Sustainability Initiatives

Harvey Mudd College is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. Over the last 13 years, we have made several changes and completed many projects to stay true to our commitment. Compared to the 2006–2007 baseline year, the College is now consuming an average of 20% less water, equal to 9.8 million gallons of water. Additionally, the College has reduced water usage year over year by an average of 2% over the last 13 years. The electricity used on campus is also trending in the same direction. From the 2014–2015 baseline year, our electrical consumption is now 14% lower, equal to 1.5 million kWh in savings. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 185 homes’ electricity use for one year. Over the last 4 years, we have reduced electrical consumption by an average of 4.5% year over year. We are proud of our accomplishments in water and electricity consumption given they have occurred while our campus has added significant new facilities.  New facilities include the Hoch Shanahan Dining Commons in 2005, The R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning in 2013 and the Wayne and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall in 2016. Despite the accomplishments to date, Harvey Mudd College keeps sustainability as a top priority with every new construction project and renovation and aims to reduce our operating carbon footprint.


Academic Curriculum

Over the past few years, HMC has been ramping up the role of environmental issues in the curriculum, both through new hires (e.g., Professor Lelia Hawkins, on the atmospheric chemistry of pollution) and through faculty who are discovering and renewing environmental interests. For example, Professor Richard Haskell in the Department of Physics has worked with many students over the past several summers to explore initiatives ranging from greywater irrigation to solar energy. Professor Hal Van Ryswyk in the Department of Chemistry is working with students on dye-sensitized solar cells, while Peter Saeta in Physics is exploring particulate air pollution. Professor Gary Evans, an expert in finance, has launched a first-year course in the economics of alternative energy. Engineering faculty have featured courses in water management and transportation planning. Our Department of Biology has longstanding offerings in ecology and conservation biology. Professor Paul Steinberg, Malcolm Lewis Chair in Sustainability and Society and Professor of Political Science & Environmental Policy, teaches environmental policy courses in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts.

In 2012, the HMC faculty approved a new emphasis in Environmental Analysis at the college. This emphasis is a path to recognize and offer greater advising guidance to those students who take six or more courses on environmental topics during their time at HMC. At the 5C level, the Claremont Colleges launched a new joint Environmental Analysis major several years ago, and Harvey Mudd faculty regularly participate in consortium-wide initiatives. We started a rotating research seminar in 2004 that brought together 5C faculty and catalyzed these collaborations.

The Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment

The Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment at Harvey Mudd College was created in 2015 to initiate, support and coordinate college-wide programs and activities related to sustainability research, teaching and practice.

Council of Presidents of The Claremont Colleges Sustainability Initiative

In 2007, the Council of Presidents of The Claremont Colleges established a sustainability initiative, providing funds to faculty, student and staff research teams to develop and implement new approaches for advancing the environmental sustainability of the Claremont campuses. To kick off the project, a team of 15 students and a handful of faculty performed a first-pass sustainability audit of the Claremont campuses. The team documented the historical usage of key resources and utilities in order to establish baselines against which to compare future usage and identified targets for conservation programs. The team also studied emissions, waste disposal and recycling programs to assess the feasibility of achieving carbon neutrality within the next two decades.

Clinic Project Sponsored to Evaluate HMC’s Sustainability

During the 2007–2008 academic year, the HMC Board of Trustees Physical Plant and Campus Planning Committee sponsored a Clinic team to evaluate recommendations for improving sustainability at HMC. The team compiled a comprehensive list of recommendations, prioritized according to metrics they had developed. Three projects the group considered particularly beneficial across all areas of sustainability included: electricity metering, a significant step towards carbon neutrality; replacing grassy areas around campus with native plants to save water and lining HMC’s Linde Field with synthetic turf, which would also significantly reduce water consumption. The electric metering upgrades are a work in progress with 75% completion across campus. Facilities and Maintenance has replaced certain areas across campus with native drought tolerant plants significantly reducing our water consumption. The lining of Linde Field with synthetic turf was evaluated but determined to be cost prohibitive.

Student Club Committed to Green Practices

ESW/MOSS (Engineers for a Sustainable World and Mudders Organizing for Sustainability Solutions) is an HMC student club devoted to promoting sustainable practices and environmental awareness both on-campus and in other parts of the world.

General Campus

College Commits to Sustainability

In February 2008, HMC President Maria Klawe signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Sustainability Committee and Policy Statement Established

In February 2008, the HMC Board of Trustees appointed a Sustainability Committee composed of representatives of all stakeholder groups in the college to develop priorities and implement decisions regarding the college’s sustainability program.

“Green” Dining at Its Finest

Since 2006, HMC’s Dining Services has worked to ensure that the college’s dessert plates and to-go boxes, eating utensils, cups and lids are all made of biodegradable materials. Years ago, we implemented the practice of tray- minimization dining.

Sustainable Produce On the Menu

HMC’s dining hall offers The Claremont Colleges community sustainable produce, which is grown in a system that emphasizes protecting and enhancing natural resources, using alternatives to pesticides, and caring for the health and well-being of farm workers and rural communities.

Recycling Taking Place Throughout Campus

In addition to trash receptacles, recyclable waste receptacles are offered throughout campus. We also have a cardboard bailer and trash compactor on campus that are used for recycling and more efficient disposal of trash.

Recycled Paper Products Used Throughout HMC

The Office Facilities and Maintenance stocks as many of HMC’s restrooms, labs and kitchen areas as possible with recycled paper products.


Public transportation is greatly encouraged as Harvey Mudd College has conducted a rideshare program for several years. The program offers incentives to encourage faculty, staff and students to carpool and use public and alternative forms of transportation whenever possible. The College also has electric-vehicle charging stations available in the northwest parking lot on campus (north of Parsons, west of the Shanahan Center). As part of installing a solar carport project, we are also in the process of expanding the number of electric-vehicle charging stations.

Reuse of Packing and Shipping Materials Practiced

HMC’s mail room provides bins for students to store reusable packing and shipping materials such as cardboard boxes, packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

Facilities and Maintenance Office

Taking the LEED

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system is designed to encourage sustainable construction and operational practices among builders and building owners/operators. Projects can earn up to 100 points and certification levels are: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. In 2008, HMC set out to establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent status.  Below is a list of buildings at HMC with LEED certification.

LEED Gold Certified Buildings

The R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning 2013

The building was designed to support the college’s unique blend of collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. With features such as a living roof, water-efficient plumbing and landscaping, and innovative bubble decking.

LEED Silver Certified Buildings

The Wayne and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall 2016

In keeping with the College’s strategic vision to embrace sustainability, Drinkward Residence Hall was recognized for stormwater collection and recharging of ground water; 50 percent reduction in landscape water use; 48 percent reduction in building water use; optimizing building energy performance by 30 percent; power generation from green power through the use of credits and offsets; recycling 75 percent of construction waste, and building-wide use of low-emitting materials.

Hoch Shanahan Dining Commons 2005

Constructed in 2005, the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons was the second building on campus to earn a LEED Silver rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, making HMC the only college or university in California at the time with two LEED-certified buildings. The 28,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art dining hall was named for HMC Trustee R. Michael “Mike” Shanahan and his wife Mary, and trustee Richmond J. Hoch ‘63 and his wife Diane.

Frederick and Susan Sontag Residence Hall 2004

Made possible through a gift from alumnus and former trustee Frederick Sontag ’64 and his wife, Susan, the Frederick and Susan Sontag Residence Hall opened in the fall of 2004. Sontag Hall was the eighth LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified residence hall in the country and the first in California.

LEED Silver-Equivalent Buildings

Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center 2021

Following the College’s 2008 policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent status, the McGregor Computer Science Center, completed in 2021, features include a cool roof, shaded outdoor spaces, native and adaptive vegetation, natural lighting, bioswales and infiltration systems (storage for 50-year event). The offices with operable windows are interlocked with the HVAC system and shut the air conditioning off in lieu of fresh air. The HVAC system itself is efficient with the latest variable refrigerant flow system that allows for efficient heating and cooling of zones simultaneously for optimum occupant comfort. On Campus photovoltaic system meet 100% of the building’s energy needs. In addition to these attributes, the McGregor Center is designed strategically to invigorate interdisciplinary collaboration.

Solar Carport

In September 2019, the PPCPC (Physical Plant & Campus Planning Committee) recommended, and the board approved, the College entering into a power purchase agreement to construct a photovoltaic carport in the parking lot area on the north end of campus near Foothill Boulevard. The solar carport supplies approx. 15% of the College’s power needs. It began supplying power on June 1, 2021.

EV Charging Stations

With assistance from a donation from Thomas H. Bleakney ’69, and Marcus L. Witte P’18 P’21, the College added electric-vehicle charging stations for use by HMC constituents in the northwest parking lot on campus (north of Parsons, west of the Shanahan Center). The Harvey Mudd College EV charging stations are a dual port ChargePoint system that can charge two vehicles simultaneously per station. The station rates are currently $.17/kWh for Harvey Mudd College constituents. The College added charging stations as part of the installation of the Solar Carport project in 2021.

Ceramic Window Film

Installed ceramic window film to Platt Campus Center windows in summer 2021.  The film creates a thermal reflective layer that reduces heat transfer to interior spaces, thus reducing cooling costs.

Jacobs/Keck Smart Labs

In 2018, completed an enhancement to the Jacobs/Keck Building with an upgraded airflow control system to reduce the overall number of air changes per hour in the chemistry teaching labs.

This projected resulted in saving heating and cooling energy by an estimated 72%.

HVAC Equipment Upgrades

  • Replaced 3 chillers in the Central Plant (2 chillers in 2012 and 1 chiller in 2019) with new chillers operating with magnetic levitating compressors. These compressors can stage up and down curtailing their energy usage when cooling is not needed.
  • Installed high efficiency boilers for both heating hot water and domestic hot water systems (2014–2015).
  • Eliminated the end of life chiller and connected the Kingston chilled water piping to the existing Central Plant chillers in the Libra basement (2013). This reduced the energy consumption by eliminating equipment and relying on existing more up to date equipment.


  • In 2017, completed a campus-wide lighting retrofit project which included replacing existing lamps and/or fixtures with energy-saving LED lighting.
  • Occupancy sensors are installed in Shanahan, Libra Complex, and many campus offices to turn the lights off when the rooms are not occupied.


  • Completed installation of cool roofs for Jacobs-–Keck (2017), Kingston Hall (2018), Parsons Engineering Building (2018) and the Linde Activity Center (2019).
  • Cool roofs are designed to be solar reflective and thus absorb less heat than a traditional roof. This results in reduced air conditioning costs for these buildings during peak summer times.

Appliances and Electronics

  • In February 2008, the HMC Board of Trustees passed a resolution that calls for premium-rated or ENERGY STAR-certified products to be purchased for use on campus wherever possible.
  • Since 2005, HMC’s facilities and maintenance office has coordinated an e-waste recycling pick-up program on campus at least two times each year.

Campus Recycling and Composting

  • Starting with Case Dorm in 2006, and every dorm renovation since, HMC has recycled its used dormitory furniture.
  • Students in most of HMC’s dormitories recycle their own bottles, cans and plastics, and transport the items to a recycling center, keeping the funds for the dorm. Each residence hall has a large recycling container the college has provided for this purpose.
  • Our recycling program also includes trash compaction and cardboard baling for greater efficiencies.
  • Added barrels for trash, recycling and composting across the campus and are composting food waste from Hoch Shanahan Dining Commons.


Regular Maintenance Equals Healthy Trees

As a part of a tree maintenance program, HMC’s facilities and maintenance office makes sure that trees throughout the campus are regularly groomed and trimmed for their good health and well-being.

Native Plants and Watering

  • Strategically relocated sprinkler heads to gain better coverage and replaced sprinkler heads where applicable with a more efficient variety.
  • Installed a drip irrigation system which uses significantly less water than the previously installed spray irrigation system. We are also consistently monitoring sprinkler heads and installing newer, more efficient sprinkler heads when available.
  • Installed a weather station that we use in conjunction with our smart watering system to detect moisture in the ground and adjust the watering times accordingly.
  • We have also worked to replace non-indigenous plants and trees with native drought tolerant landscaping throughout campus.
  • HMC’s grounds department also sends our green waste to the City of Claremont for recycling.
  • Most recently, the turf south of East and West dorms was removed and the area was replanted with native plants that require little water. Additionally, stone, decomposed granite, and decorative rocks add non-water consuming aesthetics in addition to allowing greater infiltration of rainfall into the water table.

Upcoming Projects

  • This summer 2022 we will be renovating all restrooms in Atwood, East, and North Residence halls and replacing toilets with new high efficiency dual flush toilets to conserve water.