Translating research into practice

Explore the 2015 Harvard Sustainability Report and learn how we’re transforming our campus into a healthier, more resilient community focused on well-being.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Our Progress

20% Reduction as of FY15

Our Goal

30% Reduction by 2016

Waste Per Capita

Our Progress

36% Reduction as of FY15

Our Goal

50% Reduction by 2020

Water Use

Our Progress

19% Reduction as of FY15

Our Goal

30% Reduction by 2020

Landscaping

Our Progress

60% Organic as of FY15

Our Goal

75% Organic by 2020

Emissions and Energy

The challenge of climate change demands a bold response and clear action from organizations and individuals. Harvard is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the maximum practicable rate with solutions that improve building efficiency, clean our energy supply, and promote renewable energy.

University-wide greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 20%, even after accounting for 15% growth in square footage and increased energy intensity of existing space. That’s equal to a reduction of 58,000 MTCDE since 2006, or, equivalent to taking 12,000 cars off the road annually. Excluding growth, emissions dropped 31%

 
Baseline = FY2006 buildings (excludes growth); Growth = All buildings (includes growth)
 
Reflects Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions for North American properties by Fiscal Year. MTCDE = Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent.
 
Hover over points to see totals.

More than 1,300 energy efficiency measures have been implemented across campus. As a result, University-wide energy consumption has dropped by 2%, even after accounting for 15% growth in square footage and energy-intensive space. Excluding growth, energy use has been reduced by 16%.

 
Baseline = FY2006 buildings (excludes growth); Growth = All buildings (includes growth)
 
bBTU = Billion British Thermal Units
 
Hover over points to see totals.

60% of emissions reductions are from actions taken on Harvard's campus.  The remaining 40% is attributed to the regional electric grid becoming less carbon intensive.

We track and report on all of the seven internationally recognized greenhouse gases generated by and for all North American properties within Harvard's operational control.

98% of Harvard's Scope 1 and 2 emissions are associated with heating and electricity use in over 600 buildings across our multiple campuses.

Residential spaces account for nearly 33% of campus square footage and 23% of total energy use, while labs account for 20% of square footage but consume nearly 45% of energy use.

In Progress

In 2009, the University entered into a long-term agreeement for 12MW of energy from the Stetson II wind farm in Maine. To date, over 1MW of solar projects have been installed on campus, most recently at Arnold Arboretum, HBS, and HLS. A University-wide renewable energy study has been conducted to evaluate the potential for additional installations.

Partnering for change

In 2015, Harvard signed the White House's American Campus Act on Climate Pledge and Health Educators Climate Commitment Pledge.

Harvard Management Company joined 100 global investors in signaling support for a long-term global emissions reduction goal.

Campus Operations

Can a campus be regenerative? We think so. We pilot and then institutionalize best practices in sustainable operations that conserve resources, reduce pollution, and enhance personal well-being.

Harvard has 104 LEED certified building projects, more than any other higher education institution in the world according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

The LEED Platinum certification of Esteves Hall at HBS became Harvard's 100th LEED certification, marking a major green building milestone for the University. “The fact that the institution pursues and embraces LEED demonstrates their commitment to sustainability in all of their endeavors," said Rick Fredrizzi, CEO and founder of USGBC.

LEED Case Studies

 

Mission Accomplished

Harvard Strategic Procurement partnered with the Office for Sustainability to create a Healthy Furniture Toolkit and Buyer's Guide, including a survey of furniture vendors and manufacturers offering chemical flame retardant-free furniture.

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In Progress

Climate preparedness and resiliency standards for construction and renovation projects are under development. In alignment with the findings of a climate resiliency study, the University received approvals to relocate the proposed basement-level District Energy Facilty in the Allston Science and Engineering Center to an exterior above-grade location.

Since 2006, overall waste per capita was reduced by 36%. All discards (trash, compost, recycle) dropped by 31%. 

Harvard University Dining Services is partnering with Food For Free to donate surplus food to local families. Over 2,000 meals are donated weekly and 101,000 lbs of food has been recovered since the program's inception. 

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83% of Cambridge/Allston commuters, and 85% of Longwood commuters use Harvard-subsidized sustainable transportation options to get to work.

Harvard employees have access to a bicycle commuter benefit or subsidy for transit passes, and the University provides all affiliates with discounted Hubway bike share or Zipcar car sharing memberships.

 

 

Check and uncheck boxes to explore percentage of commuters by type in Cambridge/Allston.

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in progress

Harvard joined the NAFA Fleet Management Association and is establishing a baseline for fleet emissions. We pedaled our way to Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University recognition in 2014. Harvard supported the installation of 12 Hubway bike share stations, and has more than 27 electric vehicle charging stations across campus.

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Mission Accomplished

Harvard partnered with four other universities and public/private collaborators to build the LEED Platinum Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, allowing us to close three campus data centers, reducing annual energy costs while growing computational resources.

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Water use is down 19% from FY06, or 133,000,000 gallons—enough to fill Blodgett Pool (capacity=750,000 gallons) 178 times.

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Certified green cleaning is implemented on 14 million square feet of campus, equal to 32
Widener Libraries.

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Nature and Ecosystems

Harvard is committed to protecting and enhancing the ecosystems and green spaces our University owns, manages, or impacts, in order to enhance regional biodiversity and personal well-being.

In progress

A new organics landscaping lab launched by Campus Services allows their team to test and optimize "compost teas" that are used as part of the University's chemical-free, regenerative organic landscaping program, in use on over 93 acres of campus.

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The Harvard College Naturalists Club works to improve the knowledge and appreciate of nature among the Harvard community through events and outdoor excursions.

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The 8 vegetated green roofs across campus on HBS, HLS, and Harvard University Housing properties help to promote biodiversity, prevent stormwater runoff, and reduce building energy consumption.

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Rainwater harvesting and reuse has been incorporated in many of Harvard's newest construction projects. Underground cisterns with a total capacity of 37,000 gallons were installed at Harvard Art Museums and the first three House Renewal projects.

Health and Well-Being

The vitality of our University depends on the health of our people. We're working to enhance the health, productivity, and quality of life of our students, faculty, and staff through the design and maintenance of the built environment and the creation of cutting-edge well-being programs.

Harvard was the first university to sign a national pledge stating our preference for purchasing furniture free of toxic chemical flame retardants. We're partnering with faculty experts and students to identify and target chemicals of concern in the built environment.

Partnering for change

The Office for Sustainability, in collaboration with Harvard researchers and the Silent Spring Institute, founded the Healthy Green Campus project to better understand the prevalence of harmful chemicals on campus and to make health an integral part of sustainability practices on college campuses.

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in progress

Healthy materials product disclosures submitted for Harvard's capital projects are being analyzed to assess opportunities for reducing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

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In Progress

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are conducting research on campus, as part of a larger study, to investigate the relationship between indoor office environments and the health, productivity, and cognitive function of employees. 

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The Office for Sustainability is partnering with faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to develop Sustainable and Healthful Food Standards, using the latest research on nutrition, climate, and health.

Eight Schools, plus Harvard Yard, North Yard, and the entire Harvard University Housing portfolio are smoke- or tobacco-free.

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Culture and Learning

We are using our campus as a living lab to develop the next generation of sustainability solutions. We're working to strengthen a "One Harvard" culture across our Schools and departments that embraces sustainability as an integral part of our academic work, our institutional practices, and our daily lives. 

10 multidisciplinary projects received support in second round of grants from President Faust's $12 million Climate Change Solutions Fund. In total, 17 projects have received funding since 2014.

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Mission Accomplished

The Harvard Kennedy School leveraged the University-wide Sustainability Plan as a community engagement opportunity to create and adopt their own campus sustainability plan that focuses on promoting the inclusive notion of social well-being.

The University created the Harvard Global Institute, with an inaugural $3.75 million grant to support a multidisciplinary, collaborative project to investigate climate change, energy security, and sustainable development in China.

 

Harvard launched the Planetary Health Alliance with the Wildlife Conservation Society and support from The Rockefeller Foundation. Led by Harvard's Samuel Myers, the consortium aims to generate a better understanding of linkages between global environmental change and human health

Currently, Harvard has 189 recognized Green Offices with more than 3,600 staff members engaged. The Green Office Program was revamped in 2015. Certification is valid for two years. The Office for Sustainability is working to recertify offices with expired certifications.

 

Check and uncheck boxes to explore offices and people by leaf level.   

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Since 2010, the Office for Sustainability has awarded 68 student grants for innovative, impactful, and on-campus projects.  

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Partnering for change

Through its active participation in the Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future and the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, Harvard is collaborating with its neighbors to address climate change on the local and regional level. 

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"Students arriving today ought to leave Harvard with a deeper understanding of the complexity of sustainability challenges and be ready to address them no matter where their lives may lead."

Drew Faust, President, Harvard University

Annual Snapshots

The Harvard Office for Sustainability reports annually on University-wide progress toward meeting the goals, standards and commitments as described in the University's Sustainability Plan released in 2014. The data was collected from individual Schools and departments, and aggregated by the Office for Sustainability. 

The 2015 Harvard Sustainability Report was announced via a community-wide letter from Heather Henriksen, Director of the Office for Sustainability. 

This Report is not intended to be an integrated report covering the full range of Harvard's socio-economic data. The Harvard Management Company reports on the University's endowment. Harvard Financial Administration posts the Annual Financial Report. The Chief Diversity Officer reports on institutional diversity and equity. The Harvard Fact Book presents a wide range of data regarding the University's organization, people, and resources.

Our Journey