Sustainability Progress Report
View our infographic to explore Harvard's latest sustainability progress.
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 21% from FY06-FY13, including 3 million square feet of growth.
17% of our electricity comes from renewable sources generated on campus or purchased to meet state requirements.
Labs account for nearly 50% of our energy usage, residential and kitchen space nearly 20%.
Greening the Fleet
All shuttle buses are fueled by biodiesel and there are more than 11 hybrid or 100% electric vehicles in the Campus Services fleet. In 2013, Harvard University Police Department transitioned its fleet of marked patrol cars to fuel-efficient Ford Fusion hybrids and HUPD has directed its officers to reduce idling when possible.
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 89 LEED certified building projects on campus and an additional 27 registered LEED projects in the pipeline.
Optimizing Building Efficiency
Harvard's facilities leaders and building managers are increasingly working behind the scenes to optimize building energy systems and performance to improve efficiency. At the FAS LISE building an ongoing retro-commissioning project has resulted in over $3.15 million in savings since 2009. At HBS, an ongoing commissioning project underway since 2008 has covered 14 buildings, yielding more than $320,000 in savings. At HMS, five commissioning projects completed in 2012 were expected to save over $275,000 in utility savings alone.
The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) is the centerpiece of Harvard's commitment to Green IT.
Completed in November 2012, the cutting edge research computing facility has received LEED Platinum certification due to energy-efficient power distribution, advanced cooling techniques, and state-of-the-art power utilization effectiveness. The Harvard cores at MGHPCC have already supported the computational needs of some high profile research teams.
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
Steps Toward Sustainable Seafood
Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) partnered with National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver to create a model institutional seafood purchasing program that balances cost, sustainability, and health. “It’s part of our overall program in sustainable dining,” said David Davidson, managing director of HUDS. In addition, more than 32% of the FY13 budget for food served in dining halls was spent on locally manufactured, locally grown, or organic foods.
The Harvard on the Move and Healthy Harvard initiatives promote health and well-being
More than 300 employees have engaged in mindfulness programs through the Healthy Harvard initiatives, and weekly runs and other activities are organized through Harvard on the Move to promote a healthy lifestyle. The Center for Wellness takes an integrative approach to promote well-being and the restoration of balance, by attending to the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts in all of us.
Healthy food, community and education are at the heart of our 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 works to teach the community about use of herbal or herb-derived treatments. In 2013, the Harvard Faculty Club launched a garden to provide fresh food and herbs for cooking.
Food waste in undergraduate dining halls has dropped 46% since Spring 2005.
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. 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 2013, Harvard’s surplus program collected over 590 tons of furniture, computers and other equipment that was donated or reused.
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.
Four Schools have implemented School-wide composting.
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.
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.
We encourage students to generate new innovations that tackle on-campus environmental challenges.
A Student Sustainability Grant program has funded forty-five student projects that reduce energy or contribute to the university’s sustainability goals. In 2014, the program funded a “Sustainability Hack-a-thon” that will bring together students from a wide range of disciplines to develop solutions for sustainable living and a research project proposed by the Harvard Undergraduate Beekeepers to study how landscaping practices impact beehive health.
Peer-to-peer outreach and education programs inspire on-the-ground action.
More than 40 students are leading peer-to-peer education and outreach campaigns at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard University Housing properties. They run campaigns and competitions to encourage personal action by students to reduce energy, conserve resources and build a more sustainable community. The Council for Student Sustainability Leaders brings together undergraduate and graduate student environmental leaders to advise the Office for Sustainability.
Bringing our community together to reward and recognize is a key step toward building a culture of sustainability on campus.
In 2013, Harvard Human Resources with the President’s Office, for the first time, recognized nine “green heroes” as part of its Harvard Heroes employees recognition program. A biennial Green Carpet Awards recognizes project teams and students who are championing energy reduction and sustainability across campus. More than 183 individuals have been recognized since the event was initiated in 2010.
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.
Academics & Research
Generating Solutions to Climate Change
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.