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On the Mesa, the outdoors are right on your doorstep. Every dorm room is designed to include a patio, balcony, or window looking over the Southern California nature that surrounds us. Students can watch the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening, all from the comfort of their room. Because of the connection between Cate students and the environment that we live in, we honor our home by using sustainable practices wherever we can. From our award-winning energy efficient buildings to water reclamation systems, Cate is doing its part in making the future of our planet as green as possible. Cate students motivate one another to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices through lighthearted cross-dorm challenges and educational assemblies run by our own Environmental Club.

In 2021, Cate was awarded the Green Ribbon School Award (Gold), which honors schools across the nation that promote sustainability. This is only the beginning. The people on this Mesa are working hard to form a more sustainable, ethical, and environmentally-friendly campus.

One hundred percent of the grey and black water generated by the School is reclaimed. The wastewater is first digested, then filtered, chlorinated, and dechlorinated. It is then sent to a holding tank under the parking lot near the Sprague Gymnasium. The treated water is mixed with potable water and used for irrigation on campus. The wastewater treatment plant saves 265,000 gallons of water a year that would otherwise be lost.

The Emmett Horowitz Aquatic Center, which opened in 2010 uses a microturbine to heat its water. Rather than use natural gas to heat the pool, the gas is used to power a turbine, which generates electricity. The fugitive heat from that process is what heats the competition pool, the recreation pool, the locker room showers, and the space heating in the building. The microturbine generates one-third of the electricity on campus for about two-thirds the price using the utility. When the center opened, the savings were estimated at around $30,000 a year.

The Emmett Horowitz Aquatic Center is LEED Gold certified.

Solar panels on the Sprague Gymnasium have a 72 kW capacity. Twenty-one and a half kW of power comes from panels on faculty homes. That combined production covers around 20% of the electricity usage on campus. Another 72 kW system is planned for Cate’s new dining commons.

Since 2008, every construction project at Cate has achieved green building certification through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Emmett Horowitz Aquatic Center: LEED Gold

Class of 1985 House (Admission): LEED Platinum

Cate Mesa Road Faculty Residences (5): LEED Platinum

Currently, 3000-4000 of gallons of pool water are wasted each week. The filtering process requires an excess amount of water, which is typically dechlorinated with sodium metabisulfite. The resulting water is toxic to aquatic life if it reaches waterways or the ocean.

A planned system approved by the School will use vitamin C to dechlorinate the water. Then the dissolved solids will be settled out and the treated water will be mixed with condensate from the proposed dining commons. The mixture of the two will generate 4700 to 5000 gallons of water, which will be used for an interactive water feature on the Kirby Quad. Excess water will overflow to a 72,000-gallon cistern, where it can be mixed with rainwater and used for irrigation.

Wrapping around the Kirby Quad and spanned by a footbridge, Cate’s bioswale is designed to disperse and collect sediment normally carried into waterways. Layers of angled rock embedded into the bioswale prevent sand, dirt, and debris from flowing freely toward streams and to the ocean.

The Mesa is planted with centuries-old coast live oaks and Italian stone pines, which are drought tolerant. Other landscaped areas include many native California plants which require very little irrigation. Because of California’s drought, the School is mindful of its water use and is constantly seeking new ways to reduce water use.