Since 1907, the Harvard Forest’s mission has been to further research and education in the fields of ecology, forest biology, conservation, and climate change. The Forest’s interest in climate change has recently transcended the realm of science and research and has led to efforts to reduce the Forest’s own carbon footprint.

Completed Projects

Since fiscal year 2006, Harvard’s baseline year for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the following projects have been undertaken:

  • Window replacements (Shaler Hall)
  • New winter temperatures settings:
    • Weekday: 68 degrees (daytime) and 64 degrees (evening) (Shaler Hall)
    • Weekend: 64 degrees (Shaler Hall)
  • Use of the wood boiler on weekends instead of the oil boiler(Shaler Hall and Torrey Lab)
  • 10 kW solar array installation in July 2007 to offset large increase in research electric use: 24,000 kWh of electricity has been generated as of July 1, 2009.
  • New, more efficient boiler installation (Community House Residence)
  • Power management enabled for all new computers (offices)
  • Programmable thermostats (all buildings and residences)
  • Lighting upgrades: CFL bulbs (all residences) and more efficient fluorescent lighting (Shaler Hall and Torry lab)

Cultural Change

The Forest administration has made it a priority to reduce the amount of energy used by encouraging behavior changes in the building occupants.

  • Employees are encouraged to turn off computers, lights and fans in their offices when not in use.
  • Employees are encouraged to turn off lights in common areas when those areas are not in use.

Planned Projects

  • Installation of a biomass heating system for all the Prospect Hill facilities.
    • More efficient than the wood furnace currently in Shaler Hall.
    • Automated biomass heating would reduce reliance on oil heating during off hours when staff is not present.
  • Installation of new, more efficient, “Cold Storage” units in Archives.
  • Energy audits for each residence.

Results (% change FY09 vs FY06)

  • Total Electricity: increase of 7%
    • Research Electric: increase of 26%
    • Shaler Hall Electric: decrease of 15%
  • Oil consumption: decrease of 37%
  • Propane: increase of 17%
  • Wood: decrease of 12%
  • Gas for vehicles and equipment: increase of 36%

Visit the Harvard Forest website to read about the Forest’s most recent research projects and its staff involvement in climate change research.