Campus power

April 14, 2006

Harvard is cleaning up its act, and Leith Sharp has high hopes it will set a global example

The Harvard Green Campus Initiative began in 2000 with a one-year grant.

Over the past five years it has grown, in partnership with thousands of people in the university, into a $1.1 million (£630,000) business saving more than $5 million and more than 18 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The initiative's business model is fundamentally entrepreneurial as it continuously develops and sells new services to departments that want to save money and reduce environmental impact.

Most large research universities have seen greenhouse gas emissions increase steadily at a rate of about 4 per cent a year since 1990. But in the past two years a number of Harvard schools have started to reverse this trend.

Activities across Harvard include:

  • a $6.5 million investment in energy conservation in existing buildings
  • $180,000 to reduce energy use in labs
  • building energy upgrades producing 30 per cent energy-use reductions
  • a green cleaning service
  • using biodiesel in all university buses
  • deriving biodiesel from kitchen oil
  • a 42 per cent-plus recycling rate
  • subsidised public transportn improved bicycle facilities
  • local and organic produce in cafeterias.

With continued effort, Harvard will become a global model of campus environmental sustainability. This will be achieved with a business-oriented entrepreneurial spirit that will prove to the world that environmental sustainability is not just right, it is also the financially viable, business-minded thing to do.

Leith Sharp is director of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative.

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