Harvard’s commitment to sustainability is driven by three flagship University-wide commitments, administered through the Office for Sustainability and in partnership with the Schools and Central Administration:
- Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Goal to reduce GHG emissions 30% below a 2006 baseline by 2016, including growth (adopted in 2008).
- Comprehensive Green Building Standards for capital projects, renovations and building system upgrades $100,000 and above. (Adopted 2009, building on the 2007 Green Building Guidelines that applied to projects $5 million and above).
- Campus-wide Sustainability Principles that provide a broad vision to guide University operations and planning (adopted in 2004).
The successful implementation of Harvard’s sustainability goals and initiatives requires an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination among the University’s decentralized and diverse community. The foundation of this effort is collaborative decision-making and a clearly defined administrative leadership and organizational management framework to engage and empower students, staff and faculty across every one of Harvard’s 12 Schools, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Central Administrative units. The sustainability governance structure was established to ensure continuous improvement and coordinated decision-making, and to ensure that students, staff and faculty are informed and participating in planning and implementation efforts.
Culture Shift Through Collaboration
The central Office for Sustainability (OFS) works as a catalyst for change by leading sustainability efforts at Harvard and partnering with Schools and units to facilitate collaborative University-wide decision-making and sharing of best practices. In addition, the OFS team focuses on developing and launching University-wide programs, policies and initiatives that contribute to the University’s sustainability goals and partnering with Campus Services groups and the Schools to expand integration of sustainability into operational practices throughout Harvard. Learn more about the Office for Sustainability team.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal Executive Committee
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Executive Committee, comprised of faculty and senior level administrators, from across Harvard’s Schools and units, was appointed by President Faust to provide strategic leadership and guidance during the ongoing implementation of Harvard’s greenhouse gas reduction goal.
“Energy use varies widely across the University, from energy-dense laboratories to offices to student houses, each posing very different challenges in reducing our emissions—yet, the problem belongs to all of us ” said Jeremy Bloxham, dean of science at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The Committee is led by the Executive Vice President, Katie Lapp, and two faculty chairs, Jeremy Bloxham, Dean of Science at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Robert S. Kaplan, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School. In addition, the Administrative Council approves related policies, such as the Green Building Standards and University-wide Temperature Policy.
“OFS ran a collaborative process, and the working groups, comprised of School and unit leaders, created alignment across the University,” Rob Kaplan, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School.
Immediately following the adoption of Harvard’s GHG Reduction Goal, the Executive Vice President and Office for Sustainability led a two-year implementation planning process to formulate a comprehensive University-wide GHG Reduction Strategy. The planning process included the establishment of five cross-School and Administration Working Groups and a Student Advisory Group that were tasked with researching and making recommendations which were reviewed and overseen by the GHG Reduction Executive Committee.
Implementing economically viable energy conservation measures and improving the efficiency of our energy supply are “smart choices that will have a long-term positive impact on the environment and the cost of our operations,” said Katherine Lapp, Harvard’s executive vice president
As part of this strategic approach several university-wide policies have been established including a Temperature Policy, a campus energy audit strategy and the incorporation of energy conservation measures into the University’s five-year capital planning process.
Sustainability and Energy Management Council
The Sustainability and Energy Management Council (SEMC) is comprised of key Senior University staff including all facility and energy leaders from across campus as well as School representatives from Human Resources, Finance, IT, and Communications. The Office for Sustainability convenes the Council to facilitate University-wide discussion around best practices for the cost-effective achievement of sustainability and energy reduction goals and to ensure University-wide alignment and policy development for increased efficiencies and progress.
Subject-specific SEMC sub-committees are convened to develop proposals for key GHG and energy conservation topics such as IT, laboratories, training, Green Building Standards Review, Green Loan Fund Review and measurement and verification.
The SEMC is led by three Co-Chairs representing the Schools, Campus Services and other units: Andy O’Brien, Chief of Operations at the Harvard Business School; Doug Garron, Director of Energy & Facilities; and Heather Henriksen, Director of Office for Sustainability. SEMC expertise shapes the proposed GHG reduction policies and principles prior to Executive Committee review.
Council of Student Sustainability Leaders
The Council of Student Sustainability Leaders (CSSL) is a group convened by the Office for Sustainability with representation from environmental groups at Harvard College and each of Harvard’s professional schools. CSSL meets throughout the year to discuss and provide feedback and recommendations on sustainability initiatives at Harvard and to lay the groundwork in preparation for advancing the University’s sustainability goals.