Campus & Community

Green milestones

5 min read

1991: University Committee on the Environment established to encourage and coordinate University-wide environment-related activities and scholarship.

1998: Harvard’s President’s Office and the Office of the Governing Boards decide to use only recycled copy paper and stationery.

1998: Harvard wins the “Best College and University Recycling” award from MassRecycle.

2000: Harvard becomes first university in New England to be a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Partner for Change.

2000: Harvard recognized by the Environmental Business Council of New England for excellence of environmental programs and compliance with environmental regulations.

2000: President Neil Rudenstine provides the seed funding for the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI) to be established as a joint academic and administrative initiative.

2001 April: Harvard Center for the Environment established to integrate disciplines relating to the study of the environment and support multidisciplinary approaches to the solution of environmental problems.

2001 fall: HMS and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) partner with HGCI to establish the Longwood Campus Energy Reduction Program. HRES partners with HGCI to establish the HRES Green Buildings Program. FAS partners with HGCI to establish the FAS Campus Energy Reduction Program, targeting computer energy use.

2002: HRES and HSPH pilot Harvard’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green buildings. HGCI determines that LEED should be recommended for all projects at Harvard.

2002-03: REP saves the University more than $200,000 in reduced energy usage, waste decreases, recycling increases, and water conservation efforts, becoming a model for other universities. Yale and the University of New Hampshire create programs based on REP. HMS and HSPH save over $120,000 a year through the Longwood Campus Energy Reduction Program.

2002 November: Harvard sets monthly recycling record.

2003: The EPA recognizes the John F. Kennedy School of Government, FAS, and the HGCI for their energy conservation efforts.

2003: A 36-kilowatt solar panel array, the second largest in Boston, is installed on Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Shad Hall

2004: Cambridge awards Harvard its Go Green business award for efforts to preserve the environment and the quality of life in Cambridge.

2004 March: University becomes the first Ivy League school to use biodiesel – a mix of 20% soybean oil and 80% diesel fuel – as the primary fuel for its entire fleet of diesel vehicles. Harvard opens its own biodiesel filling station to supply its vehicles.

2004: HSPH becomes the first School to achieve a real reduction in energy use across its entire campus.

2004 December: President Lawrence H. Summers announces that the University will double the Green Campus Loan Fund — to $6 million.

2005: The University wins the Green Power Leadership Award from the EPA, the U.S. Energy Department, and the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions.

2005 April: Harvard begins using rainwater to wash as many as 250 University-owned vehicles each week, saving 25,000 gallons of water each year.

2005 July: 46 Blackstone St. renovation achieves recycling rate of 99%.

2005 July: HBS establishes Harvard’s first Green Team to engage staff in buildings across the campus to reduce environmental impacts.

2005 November: HGCI kicks off EmPOWER Harvard campaign, which gets people to sign an online pledge to conserve power in their offices.

2005: Harvard Divinity School (HDS) offsets 100% of its electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing renewable energy certificates.

2006: HGCI hosts Harvard’s first campus sustainability conference. More than 600 attend. Summers doubles HGCI fund for second time, now reaches $12 million.

2006: HMS promotes “Shut the Sash” campaign, encouraging the closing of fume hoods. Energy costs generated by a single hood are between $2,000 and $3,000 each year.

2006 June: Harvard announces it will purchase the renewable energy credits from the town of Hull’s 1.8 megawatt wind turbine for the next 10 years.

2006: Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and FAS partner with HGCI to establish Green Teams to implement School-wide conservation efforts.

2006: Radcliffe achieves LEED rating for its Schlesinger Library renovation.

2006 December: 83% of FAS undergrads vote in favor of FAS adopting a greenhouse gas reduction commitment of 11% below 1990 levels by 2020, 1% better than Yale’s commitment. In response, FAS establishes a committee and partners with the HGCI to develop a business plan for achieving this target.

2006: HRES sets energy reduction goal and partners with HGCI to undertake an energy audit of residential buildings. 200 new energy conservation projects are found.

2006: Harvard registers its 16th LEED building project.

2007: HGCI has grown to an interfaculty organization of 20 full-time professional staff and 40 part-time students funded largely through savings generated by programs listed above. See

2007: The Sustainable Endowments Institute gives Harvard an A- grade for “one of the most comprehensive campus sustainability programs in the country.” Out of the more than 100 U.S. universities evaluated, Harvard was one of only four to receive the rating.

2007: Radcliffe (62%) and HBS (61%) fight it out for the highest recycling rates on campus.

2007: Harvard’s Stuff sale raises a record $90,000 for charity from the resale of abandoned “dorm stuff.”

2007: HGCI expands the repayment terms of Green Campus Loan Fund to encourage inclusion of sustainable features in the design and construction of new buildings

2007: American Forest and Paper Association gives its 2007 recycling award to Harvard for its University-wide paper recycling efforts.

2007: Harvard registers its 21st LEED building project.

2007 April: The United States Green Building Council awarded the 46 Blackstone St. building Harvard’s first platinum rating, the highest possible certification under the LEED green building program.

2007: Harvard’s University Construction Management Council approves development of green building guidelines to be incorporated into the approvals process for building renovations and construction at Harvard. HGCI convenes an interfaculty steering group of project managers to develop these.

2007: Harvard’s Allston Development Group establishes comprehensive Sustainability Guidelines for the Allston campus. Guidelines include a LEED Gold aspiration for all buildings along with goals to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.