With the certification of the Faculty of Arts and Science's Zhuang Lab, Harvard now has 20 new construction, major rehabilitation, and interior renovation projects certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED®) green building rating systems.  These projects represent Harvard’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact and improving occupant health and comfort.  Harvard now has more certified projects than the rest of the Ivy League combined.  

“With the LEED certification of its 20th building, the most of any higher education institution in the world, Harvard demonstrates phenomenal green building leadership," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "Green buildings provide the healthiest, safest environments for learning and growing - all while saving money, contributing toward mitigating climate change and improving our environment.”  

Harvard is also a global leader in green building education and information sharing, with more than 37,000 unique visitors from 148 countries using the Green Building Resource last fiscal year and numerous Harvard faculty and staff recognized as pioneers in the green building movement locally and nationally. 

Project Success Stories

Of Harvard’s certified projects, three have received the Platinum certification, which is the highest achievable and recognizes project that have gone above and beyond in the pursuit of sustainability.  An additional nine have received Gold, four Silver, and four the Certified level of recognition. 

Completed projects include the world’s oldest LEED Platinum renovation (University Operation Services’ 46 Blackstone Street, originally constructed in 1889), the first LEED for Commercial Interiors Platinum project at a University (Harvard Law School’s Griswold Hall), and the first LEED for Homes Platinum renovation at a University (Harvard Real Estate Service’s 2 Grant Street).  

The twenty certified projects represent over 1,000,000 square feet of space, are estimated to save more than $680,000 in utilities annually, and are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 1,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year compared to standard construction.  The projects have also diverted over 15,000 tons of construction and demolition waste from landfills, 540 tons of which was salvaged and donated, and are annually saving more than 3,500,000 gallons of domestic water, the equivalent of more than 5 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Why LEED?

In addition to integrated design, life cycle costing, energy modeling, ongoing commissioning, coordinated building turn-over, and a high level of energy efficiency, the University emphasizes using the LEED rating system because of the documentation produced through the process.  The products developed through the LEED process help provide accountability to the team and ensure Harvard is provided with a detailed inventory of all green building features, success stories and even any project shortcomings before the project team moves on to other jobs. 

By leveraging the documented success of early projects, such as Harvard's first LEED project, Landmark Center at the School of Public Health, Harvard has been able to adopt ambitious green building guidelines requiring large projects to pursue sustainable design and a LEED rating.  The Harvard Office for Sustainability collects the best practices and lessons learned from each of these projects and works to transfer this knowledge to future projects and helps promote continuous improvement.  Armed with overwhelming evidence that going green has significant environmental and human health and comfort benefits while being cost effective, smaller interior fit out projects have begun voluntarily adopting and exceeding the same green building guidelines and pursuing LEED certification.