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Claremont's Sustainable Future, Part I

There is so much to report on sustainability I almost forgot to write this article. Claremont held it fourth Earth Day event on April 21. The city’s Sustainability Plan is to be revised this year and Claremont’s Sustainability Committee is getting ready for that. Water rates are skyrocketing; “Claremont Outrage” formed in protest. The City Council voted unanimously to consider taking over our water system and funded a study to be finished soon, with a decision likely in the next few months. The Colleges funded a plan for water reclamation to irrigate the campuses using a plant that would reduce the amount of water Claremont needs to import by about 10%. Uncommon Good is constructing a unique “ultra-green” superadobe building and promoting urban agriculture. The Colleges are implementing and updating sustainability plans. And there’s more.

In October 2008, Claremont adopted a Sustainable City Plan that sets goals for “the ability of the City and residents of Claremont to meet the needs of the present economy, society and the environment while preserving the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” A task force adopted over 80 goals in seven areas: Resource Conservation, Environment and Public Health, Transportation, Sustainable Built Environment, Open Space and Land Use, Housing & Economic Sustainability, and Outreach, Education and Implementation. Targets include decreasing electrical energy consumption 20% below 2003 levels by 2015, and water consumption 20% by this year and 40% by 2017; diverting 70% of solid waste from landfills by 2015. There has been remarkable progress in some areas, less in others. The Colleges and other have their own individual plans and targets. This time it might make good sense to work together on a community-wide plan. Sustainable Claremont hopes to facilitate such a project.

Sustainable Claremont was incorporated as a non-profit organization three years ago this month “to engage people in education and action toward a more sustainable community --- environmentally, economically and socially --- in Claremont and beyond”. During these three years much has happened. For example, the Schools Action Group drafted a resolution that was adopted by the board. It called for substantial educational programs on sustainability. The Schools Action Group has also been an effective advocate for vegetable gardens at Claremont schools, both to improve school lunches and for the educational value. The Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project (CHERP) created a highly successful program of energy conservation in homes as part of a nationwide program. The Water Action Group initiated the water reclamation effort at the Colleges. The Social Action Group published a walking guide to Claremont that is widely used. The COURIER has published these Demystifying Sustainability articles since January 2010, and Pomona College has co-sponsored Sustainability Dialogs since November 2009. If you might be interested in what we are doing, we would welcome your participation. This year Sustainable Claremont will be the community organization honored at Claremont’s Independence Day celebration.

The next Sustainability Dialog will be on May 7, 7:00 p.m., in the Hahn Building, 420 N Harvard Avenue. Dr. Richard Haskell, Professor of Physics at HMC, will speak about Toward Freedom From Imported Water as he leads a brief virtual tour of the water reclamation system proposed for the Claremont Colleges and a sneak peek into the water future of the community of Claremont.

By Freeman Allen
Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (