Harvey Mudd College Biennial Conference for Sustainable Design and Solutions

The Biennial Conference for Sustainable Design and Solutions is one of Harvey Mudd College’s staple sustainability events. Organized and hosted every two years by the Hixon Center, the conference welcomes students, faculty and staff from across the Claremont Colleges, as well as sustainability professionals and government officials from around the state of California and the country, to attend, present, and lead workshops at the conference.

2018 Sustainable Design and Solutions Conference – Thank you for attending!

The 2nd Biennial Conference for Sustainable Design and Solutions took place on Friday, October 5, 2018. Most sessions were held in the R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching & Learning and in the Platt Campus Center. The conference was a successful zero-waste-to-landfill event. We thank everyone for attending, and look forward to seeing you again in 2020!

About the Conference

The first Sustainable Design and Solutions Conference was held on October 8, 2016. The conference, held every two years, intends to raise academic and personal awareness regarding environmental sustainability issues on local, regional and global scales. More specifically, the conference is centered on design – focusing on methods and processes we apply to create sustainable solutions. We must train individuals to carry a multidisciplinary knowledge of environmental issues, and to apply a transdisciplinary approach to finding and implementing sustainable designs and solutions. This requires us to embrace the fluid, creative and sometimes nebulous processes inherent in addressing environmental problems.

In other words, how we achieve sustainable solutions is just as important as the solutions themselves.

To learn more about the conference, please visit the official conference website.

Note: Accessible online versions of the 2018 and 2016 conference programs are available below.

2018 Conference Program

Morning Lectures

  • Environmental Policy and Sustainability: An Environmental History
    Teresa Spezio, Visiting Assistant Professor, Pitzer College

    ​In this presentation, Professor Spezio will discuss how an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 gave environmental decision makers the ability to develop a proactive approach to comprehensive federal environmental policy. Exploring the interconnections between the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA) and the spill, she will show how NEPA became one of the foundational documents for 21st century sustainability and resilience programs.

  • Locally Grown Power: The First Non-Profit Solar Panel Assembly Factory in the World
    Richard Haskell, Professor Emeritus, Harvey Mudd College; Peter Saeta, Professor, Harvey Mudd College; and Devon Hartman, CHERP, Inc.

    Locally Grown Power (LGP) is a program of CHERP (Community Home Energy Retrofit Program) that aims to create an assembly plant for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in Pomona, California, that is designed to be replicable in cities across the state. The primary mission of this non-profit, social enterprise is to install solar systems on the roofs of low-to-middle income families who are currently being left out of the ongoing energy revolution. Over 200 local workers will be trained to assemble, test, and install solar PV systems that incorporate newly patented technology.

    The LGP program will be described in detail followed by Q&A and invitations to the audience to become involved. (45 minutes) A review of the patented idealPV panel-controlling strategy and electronics will follow with its own Q&A session. (30 minutes)

Keynote Speaker

Councilmember Joseph Lyons, City of Claremont

Councilmember Joe Lyons is serving his second term on the Claremont City Council (March 2015 – November 2018). Joe was born in Fresno, and raised in the suburbs of Boston until his mid-teens when the family moved to San Diego. Upon graduation from high school, Joe went on to earn Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees in Microbiology from San Diego State University, and later earned a Ph.D. in Immunogenetics from Vrije Universiteit Medical School in Amsterdam. He began his career in medical research at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine (1972-1983), and recently retired from the position he helped create in the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at the City of Hope National Medical Center (1983-2009). Joe has been a Claremont resident since 2002 and lives in a committed relationship with his beloved life partner, Sharyn Webb—between them they have nine grandchildren.

The proud father of four sons, Joe was actively involved at all levels of the youth sports and other organized activities in which his boys participated. He was founding president of the San Dimas High School Academic Boosters Club, and was a community member on a number of school advisory boards, including the WASC Accreditation Committee. More recently, Joe served on the Boards of the Pomona Valley Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Inland Valley Chapter of Death Penalty Focus, and was a delegate to the Tri-City Mental Health Center’s Mental Health Services Act Planning Process. Joe currently Chairs the Board of the Inland Valley Recovery Services.

Councilmember Lyons serves as the City Council representative to the Pomona Valley Transit Authority, Six Basins Water Master Board, Three Valleys Water Board, and the Tri-City Mental Health Governing Board. He also serves as an alternate for the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments JPA Governing Board.

Sustainable Transportation and Infrastructure Panel

In this panel, we hope to discuss contemporary challenges with advancing sustainability in the transportation sector as well as in greater urban infrastructure. These include but are not limited to challenges of establishing a smarter grid, improving how we build city spaces and structures, how people navigate through those spaces and live in them, and more. The panel will take on a moderated and audience driven Q&A structure for the first hour, and will conclude with 30-minute breakout sessions with our panelists. Audience members will have the opportunity to help our panelists tackle a problem or question they’ve brought with them.

Sabrina Bornstein (Deputy Chief Resilience Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti)

Sabrina Bornstein is the Deputy Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Los Angeles. Sabrina works with stakeholders to build the city’s climate, economic, disaster, and seismic resilience and helped develop the recently released Resilient Los Angeles strategy. She first became involved in the city’s resilience efforts while on Mayor Garcetti’s Infrastructure team, working on policy related to the Department of Water and Power. Previously, Sabrina worked on climate and energy action planning in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County and on recycling policy with LAANE. Sabrina holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Professor Julie Medero (Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Harvey Mudd College)

Julie Medero is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science. She also serves as an appointed member of the City of Claremont’s Traffic and Transportation Commission. Dr. Medero’s research group partners extensively with local non-profits on projects related to complete streets and sustainability.

Professor Paul Steinberg (Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy and Malcolm Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society, Harvey Mudd College)

Paul Steinberg is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy at Harvey Mudd College. He has spent the past 20 years studying biodiversity conservation and the human dimensions of global environmental problems. He is the author of three books: Who Rules the Earth? (Oxford University Press), Comparative Environmental Politics (MIT Press), and Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries (MIT Press), which won the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental affairs. He is the director of the Social Rules Project, a multi-media initiative designed to raise public awareness about the importance of changing policies and other binding rules to promote sustainability.


Single Workshop Track

  • Human-Centered Design for Sustainability, Shannon Randolph (The Hive)
    Learn human-centered design (HCD) tools to design locally suited interventions to persistent sustainability challenges. HCD can be used to reframe issues from the perspective of natural resource or energy users, and then to design interventions that meet their needs as they relate to sustainability issue. This tool can equally be applied to climate change, wildlife trade, government capacity building or any environmental problem. There are three main phases to the HCD process: (1) empathetic research and reframing of problem space from extreme users’ perspectives, (2) rapid prototyping and testing of solutions, and (3) iteration to design salient solutions based on user feedback. You will be provided with brief examples from international conservation work and will engage in a rapid experiential workshop on the human-centered design process.
  • Sustainable Benefits of Drones, Warren Roberts (Claremont Colleges Library)
    There are many benefits that drones have brought to the field of environment and sustainability. Learn the benefits of how UAV technology is applied from capturing imagery of large tracts of land to determining health of crops or perform runoff analysis to generating surfaces to quickly determine areas, slopes and aspects. We’ll cover the workflow in collecting imagery and surfaces from flight planning, accuracy, risk assessment & Data capture (sUAV) to data processing into GIS.

Duo Workshop Track

  • Composting 101, Peter Staub (Pomona College Farm Manager)
    Come join the farm manager from the Pomona College Organic Farm to learn the basics of composting. This will include a brief lecture on how composting actually works, stages of the process, and different methods of composting. Primarily, though the workshop will be a hands-on exercise in how to build and subsequently turn a compost pile. No previous experience or equipment required, just be ready to get a little dirty (and maybe a bit smelly)!
  • ​Searching for a Green Career, Brad Tharpe (Pitzer College) and Paul Hardister (Harvey Mudd College)
    Come learn a strategy for looking for jobs and internships, including resources specific to “green careers.” You will have the opportunity to create individualized action steps that you can take to explore or plan for a career in green or environmental fields!

Poster Session Descriptions

  • CapSol: Off-Grid Lighting Solution for Rural Haiti
    Tejus Rao, student, Harvey Mudd College

    For the past couple summers and during the 2017-2019 school year, students working for Professor Yang have been developing low-cost solar-powered lighting for a rural Haitian village. Prof. Yang has a contact at UCI who has been working with this village for several years and has made a well and a school, among other things, there. He requested that we design a cheap, efficient, and robust solar-powered light that students and their families could use. One of the designs that was created at the end of last summer, which has since been improved and re-designed, employs a donated pill-bottle as the main housing for the electronics of the light. The design has been optimize to reduce cost and make the light easy to assemble by anyone regardless of skill level, including children and the villagers themselves. This design, though there have been a couple others with modifications to electronics, structure, and software, will serve as an educational tool for youth in the community, a job opportunity for rural workers in hopefully many places in Haiti, and a well-designed solar-powered lights that will hopefully brighten the students’ lives.

  • NGO Corporate Partnerships
    Rebecca Chung, REC Team Manager, Claremont McKenna College

    Our presentation will examine the rationales and opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships between from corporations, environmental NGOs, and government. Recognizing that alternatives to partnerships exist, the poster will explain the considerations that should guide whether a corporation or NGO should seek partnerships, what exchanges between corporations and NGOs could be mutually beneficial, what roles government agencies could play in fostering constructive partnerships, what the risks are in pursuing and undertaking partnerships, and how the arrangements can maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.

  • Intelligent Air Quality Sampling via Mobile Sensor Networks
    Jacob Donenfeld, student, Harvey Mudd College

    We optimized both Route planning and Surface mapping algorithms through a combination of modeling and field studies. The long term objective is to use the results of this work to create a network of autonomous vehicles for real time pollution monitoring throughout the Los Angeles megacity in order improve the spatial and temporal resolution of air quality measurements and to improve air quality predictions.

  • A Novel Design for an Energy-Harvesting Fish Tracking System
    Christopher Ferrarin, student, Harvey Mudd College & Richard Zhang, student, Harvey Mudd College

    Existing technology for observing and tracking aquatic species is presently limited by the size, longevity, and complexity of active underwater tracking tags. This work describes a method of bypassing these limitations by establishing an acoustic communication link between an array of transducers on a boat at the surface of the ocean and a passive energy-harvesting tag underwater. Previous research on this system is expanded to establish an underwater acoustic power link between a transmitting piezoelectric tube on the boat end and a receiving resonant voltage booster on the fish end. Improved boat-end power amplification and fish side receive circuitry enable a consistent power link between the boat-side and the fish-side, and power down to the fish side has been characterized for a maximum of 4.5 micro-watts at a distance of 0.5 meters.

  • Octocoral Species Identification and Distribution in the Gulf of Mexico
    Katie Erickson, student, Harvey Mudd College

    Deep water corals were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico; however, the limited knowledge on these corals and their ecology made it difficult to assess their condition after the spill. To be better equipped to understand and respond to the impact that future environmental disasters may have on these deep sea coral populations, researchers are assessing the connectivity of octocoral populations in the northern Gulf of Mexico. An important step in this process is obtaining accurate species identification for the coral samples used in the study. Using DNA barcoding of mitochondrial genes for the octocorals Paramuricea biscaya and Callogorgia delta, we were able to confirm the in situ identification of these coral samples, or identify samples as cryptic species. We determined the number of haplotypes for each species across their collection sites, and contributed vital information to an ongoing study of octocoral connectivity.

  • Micro-Grid Systems to Provide Electricity and Clean Water to Rural India
    William Cullen, REC Student Manager, Claremont McKenna College; Sustainable Development Policy and Finance Team, Roberts Environmental Center, Claremont McKenna College

    India faces a unique triple challenge: meeting growing per capita energy demand, cutting pollution, and expanding energy access to rural areas. Decentralized renewable energy technology, where solar energy is connected to a small micro-grid system, can provide clean, affordable, and accessible energy and has the potential to empower communities, reduce pollution, and provide sustainable sources of income, especially women, in these rural areas. One model in particular, created and operated by a social enterprise in Delhi, India called Grassroots and Rural Innovative Development (G.R.I.D.) uses decentralized renewable energy technology to create solar-based employment opportunities for women in rural areas. Projects include solar-based Reverse Osmosis/ Ultraviolet water purification plants and micro-grids for rural electrification. Our poster will demonstrate the technical components as well as the socio-economic and environmental benefits.

  • Travel, Research, and Engagement: The UCI Costa Rica Program in Global Sustainability and Cultural Immersion
    Rachel Harvey, Sustainability Program Manager, Student Housing, University of California, Irvine
    Kabria Allen-Ziaee, Residence Life Coordinator, Student Housing, University of California, Irvine
    Aryan Ghanadan, student, University of California, Irvine

    Now in its 8th year, the UCI Costa Rica Program is an alternative break program and academic experience sponsored by Student Housing, Student Affairs, and the Division of Undergraduate Education. The program allows 16 undergraduates of all academic levels and backgrounds to experience a global sustainability and cultural immersion program designed to foster cultural competence and global leadership. The participants serve as diplomatic ambassadors as they immerse themselves in the community and culture of Costa Rica. The 10 day trip is bookended by a Winter and Spring Course in partnership with the Minor in Civic and Community Engagement. Students are divided into 5 Subject Area Teams: Agroforestry and Tropical Ecology; Conservation and Policy; Ecotourism; Education; and Health and complete preliminary research in preparation for in-country interviews and field study. Students complete 100 hours of civic engagement in-country and at UCI through service-learning and outreach. Program alumni serve as leaders for sustainability and climate resilience on campus and beyond.

  • Green Building and Visible Sustainability in Student Housing: The Mesa Towers Project
    Melissa Falkenstein, Director of Capital Projects and Asset Management, Student Housing, University of California, Irvine​
    Rachel Harvey, Sustainability Program Manager, Student Housing, University of California, Irvine

    UCI Student Housing opened the Towers addition in Mesa Court in 2016 to meet the growing demand to house first-year students. At Mesa Towers, purposeful planning to instill a sense of place and community is paired with the latest technologies for energy efficiency, water conservation, and zero waste. Mesa Court Towers were designed to create a first-in-class experience in a residential ‘living-learning community,’ blending together student life and co-curricular learning to provide a safe and fulfilling campus living environment. A number of building elements support energy efficiency, with the building rating 53% more efficient than required by California’s building code. The project includes a certified Zero Waste dining commons. The Mesa Court Towers earned a 2017 Best Practice Award winner for Overall Sustainable Design by the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference and are selected as the 2017 Project of the Year by The Design-Build Institute of America.

2016 Conference Program

Keynote Speaker

Amanda Sabicer, Vice President of Development, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) – “Building a Sustainable Innovation Economy”

A native New Yorker, Amanda devoted her early career to helping low-income New Yorkers overcome barriers to employment and obtain living-wage jobs through workforce development. Amanda then worked for Amgen’s Oncology Sales and Marketing department, where she sold six oncology products to community oncology clinics and hospitals, managed over $10 million in revenue and was named Rookie of the Year for the Western Region.

Today, as vice president of development at LACI, Amanda has returned to the nonprofit sector where she can combine her passions for economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work focuses on forging strategic partnerships and creating new programs in collaboration with regional stakeholders to help accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies. Most recently, Amanda secured a $5 million California Energy Commission grant for LACI and its partners to provide and coordinate key services, assistance, resources and infrastructure needed by entrepreneurs and researchers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties to successfully bring to market new energy innovations.

Amanda is the current board chair of the Los Angeles chapter of Social Venture Partners International, a venture philanthropy organization that works to increase philanthropy and build capacity among nonprofits. Amanda graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Pomona College and received her MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Morning Presentation Descriptions

  • Empowering Undergraduates for Sustainability Research and Education in Chemistry
    David A. Vosburg, associate professor | Department of Chemistry, Harvey Mudd CollegeVosburg will describe projects that engage undergraduates with sustainability concepts in the classroom, the teaching laboratory and the research laboratory. Examples include comparisons of the greenness of industrial or academic syntheses of pharmaceutical drugs, several new laboratory experiments and biomimetic syntheses of medicinal natural products. Both published and unpublished work will be presented.
  • POCACITO– Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow: Innovation Councils for Participatory Sustainability
    Max Gruenig, senior fellow | Ecologic Institute, Washington, D.C.Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow creates local Innovation Councils in six U.S. cities (Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis and Minneapolis) in order to develop post-carbon visions and solutions in a participatory exchange with sustainability leaders from European cities.

    In each U.S. city, world cafe-style workshops unite diverse participants, including city officials, urban planners, researchers, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and citizens, maximizing learning and implementation potential. The POCACITO approach is open-ended and fluid. It does not prescribe specific outcomes. Thus, the results are highly localized and situation-specific. Surprisingly, the outcomes of the Innovation Councils are comparable and allow conversation and discussion between the different U.S. cities along the major topical axes of building sustainable communities, sustainable water management, and sustainable mobility and accessibility.

    ​The insider-outsider perspective and co-creation approach in POCACITO has proven its ability to advance the sustainability discussion at the local level and beyond.

  • Environmental Justice and Water Policy During a Drought Event: Community Fragility and Cutback Assignments
    Heather Campbell, Trish Miller and Kristoffer Wikstrom | Claremont Graduate University; University of MontanaIn an effort to curb water use in drought-stricken California, the state recently implemented reduction measures whereby each water district is required to reduce water consumption. While there is no doubt that Californians must limit their water use, questions remain regarding the fairness of the mandated cutback assignments. De jure, water districts that previously consumed larger quantities of water are required to reduce consumption by a larger assigned percentage than communities that originally consumed less water. But do these cutback assignments disproportionately affect fragile communities or racial and ethnic minorities? Using GIS matching techniques and regression analysis, we analyze the amount of water each district is allowed to use (after mandated reduction) and variables found in the CalEnviroScreen 2.0—an index of community fragility—to see if these water reductions are prone to the same environmental injustice issues that have been seen in other research.
  • Route 66 Pathways Project
    John N. Bohn (AIA, LEED AP) and Benjamin Hackenberger | Southern California Institute of Architecture and Pomona CollegeOver the first half of the second millennium, Japanese artisans used Emaki scrolls to document important events that unfold across multiple and technically complex spaces in a single continuous drawing. In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the completion of Route 66, The Pathway Project is an Emaki-inspired live drawing of this “great American pathway”—a uniquely American blend of myth and reality that underpins the development of the American West. As an experiment in visual environmental and cultural representation, the Project aims to unfurl across 78 9-foot panels focusing on architecture, human occupation, parkland, cities, suburban landscape, history and hardscape of the past and present, adapting and developing emerging technologies of architectural representation along the way. The story of this tool for working with cultural space reveals potential problems and solutions for the design of the built environment.
  • LADI and the Trawl: A Low-cost, DIY Surface Trawl for Marine Microplastics Monitoring and the Promotion of Citizen Science
    Coco Coyle ’17 (engineering) | Harvey Mudd College and Civic Lab for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), Memorial University of Newfoundland, CanadaMore than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic clutter the ocean surface, and over 92 percent of these are smaller than a grain of rice. These microplastics absorb toxic chemicals, are consumed by small and large animals, and are wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. Monitoring marine plastics is the first step in developing effective solutions: clean-up technologies cannot compete with the scale of the problem, and current monitoring tools are expensive and limited to experts.

    In the summer of 2016, Coyle led the design, implementation and validation of a surface trawl to be used for marine plastics monitoring. This trawl, the Low-tech Aquatic Debris Instrument (LADI), intends to promote collaboration between experts and citizens in the effort to understand of microplastic contamination, by being exceptionally accessible, sharable and easy to construct. This presentation discusses the project as an example of building equity, justice and citizen science into your scientific process.

  • Brewing a Successful Sustainability Program
    Danny Kahn, technical director | Sierra Nevada Brewing CompanyAt Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., sustainability is part of the DNA. Since 1980, the company has demonstrated, through creativity and innovation, that a business can succeed and grow while operating responsibly and with sustainability as a core value. Sierra Nevada has been an early adopter of clean and renewable energy technologies by investing in 2,000+ kW of solar power; capturing biogas from wastewater to produce electricity and steam; diverting 99.8 percent of its solid waste from landfill through creative recycling and composting initiatives; investing in and encouraging alternative transportation; and achieving LEED Platinum certification with best-in-class sustainable design and construction for its new brewery in North Carolina, the first American production brewery to do so. This presentation highlights the successes and lessons learned in building a nationally recognized sustainability program, how LEED Platinum certification was achieved and how Sierra Nevada is helping to bring other businesses along on this sustainability journey.

Urban Design Panel

Neil Fromer (Executive Director, Resnick Sustainability Institute, California Institute of Technology)

Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, Caltech’s endowed center for energy and sustainability research, where he works with researchers across campus and around the world to develop new ideas and technologies related to a sustainable future and to translate those technologies quickly from the lab to the marketplace. Fromer’s scientific background is in the interactions of light and matter, and he has primarily focused on the development of new solar energy technologies. He has also been involved in research on energy storage, clean fuel generation and use, smarter energy and water distribution systems, and energy efficiency. His current work is developing quantitative methods for measuring the system efficiency of urban infrastructure to optimize the sustainable use of natural resources and designing adaptive systems that allow new efficiency technologies to be incorporated rapidly at multiple scales.

Fromer received a PhD in physics from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in engineering and physics from Brown University. He has 20 years of experience at the forefront of energy and sustainability technology development. Prior to his arrival at the Resnick Institute, he was the director of advanced projects and the director of reliability and testing for Soliant Energy, a concentrating photovoltaic company. Previously, Fromer worked to develop other new types of solar cells and on the commercialization of energy-efficient LED lighting.

Raj P. Gupta (Chief Executive Officer, Environmental Systems Designs, Inc.)

As CEO, Gupta oversees the strategic direction of ESD (Environmental Systems Design, Inc.), a global consulting-engineering firm founded in 1967. Gupta joined ESD in 1984 after earning a master of science in communication from Northwestern University, which followed a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. in management engineering from Claremont McKenna College. He is a registered professional engineer in 33 states and a LEED accredited professional. Gupta is a member of the board of directors of The Adler Planetarium, The Advocate Charitable Foundation and the Roberts Environmental Center at Claremont McKenna College. He is also a member of World Presidents’ Organization, The Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Devon Hartman (Executive Director, Community Home Energy Retrofit Project, Inc.)

Hartman, recipient of the 2015 Linda Wigington Visionary Leadership Award, focuses his 35 years of experience in architecture, construction and business organization on the fields of strategic business consulting, community organizing and energy efficiency education. He is an expert in strategic business systems development, organization management and sustainability consulting. Now retired from his decades-long role as co-founder and CEO of HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, Inc., he has created CHERP Inc. to educate cities, organizations, contractors, manufacturers, realtors, students and building owners about the myriad benefits of energy efficiency and the reduction of fossil fuel use in buildings throughout California and beyond.

His award-winning architecture and construction work has garnered over 50 national architectural awards, including the Gold Nugget Grand Prize from the Pacific Coast Builder’s Association and the Grand Prize Design Award from Remodeling Magazine. His work has been featured in numerous articles and interviews including Preservation, Wall Street Journal, Remodeling Magazine, Los Angeles Times and HGTV, and he has worked on projects in France, Peru, Brazil and Egypt.

Derek Ryder (Project Architect, Home Front Build)

Ryder is the lead architect at Home Front Build, a design-build firm in Los Angeles with specialties in traditional design and green building of custom homes. Ryder specializes in multi-family residential and adaptive reuse projects, public space and religious architecture. Prior to his current position, Ryder worked at studioneleven architects & urbanists in Long Beach and Moule & Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists in Pasadena. He has been working in the architecture profession since 1999.

Ryder graduated with a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University in 1994 and a master of architecture from the Yale School of Architecture in 1999. He earned his California architectural license in 2011 and his LEED AP in BD+C in 2007. With a longstanding commitment and passion for green building, Ryder has been a member of the USGBC-LA Chapter since 2010, attending the GreenBuild Conference in 2007 and 2012. He has been active with the AIA Los Angeles Chapter and especially with the Committee on the Environment and the Urban Design Committee, participating in charrettes and organizing presentations.

Ryder is overseeing the construction of an innovative custom home in Los Angeles which is on target to meet the Gold-level certification of the LEED for Homes standard and is a demonstration project for the multiple benefits of salvage materials.

“Pathways to Carbon Neutrality for Harvey Mudd College – An Open Lunchtime Conversation with Matthew Seaman (HMC-P’16), FACEP, ABIM”

Seaman is a graduate of Stanford University with a medical doctorate from Vanderbilt University. His interests involve the use of abundant natural polymers for purposes of bioremediation and sustainable production of energy. He practices emergency medicine, owns and operates a medical publishing company and is developing a business plan for ByoVision, a start-up company dealing with bioremediation and carbon-capture. He and his wife, Dr. Linda Seaman, are involved with the HMC Parent Leadership Council.

Afternoon Poster Session Descriptions

  • Transcriptonomics of bleaching in the Alcyonacean octocoral Sympodium sp.
    Jennifer Havens ’18 (mathematics) | Harvey Mudd CollegeCoral bleaching is a major threat to octocorals (soft corals and sea fans), which represent up to half of the primary substrate available on many shallow-water reefs. Corals are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, such as rising sea temperatures associated with global climate change. Environmental stressors can lead to coral bleaching, a potentially lethal breakdown of the relationship between corals and their photosynthetic endosymbionts. Previous research has found that the impact of bleaching varies among members of both the scleractinians and the octocorals, thus it is important to understand the different mechanisms. The holobiont transcriptome, sampled at key time points in the bleaching process, is used to characterize the bleaching of the Alcyonacean octocoral Sympodium sp. The experimental time points showed significantly different transcription. The biological processes of genes differentially expressed during bleaching appear consistent with scleractinians and Aiptasia bleaching responses.
  • Formation of Secondary Brown Carbon in the Multiphase Simulation Chamber (CESAM) Through Aldehyde and Anime Initiated Maillard Reactions
    Lelia Hawkins, Barbara Stokes Dewey Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Jason Casar ’18, Elyse Pennington ’17 and Hannah Welsh ’17 | Harvey Mudd CollegeLaboratory measurements suggest that secondary organic compounds-with absorbance spectra characteristic of atmospheric humic-like substances (HULIS)-can form in aerosol and cloud water. Atmospheric HULIS have features such as broad, wavelength-dependent absorbance tailing into the visible region, highly functionalized and high molecular weight character, and appreciable organic nitrogen. In this work, we simulate the formation and evaporation of clouds in the presence of aldehydes and amines using a multiphase simulation chamber at the University of Paris-Est Creteil, France. Particle absorbance was determined with a Particle Into Liquid Sampler-Capillary Waveguide system and normalized to integrated particle mass measured with a scanning mobility particle sizer. Measurements indicate that browning occurs prior to cloud formation in the presence of methylamine and methylglyoxal but increases following formation. Further, artificial sunlight appears to bleach the products, reducing aerosol absorbance. A second round of experiments conducted in summer 2016 provide more chemical detail and reproducibility of preliminary measurements.
  • Active Transportation: A Mobile App for a Walking Bus at Claremont
    Julie Medero, assistant professor of computer science, and Yiqing Cai ’17 | Harvey Mudd CollegeActive transportation app is dedicated to address the concern about heavy traffic around elementary schools. Parents drive their kids to school mainly because of safety issues. The app offers an easy way to manage walking school buses by providing a variety of tools including checklists, real-time map tracking, easy notification and more. This mobile app can encourage more parents and schools choose walking school bus and thus help resolving the traffic issues near elementary schools. Reduced traffic means a safer and cleaner environment for kids in Claremont.
  • Combinatorial photoconductivity mapping of thin film semiconductors for photovoltaics
    Olivia Schneble ’17 (engineering), Angela Fioretti, Adele Tamboli ’04 (physics), Andriy Zakutayev | Harvey Mudd College, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) and Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO)The Rapid Development of Photovoltaic Materials project at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) develops exploratory methods of fabricating and characterizing thin film earth-abundant semiconductors that could be used in solar panels. As part of this project, an existing four-point probe conductivity measurement system was upgraded to measure photoconductivity in a mapping style. Photoconductivity under various wavelengths gives information about minority charge carrier dynamics and light absorption in a thin film sample, which allows researchers to approximate its performance in a photovoltaic device before fabricating the entire cell. Four LED sources were attached to the probe setup and the existing LabView control was adapted to produce sheet resistance maps across a two-dimensional surface under each light. Igor Pro procedures for calculating conductivity were also adapted. The system was tested by measuring several absorbing samples, some of which showed significantly reduced sheet resistance (indicating increased conductivity) under illumination.
  • Automated Aerial Flower Species Classification in Southern California
    Cassandra Burgess ’17 (engineering), Matina Donaldson-Matasci, assistant professor of biology | Harvey Mudd CollegeMore than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic clutter the ocean surface, and over 92 percent of these are smaller than a grain of rice. These microplastics absorb toxic chemicals, are consumed by small and large animals and are wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. Monitoring marine plastics is the first step in developing effective solutions: clean-up technologies cannot compete with the scale of the problem, and current monitoring tools are expensive and limited to experts.

    ​During the summer of 2016. Burgess led the design, implementation and validation of a surface trawl to be used for marine plastics monitoring. This trawl, the Low-tech Aquatic Debris Instrument (LADI), intends to promote collaboration between experts and citizens in the effort to understand microplastic contamination by being exceptionally accessible, sharable and easy to construct. This presentation discusses the project as an example of building equity, justice and citizen science into the scientific process.

  • Active Transportation
    Julie Medero, assistant professor of computer science, and Erin McCarthy SCR ’17  | Harvey Mudd College and Scripps CollegeDuring drop-off and pick-up times, traffic around schools results in long waits for parents and numerous cars emitting pollutants. Parents say they are hesitant to let their children walk to school because of safety concerns. To make it easier for families to identify safe walking routes, schools in California are required to have maps that show stop lights, cross walks, intersections and suggested routes to walk or bike to school. These maps often do not exist because of liability concerns. This project aims to give schools and parents tools to generate maps showing preferred walking routes using existing tools like the Google Maps API and Open Street Maps. We generate two types of visualizations: isochrone maps, which show the area that is within a certain distance of the school; and walking directions, which show suggested paths to take to school from anywhere within the walk radius of a school.
  • Metal Retention in a Pomona College Bioswale
    Zachary Evans ’18 (chemistry) | Harvey Mudd CollegeBioswales are an up-and-coming type of green infrastructure that slow storm water runoff and sequester heavy metals. This study focuses on a bioswale at Pomona College to characterize the sequestration of metals in soils and uptake into plants. Principle component analysis reveals this bioswale effectively sequesters metals because the largest variance in surface soil samples occurs between three successive water catchment basins. This trend is confirmed by statistically significant (P<0.1) decreases in concentration of anthropomorphic metals such as Zn, Pb, Co, Mn and Cu along the bioswale. In addition, initial depth studies reveal little effect on metal concentrations in soil, uptake of metals by local Carex vernacula, Juncus patens, Epilobium ciliatum subsp. ciliatum, and introduced Phoenix dactylifera does not appear significant, and sequential metal extractions reveal most metals reside in the organic fraction of soil.
  • Residential Buildings Benchmarking in Los Angeles County
    Anthony Seto ’19 (engineering) and Justin Lauw ’18 (engineering) | Harvey Mudd College, Res-IntelRes-Intel, a software firm located in Claremont, develops software solutions to improve the performance of residential and commercial buildings to reduce global warming pollution and reduce occupants’ spending on utility bills. Part of the solution involves benchmarking of buildings in the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. In order to allow the mass-scale benchmarking of buildings, EPA has developed a data-exchange web service for Energy Star Portfolio Manager. This summer, we helped develop a data-exchange interface exchange that sends building consumption data and receives EnergyStar’s benchmarking score. In conjunction with building benchmarks, we used Esri’s ArcGIS software to clean and prepare Los Angeles County parcel data. This can then be used to calculate statistical data regarding multifamily residential buildings.
  • Updates to the Nitrogen Cycle
    Dr. Matthew Seaman P16, FACEP, ABIMRepresentations of the nitrogen cycle, up to now, have focused on the flow of nitrogen at the soil surface, within soils and within air. Only rarely do representations of the nitrogen cycle acknowledge leaching of nitrates downward through sediments and rocks before entering the subsurface aquifer. Toxic levels of nitrates within subsurface aquifers is currently ubiquitous. Evidence indicates that ingestion of groundwater nitrates, with conversion to nitrites, cause impaired methylation of DNA leading to neural tube birth defects in the human population. In addition, nitrate interaction with sediments and rocks result in the change of inert, mineralized uranium to dissolved uranium within subsurface aquifers. In the High Plains (USA) dissolved uranium levels are 80-fold the toxic limit and in the Central Valley aquifer (California) dissolved uranium levels are roughly 190-fold the toxic limit. Ingestion of uranium is associated with cancer and birth defects. Long-term ingestion of uranium-contaminated drinking water now represents an emerging public health concern. The continued use of the subsurface aquifer for irrigation of crops also represents a significant threat to food-safety. Pump-and-treat facilities, applied at a large scale, may be necessary to mitigate the adverse impact of nitrates and dissolved uranium on human health.
  • Energy Audit for Mt. San Antonio Gardens
    Anthony Burre CMC ’19, Lauren D’Souza CMC ’18, Lillian Liang HMC ’18, Jenna Perelman SCR ’16 and Nova Quaoser CMC ’19 | Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps CollegeA team of students from the Roberts Environmental Center worked on an energy audit for the Mt. San Antonio Gardens Retirement Community. The project was advised by Sam Tanenbaum, professor emeritus of engineering at Harvey Mudd College and Gardens resident. The team studied financial and environmental effects of updating AC units and evaluated nine proposals for solar array installations at Gardens facilities. At the conclusion of the study, the team recommended that the Gardens update AC units to SEER 14 and accept SunPower’s proposal; their analyses will inform the Gardens’ energy conservation plan, which is currently in its first phase.
  • Bio-Inspired Dehalogenation Reaction
    Rilke Griffin, Christopher Ye, and Katherine Van Heuvelen | Harvey Mudd CollegeCarcinogenic chlorinated hydrocarbons such as perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) are pollutants that have been found in groundwater throughout the United States.  These halogenated compounds can be metabolized by enzymes called reductive dehalogenases that decompose PCE and TCE under environmentally-friendly conditions.  The reductive dehalogenases use a cobalt-containing active site, but the fundamental chemistry behind this important reaction is poorly understood.  We investigated this reaction through the synthesis of bio-inspired molecular model compounds that resemble the enzyme active site and reacted these models with PCE and TCE.  Reactions were monitored using UV-visible spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.  Our results show that our molecular models successfully carry out the first dechlorination step necessary to degrade PCE.

Water Infrastructure Panel

John A. Coleman (East Bay Municipal Utility District Board Member, immediate past president of the Association of California Water Agencies)

John A. Coleman was elected to the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District in 1990 and was re-elected six times to represent Ward 2, which includes Alamo, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, the Town of Danville, communities of Blackhawk and Diablo, and portions of Pleasant Hill and San Ramon. From 1996 to 2000 and 2011 to 2012, he served as President of EBMUD’s Board of Directors and was elected to serve as Vice-President in 1994 to 1995, and again in 2009 and 2010.

Coleman currently serves in the following capacities: president of the Association of California Water Agencies Board of Directors; board member of Freeport Regional Water Authority; chair of the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority; board member of Contra Costa Leadership Council; board member of Recycled Water Authority (DERWA), the joint powers authority for recycled water service provided by Dublin San Ramon Services District East Bay Municipal Utility District, CFO of the International Sea Level Institute and member of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Advisory Committee.

Coleman is the CEO of the Bay Planning Coalition, which represents maritime and shoreline interests and issues in northern California. He holds a bachelor of science degree in natural resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and a certificate in management from the University of the Pacific School of Business and Public Administration.

Ziyad Durón (HMC-’81; Jude and Eileen Laspa Professor of Engineering, Harvey Mudd College)

Durón has extensive experience in the full-scale field-testing of large structures. He has headed more than 40 field tests on a variety of structures, including concrete dams, buildings, bridges, tunnels and launch vehicles. He is a leader in the development of field-test procedures aimed at identifying response characteristics from low-level ambient vibrations which occur naturally in all structures. His innovations in both test procedures and instrumentation have resulted in the establishment of one of the largest databases for measured response information for dams in the U.S and in Canada. He has given numerous invited talks on the subject of his research and has also served on review panels for ongoing research programs funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Durón’s work in the development of an early warning system altering firefighters to impending structural collapse and in the development of field-test procedures for evaluating energy absorption behavior in large suspension cable bridges led to the development of performance-based testing and analysis techniques for large concrete dams. Durón is a member of the California Council on Science and Technology, established by the Legislature to provide advice and solutions to science and technology related public policy issues.

His work has been funded by a number of national and international organizations, and he has acted as consultant to the Southern California Edison Company, British Columbia Hydro and Power, Caltrans and The Aerospace Corporation. His work has been published in The Journal of Dam Engineering, HydroReview Magazine, Experimental Technique, The Journal of Sound and Vibration, The International Journal on Hydro Power and Dams and the Journal of Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering. Durón holds three patents.

Thomas J.P. McHenry (Partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and visiting associate professor of government, Claremont McKenna College)

McHenry is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office and a member of the firm’s Environmental Practice Group. McHenry practices general environmental law with an emphasis on air quality, climate change, hazardous waste, environmental diligence, land use and energy issues. He represents clients in negotiations with state and federal environmental agencies including air quality management districts, regional water quality control boards, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies.

McHenry has served on a number of California governmental advisory bodies, including the California EPA Blue Ribbon Commission for a Unified Environmental Statute, the Department of Toxic Substances Control CEQA Guidance Advisory Committee, the DTSC Regulatory Structure Update, Fee Reform and Site Mitigation Update committees. He serves as co-chair of the DTSC External Advisory Group.

McHenry served as a law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton, Chief United States District Judge of the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento from 1984 to 1986 and graduated from New York University Law School in 1983, where he served on the Journal of International Law and Politics. McHenry received a master of forest science degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1980 and bachelor of arts in history from Yale College in 1977.

McHenry has taught environmental law and policy at Claremont McKenna since 1990.

Andy Shrader (Director of Environmental Affairs, Water Policy and Sustainability, Office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz)

Shrader has staffed the councilmember for four years on the city’s Energy and Environment Committee and for two years on the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) board (2014–2016). Water and water quality policy successes include: $350 million budget approved for MWD turf removal rebates, “watershed approach” requirements added to LADWP turf removal rebate, reuse and recycling requirements added for building dewatering, Bel Air water waster penalties and largest plastic bag ban in the country. He was awarded Heal the Bay’s 2011 Super Healer Award for his work on marine debris plastic waste issues.

Other legislation and advocacy efforts include: Zero Waste L.A., which overhauled the city’s commercial waste system (including organics collection); moving DWP beyond coal power; DWP’s historic Feed-In Tariff solar power program; funding the clean-up of the San Fernando Valley aquifer; the L.A. fracking moratorium; city of L.A.’s Good Food Procurement Program; 80 percent by 2050 LA greenhouse gas reduction motion; native planting the Expo Line, phase 2; establishing wildlife corridors in the hills of L.A.; the rodenticide ban; re-zoning for urban beekeeping; statewide GMO-labeling bills and helping shut down the ailing San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.

Skill Building Workshops

  • Design and Decomposition: A Composting Workshop
    Aaron Burton Cyr-Mutty, farm manager, Pomona CollegeWhen people think design, steaming piles of compost generally don’t jump to mind, but green waste management is one of the many areas where intelligent design can create opportunities for sustainable development, especially given the enormous amount of food waste in our current agricultural system. Composting, however, isn’t simply throwing food scraps into a pile, but requires a careful balance of inputs to support the whole ecology of bacteria, fungi, insects and worms. Come join Pomona College’s farm manager to design the perfect pile and talk about how composting can be a part of sustainable design at a personal and institutional level.
  • It Takes a Team!
    Werner Zorman, Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair in Leadership, Harvey Mudd CollegeIn this interactive and experiential workshop, we will explore and define the characteristics of successful teams. You will get the opportunity to practice teamwork through an engaging exercise, after which we will explore and discuss what went well and what can be improved.
  • The Sustainable Kitchen
    Christy Spackman, 2015–2017 Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science, Technology, and Society, Harvey Mudd CollegeHave you ever opened your fridge and realized you’ve let those nice leeks from last week get slimy, or your tomatoes have started to look pathetic? This 90-minute workshop will give you the tools to distinguish safe from unsafe and some tricks for how to rescue and revive those foods so they serve their true purpose: feeding you and your friends.
  • Human Centered Design for Sustainability
    Fred Leichtner, executive director, Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative CreativityThis workshop will use the principles of design thinking to tackle a specific sustainability issue: recycling. Participants will observe, interview, find an unmet human need, generate multiple ways to meet that need and then try to implement alternative solutions and then make a prototype—all in 90 minutes!
  • From Environmental Justice to Sustainable Economics: Solar Technology and the Claremont Locally Grown Power (CLGP) Vision [Multiple Sessions]
    Kent Kernahan, founder, ideal PV; Devon Hartman, executive director, CHERP, Inc.This 90-minute workshop is divided into three segments. The first is a 30-minute presentation discussing how cutting-edge solar technology can be used to improve the budgets of low- to moderate-income households while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Then, for the remaining hour, the workshop splits into two skills-track sessions, both referring to the CLGP as a current case study and pilot.

    • Skill Track 1: Enabling Sustainable Energy for Low-Income Households: Economic Sustainability [Devon Hartman]

      This 50-minute skills lab will teach attendees about the “revenue-expanded-over-revenue-expended” method that is used to select and evaluate greenhouse gas mitigation programs and is generally applicable to any carbon mitigation program. This lab will also review the connection between environmental impact, economic sustainability at scale and serving low-income households.

    • Skill Track 2: Solar System Design and Safety [Kent Kernahan]This 50-minute skills lab will teach attendees how to apply solar panel characteristics to solar system configuration and the implications for balance of system efficiency, safety and reliability. The calculation process is generally applicable to any solar power system. If you like seeing plasma fires and their aftermath, this is the section for you!
  • Assessing the Full Environmental Burden of a Product: A Life Cycle Assessment Software Demo
    Tanja Srebotnjak, director, Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental DesignEver wondered what the full environmental footprint of a product was to make better purchasing decisions? In this workshop we will explore lifecycle assessment software to develop and compare environmental externalities arising throughout the product’s full lifecycle chain.

Media Content

October 2016 Conference Image Gallery