Many contribute in making Claremont green

Late on Thanksgiving Day, Devon Hartman sent an email message from his retreat in the mountains to note that he was thinking of Sustainable Claremont—the satisfaction of working with like-minded people toward a sustainable future and the prospects for the year to come.

Devon is dedicated to realizing the many benefits of improved whole-house energy efficiency. With the help of many others, including Sheila McCarthy who chairs the Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project (CHERP), Claremont has become a leader in this area. That’s but one of Sustainable Claremont’s accomplishments.

Thanks in large part to Ron Mittino, almost every school in Claremont now has a garden as a valuable teaching tool for education in sustainability and surprisingly many other areas of instruction.

Richard Haskell proposed a water reclamation plant for the Claremont Colleges so that reclaimed wastewater can be used to irrigate the campus grounds. This plant, likely to be built in the near future, is seen as a model for a more extensive system that could make Claremont almost independent of imported water. 

Sue Schenk, co-chair of Sustainable Claremont for the past 3 years, formed a popular Garden Club that meets monthly. Current co-chair Bob Traer was instrumental in developing a sustainability plan for Pilgrim Place, a retirement community that is becoming a model of sustainability. Chris Veirs, senior planner and sustainability coordinator for the city and treasurer for Sustainable Claremont, has taken the lead on Claremont’s annual Earth Day event sponsored by Sustainable Claremont. Kristin Miller, head of Sustainable Claremont’s Solid Waste Action Group, is now also working half-time for the city and will be handling arrangements for the 2013 Earth Day event. 

Steve Sabicer leads Sustainable Claremont’s outreach effort and has developed a presence on social media. Katie Gerecke led our membership effort and was supportive in many other ways.

All are members of Sustainable Claremont’s Board and Action Groups, and many others have been involved. Still, there are many volunteer opportunities for anyone who would like to join Sustainable Claremont. Several are listed on the Sustainable Claremont website.

Claremont has much to be thankful for as a community taking a lead in sustainability. For some examples, the League of Women Voters advocated sustainability as a key element of Claremont’s General Plan. The city council adopted Claremont’s ambitious Sustainable City Plan. Uncommon Good is improving social conditions for those that most need it—and will soon be completing the Whole Earth House in Claremont, a building that is attracting international attention for its features of sustainability. 

The Interfaith Sustainability Council coordinates local sustainability efforts, and chair Tom Helliwell agreed to shepherd publication of Sustainability News, a community-wide newsletter. Progressive Christians Uniting brought us the Brave New Planet conference last year. At The Claremont Colleges, there is a commitment to sustainability in both education and practice.

On the national level, the book Reinventing Fire, Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute, is a well-researched report published in 2011 that shows how it would be possible for the United States to become independent of fossil fuels by 2050—with a net saving of $5 trillion in the process. The United States is already twice as energy-efficient per dollar of GDP as in 1975. Taking the next steps toward fossil fuel independence would involve improving energy efficiency of buildings, ending subsidies for fossil-fuels and related industries, using known technology to transition to lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles (without compromising comfort or safety), further improving industrial efficiency and developing alternate energy sources.

For energy conservation here in Claremont, CHERP has more than met its initial goal of 130 whole-house energy retrofits (1 percent of Claremont residences), the most per-capita in southern California. The next goal will be 1300 retrofits. On the average, retrofits increase the assessed value of homes by 9 percent. This should be of special interest to real estate agents, appraisers and mortgage brokers. Consequently, a 2-day Certified Green Real Estate Professional Course has been arranged for December 6 and 7, here in Claremont. For further information please contact Devon Hartman by email at


Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (, email address Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @GreenClaremont


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