and will keep you updated both through direct communications and a new website on the College’s sustainability programs.


Very best,