HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES
Six new sustainability principles adopted
To ensure growth and advance record as responsible environmental steward
The principles are the result of a process commissioned by President Lawrence H. Summers after hearing concerns from students, alumni, and members of the community regarding the development of a sustainable future campus.
The new University policy, reflected in six sustainability principles for campus planning and operations, commits Harvard to developing new green campus buildings and promoting and rigorously monitoring sustainable practices in all campus operations. The principles also build on Harvard's established leadership in environmental awareness, education, and action. Harvard, for example, runs its entire fleet of diesel vehicles on cleaner-burning bio-diesel fuel, has applied new green building standards to recent projects, is the third largest university purchaser of renewable energy in the nation, and has seen conservation and environmental education campaigns cut energy consumption in campus dormitories by 10 to 12 percent over the last year and a half.
In making the announcement, Summers praised the efforts of the committee of faculty, students, and staff and noted the benefits of the new principles.
"Operating our campus in an environmentally sustainable way is not only the right thing to do as a citizen and neighbor, it is also an economically sound way to conduct our business," said Summers. "As we plan for the future, these principles will set a strong course that will benefit Harvard and promote responsible growth and environmental quality in our community."
The announcement comes at a time when Massachusetts and communities in the Greater Boston region are emerging as national leaders in environmental sustainability, with state and city agencies advocating for the protection of the environment through smart growth, the prudent use of natural resources, and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Universities can be valuable participants in such regional and national environmental efforts.
"Our city continues to make strides in efforts to promote sustainable development initiatives in Boston," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who convened a task force to help establish green standards for new construction and renovation in Boston. "We applaud Harvard for thinking boldly about smart growth and green building. Their approach will translate into a healthier city for residents and employees alike."
Cambridge Mayor Michael A. Sullivan added, "Harvard has worked with the city on numerous fronts and we welcome their partnership on environmental matters as well, whether that be in everyday practices like recycling or long term sustainability principles in planning and operations. With our university and corporate neighbors, we can make a difference."
The sustainability principles directly build on the widespread participation of students, faculty, and administrators alike in numerous Harvard Green Campus programs across the campus. Student and alumni interest in a sustainable future campus prompted Summers to call on the Harvard Green Campus Initiative and a committee of 28 students, faculty, and administrators to define a set of aspirations for the University that advocate sustainable development and advance Harvard's grassroots progress in the environmental arena.
"The students are pleased with President Summers' response to their concerns, and we look forward to continuing to work with the administration and faculty to ensure that the principles are implemented," said Zach Liscow '05, a member of the advisory committee. "These principles add validity to the growing recognition that environmental sustainability can help save both money and the environment. Today I am proud to be an environmentalist at Harvard."
James. J. McCarthy, professor of biological oceanography and director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, commented, "The common view that successful business and a clean environment are a contradiction is slowly being revealed as the false choice it truly is. There is a growing number of businesses that are demonstrating otherwise and since the university is a microcosm of a larger number of business types, it is an excellent place to develop and demonstrate win-win strategies."
The new University Sustainability Principles commit Harvard to:
"Rather than identify a list of prescriptive goals, we identified a course of action that will serve the University as standards in sustainability evolve over time," said Jack Spengler, professor of environmental health and human habitation in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health and co-chair of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative.
As a part of early implementation, a sustainability consultant will be working with Cooper Robertson & Partners as they develop guidelines for future development of the Allston area of Harvard's campus. In addition, Harvard expects to incorporate the principles into campus operations to pursue gains in energy conservation and efficiency. An advisory committee with student, faculty, and administration representation will monitor the implementation of the University-wide effort.