At the renowned Harvard Faculty Club the latest guest amenity comes in the form of an elegant clear glass bottle. For more than a month, Faculty Club employees have been filling those glass bottles with filtered carbonated or still water from new machines that eliminate the use of over 15,000 plastic and glass bottles annually. The initiative is just one more way the Club’s staff are putting Harvard’s sustainability commitment into action.

Standing next to one of the new machines, which sports spouts for either carbonated or still water, Guest Services Manager Karen Keane says customers are responding extremely well to the new water serving option used in the dining rooms, and function rooms. Several guests have even asked if they can buy the re-usable glass serving bottles.

The idea originated with the Faculty Club’s General Manager, Syed Shahidullah, who said he and his employees are always looking for new ways to improve their sustainability efforts. Customers respond well to green initiatives and appreciate the Club is exploring opportunities to reduce its environmental impact. Syed approached the Harvard Office for Sustainability (OFS) for advice and worked with OFS’ Sustainability Engagement Manager Elaine Strunk to research and evaluate potential vendors. They ultimately chose a product that delivered the quality customers expected, was cost-effective and reduced the Club’s environmental footprint by cutting emissions from the delivery of bottled water and eliminating waste from the thousands of single-use plastic and glass bottles previously used.

A quick tour of the Faculty Club unveils many of the other ways it has sought to reduce waste, conserve resources and support local food.  Much of the lighting, even the old chandeliers and wall fixtures, uses LED bulbs. Air conditioning, heating and lights are left off in event and guest rooms until just before they are occupied to save energy and utility costs. And in the kitchens, chefs are preparing meals with produce – bright purple eggplants, robust cheery tomatoes and green chard – from the student-run Harvard Community Garden and local farms. Menus feature seasonal food and all food waste is composted. At the Faculty Club the environmental ethic truly runs deep, for the benefit of visitors, employees and the campus.