Jon Roberts


Climate Neutrality at Harvey Mudd College: Fact or Fiction?

There are a number of big, bold and far-reaching policy initiatives being developed that, if implemented, will significantly alter the "business as usual" approach to how buildings, infrastructure and communities are planned, built and operated. This talk reviews some of these emerging voluntary and regulatory drivers (e.g., California's Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Energy Plan, updates to California's Title 24 Building Energy Code, SB 375, the "President's Climate Commitment", etc.). The feasibility of some of these "big-bold" policies will then be evaluated in the campus-context.

Some useful references



  1. Often companies ignore climate issues to avoid spending money. If they are being sued, where would they get the money to upgrade the project to meet the standards? How does one enforce climate considerations at the bidding stage?
  2. What are some of the features of zero-net-energy buildings?
  3. The discussion of policy issues was extensive, but I'm still a bit in the dark about what the promising technologies are, and what the trade-offs are in pitting various technologies against one another.
  4. Why is the projected population expansion in a line out into the desert? Would the depletion of certain water reserves affect the population projections?
  5. How do you meet transportation goals without drastically changing the current infrastructure?
  6. Would implementing net-zero buildings cause materials shortages?
  7. Rather than pursuing net-zero goals, why shouldn't we aim to make the state carbon neutral by addressing the problem: fossil fuels? Why don't we take carbon emissions and using the tax money to subsidize renewable energy production?
  8. Why will there be so much more growth in southern California than in northern California?
  9. Will a small town with a major coal power plant be forced to reduce emissions as far as a primarily residential town?
  10. What are the climate change impacts already affecting California?
  11. Your example focused on electricity and natural gas, but those seem to be the easiest to deal with. How are we going to address things like air travel and faculty commuting?
  12. How does the building energy efficiency get worse after a certain cost?
  13. Don't the trees in Claremont use a lot of water?
  14. How much value do we actually get from something like 25000 trees?
  15. Has the state focused on encouraging designs that create houses with energy-saving technology that can pay for itself over the course of a few years? Then we can reach goals while saving people money...
  16. Aren't net-zero houses going to be incredibly expensive?
  17. Do the age and type of trees matter for shading and sequestration?