Harvard University has long been known to take the lead in research, public administration, and business and law studies, so why not sustainability? The university has become the first higher education institution to have earned 50 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for new construction or renovation to existing buildings. LEED-certified buildings save money on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a healthier environment.
The projects not only cover some 1.5 million square feet of surface area, but even extend underground with a geothermal well that heats and cools the 80-year-old Byerly Hall.
And that’s just the beginning. There are more than 40 other new construction and renovation projects, covering another 3 million square feet, that are planned or currently seeking LEED certification.
“Our Green Building Standards require LEED Gold at a minimum for all new construction or renovation projects,” says Colin Durrant, manager of sustainability communications at Harvard
Of the 14 recent construction projects that have been certified, an estimated $1.5 million annually in energy savings has been realized, while carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by more than 4,000 metric tons, well beyond industry energy standards.
Harvard’s Office of Sustainability is eager to share its knowledge and experience with other institutions pursuing a greener campus environment with a best-practice website. Resources include case studies, a Life Cycle Costing calculator, LEED documentation and a green products database.