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Sustainability at Harvard


Harvard University believes universities have a special role and special responsibility in confronting the challenges of climate change and environmental stewardship. Harvard is dedicated to confronting these challenges both through academic research and by translating research into action on campus.

Across Harvard’s 12 plus Schools and departments, faculty, students and staff are working to create replicable models for how large institutions and organizations can engage their entire community around implementing innovative and economically-viable solutions that build a healthier, more sustainable campus. You can read about recent examples by exploring the School and Topics pages on this site.

Main activities

Harvard’s commitment to sustainability is driven by three flagship university-wide commitments, administered through the Office for Sustainability and in partnership with the Schools and central administration:

Greenhouse gas reduction

Harvard University has committed to a GHG reduction goal of a 30 percent reduction from Fiscal Year 2006 levels by 2016, including growth. The goal was set based on the recommendations of a Task Force, made up of faculty, students, and senior administrators, established by President Faust in the spring of 2008 to recommend a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal for the University.

Green building standards

Harvard University has established comprehensive Green Building Standards for capital projects, renovations and building system upgrades that require a smart design process incorporating life cycle costing, integrated design, energy modeling when applicable and other elements that ensure all sustainable design and operations opportunities are vetted and that performance requirements are achieved in a cost-effective manner (Adopted 2009, building on the 2007 Green Building Guidelines).

Innovative Aspects

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.


Latest update: 31.10.2023