Sustainability

At Harvard, we believe universities have a special role and responsibility to confront the global challenges of climate change and sustainability.

On campus, we’re by modeling an institutional pathway to a healthier, low-carbon community. It’s a conscious choice to live out what our students, faculty and staff are learning through research that occurs across disciplines and throughout the world. Through their teaching and learning, Harvard’s students acquire the tools to confront this issue for generations to come.

The Office for Sustainability partners with schools and departments across the University to set and achieve goals for a more sustainable campus, and provides tools and resources that help fuel discovery and action.

Harvard’s Commitment

In 2008, the University established its most ambitious sustainability commitment to date: a science-based climate goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2006 levels by 2016, inclusive of growth. As of 2016, Harvard met that goal.

Harvard’s five-year Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2014, has even more ambitious goals. It’s the University’s roadmap for building and operating a healthier, more sustainable campus. The Plan aligns Harvard’s decentralized campus around a holistic vision and sets clear University-wide goals and priorities in the areas of emissions and energy, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, health and well-being, and culture and learning.

Sustainability efforts bring together students, faculty, and staff to collaborate on solutions that lead to lasting change. Progress to date includes:

  • A 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including growth and renovation;
  • 132 LEED certified and registered green building projects;
  • A 24% reduction in water use;
  • A 43% reduction in waste per capita;
  • 17% of electricity generated from renewable sources;
  • 60% organic landscaping;
  • 4 community gardens and 2 farmers’ markets;
  • 200+ Green Offices with more than 3,500 employees engaged.

The Critical Role of Employees

Employees play an especially important role in generating solutions that lead to real results. Many find that becoming involved in sustainability provides them with leadership and professional development opportunities. Sustainability champions are recognized as part of the annual Harvard Heroes program.

Get Involved

  1. Sign up for the monthly sustainability email newsletter to get tips and hear the latest sustainability news.
  2. Join a Green Team. These groups find innovative ways to make their department, school or office more sustainable.
  3. Green your office. The Green Office Program is a four-step recognition program for reducing energy and conserving resources in the workplace.
  4. Explore tools and resources on green.harvard.edu for ideas on how to create change.