Campus & Community

University’s environmental record lauded

3 min read

Harvard has received an award recognizing the excellence of its environmental programs as well as its record of complying with environmental regulations.

The award is presented annually by the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC), a trade association with representation from industry, consulting firms, government agencies, and some universities.

“It’s very nice to be recognized for our accomplishments,” said Joseph Griffin, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

Griffin was one of 12 Harvard staff and faculty members who attended the EBC’s award dinner on June 22. Provost Harvey Fineberg accepted the award on behalf of the University. According to Griffin, the award was given to Harvard in recognition of a broad range of accomplishments. Among these are the following:

  • Harvard recovers more tons of recyclables than any other urban university east of the Mississippi, garnering the “Best College and University Recycling” award from MassRecycle (a state recycling advocacy organization) in 1998.
  • In January 2000, Harvard was accepted as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Partner for Change for its Web-based hazardous waste and spill prevention training programs. Since January 1999, 4,825 faculty, staff, and students have received training through these innovative Web programs. Harvard is the first university in New England to be recognized under the Partners for Change program.
  • Harvard is a leader in the recently formed Clean Charles Coalition, a voluntary organization of business, industry, and academia committed to assisting the EPA with cleanup of the Charles River by the year 2005.
  • Harvard is the only major university in the region that has not received a monetary penalty following a comprehensive EPA inspection. Other area Universities have had to pay as much as $2 million in fines and associated penalties.
  • In 1999, an internal coalition of students, faculty, and administrative personnel created an initiative called Greening the Crimson to lead in reducing the University’s ecological impact. The vision of this initiative is to instill an ethic of environmental responsibility and sustainability into purchasing, design, construction, and operation of Harvard’s facilities and systems. In April 2000, a full-time coordinator was hired to organize this effort.
  • Griffin also cited Harvard’s undergraduate concentration in Environmental Science and Public Policy, which brings together faculty and students from across the University to study and understand environmental issues from a number of disciplines.

Griffin was told by officials at EBC that when the organization was considering candidates for the award, “The name of Harvard came up again and again.”

Much of the University’s sterling reputation stems from its excellent standing with the EPA, Griffin said.

“They were positively gushing about the quality of our programs and management support.”

The agency’s praise was all the more impressive considering the conditions under which inspections are customarily carried out. Typically, EPA inspectors show up unannounced and spend an average of five man-weeks onsite reviewing the University’s compliance programs.