Light bulbs, hand-dryers, or chilled- and hot- water pumps rarely evoke dedicated interest or enthusiasm, but for Harvard’s building managers and facility leaders the energy and cost savings these technologies can deliver tend to inspire such reactions.

To capture this enthusiasm, Harvard’s first-ever sustainability-focused Operations and Maintenance trade show was held on Tuesday January 21, 2014. The trade show, organized by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Green Program, a partnership between FAS and the Harvard Office for Sustainability, and Harvard Strategic Procurement, was an opportunity to promote best practices in the field, and to unite building managers and facility leaders, who work behind the scenes to optimize building energy systems and performance.

“Our goal was to bring together and promote one community, within and beyond Harvard, focused on energy efficiency and sustainability work,” said Gosia Sklodowska, Senior Manager of the FAS Green Program. “We wanted to create a forum, bridging across Harvard, where operations and planning teams would help each other identify best products, and the most reliable vendors and service providers. ”

Twenty outside vendors and contractors participated in the trade show, including NSTAR, Swegon, Grundfos, Stirling, and Dyson, showcasing everything from high-efficiency lab freezers to air handling units and sustainable insulation. NSTAR, Phillips, and GE also gave presentations to the attendees on various incentive programs and the resources available to Harvard clients.

We wanted to create a forum, bridging across all Harvard’s Schools and Units, where operations and planning teams would help each other identify best products, and the most reliable vendors and service providers. 

Facilities teams from across all of Harvard’s 12 Schools and departments browsed the latest cutting-edge products, remarking on the value of having a trade show to gather, compare, and discuss the multitude of vendors and products.

Pamela Choi Redfern, Director of Space and Planning Design at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences commented, “The trade show was a great opportunity for SEAS Facilities to see new, competitive energy savings products and to meet local vendors committed to advancing change, especially in science buildings. The trade show is just another example of how the Office for Sustainability smartly leads the university in its sustainability initiatives—OFS works with the schools to reinforce the idea that it’s a community effort, both within Harvard and with the larger building industry, to bring significant improvements to the campus.”

Tasked with helping Harvard reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2016, Operations and Maintenance staff are constantly searching for creative solutions to projects, and are dedicated to finding equipment and technologies that reduce energy, cost, and maintenance. The most competitive pricing and energy-efficient products help these teams not only operate better systems and buildings, but realize enormous savings for the University.

"Harvard Strategic Procurement was pleased to partner with the Office of Sustainability to help organize this event," commented Jim McQuaide, Director, Strategic Procurment. "Bringing members of the Harvard community together to meet suppliers offering innovative and sustainable products, and to share ideas, brings energy and focus to the many ways we can green our campus. We look forward to partnering with OFS for similar events in the future."           

In addition to helping facility leaders navigate vendors, the trade show afforded many the opportunities to discover new and more efficient products.

“I found a chilled beam with smart sensors already installed—occupancy, relative humidity, dew point to prevent condensation, the works. Imagine that! It can connect to our Siemens’ system, but does not need to be controlled—it takes care of itself, Fernando Viesca, Building Manager of the Music Department raved. “I’m going to look into this for Music, with the architect, and definitely going to recommend it to all the project managers I know.”

Redfern noted significant savings a highly efficient lab freezer will bring to SEAS, “We are particularly interested to spread the word about the -80 freezer displayed at the trade show, which will save both space and energy, both becoming rare commodities at Harvard!”