Long before there was an established University sustainability program, Harvard College Library had made increasing sustainable practices around the library a priority. To continue that commitment, HCL Operations last month convened the HCL Green Team to assist the unit in identifying ways in which the libraries can contribute to the University’s sustainability goals.

“Harvard College Library staff members are essential contributors to helping Harvard meet its sustainability goals by reducing the environmental impact of library offices, public spaces and business practices,” said Associate Librarian Rebecca Graham.

The team includes representatives from each library building managed by HCL Operations – Widener, Houghton, Lamont, Pusey and Tozzer. Andy Laplume, Assistant Director for Project/Building Systems Management, was tapped to chair the group by Operations Director Paul Bellenoit. Other members of the team include Monique Duhaime from Houghton, George Clark from Lamont, Sarah Kasten from Tozzer, Ellen Harris from Widener, Tim Driscoll from Harvard University Archives (Pusey,) and ex-officio member Peter Reuell from HCL Communications. The team began meeting in August, and is charged with “reviewing, recommending, and, where appropriate, implementing efforts to increase sustainability.”

“It is part of the Green Team’s job to make sure staff members know how they can participate,” said Laplume. “We want to get information out there, we want people to participate, but we’re not going to be the green police. We want to inform staff about the opportunities that exist for them to help Harvard meet its sustainability pledge, both as individuals and as a group.”The Green Team’s initial focus will be on evaluating recycling opportunities in the libraries’ public spaces, Laplume said. Other projects, like efforts to increase recycling of office supplies and to improve recycling of materials used in the processing of library materials, could follow. Other ideas discussed include organizing competitions to compare the recycling rates of different libraries or units, improving education on Harvard’s single-stream recycling program or obtaining “green office” certification for the libraries.

The formation of the Green Team is the latest in a series of sustainability efforts undertaken by HCL. Initiated by Bellenoit and Graham, who serve as Harvard College Library Sector leaders for the University Green House Gas Reduction Program, HCL has cut energy consumption in recent months by installing occupancy sensors in dozens of rooms and exchanging traditional lights with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and has increased water conservation by replacing more than two-dozen bottled water coolers with filtered water dispensers and installing water-conserving bathroom fixtures.

“Harvard College Library is committed to implementing programs and projects that will contribute to sustaining the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. HCL Operations collaborates with the Harvard Office of Sustainability and other units throughout the University to identify and integrate best practices into the libraries while realizing cost savings and waste reduction,” said Bellenoit. “The Green Team will be instrumental in identifying ways we can ‘green up’ library-specific practices.”

The HCL Green Team joins nearly a dozen similar groups within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, representing units like Arnold Arboretum, the Division of Continuing Education and FAS Information Technology. Green Teams have also been created at more than a dozen other Harvard schools, including Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The FAS Green Teams are one part of the larger Harvard Office of Sustainability’s Green Program, which constitutes a wide range of environmental efforts, with the goal of reducing the school’s impacts and of integrating resource consciousness into the fabric of institutional, operational and individual practices. In addition to the creation of Green Teams, the program includes efforts to “green” labs and offices.

Outlined last fall by President Drew Faust, Harvard’s sustainability goals include three major commitments: reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent reduction from 2006 levels by 2016, developing and applying sustainability principles, and implementing green building practices.