Harvard University contributes to the global environment and human well-being in several important ways. Through its primary mission of research, education, and outreach, Harvard’s faculty have made significant advances in many areas, including science, economics, public policy, design, medicine, and public health. The University’s academic contributions provide a considerable opportunity and responsibility to consider the example set by the economic, human health, and environmental performance of its campus. Harvard also influences generations of students whose future behaviors and decisions are shaped by what they learn from their campus experience and the actions of the University’s leaders.
The University has an affirmative record of responsible compliance with environmental and safety regulations and a proven effective system of environmental management accountability. As Harvard plans its future growth, these considerations should support planning decisions that reflect a balance of economic, environmental, and socially responsible values.
The following principles are intended to guide Harvard’s practices toward sustainability through the management of building design, construction, renovation, procurement, landscape, energy, water, waste, emissions, transportation, human health, and productivity.
Harvard University is committed to developing and maintaining an environment that enhances human health and fosters a transition toward sustainability. Sustainability should be advanced through research, analysis, and experience gained over time. To that end, Harvard University is committed to continuous improvement in:
- Demonstrating institutional practices that promote sustainability, including measures to increase efficiency and use of renewable resources, and to decrease production of waste and hazardous materials, both in Harvard’s own operations and in those of its suppliers.
- Promoting health, productivity, and safety of the University community through design and maintenance of the built environment.
- Enhancing the health of campus ecosystems and increasing the diversity of native species.
- Developing planning tools to enable comparative analysis of sustainability implications and to support long-term economic, environmental, and socially responsible decision-making
- Encouraging environmental inquiry and institutional learning throughout the University community.
- Establishing indicators for sustainability that will enable monitoring reporting and continuous improvement.
In order to be successful over the long term, decisions concerning human health and sustainability must be economically sound and seamlessly integrated with established management and financial systems. The initial implementation plan for the University’s Sustainability Principles is based on four closely related tracks:
- Capital Planning and Construction - The University’s capital planning and approvals process for new construction and major renovation of existing campus facilities will be expanded to incorporate the Sustainability Principles in its review. Each School and administrative department proposing a capital project will be required to establish specific objectives consistent with the Principles as part of the formal approval process for capital projects, as is done currently for numerous other priority financial, technical, and regulatory issues.
- Annual Financial and Budget Planning - The University’s annual budget planning process will include explicit recognition of the Sustainability Principles in the commitment of operating funds. As part of its internal annual financial plan, each School and department will be requested to set specific goals and to report on how expenditures for facilities, support services, procurement, and other activities are consistent with the University’s commitment to continuous improvement towards campus sustainability.
- Supporting the Schools and Departments - The University will continue to invest in support systems for sustainability, such as the Office for Sustainability(OFS), to facilitate the implementation of the Sustainability Principles by providing Schools and administrative departments with: a clearinghouse of proven planning tools, guidelines, preferred technologies, products and design solutions; campus specific research and innovation; cost effective financial incentives; training and expertise; assistance in meeting planning and reporting requirements; and a means of facilitating broad community engagement.
- Broad-based Continued Review – Recognizing that the concepts of sustainability will evolve over time through experience, research, economic analysis, and technological advances, the University will continue the work that led to the development of the Sustainability Principles by appointing a standing sustainability advisory group consisting of members of the faculty, administration, and student body. This group will be charged with advising in the development of sustainability indicators, monitoring progress, and providing recommendations for improving the Sustainability Principles and Implementation Framework.