Impact Report

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Report Methodology

We're Measuring Our Impact to Build a Better Future

Harvard is dedicated to educating and inspiring a new generation of environmental leaders. Our goal is to ask the big questions that will help us envision and implement new ideas that will contribute to our progress in building a better future. In order to move forward and continuously improve, we must fully understand where we stand today. This Sustainability Impact Report is Harvard’s first attempt at providing a university-wide, transparent snapshot of the efforts we have undertaken to reduce the environmental footprint of our campus.

Report Methodology

The Harvard Office for Sustainability embarked upon the process of developing a university-wide impact report in partnership with Harvard’s twelve Schools and administrative departments in order to:

  1. Provide a baseline for future reporting and benchmarking by collecting and displaying sustainability performance data across our University. 
  2. Display the breadth and depth of our community’s commitment to sustainability in order to educate and hopefully inspire others inside and outside Harvard.
  3. Encourage an open and honest conversation about the challenges we face in implementing Harvard’s sustainability goals so we can identify the solutions that will help us move forward.

Our approach to sustainability is constantly evolving and so should our reporting. We purposely created an interactive online reporting format not only to use less paper and conserve natural resources but more importantly so we could continually update data and allow students, staff, faculty, alumni and others to interact with the data and content in real-time.

Quick Stats
• Over 26 million square feet of classrooms, dorms, offices, laboratories and other buildings.
• 49,080 faculty, students and staff (FY11)
• 12 Schools, plus the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Central Administrative units.

Displaying University-wide data for a large, decentralized institution with multiple campuses is an enormous challenge and this report is by no means an end point. The Office for Sustainability (OFS) gathered sustainability metrics covering the entire North American campus where possible. The data was received from individual Schools and administrative units and aggregated by the Office for Sustainability. Unless noted otherwise the metrics will be updated on this site on an annual basis in accordance with Harvard’s fiscal year (July – June). OFS will refine and expand this report in collaboration with and using feedback from faculty, students and staff from across the University.

This online document is not intended to be an integrated report that covers a full range of socio-economic data. There are other departments and units within Harvard that focus on reporting economic and demographic data. They include:

  • The Harvard Management Company reports on Harvard’s endowment.
  • Harvard Financial Administration compiles and posts the Annual Financial Report of Harvard University.
  • The Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for developing a strategic approach and the supporting programs and platforms for promoting diversity across campus.
  • The Harvard Fact Book is compiled by the Provost and contains a wide range of data regarding the University including organization, people, and resources.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Harvard’s primary university-wide sustainability target is our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% from a 2006 baseline by 2016, including all growth.

In response to the establishment of the GHG reduction goal and to meet our regulatory reporting requirements, Harvard developed a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory using the Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol as a guiding methodology. Inventory data collection and reporting requirements were established through a rigorous process of consultation with administrative and facilities leaders throughout Harvard.

Beyond our climate goal, all of Harvard’s Schools and departments are aggressively pursuing sustainability initiatives beyond GHG emissions and energy that are delivering real impacts in water, waste and resource reduction.

External Recognition

Harvard’s leadership in and commitment to sustainability has been reviewed and rated highly by several prominent external organizations including the Sierra Club, Princeton Review and Sustainable Endowments Institute. We are proud to be the only Ivy to have appeared on the Princeton Review’s Green Rating Honor Roll for all five years it has been in existence. To learn more visit:


Harvard University is a Charter Signatory Institution of the International Sustainable Campus Network and regularly submits Charter reports as part of our participation.


Harvard University is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and regularly contributes to its tools and resources. The Office for Sustainability is in the process of reviewing Harvard’s participation in the AASHE STARS rating system and to date has not participated as it continues the process of providing feedback to AASHE about the measurement tool.


The Office for Sustainability is undergoing the process of exploring the use of the GRI index for future reporting years.