Buildings are the primary drivers of energy and emissions use at Harvard, making them an important target for innovative energy efficiency measures. They are also where Harvard’s students, faculty, and staff live, work, and learn, emphasizing the need to consider the health and well-being of occupants in the design and construction of campus spaces.

This month (December 2014), Harvard released the latest version of its University-wide Green Building Standards aimed at tackling these challenges. The Standards, which apply to all capital projects across campus, provide a wide variety of requirements and recommendations that help Schools and departments achieve the University’s aggressive Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal through the design and construction of sustainable building spaces. An associated Life Cycle Cost policy ensures that project teams evaluate and chose energy efficient technology that will provide environmental benefit in a cost-effective manner.

The updated Standards include healthy material requirements for the disclosure of health and environmental impacts of products that are used on campus in order to help Harvard assess opportunities to understand the community’s exposure to potential toxins. They also include requirements for analyzing the feasibility of Net-Zero and Living Building Challenge certification for major capital projects and special considerations for laboratories and data centers, the most energy-intensive spaces on campus.

The FAS Nocera Lab was certified LEED Gold in 2014. 100% of the eligible equipment and appliances by rated power are ENERGY STAR certified.The FAS Nocera Lab was certified LEED Gold in 2014. 100% of the eligible equipment and appliances by rated power are ENERGY STAR certified.

“The Green Building Standards play a critical role providing our project managers with the tools they need to pursue a holistic approach to sustainable building systems,” said Pamela Choi Redfern, Director of Space Planning and Design at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and one of two co-chairs of the review committee that developed the Standards. "We are eager to see what results the implementation of the 2014 Standards will bring."

The Green Building Standards play a critical role providing our project managers with the tools they need to pursue a holistic approach to sustainable building systems.

The 2014 Standards were developed after a University-wide review process led by the Sustainability and Energy Management Council (SEMC), and managed by the Office for Sustainability and Green Building Services. An SEMC review committee comprised of facility leaders and experts across Harvard focused on data-driven decision-making that was informed by best practices at the University and benchmarked against other industry leaders. Additional updates include a requirement for LEED v4 Gold certification, energy reduction targets beyond ASHRAE 90.1-2010, and revisions to Measurement and Verification standards that are used to assess the effectiveness and performance of energy and mechanical systems.

“Updating the standards was a large effort that required support and participation from many key stakeholders across the University. The thorough review and collaboration of the committee helped us to strike the proper balance between setting the bar where it was attainable and ensuring that we continued to challenge ourselves to push the limits of what is possible,” said Jason Carlson, Chief of Operations at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who served as the second co-chair of the review committee.

Harvard is committed to continually updating and improving its Green Building Standards over time in order to reflect the latest approaches to sustainable and energy efficient building techniques. The 2014 Standards build upon the 2009 Green Building Standards and 2007 Green Building Guidelines, which have positioned Harvard as an internationally recognized leader in green building. The University has more LEED certified building projects than any other higher education institution in the world, according to the US Green Building Council.

Harvard’s sustainability teams have developed a series of trainings, tools, and supporting materials to assist project managers in implementing the Green Building Standards, including: