Acting on Our "Accountability to the Future"
In 2008, Harvard President Drew Faust appointed a Task Force on Greenhouse Gas Emissions to “recommend an appropriate University-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal and a strategy and a timeline to achieve that goal.”
Upon reviewing their findings, President Faust, the University Deans, and the Corporation approved the full recommendations of the Task Force and adopted an initial short-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including those associated with prospective growth, by 30% as measured from a 2006 baseline through calendar year 2016. In a message to the community, President Faust directed the University to “pursue a comprehensive program to reduce Harvard’s GHG emissions, adopting a long-term strategy intended to achieve continuous improvement in reducing Harvard’s GHG emissions at the maximum practicable rate.”
In order to engage the entire University’s efforts towards the GHG reduction goal, the President’s Office envisioned the first annual Sustainability Celebration. The Green is the New Crimson Sustainability Celebration was held on October 22, 2008 when 15,000 people gathered in Tercentenary Theater to hear a keynote address from Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore and alumnus of the class of 1965.
Listen to Al Gore's remarks at the 2008 Sustainability Celebration below:
Since that time and building on over a decade of education, research and action, thousands of students, staff and faculty have shown that Harvard can strengthen our community and change the culture of how we work and live to effectively confront the challenge of environmental sustainability and climate change.
Strategic Planning and Implementation
In order to achieve Harvard's ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal, the Office for Sustainability -- under the leadership of the Executive Vice President and in partnership with the Schools -- has convened the community to:
- Create a clearly defined administrative and governance structure.
- Develop a plan and process for continuously identifying improvements.
- Share best practices.
The process has actively mobilized the Administrative Deans, Facilities Departments and other senior leaders to action around the short-term emissions reduction goal.
OFS ran a collaborative process, and the working groups, comprised of School and unit leaders, created alignment across the University.
- HBS PROFESSOR ROB KAPLAN
The alignment of Schools and the central administrative departments on how to implement the GHG reduction program directly addresses the goal of establishing a more clearly defined administrative structure to ensure that relevant stakeholders and perspectives across the University community are involved in decision-making.
GHG Reduction Goal Governance Structure
- The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal Executive Committee reviews and approves recommendations for implementation of the GHG Reduction Program.
- The Office for Sustainability, building on the successful faculty and staff initiative started in 2001, was created in 2008 to oversee the implementation of Harvard’s sustainability goals – convening the community to share best practices and develop new University-wide programs and policies.
- The Sustainability and Energy Management Council, which is comprised of senior facilities and operations leaders from all Schools and the Central Administration. The SEMC shares best practices, creates working groups to focus on key issues (Labs, IT, etc.) and evaluates existing sustainability goals and recommends new programs, initiatives and policies to support and improve Harvard’s sustainability commitments.
- Five Working Groups were created (GHG Inventory; Energy Supply; Building Efficiency & Demand Management; Finance; Communications & Engagement) and worked from 2008-2010 to create the GHG Implementation Plan. A Student Advisory Group of over 40 undergraduate and graduate students reviews the implementation decisions and is currently crafting a Student GHG Reduction Plan.
GHG Working Group outcomes
|GHG Inventory and Measurement||
|Building Efficiency and Demand Management||
|Marketing, Communications and Engagement||
Watch HBS Professor Rob Kaplan speak about Harvard's GHG reduction strategy:
Harvard’s community-based approach to reducing GHG emissions by focusing on institutional change, governance and grassroots engagement has resulted in substantial progress toward the short-term 2016 GHG Reduction Goal and created a foundation for a long-term commitment to confronting climate change.
Harvard has reduced greenhouse gas emissions 16% from FY06 - FY12 including over 3 million square feet of growth.
By pursuing a strategy to continuously improve efficiency in buildings and energy supply operations, including setting energy reduction targets for construction and renovations, managing energy demand at peak times, and educating occupants to reduce their energy usage, Harvard has reduced emissions measurably and saved money.
The implementation strategy has strengthened University-wide collaboration, saved money, and increased operational efficiency.
- A comprehensive GHG emissions inventory methodology (aligned with the Climate Registry’s Operational Control model) and a Greenhouse Gas Information Management System has been developed for tracking GHG emissions University-wide in a consistent format. The Office for Sustainability releases an annual university-wide progress report detailing greenhouse gas reduction to date.
- Extensive energy auditing, implementation energy conservation measures and building commissioning projects, and incorporation of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction planning into the University’s five year capital planning process have increased the efficiency of buildings and reduced energy use campus-wide.
- Improvements in the Cambridge/Allston energy supply have been accomplished by: using more efficient chillers and free-cooling heat exchangers to produce chilled water; switching the fuel source which powers the steam plant to natural gas; replacing and upgrading boilers; and adding a 5 megawatt back pressure turbine to generate electricity.
- A significant commitment to investing in renewable energy has been made, in part to meet Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations requiring an increasing percentage of electricity from renewable sources. On-campus solar projects produce over 1 megawatt (MW) of electricity and in 2009 Harvard became the largest institutional buyer of wind power in New England when it announced it was purchasing renewable energy certificates to support the construction of a planned wind power project in Maine.
- One Harvard collaboration and culture change have driven continuous improvement across campus. University-wide committees and decision-making forums have brought the entire Harvard community together to share best practices and create university-wide policies (Temperature Policy, Green Building Standards). Community engagement initiatives have invovled thousands of students, faculty and staff in campaigns to reduce energy and conserve resources.