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New Pomona College Residence Halls Earn LEED Platinum, Making Them Among Greenest in the Nation

New Platinum LEED dorms

Pomona College's new residence halls, Sontag Hall and Pomona Hall, have been certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. Platinum is the highest level recognized for sustainable building through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria.

Sontag and Pomona Halls are the first college residence halls in California to achieve LEED Platinum and only the second new, large-scale residence project in the nation to earn that distinction.

“This is great news,” said Pomona College President David Oxtoby on hearing about the award. “This accomplishment reflects the commitment of our entire College to responsible stewardship of our environment. We build sustainably because it's the right thing to do. Sontag Hall and Pomona Hall will contribute in significant ways to the education of the students living in there.”

The residence halls, which opened June 1, house approximately 150 students. The suites have three to six single bedrooms, a common room, shared bathrooms and a kitchenette. Combined, the buildings are 78,000 square feet and occupy a 4.3-acre site. The total project cost was $53 million.

Among the buildings' sustainability highlights are:

  • a 2,000 gallon solar hot water system predicted to provide 80% of the buildings’ needs
  • rooftop solar voltaic panels providing 80 kw of power (an estimated 14% of the building load)
  • energy-saving features including high efficiency window glazing; exterior window shading; operable windows and window fans coupled with mechanical/natural ventilation controls that shut off HVAC when windows are open; high-efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting; daylight and occupancy sensors; a high-efficiency cooling system; and Energy Star appliances that should decrease energy use almost 50%
  • low water-use fixtures throughout the project predicted to decrease water use 36.6%
  • full cut-off lighting fixtures to reduce light pollution
  • a storm water management system, with a detention basin to recharge the aquifer, providing 100% decrease in runoff
  • 170 underground parking spaces removing the heat island effect associated with above-ground parking
  • a rooftop garden
  • use of 20% recycled material and 30% regionally produced material in construction
  • removal and replanting of eight mature oak trees on site
  • drought-resistant native landscaping

Sontag Hall, adjacent to Athearn Field, was made possible by a lead gift of $7.5 million from Rick Sontag (Harvey Mudd '64) and Susan Sontag (Pomona '64). Pomona Hall received an anonymous $7.5 million lead gift. The halls have already become a Pomona destination with their large communal spaces, rooftop garden and as the home to the Outdoor Education Center.

Throughout the project's development, a task force of students, faculty and staff were heavily involved. The project was designed by the award-winning firm Ehrlich Architect, and construction started in July 2009 with an 18-month schedule. The lead contractor was Hathaway Dinwidde. The project was managed by the Pomona College Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services Bob Robinson and Project Manager Andrea Ramella.

Pomona Hall and Sontag Hall are the fourth and fifth buildings on Pomona's campus to be built to LEED standards. The Lincoln Building and Edmunds Building, completed in 2006, were certified LEED Gold. The Richard C. Seaver Biology Building, completed in 2003, was certified LEED Silver. The College’s South Campus Athletic Facility and Parking Structure, completed earlier this year, was built to LEED Gold standards.

The only other college or university residence halls certified LEED Platinum are:

  • Western Oregon University's Ackerman Hall - 300 beds, LEED for new construction 2.2, certified August 2011
  • Bastyr University's Student Village – 11 cottages housing 12 students each, LEED for homes, awarded April 2010
  • Duke University's Smart Home – 10 beds, LEED for new construction 2.1, opened 2008
  • Warren Wilson’s EcoDorm – 38 beds, LEED for existing buildings 2.0, opened 2003 

Pomona College, one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, is known for its small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and opportunities for research and involvement both on campus and in the community. Founded in 1887, Pomona College is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges and is located in Claremont, CA, east of the City of Los Angeles.

To view photos and read speeches from the Dedication Ceremony of the residence halls, please visit our news story on the subject.