We’re Measuring Our Impact to Build a Better Future

Harvard is dedicated to providing our community of students, faculty, and staff with a deeper understanding of the complexity of sustainability challenges so they can be ready to address those challenges wherever their lives may lead. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Our Progress

21% Reduction as of FY 2014

Our Goal

30% Reduction by 2016

Waste Per Capita

Our Progress

27% Reduction as of FY 2014

Our Goal

50% Reduction by 2020

Water Use

Our Progress

21% Reduction as of FY 2014

Our Goal

30% Reduction by 2020

Landscaping

In Progress

Establishing the baseline

Our Goal

75% Organic by 2020

Together, we're building a healthier, more sustainable campus.

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 21%, even when accounting for more than 3 million square feet of growth and renovations of existing space. That’s equal to 58,013 MTCDE since 2006, or, equivalent to taking 12,213 cars off the road. Excluding growth, emissions dropped 32%

 
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.

University-wide energy use dropped 2% including growth and renovations, and 17% excluding growth. 100% of energy-intensive spaces on campus have been audited and more than 1,300 energy efficiency measures implemented.

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

98% of Harvard's emissions are associated with heating and electricity use in buildings.

Labs take up 20% of square footage on campus, but account for 44% of Harvard's total energy use.

60% of emissions reduction to date came from cleaner energy supply at campus utility plants and reductions in building energy use.

A new alternative energy system (combined heat and power) will provide 28% of Cambridge/Allston electricity consumption. 14% of electricity is purchased renewable energy.

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 97 LEED certified building projects, more than any other higher education institution in the world according to the United States Green Building Council. In 2014, Harvard updated its Green Building Standards with new requirements for healthy materials disclosure and special considerations for energy-instensive lab and IT spaces.

LEED Case Studies

 

Certified green cleaning is implemented on 13 million square feet of campus, equal to 30
Widener Libraries.

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Water use is down 21% from FY06, or 147,497,722 gallons—enough to fill Blodgett Pool (750,000 gallons) 196 times.

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Single stream recycling, composting, and reuse activities contributed to a 27% drop in per capita waste. The FY14 recycling rate was 51%.

In FY14, the University collected 413 tons of materials for reuse and donation (weighing as much as 26 shuttles), a 41% jump from FY06. Move-out campaigns, a surplus center, and freecycles are part of our reuse-before-waste strategy.

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87% of Cambridge/Allston commuters, and 85% of Longwood commuters use Harvard-subsidized sustainable transportation options to get to work. The number of commuters driving alone to work in Cambridge/Allston dropped from 17% to 13%, and in Longwood from 22% to 15%. The rate of bicyclists in Longwood doubled to 11%.

 

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

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Mission Accomplished

Harvard pedaled its way to Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University recognition from the League of American Cyclists in October 2014 in part due to our bicycle commuter benefit for employees and the University's strong support of the Hubway bike share system with 12 stations.

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In Progress

The Harvard Climate Preparedness Working Group is in the process of developing standards for climate preparedness and resilience. Harvard faculty and the Office for Sustainability are also collaborating with the cities of Boston and Cambridge on preparedness planning and analysis.

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In Progress

Two Green IT working groups are focused on better understanding Intelligent Building Systems and Endpoint Management & E-waste, and setting future goals. The 2009 Sustainable IT Standards are scheduled to be updated by June 2015 and approved in September 2015.

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In Progress

The Office for Sustainability established a collaborative partnership with Harvard Strategic Procurement to lay the groundwork for future sustainable purchasing standards. We are currently focusing on vendor compliance with our Green Cleaning and Sustainable Landscaping Standards as well as reducing chemical flame retardants in office and dorm furniture. 

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Nature and Ecosystems

Harvard is commited 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.

Harvard Forest and the Arnold Arboretum encompass 4,000 acres of forest and landscape used for active climate change research and discovery.

 

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In Progress

We are in the process of calculating the total amount of landscaped area across Harvard's Cambridge, Allston, and Longwood campuses. Campus Services operates its organic landscaping program on 93 acres, including Harvard Yard. All vendors have agreed to provide services that match Harvard's Sustainable Landscaping Standards.

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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.

500 staff from Central Administration have participated in the six-week Mindfulness at Work course offered by Healthy Harvard.

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

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In Progress

Faculty, students, and staff are collaborating with the Silent Spring Institute to evaluate potential exposure to toxins on campus and to identify and track significant chemicals of concern. Healthy materials disclosure requirements were added to the updated Green Building Standards in 2014.

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In Progress

The Food Better Campaign has sparked a conversation about how to improve the food system. All undergraduate dining halls, as well as the cafes at Harvard Business School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Harvard Law School are Green Restaurant Certified.

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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. 

239 faculty are affiliated with the Harvard Center for the Environment and are engaged in energy or environment-related research. Since 2009, Harvard researchers have been awarded $71 million to conduct research on energy and the environment.

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243 courses are offered on energy, sustainability or the environment. A new Secondary Field in Energy and the Environment was added in 2014.

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Currently, Harvard has 230 recognized Green Offices with more than 4,000 staff members engaged. 290 on-campus innovators have been recognized with Green Carpet Awards and through Harvard Heroes since 2010.

 

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

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81 student leaders are engaged or employed through Green Living Programs, the Council of Student Sustainability Leaders, the Student Sustainability Grant Program, and internships in the Office for Sustainability.

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In Progress

We communicate Harvard's commitment to sustainability at each of Harvard's 12 Schools during orientation and move-in. All freshman receive LED bulbs and reusable mugs, and all Harvard University Housing residents are provided with information on living sustainably on campus. 

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"We tap into the creative ideas that our students, faculty, and staff are generating and then work to replicate them University-wide for greater impact."

Heather Henriksen, Director, Office for Sustainability

Annual Snapshots

The Office for Sustainability launched the beta version of Harvard's online Sustainability Report in 2012. This updated website aligns the University's reporting with the goals, standards, and commitments described in the Harvard Sustainability Plan, released in 2014. The data included in this Report was collected from individual Schools and departments, and then aggregated by the Office for Sustainability. The baseline for our goals is Fiscal Year 2006 and reporting is through Fiscal Year 2014.

Displaying data for a large, decentralized institution with multiple campuses is an enormous challenge. 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