By Grey Lee

December 5, 2014

Photo credit: Harvard University Housing

Actions speak louder than words and Harvard is definitely taking some noticeable action in the green building community!  The Harvard Green Building Standards reflect Harvard University's commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from building design to operations within their new capital projects and major renovations over $100,000. They were “built” upon the Harvard Green Building Guidelines from 2007 and the Harvard Green Building Standards from 2009 (led by the Office for Sustainability and Green Building Services), then they were updated this year to include healthy material requirements and assessment to determine toxic substance exposure.  Consistent with the mission and priorities of USGBC MA, Harvard also analyzes how Net Zero Energy Buildings, LEED certification and energy efficiency systems can improve their campus buildings and spaces through implementation.

The Harvard Green Building Standards require:

Integrated design goal-setting charrettes with all key stakeholders
Multiple iterations of energy models
Life cycle cost analysis
Prescriptive requirements such as aggressive energy and water reduction targets

Through these standards, Harvard sets a prime example that greening a community takes commitment and teamwork.  Because of the hundreds of participants across the University's Schools and departments working in a collaborative process, Harvard continues to develop and expand their knowledge and resources in order to stay on top of their green game!

Harvard’s green efforts also go beyond buildings into energy conversion in their Nocera Lab, a research group of Daniel G. Nocera, which studies the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry.  Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University and has been an organizer to and primary author of four DOE Basic Research Need workshops: Hydrogen, Solar Energy, Energy Storage and Catalysis.  He was also a primary author of the Grand Challenges report (Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination) to the DOE.  His group pioneered studies of the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry with primary focus in recent years on the generation of solar fuels.

Earning a LEED Gold Certification earlier this year, Harvard hits another homerun with their 33,000 sq. ft. renovation at the Cronkhite Graduate Center.  The renovations included a new core bathroom installation, new lounge/kitchenettes, new high efficiency lighting and heating system upgrades on 150 dorm rooms.  Scoring perfectly in water efficiency, innovation and regional priority credits, Harvard will be able to provide their students with a healthier and energy efficient living space into the future!

We hope that many more institutions will follow their “LEED” and take on the challenge of greening their communities for the invaluable results that are sure to come.


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