A small college of about 1,000 students in Claremont, Calif., is making some big changes on campus.

Pitzer College has recently finished construction on three new residence halls that qualify for gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status from the U.S. Green Building Council. Called the “Residential Life Project,” the school literally has thousands of plans to continue upfits across campus, ranging from the installation of solar power to the color of paint on the exterior of the buildings. The students, faculty members and alumni worked together to plan the new dorms.

According to senior Alec Lentz, 80 percent of the eco-friendly, three-story dormitories were built with materials found within 200 miles of the college, cutting down transportation costs and damage to the environment.

The rooftops are lined by solar photovoltaic panels, which generate 15 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. And instead of using wood to construct the framing, the college used modular steel, which was recycled. Other recycled materials include concrete, gypsum board, carpeting and insulation.

The dormitories also use compact fluorescent lamps, efficient toilets and low-flow showers.

“The new dorm buildings are replacing older, more institutional buildings. They will save the university money in the long run,” said Laura Trombley, president of the college. “Actually, you could argue that if a college with a student population of under a thousand can be this green, why aren’t others?”

“By constructing these buildings in such a so-called green fashion, we’re really making a statement. We’re serious about it, and we want others to follow in our footsteps,” Lentz said.  EC