Campus & Community

A snapshot of Harvard’s emission reductions

5 min read

In 2007, Harvard University pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, inclusive of growth, 30 percent by 2016, with 2006 as the baseline year. University-wide, GHG reductions are around 5 percent so far, including growth. The reductions are due to changes in Harvard’s energy supply and to activities and projects at Schools and units.

A few highlights:

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 16 percent.*
  • Implemented new temperature policy (FY 2009). Estimated annual results: reductions of 1,312 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE), savings of $618,247.
  • Completed energy projects in the Science Center. Estimated annual results: reductions of 295 MTCDE, savings of $123,000 (a 4.9-year simple payback). Projects include demand-control ventilation, lighting upgrades, and occupancy sensors.

Harvard Kennedy School

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 16 percent.
  • Upgraded chiller system in the Littauer Building (2006). Estimated annual results: reduction of 135 MTCDE, savings of $35,734.
  • Held several large zero-waste events over the past year (2009), including the staff picnic, staff holiday party, and class picnic.

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

  • Renovated Byerly Hall, reducing MTCDE by 40 percent since FY 2006. Included: ground source heat pumps for heating and cooling, room occupancy sensors, and other energy conservation measures.
  • Started trash-free events at the Radcliffe Fellowship Program, including three lunches a week. Some events use real china, tablecloths, and tableware; others use compostable ware. All food waste and napkins are composted.
  • Established a program to recycle or reuse clothing, furniture, books, study supplies, and more from the Cronkhite Center. Result: reduced trash generation during the May move-out period from 25 cubic yards to under 10 cubic yards, a 60 percent reduction.

Harvard Medical School / Harvard School of Dental Medicine

  • Renovated the Systems Biology Department’s DePace Laboratory, the first wet lab at Harvard to achieve LEED Gold Certification. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a set of U.S. standards for sustainable building and interior design.)
  • Installed computer power management technology on 188 computers in the student computing lab, which has saved $6,193 and 38,703 kWh of power since the pilot began in January 2009. Harvard Medical School is looking to expand the pilot to other departments.
  • Replaced all disposable sharps containers in two lab buildings with reusable containers. Results to date: more than 2,000 pounds of plastic diverted from the waste stream.

Harvard School of Public Health

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 13 percent.
  • Began continuous commissioning program in FY 2003, resulting in improved building efficiency. Continuous commissioning is a monitoring process used to track and retune a building’s energy efficiency.
  • Installed LED overhead and task lighting, which uses 60 percent less energy per square foot than required by Massachusetts state code.
  • Applied for a $5 million Massachusetts retrofit grant to reduce energy consumption at Building 1 by 50 percent.

Harvard Law School

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 14 percent.
  • Installed new occupancy-sensor thermostats in North Hall, the highest energy-use building (2009) at the Law School. Estimated reductions: 44 MTCDE a year.
  • Began program to shut off the School’s library computers, printers, and copiers at night. Each device automatically goes into standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity (2009).

Harvard Business School

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 27 percent.
  • Started continuous commissioning for Morgan and McArthur halls. Estimated annual results: a reduction of 429 MTCDE and savings of $104,995.
  • Tightened schedules for heating and cooling based on estimates of actual occupied hours for each building (FY 2009). Estimated annual results: reductions of 10 MTCDE and savings of $100,000.
  • Sought and received LEED certification for five buildings.
  • For information on sustainability projects at HBS, see this interactive HBS campus project map.

Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Converted the Longfellow Hall boiler plant from a mix of fuel oil and natural gas to natural gas only (winter 2009-10). Estimated results: reduction of around 150 MTCDE, or 7.5 percent of the total 2006 GHG emissions.
  • Got lead position University-wide in occupant engagement pledges (45 percent participation) and recycling (68 percent).
  • Completed the Larsen Classroom Renovation Project in October 2009, gutting and renovating two floors. Three state-of-the-art classrooms now have both demand-controlled ventilation and lighting — the last using 27 percent less electricity than code.

Harvard Divinity School

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 12 percent.
  • Renovated Rockefeller Hall to LEED Gold standard, which reduced MTCDE by 25 percent.
  • Completed energy audits of all buildings and identified energy conservation measures. One measure now in place: Energy-saving, variable-frequency drives on ventilation fans in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library (2009). Result: a reduction of 2.2 MTCDE in the past two months.
  • Started a community garden (2009) using local compost. Read full story.

Graduate School of Design

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09): 4.6 percent.
  • Started working with faculty to integrate facilities projects with the curriculum. One example: a dynamic thermal modeling project for a mechanical system replacement.
  • Recruited more than 10 percent of the School staff for its Green Team.

University Operations Services

  • Installed efficient lighting fixtures and motion sensors in 10 University parking garages. Estimated annual results: reduction of 852 MTCDE, and savings of $380,000.
  • Started using more natural gas and less oil to fuel the Blackstone Steam Plant, reducing GHG emissions there by 15 percent since 2006.
  • Implemented efficiency improvements in the chilled-water system. Demand has increased by 14 percent, but related GHG emissions have been reduced by about 10 percent.

Harvard Real Estate Services

  • Reduction in GHG emissions (FY 2006-09):  20 percent (residential buildings).
  • Reduced water use by installing 2,700 low-flow showerheads and 5,300 faucet aerators in graduate housing. Estimated annual savings: 8.5 million gallons of water, and $118,000.
  • Installed the largest solar photovoltaic system in the Ivy League (December 2009) on a commercial property. Estimated power generation per year: 635,272 kWh.

* This figure excludes all new buildings less than 50 percent occupied in FY 2006.