Why this report?
We're measuring our impact to build a better future. Scroll down to view and interact with our sustainability data.
We all share a special responsibility in confronting the global challenges of climate change and sustainability.
Sustainability has united our large institution. Learn about our journey through an interactive timeline of milestones and stories.
"Don't Just Learn It...Live It."
Across campus, we're turning research into action but we need your help. Join us today!
Energy & Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 16% from FY06-FY12, including 3 million square feet of growth.
23% of our electricity is generated from renewable or alternative energy sources.
Labs account for almost 50% of our energy usage. Data center energy use has more than doubled since FY06.
Harvard's Blackstone steam plant is 31% less greenhouse gas intensive in FY12 than in FY06.
Harvard has improved the efficiency of on-campus utilities in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Blackstone plant has invested in a new boiler, fuel-switching and a 5MW back-pressure turbine that uses steam to generate electricity.
The chilled water plants are 23% less GHG intensive than in FY06. The central chilled water system has added a new plant which includes free cooling heat exchangers, upgraded older chillers at the existing plant with new high efficiency units, and optimized dispatch between the two locations.
As a University we have a role and a special responsibility to confront the challenge of climate change with the seriousness of purpose it deserves. In 2008, Harvard set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016 from a 2006 baseline, including growth. Utilizing a collaborative, community-driven greenhouse gas reduction strategy to reduce building energy use and improve the efficiency of our energy supply, the Harvard community has rallied to achieve university-wide reductions in energy and emissions.
There are 85 LEED certified building projects on campus and an additional 23 registered LEED projects in the pipeline.
LEED Innovation: The 46 Blackstone building has seen a 36% energy reduction and outperforms the energy model by 17%.
University-wide Green Building Standards have integrated LEED certification, integrated design and green building techniques into the institutional framework for construction and renovation on campus. The double LEED Platinum certification of the 46 Blackstone building is an example of how we're looking to improve efficiency and perfomance after construction. In the video below, take a look at how Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Business School have creatively worked to cut energy use in their buildings.
Green Loan Fund
Harvard established one of the first Green Loan Funds in higher education to support investing in cost-effective energy efficiency projects. To date, the revolving loan fund has loaned over $15 million, supporting nearly 200 projects that have yielded over $4 million in energy savings annually and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 13,500 MTCDE. Harvard Divinity School's renovation of Rockefeller Hall is an example of a project that took advantage of the Loan Fund. As a founding member of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge we’re partnering with other higher education institutions to expand the use of green loan funds to help combat climate change.
Our buildings are where we live, work, learn and conduct life-saving, groundbreaking research. They are also where we consume an enormous amount of energy – heating and cooling alone accounts for 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions. At Harvard, we’re constructing and renovating our buildings to be as efficient and healthy as possible. The results are offices, classrooms, dorms and laboratories that have a lower impact on the surrounding environment and operate more efficiently to better support our teaching and research mission.
Health & Wellness
Food waste in undergraduate dining halls has dropped 46% since Spring 2005.
Healthy food, community and education are at the heart of our three on-campus Community Gardens.
The student-managed Harvard Community Garden is a collaboration between students and over eight academic and administrative organizations. The Harvard Divinity School Garden brings staff and students together to follow the work ethic that “weeding is a form of spirituality" and the Countaway Community Garden at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health works to teach the community about use of herbal or herb-derived treatments. (Click on the photo to view a Photo Journal of the Divinity School Garden).
Sustainability is a core value at Harvard University Dining Services
More than 30% of the FY12 budget for food served in dining halls was spent on locally manufactured, locally grown, fair trade or organic foods.
The HUDS team is committed to purchasing and operational practices and menu choices that sustain the health and well-being of the environment, communities, and the people producing and eating food.
Visit the Harvard University Dining Services website to learn more about their commitment to sustainable agriculture and food production.
The Food Literacy Project cultivates an understanding of food from the ground up.
The Food Literacy Project at Harvard University Dining Services organizes special events and cooking classes, runs Harvard's two Farmer's Markets, and employs 18 students (FLP Reps) to do special projects in each dorm. Education focuses on food and society, sustainability, nutrition, food preparation and community. To learn more visit the FLP website or check out the FLP Blog.
What keeps us healthy? Many factors, including our behavior and our genes, determine whether we live in good health or not. Equally as important to our health are forces outside ourselves - the air we breathe, food we eat, water we drink, and places we live – in short, our environment. Many of the major public health challenges facing our world today are linked to our environment. These include infectious disease, respiratory disease, waterborne and foodborne illness, and exposure to environmental toxins. Protecting our environment protects our health (courtesy of the Center for Health and the Global Environment).
At our Cambridge/Allston campus, the number of commuters who drive alone has dropped 50% since 1999. 79% bike, walk or take transit.
Harvard has sponsored 12 Hubway bike share stations on its Cambridge, Allston and Longwood campuses.
Harvard is committed to providing our students, staff and faculty with opportunities to travel to and between campuses as efficiently as possible. Providing alternatives to driving is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our impact on the environment, it’s also about promoting healthier travel options. The CommuterChoice Program (Cambridge/Allston) and MASCO (Longwood) provide employees with benefits and programs that encourage transit use, bicycling, walking and carpooling.
Waste Reduction & Recycling
Trash created every day per capita on campus has dropped 60% since FY96 to .84 lbs a person/day in FY11.
In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, Harvard’s surplus program donated over 2.5 million dollars worth of products to over 200 charities.
Surplus materials are donated to community and non-profit organizations, and every fall, Harvard for Habitat sells back donated materials from move-out to incoming students at its popular Stuff Sale, raising thousands of dollars for charity.
Harvard Recycling also partners with the LABBB’s “School to Work” program to train autistic students of high school age to sort, refurbish and re-sell computers, clothing and books.
Diverting food waste from the trash reduces emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Pre and post-consumer composting occurs in dining halls and at major events like Commencement. Harvard Law School was the first to implement campus-wide composting. The Graduate School of Education, Divinity School and Longwood campus have all expanded composting and in 2012, freshman College students implemented a vermiculture pilot in Thayer Hall with the help of a Student Sustainability Grant.
As recycling czar Rob Gogan likes to say, “We want to spend our money on teaching and research, not on waste disposal.” Harvard’s extensive waste reduction initiatives include reuse and donation events, single-stream recycling, construction and demolition waste diversion, composting, and electronic waste programs. But we don’t just stop there – our community is always looking to build on our progress by identifying new opportunities to reduce waste in our labs, offices and classrooms.
Water & Operations
Innovative water conservation technology and landscaping techniques are reducing water use on campus.
The backbone of a cutting-edge academic and research institution is its technological infrastructure but the growing computing needs consume a significant amount of energy.
Harvard has joined with four other universities, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Cisco and EMC to build the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, MA and a Green IT sub-committee comprised of key IT and facilities leaders from Harvard’s Schools and administrative units has been established to revise key guidelines and recommendations for reducing energy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the University’s IT infrastructure.
Harvard's Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines reduce the environmental impact of purchasing decisions.
The Strategic Procurement Department established the guidelines to help ensure purchasing decisions are aligned with University-wide sustainability goals by buying goods and services from manufacturers and suppliers committed to protecting the environment. Harvard’s preferred vendor Roxbury Technology is an example of how the University supports local, minority-owned, and sustainable businesses through its purchasing decisions.
Harvard recognizes that the way we operate our campus has an impact on natural resources and the surrounding environment. Throughout the University we are focused on improving institutional practices to increase efficiency and reduce our environmental footprint. Our activities are designed to promote health, productivity and safety of the community by enhancing diversity and health of local ecosystems.
Student-Led Weatherization Events
Over 100 students have collaborated with green building and facilities staff to weatherize three historic buildings on campus, resulting in annual savings of $2,000 - $5,000 per building. The events were envisioned by the Environmental Action Committee to actively involve students in energy saving measures on campus that contribute to Harvard's greenhouse gas reduction goal.
Laboratories account for 23% of our square footage and 48% of our energy consumption.
The Shut the Sash Program, Freezer management and preventative maintenance program, and Green Lab certification program give laboratories the tools to share best practices and reduce energy. An effort to replace disposable plastics with reusable glassware saved over $9500 and prevented 2600 plastic bottles from going into the waste stream in the first seven months of operation, and a new Styrofoam recycling program at the Longwood campus recovered more than 3,000 cubic feet of Styrofoam packaging in just two months.
Bringing our community together, and rewarding and recognizing their accomplishments, is a key step toward building a culture of sustainability on campus.
The Office for Sustainability organizes two major university-wide events every year to bring our diverse community together:
The annual Green Carpet Awards reward and recognize individuals, teams and alumni who have made significant contributions to Harvard’s sustainability goals. Harvard Thinks Green features six all-star faculty presenting their big green ideas for ten minutes each in an engaging and inspirational format.
We are focused on building a culture of sustainability and environmental responsibility at every level of the University. Every member of the Harvard community has a role to play in this effort. Harvard’s comprehensive approach to change management includes peer-to-peer outreach and behavior change programs that encourage collaborative problem solving and provide tools, trainings and resources to thousands of students and staff throughout Harvard. University-wide events and environmental competitions reward and recognize the environmental champions within our community.
Academics & Research
Training Tomorrow's Scholars
The Environmental Fellows program enables doctoral recipients to use Harvard’s resources to tackle complex environmental problems. Fellows work for two years with Harvard faculty to create knowledge and strengthen connections across the University’s academic disciplines. The Graduate Consortium on Energy and the Environment fosters a community of students well versed in the issues of energy and the environment. Through coursework and seminars, students contemplate an energy strategy for the 21st century and beyond.
Environmental Teaching and Learning
There are more than 250 faculty members from 9 Schools affiliated with the Harvard Center for the Environment, and more than 244 energy and environment-related courses.
As leading scholars in their fields, Harvard faculty provide expert knowledge on a number of energy and environmentally-related topics. Search the faculty directory. Environmental courses taught by our faculty are highlighted in the Environmental Course Guide. Search the Course Guide.
The Harvard Center for the Environment hosts or sponsors a number of lectures and symposia. Past talks have featured leaders from business, government, and academia on a variety of topics, including climate, energy, ecology, and more. Watch past lectures or stay up-to-date on Harvard’s environmental events by signing up for the HUCE weekly calendar e-mail.
The climate-energy challenge is a defining issue of our time, and one of Harvard’s greatest contributions to meeting that challenge will be the education of a new generation of leaders in science, business, law, and public service.