Campus & Community

Conservation fund doubles

3 min read

Will add $3 million for conservation projects

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers announced Monday that the University will double the dollars available for campus conservation projects through the Green Campus Loan Fund – to $6 million – with the aim of financing greater energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction across Harvard.

Summers made the announcement during a symposium on global climate change at Sanders Theatre Monday night (Dec. 13), sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

Summers said the projects financed through interest-free loans from the fund in recent years have had a high average rate of return, making them good investments as well as laudable environmental projects.

“Today I’m pleased to announce that we’re doubling the size of that fund and challenging each of the Schools to come forward with any project they have to increase energy efficiency,” Summers said. “We believe there are many that are out there.”

The fund, administered by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, was established in 2001 with $3 million in principal. The fund offers no-interest loans that are repaid over time from the savings realized by the projects.

Thomas E. Vautin, associate vice president for facilities and environmental services and co-chair of the Green Campus Initiative, said the new money will be welcome since most of the fund is currently tied up in active projects.

Vautin said the fund has acted as a catalyst, helping to get people talking about potential savings that could be realized through waste reduction and energy and water conservation.

The projects funded through the Green Campus Loan Fund are “win-win” projects, Vautin said, both saving money and reducing Harvard’s impact on the environment.

“There are so many things that we can do that are environmentally responsible that also have economic incentives,” Vautin said. “It will be some time before we run out of potential projects.”

Some examples of projects funded by the Green Campus Loan Fund include:

  • Computerized irrigation controls for Harvard Business School landscaping. The controls assess recent rainfall, humidity levels, and soil moisture before turning on landscape sprinklers, saving an estimated 5 million gallons of water a year.
  • Computer Energy Reduction Program. Aimed at changing behavior by encouraging students, faculty, and staff to shut off computers, lights, and heating, the program at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is expected to save $300,000 per year.
  • Lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades. Numerous projects in nearly every school to upgrade to energy-efficient systems have been financed through the loan fund with aggregate annual savings exceeding $500,000.For more information, see the Harvard Green Campus Initiative Web site at