Claremont City Hall photographed by Dean Granger (1951).
Claremont has developed a sustainability plan which looks at seven areas which effect the built environment and policies within the city. Goal area 4, Sustainable Built Environment seeks to improve the building standards within the city. The goal area addresses public(city) and private(community) standards which follow sustainable built practices set forth by LEED – US Green Building Council and CAL GREEN- California Green Building Standards Code. According to the Sustainable City Plan the city has created goal 4.1 City Facilities:
“Apply sustainable design and construction standards for all new and renovated City facilities. Implement best sustainable practices for operation and maintenance of existing City facilities and landscapes.” (Sustainable City Plan,2013)”
The City of Claremont’s strive to be a sustainable city takes into consideration the sustainable built environment. The Claremont Sustainability Plan takes into consideration of issues such as infrastructure, neighborhood development, new construction and retrofitting the existing development. As part of the goals for Sustainable Built Environment and Neighborhood Development, Goal 4.5 Land Use and Smart Growth is of great importance. The goal states for the City of Claremont, as the responsible agency, to “Apply sustainable practices in all Community Development activities that impact the built environment, and in all City Capital Improvement planning and construction”. Since much of the City is built out, how land use is designated and the quality of developments greatly affect the City’s goal to be sustainable. Additional sub-goals of Claremont’s focus for sustainable land use and smart growth include: Continue reading
This is not an easy task, since switching a city’s infrastructure never is and even worse when the goal is to make it sustainable.
“A Green Street is a street right-of-way that, through a variety of design and operational treatments, gives priority to pedestrian circulation and open space over other transportation uses. The treatments may include sidewalk widening, landscaping, traffic calming, and other pedestrian-oriented features. The purpose of a Green Street is to enhance and expand public open space, and to reinforce desired land use and transportation patterns on appropriate City street rights-of-way.”
-Department of Transportation, City of Seattle, WA
Green streets are well known for discharging low impact in the area it is developed. They are considered sustainable because in their guidelines take into consideration the natural local hydrology and with that it manages to properly distribute storm-water to plants and the city’s drainage system. The benefits of green streets are many, among them: the recovery of water, the embellishment of the streets with narrower dimensions, better air quality due to appropriate and natural shading and cooling, greater economic opportunities along the corridors, and finally a better and more livable experience for the pedestrians.
The city is struggling to create and adopt a “Green Streets” policy. The last time the adoption of this policy was brought to the table of the City Council was on June 24th of last year, 2014; ever since nothing have been resolved.
Whenever the City of Claremont adopts a Green Streets Policy it could look something like they did in Adelphi Road, Maryland in the picture below. They took advantage of the irregular terrain and local natural resources in order to move storm-water where it is most needed.
Or perhaps implement what they did at a Navy Yard in Washington, DC. They use rain barrels and cisterns typically to capture roof runoff and store it for future use. Overcapacity might happen so then the water goes to a “rain garden” and then what is left goes to the drainage system.
Below are some illustrations the city of Chicago, IL came up with to explain some ways to attain green streets:
Claremont is on the race to be the most sustainable city; they’re tackling it through all aspects including through a sustainable built environment. Claremont already has approximately 938,617 square feet of LEED certified buildings which is around 19 buildings. In coalition with the Claremont colleges and Sustainable Claremont, the city is also working with residents to retrofit homes to become more sustainable in every aspect. Programs like Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Program (CHERP) who works with residents to retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient. This program works with residents to replace inefficient parts such as light bulbs or windows, or add insulation etc. to make homes more energy, water, and gas efficient. Claremont is also assuring that all new residential developments ensure greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
These programs like CHERP and “too toxic to trash’, are helping residents transform their homes to ensure quality living within their homes, and all around creating safer buildings to live in for neighborhoods and the city as a whole. “Too toxic to trash” is a household hazardous waste roundup, and holds workshops to teach Claremont residents how to manage toxic waste.
Overall according to the 2013 Sustainability Report Card, residents are also implementing solar power energy generators which approximated and increase of 61.5% which includes 112 homes. Not only are city residents contributing to the shift to sustainability but also some Claremont college students are also living in the new LEED certified Sontag Residence Hall at Harvey Mudd College. The building design demonstrates “the worlds most important examples of sustainable design”. The Platinum LEED building houses around 150 students and some outstanding features of the building include a 2,000 gallon solar hot water system, solar panels, rooftop garden, drought resistant landscaping, and many other features that let the building mostly operate on its own. Other LEED certified sustainable developments include, the north campus residence hall at Pomona College and residential life project at Pitzer College.
Other efforts to involve more residents in the race to sustainability also include programs like the Residential Turf Removal Program, which allows residents to apply and get incentives to transform their laws into drought resistant landscapes. The city of Claremont and the golden state water co. is working with residents to rebate any costs included in the transformation and not only the front yards but backyards as well, all in order to create a stronger sustainable water system through Claremont’s residencies.
Other residential developments also include the Jamboree Housing Affordable Housing Project, a development of 75 units that also acquired the LEED certified Platinum level.
After assessing the general context of the residential built environment Claremont seems to be on the right track to meeting their goals for a Sustainable City.
However, if an all around collective effort is what is intended, there needs to be more homeowners participating in programs like CHERP. In order to encourage energy efficiency homes for 10% or more as the plan recalls. Sustainable Claremont and the city might need to reach out to residents more and create a community discussion on the process and benefits of these programs. By building partnerships as the neighbor works organization does with other communities around the nation, it is an effective way to get everyone on the same page to pull the same strings. By collaborating with Home Owners Associations and Apartment owners as well with residents whether renters or property owners, a further collaborative effort can be developed in order to fulfill Sustainable Built Environment goals in regards to residential development.