Our Sustainability Grant Program funds creative student projects that contribute to Harvard's commitment to climate and health, and which help create a more sustainable campus community.
The Office for Sustainability founded the Student Sustainability Grant Program in 2010 to provide students with seed funding to support new ideas and innovative projects that address global sustainability challenges with on-campus applications. The Program supports projects that are specifically aligned with the goals, standards, and commitments in Harvard’s Sustainability Plan. Special consideration is given to projects that address climate change and enhancing human well-being.
Potential areas of focus include, but are not limited to:
Environmental education, industrial ecology, business and environment, sustainable development, environmental economics, engineering and the environment, sustainability policy and research, resource conversation, community awareness, and health and well-being.
- Projects that map to Harvard’s Sustainability Plan topics will receive priority consideration
- Innovation and creativity
- Visibility and replicability
- Measurable impact on resource conservation
- Impact on furthering sustainability efforts
- Quality of work plan and application
- Harvard graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to apply.
- Projects associated with programs run by OFS are eligible (ex: Resource Efficiency [REP], Green Living [GLP]).
- Individuals or teams can apply. Teams must designate one main contact for the duration of the project.
- APPLICATION DEADLINE: Thursday, October 13, 2016. However, applications are accepted and considered on a rolling basis between September 1 through October 13. Early applications receive priority consideration.
- Awarded funding typically ranges from $500- $5,000; however, larger grant requests may be considered.
- We encourage partnerships with staff and faculty members.
- Administrators/facilities and operations must approve all project proposals from students in their Schools.
- Projects spanning more than one academic year must include a plan for continuity.
- Funds must be utilized by April 14, 2017.
- Projects must be completed by May 1, 2017.
- Most travel costs are ineligible for reimbursement, such as travel to or from conferences or travel/housing fees for speakers. In certain circumstances travel may be an approved expense, for example travel to the Harvard Forest, etc.
- Funds cannot be used to buy gift cards.
- Funds cannot be used to pay for Harvard student time.
- Funds cannot be used to pay for aspects of the project beyond the pilot, including business startup costs, etc.
- Final budgets are approved by OFS as part of the application process. OFS reserves the right to revise the proposed budget to fit within the scope of allowable expenses.
- Costs outside the scope of your approved budget need to be reviewed by OFS as this may impact your project funding.
Questions? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please have answers prepared for the following questions before you complete your application.
- Name (project lead)
- Email address (project lead)
- Phone number (project lead)
- School affiliation (project lead)
- Expected graduation date (project lead)
- Student group affiliation(s) if applicable
- Project title
- Synopsis of project (200 words or less). This paragraph will be published on the OFS website and will be presented to the selection committee. Keep in mind this synopsis will be the selection committee's introduction to your project. Please carefully outline the goals you hope to accomplish, how this relates to campus sustainability, and what makes this work innovative.
- Name of faculty or staff adviser for this project
- Adviser email address
- What is the sustainability focus of the project? Energy reduction, community engagement, research to inform policy, health and wellbeing, waste or water reduction, environmental education, industrial ecology, sustainable development, business and environment, environmental economics, other
- Describe how you will quantify the benefits of your project
- Work plan
- Describe the goals of your project and outline the project implementation steps and timeline.
- Has this idea been implemented at Harvard before?
- If yes, please address how you plan to expand the project to gain new insights. How will this additional knowledge benefit the Harvard community?
- Outline anticipated project expenses (description and costs)
- Attach any supporting documents that may assist your application
John Kirsimagi, GSD
The Harvard Rake-In will reduce Harvard's carbon and particulate emissions by decreasing use of fossil-fuel powered leaf blowers in November of 2015. A consortium of University and community organizations, in cooperation with Campus Services, will creatively transform the ‘leaf problem’ at Harvard into opportunities for physical exercise, play, social interaction, and mindfulness. This will be accomplished through a number of organized and semi-spontaneous raking activities that will also serve to create a greater sense of place and connection to the physical landscape and local ecology. The smaller events will culminate in a larger event on campus during the third week of November. The events will also provide opportunities for Harvard community members to work together to achieve common, tangible results through physical labor, which can contribute to overall student health and well-being. Leaves will be collected and then composted in local community gardens and environmental education centers that have expressed interest in this project. A social media campaign will further enhance and promote awareness and participation in this innovative project.
Digital Monitoring of Harvard Hives
Julia Yu, College
The Harvard Undergraduate Beekeepers (HUB) comprise students, both graduate and undergraduate, and members of the greater Cambridge community. We are in our third season of keeping bees on Pforzheimer and Sherman Fairchild and our members are busier than ever. This year we hope to bring beekeeping into the twenty-first century by introducing digital monitoring systems including temperature and humidity probes, digital scales, and a live webcam in order to monitor hive activity throughout the year. This information could prove invaluable towards evaluating the health and productivity of all our friendly neighborhood pollinators, and help alert us to any potential issues before they become problematic. This project is modeled after a NASA program called HoneyBeeNet, which enlisted regional beekeepers across the country in order to document national colony health. We hope to contribute data to national programs such as HoneyBeeNet.
Women for Wildlife Conference
Julia Bright Ross, College
The recently-formed Harvard College Conservation Society, aimed at connecting Harvard undergraduates with real-life conservation work during their time at Harvard, is planning a Women for Wildlife Network conference. The Women for Wildlife Network, an associate of Global Wildlife Conservation, is a network of prominent women in conservation around the world who have come together to promote women’s leadership in the sustainable management of natural resources and their conservation. HCCS’s conference would allow most of the 10 founding members to present their experiences in their respective fields to all interested parties, including but not limited to members of STEM groups and women’s advocacy groups on campus. Through doing so, we will examine how the Harvard community can increase opportunities in sustainable development for its female members. In accordance with our society’s mission, each of the attending WfW members will also be present in a seminar-style capacity to talk about opportunities with their organizations. We hope that these will foster the furthering of our female conservationists’ careers and that through this event we can connect part of the Harvard conservation community with the world at large.
Joanna Chang, College
Ninety eight percent of Harvard’s CO2 emissions are due to building heating and electricity. Implementation of a Smart Dorm system that routes power only when needed would optimize energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create cost-saving benefits for Harvard in the long-run, make living more convenient for Harvard students, and educate students about energy sustainability. Imagine walking into your dorm room, placing your ID card into a holder next to the door, and all of the lights turning on automatically depending on the time of day, the blinds rolling up on your windows, your fan turning on, and music starting to play, depending on your customized settings. When you leave the room, you take out your card, and everything shuts down again automatically. There are many already- successful commercial systems that can easily be implemented into housing renovations such as Lowell, but we need to test it out on a small scale before implementing it house-wide. This fund would allow for us to get the necessary data to build a solid implementation case.
Akshay Goyal, Jiyoo Jye, Scott Valentine, GSD
Sublimation is a time based art installation that seeks to create discourse on the impacts of global warming and climate change within the Harvard community. The project proposes a public installation in the form of a temporary sculpture in Harvard Yard that envisages a fleeting moment captured in a still. Through a gradual process of dematerialization, the sculpture allows for a repose where we reflect on how a monumental emblem, such as the John Harvard statue, can become ephemeral and loose shape and form in the face of time. This is intended to provoke and create a dialogue around the themes of global warming , melting of polar ice caps , rising sea levels and its impact on coastal regions such as those in New England.
Explore past Student Grant recipients
ENERGY AND EMISSIONS
3D Thermal Imaging of the Science Center
Aaron Perez, College, 2015
Energy loss is difficult to visualize with the naked eye. This project intends to raise awareness of thermal energy losses of campus buildings such as the Science Center. The process of taking thermal pictures of campus buildings to highlight heat loss during the winter months was inspired by the MIT spin off company Essess and the global impact of wasted energy. Heat loss mapping is not novel on its own and has been implemented in dense urban complexes to improve the insulation of homes and cut down on wasted energy. 3D Thermal Imaging of the Science Center will take this information one step further and digitally piece the thermal pictures to create a 3D thermal model of campus buildings. Offering these models to the student body will allow students to engage in conversations about energy reduction.
Greening Laboratories Using Wi-Fi-Connected Tools
Daniel Kramer, College; Alok Tayi, FAS, 2015
Labs are one of the most energy-intensive spaces on Harvard’s campus. Important work developing new medicines to treat diseases, synthesizing safer chemicals, and producing greener plastics, are just a few of the exciting ways these spaces are used. The tools used in these labs can consume tremendous amounts of electricity, which we propose to address. By building Wi-Fi-connected scientific tools that combine functional hardware with web-based software. Internet-of-Things platform allows scientists to remotely monitor and control their experiments and tools: this capability accelerates scientific research, reduces energy usage, and makes labs safer. By combining Wi-Fi-connected tools and a cloud-based data analytics platform, scientists can monitor and control their experiments from anywhere, manage and analyze data quickly, and reach ‘Eureka!’ faster.
Fume Hood Actionable Display System
Roger Diebold, SEAS, 2015
Fume hoods are an essential part of laboratory safety, but consume significant amounts of energy; in one year, an average hood uses 450 MBtu, equivalent to 2.5 homes at a cost of $5000 (see supporting reference). Decreasing airflow when not in use reduces this electrical demand, achieved by two actions: (1) closing the sash or (2) reducing fan power, in particular during nighttime hours. While the latter solution may be appropriate at times, human process control of the former solution is achievable if the need is communicated effectively. In selected cases, awareness of unnecessarily open hood sashes is highlighted through LED signage posted prominently in hallways or other highly trafficked areas showing the airflow of a nearby hood system. Although acting as a reminder, the signage (1) information is too abstract, and could be reduced to an actionable message, and (2) is too uncommon to make a significant impact on energy savings at Harvard. Using a display that itself consumes >1000x less power per pixel than comparable LED-based solutions, the Harvard Sustainability Grant will fund pilot implementation of a new type of signage as part of a low-cost, scalable system converting inactive fume hood use into actionable messages.
Harvard College Eco-marathon Team
Joseph Pappas, College, SEAS, 2015
Harvard’s first and only club of its kind, the Eco-marathon Team is researching, designing, and building a super-efficient electric car to compete in a national competition held on April 9-12th in Detroit, Michigan. Based on a prototype built last year, this car will transition from carbon fiber tubing for the chassis to carbon fiber i-beams. The vehicle will be using less material to ensure lightness and to enhance efficiency. Weighing fifty-four pounds, it would be the lightest car ever to compete in the Eco-marathon. The car that can complete the race using the least amount of energy wins the competition. This project hopes to foster research and spread awareness of the need for sustainable technology. The team will present research and analysis to demonstrate the car at various events on campus.
Radiative Cooling Roof Module
Arta Yazdanseta, Amanda Lee, Saurabh Shrestha, GSD, 2014
The Radiative Cooling Roof Module aims to reduce building cooling loads by decoupling the roof from solar radiation and coupling it to the sky, an infinite heat sink. Our research is a continuum of the Cool Communities research developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, but our Radiative Cooling Roof Module takes the concept further by not only utilizing high albedo surfaces but by both lowering the building’s heat gain through radiative heat transfer and by increasing roof insulation.
The Radiative Cooling Roof Module will be developed and prototyped to cover a small portion of Gund Hall's tray area roof, and its effect and benefits will be quantified and verified. Our research will also explore methods in which the roof module can be implemented on a larger scale—if successful, the Radiative Cooling Roof Module could help to achieve the campus' sustainability goals. Additionally, in order to increase awareness and education on sustainable solutions within the Harvard design community, we plan to promote the Radiative Cooling Roof Module test in advance and open it to the public.
Revolving Door Energy Capture in the Science Center
FAS Operations Funded
Paige Kouba, 2013
Our plan is to install two small generators on the revolving doors in the Science Center. As one of the busiest buildings on campus, the Science Center is the perfect place for a highly visible project like this one; the apparatus will generate energy and raise awareness. Furthermore, the presence of the generators will motivate students to opt for the revolving door rather than the heat-leaking swing doors. Students will be actively engaged in creating energy each time they enter or exit our Science Center. The electricity generated could be stored in a battery and/or used to power an LED display with a message about energy efficiency; either way, every student who passes through that entry every day will be constantly reminded of our school's commitment to alternative, sustainable energy sources.
Temperature policy compliance in Harvard University
Jose Guillermo, Cedeño Laurent, 2012
In 2009, Harvard University implemented a new campus-wide temperature policy to reduce the energy consumption derived from the conditioning of indoor spaces. Guillermo and his team will work with Harvard students and staff to deploy temperature sensors in a comprehensive sample of buildings to determine the effectiveness of the policy and any barriers to implementation. Results will be used to help further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and improve the health, cognitive performance and productivity of their occupants.
Renewable Energy at Harvard Demonstration, Global Energy Initiative
Erik Schluntz, 2012
The Harvard College Global Energy Initiative (GEI) will host a renewable energy demonstration in front of the science center early this December. Featuring interactive examples of renewable energy sources, information about projects within Harvard, and solar-heated hot apple cider, GEI will create a temporary renewable energy hot-spot where students, visitors, and faculty can chat and exchange ideas. This event hopes to raise awareness about the need for renewable energy as well highlight some of the great programs going on at Harvard. It will be a platform for professors, local Cambridge based clean-tech companies, and other Harvard environmental groups to collaborate with one another and reach out to the Harvard community at large.
Pilot for Freshman Energy Competition
Michael Drumm, 2012
Freshmen living in two dormitories on campus will be competing with each other to see which dorm can save the most energy by having the least light usage per capita. Data Loggers will be installed into the 56 main rooms of Holworthy and Stoughton to record how long their lights are on or off. Residents will receive reports detailing the amount of light that they have used and be able to track how much energy they saved. Not only will this competition reduce light usage, but it will make students more aware of the impact that they can have on reducing Harvard’s greenhouse gas emissions in other areas of campus life. If the pilot program proves successful, it may become a full-scale energy competition between all freshmen dorms and help impress upon incoming students the importance that the Harvard community places on responsible energy usage.
Illumine: Exploring the Intersections Between Art and Alternative Energy Resources
Jun Shepard, 2012
Illumine: Exploring the Intersections Between Art and Alternative Energy Resources will be an outdoor dance performance divided into two acts; the first taking place during the day with solar panels incorporated into the set and choreography, and the second, at night, using the energy stored to generate lighting for the piece. The project aims to produce a performance at the crossroads of art, technology, and sustainability, and to raise awareness in the performing arts community on ways to reduce the wasteful consumption of energy and other resources when producing a show. This outreach does not end at the close of the performance and will continue as an exhibition that promises to reach all parts of the Harvard community in one way or another.
Dann Huh, Anna Anderson, Billy Lau, Dirk Landgraf, Nathan Lord, & Thomas Norman, (HMS), 2010
This project aims to convince the Harvard research community to stop using mercury vapor lamps as a light source for fluorescence microscopy and to convert to environmentally friendly LED based illumination. This will save energy and reduce the amount of hazardous mercury waste that is thrown away.
Micro Infrastructure Water Filtration Unit
David Pearson, GSD, 2015
Micro Infrastructure Water Filtration Units turn water runoff into a local resource with a design that filters and holds water for local use. When rain events exceed the storage capacity the units simply make use of the adjacent storm drain, a built-in resilience. It is a bottom up approach that plugs into each street block to become a planted urban amenity with public seating atop. Additionally, measuring the amount of water that can be treated to see how much impact it could have on adjacent irrigation. The primary goal of this project is to filter as much urban street runoff as possible. The filtration unit’s infrastructural nature turns the design into a civic amenity offering a place for students and faculty to sit and observe.
Abhinay Sharma, Kanika Arora, GSD, 2014
The grant aims to reestablish the connection between the outdoor and indoor built spaces by introducing the concept of ‘Green Cubes’ as vertical bio walls in indoor spaces. These “Green Cubes’ also function as informative installations educating student community about the process of assembling and maintaining an indoor bio wall system. The idea fits well within the overall framework of collaborative efforts towards sustainability where it integrates the aesthetics of interior designing whilst promoting a cleaner and greener environment for students and faculty.
The indoor plants also help to reduce the carbon dioxide and VOCs, thus positively affecting the occupant behavior making them more active, productive and less stressed. The compact size of these modules, the easily available materials used in the construction and the simple method of assembling will demonstrate the ease with which once can translate the concept of a bio wall to a practical realization. By this innovative model, we wish to showcase a pilot project that can be scaled and replicated throughout the campus by a wider Harvard community for improving air and aesthetic quality in indoor spaces.
Mobile Vine Garden
Shuai Hao, GSD, 2013
This grant aims to create a portable, resilient, and sustainable solution to improving the health and comfort of Harvard’s public spaces for pedestrians. Vines grow quickly and, through constant leaf generation, are able to sequester carbon faster than most other types of vegetation. Their ability to follow forms allows them to be used as vegetated screens, able to provide shade and beauty in a minimal amount of space. Using vines judiciously with precise design interventions to control their growth, the planters can be temporary or permanent, providing vertical gardens for areas awaiting improvements or where ground plantings are not possible. When placed along busy streets or construction sites, these living screens act as a vegetated separation between pedestrians and cars or construction, making comfortable walking environments and filtering particulates from the air. Our intervention will act as a prototype for an easily replicated, self-sustainable and low cost method of carbon sequestration, slowing storm water and heat island reduction. By acting as an educational model, we provide the Harvard community with the knowledge for creating additional vine planters and so they can also contribute to the effort of improving our city, socially and environmentally.
Ecaterina Dobrescu (GSD, MLA II Jan 2013), Rebecca Bartlett (GSD, MLA I Jan 2013), 2013
“Stormwater Modules” seeks to combine testing of flexible design for social spaces, implementation of small-scale stormwater management methods, and measurement of stormwater purification and social use performance. The aim of the project is to build a modular system of pavers and raised beds with integrated vegetation that will retain and purify stormwater. Modules will replace some of the existing pavers on the Gund Hall patios and can be rearranged according to student needs. The performance of the Stormwater Modules will be tested for their capacity to reduce stormwater runoff quantities and improve stormwater quality. This project is partially inspired by the effort to design a potential Green Roof at the GSD. Stormwater Modules will explore methods that can be transferred to the roof program or implemented at a larger scale throughout the Harvard campus. It is also inspired by an independent study of the performance of stormwater management systems on the Harvard Campus and a potential strategy to improve Gund Hall stormwater management.
Model Sustainable Dorm Room
Julie Duke, Alicia Harley, Rebecca Cohen, Tati Peralta-Quiros, Belén Rodriguez Galvez, Gabe Walker, Winnie Liu, Sarah Stein Lubrano, Whitney Shaw, Emily Guo, (FAS), 2011
One room in Kirkland will be transformed into a Model Sustainable Dorm Room, demonstrating the depth at which sustainability can be incorporated into dorm life. The focus will be on sustainable materials, green technology and ecologically responsible behaviors. “Green Dorm” tours will be offered by students and available on the web.
Vanderbilt Hall SingleStream Education
Julian Thomas, Devan Darby, David Bartels, Jana Jarolimova, & Nicholas Abreu, (HMS), 2010
To increase the amount of recyclables collected, the group will construct and install 26 recycling displays in 13 kitchens in Vanderbilt Hall. Compact freestanding displays will be built to stand above existing recycling and trash bins. The plywood box displays will house actual examples of items that should be placed in the associated bin. As much as possible, the display will be constructed from recycled or repurposed materials.
HEALTH AND WELL-being
Food Better Conference on the Environment and the Food System
Julia DeAngelo, College, 2015
The Food Better conference will bring together scholars, activists, legal practitioners, and governmental authorities to discuss the growing concerns that our methods of food production, marketing, processing, distribution, and consumption are not equitable, just, or healthy for our planet or communities. The conference will address a number of pressing questions, including: How does climate change affect our ability to feed ourselves? Should there be a human right to food and water? How does the American Farm Bill affect international food markets? Who owns the right to seed and plant DNA? How can we feed urban families in food deserts? How can we fight hunger with food waste?
Impact of Harvard Housing on Student Health: A Case-Crossover Study
Piers MacNaughton, HSPH, 2015
Sustainability at Harvard is a concept that goes well beyond efficient consumption of energy and material resources. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the university has embraced a set of principles to promote the health of the people that work, study, and live on campus. By analyzing health services records this project was able to identify significant differences in the incidence of health outcomes among the different undergraduate houses. There may be several drivers in the Harvard dorms that foster better sleep quality, health and overall well-being. By discovering which of these parameters are causally associated with measured physiological indicators and self-reported health outcomes, the university can adjust their building operations accordingly. This project aims to discover which aspects of Harvard housing contribute to well-being and which contribute to disease incidence.
Countway Community Gardens
Joel Cohen, 2012
Inspired by the Harvard Garden Project in Cambridge, the Environmental Health and Sustainability Club at Harvard School of Public Health will implement a community garden on the Longwood campus. In a space that is both beautiful and productive, the Countway Community Garden will bring together members of the community to raise awareness about the critical role that food plays in our environment and our health. It will also serve an academic role as a test bed for products and techniques used to grow food crops in less-than ideal urban conditions. A medicinal herb garden may also be included which will be used as an opportunity to teach medical students about historical and current herbal or herb-derived treatments.
Divinity School Garden
Tim Severyn, Grace Egbert, Whittney Barth, Emma Crossen, & Tiffany Curtis, (HDS), 2010
Having completed the first season from seed to harvest, and with a bounty of tomatoes, basil, kale, and beans bearing witness to the endeavor, the Garden Group is presently digging into its second growing season. This year, the group has three main goals: 1) Expanding the garden size and function; 2) Increasing the yield through more intensive organic gardening practices and sustainable technologies; 3) Further integrating the garden into community life through increased accessibility, outreach, and education.
Harvard Community Garden
Zach Arnold & Louisa Denison, (FAS & HMS), 2010
The mission of the Harvard Garden project is to provide experiential education in sustainable, urban agriculture and food for students, faculty, and the local community. Learn more about the garden.
House Herb Gardens
Rachel Mak, Jennie McKee, Dave Seley, (FAS), 2010
This project aims to create herb gardens in Adams House, Dunster House, and Quincy House. Last semester, Adams House completed a successful pilot herb garden project for their Open Houses. The main goal is to decrease the environmental impact associated with food consumption on campus by personally growing herbs required for Masters’ Open Houses.
Mobile Ethnic Garden for Cultural and Food Awareness
Christina Cho, (GSD), 2010
To promote intercultural interaction and education through food, this project will build a modular network of mobile raised bed planters with integrated seating. The seating can be aggregated together in various configurations, making possible productive and interactive spaces. The mobility optimizes solar gain, but also allows for a space where people can constantly interact via integrated seating. Visit the project blog or read our profile on the finished project to learn more.
Bicycle Service Stations for Harvard Longwood Campus
David Havelick, (HSPH), 2013
This grant supports the bigger push in the Longwood Medical Area to encourage biking. Efforts include: the creation of a website, the formation of the “Harvard Longwood Bicyclists” group made up of staff/researchers/students/faculty, the organization of events (bi-annual bike fair in the fall and spring), and the improvement of bike infrastructure in the area (addition of additional bike racks, etc.). The purchase of one bicycle service station and a community outreach event fits with the Longwood Medical Area's recent push to encourage safe bike-commuting. These service stations would provide a bike pump and tools so bike-riders can take care of their bikes on-site. By creating a community and more awareness across the Longwood campus about safe biking, we hope to encourage NEW bikers. By advancing that culture of support around bike-riding, students and staff can reduce their impact on the environment.
Bicycle Repair Station
Stephanie Young, Sameer Birring, (HLS), 2011
HLS will install a bike repair station on the campus near pound hall to improve bicycle commuting for the growing number of students, staff, and faculty who bike to HLS. Bicyclists will be able to use this station to pump air into their tires, make adjustments and perform minor repairs.
HLS Bikeshare Maintenance
Mike Rozenshare, Sameer Birring, Myra Blake, Amit Dhir, Jenny Lee, Stephanie Young, (HLS), 2011
Averaging 23 loans per week, the HLS Bikshare program has been a huge success. This grant will fund equipment to further the safety and accessibility of the Bikeshare program, thereby encouraging greater use of the fleet and less dependence on forms of transportation that consume fossil fuels.
LevBikes is a bike sharing program in Leverett House. It was started as a way to give Leverett students an easy way to get around campus. Currently, LevBikes has 17 bikes, more than 100 members, and an overwhelming demand. Members can check out bikes by reserving online at www.LevBikes.org or through walk-in checkouts at the Building Manager's office. Funding will be used to buy tools, bikes, and to expand the program to Quincy House.
WASTE REDUCTION AND RECYCLING
Smart Surplus Inventorying
Krystelle Denis, Ziyi Zhang, GSD, 2014
The project aims to significantly reduce wasted Harvard surplus by increasing item reuse and contributing to the university’s goal of Zero Waste. Waste and surplus travel to the Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center, which distributes reuse back to the community. Inventorying is essential for reducing waste. Creating physical order along with an itemized list, report, or record of inventory items helps the facility keep track of what is in stock and allows collectors to understand what is available to them. However, inventorying is currently inefficient, very labor intensive and time-consuming for the Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center.
In collaboration with the facility, the project calls for cooperative networked inventorying of Harvard surplus to increase overall efficiency and to minimize waste. By distributing the workload of inventorying to a larger community of online users, through a process of collective tagging, the documented surplus can become a sophisticated catalog which adapts to user interests. This allows users to find the items they need through a database word search, discover related items with similar tags, and build relationships between items. This digital intervention will also demonstrate the positive impact of surplus and strengthen symbiosis between the Harvard Community and the Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center.
Paper Waste Reduction in Outpatient Clinics
Ripal Shah, HSPH, 2014
My intention is to study the integration of electronic patient intake software and the dissemination of patient guidance documents through email rather than paper form, through an outpatient clinic at the Brigham & Women's Hospital. By having each patient use an iPad application at intake to enter their information, the need for paper registration can be eliminated. Secondly, patients often request additional information on their diagnosis, which is given as hard copy pamphlets. This project would encourage the use of digital information by emailing patients the relevant information, and encourage long term health literacy by having the information readily available and searchable through email.
Student-operated service-learning initiative for waste reduction and the responsible redistribution of medical supplies
Lily Muldoon, HSPH, 2014
The US healthcare system annually discards over $200 million worth of medical equipment from operating rooms and spends additional millions in disposal costs. This translates to 33 pounds of waste per patient per day. Many health professional students do not recognize the magnitude of this waste, or the extent of worldwide healthcare discrepancies. Remedy at Harvard, an interdisciplinary service-learning program, reduces medical waste and health disparities through socially responsible supply redistribution. Medical supplies are recycled and delivered based on identified need to international and local projects that support under-resourced regions.
Lily Muldoon, an MPH candidate at Harvard School of Public Health and an MD candidate at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, developed the Remedy program in UCSF hospitals. In collaboration with student volunteers from each of the health professional schools, nurses, medical assistants, operating room technicians and physicians, Remedy at UCSF has expanded to five UCSF hospitals in the Bay Area. Over the past four years, Remedy at UCSF has donated over 26,000 pounds of supplies to under-resourced communities, targeting over 20 countries. The potential to expand this innovative waste-reduction model to Harvard is profound.
FAS Operations Funded
Paige Kouba, 2013
The first week of freshman year is the perfect time to introduce new students to the basic principles of green living at Harvard. Our goal is to distribute “Green Kits” to every member of the class of 2017 during Opening Days, along with information about sustainability efforts on campus. Each kit will include an energy-efficient LED light bulb, a travel mug (perfect for Brain Break excursions), and a reusable shopping bag. These items will reduce waste and energy consumption among the freshman class. By promoting sustainable habits early in the year, we can make green choices a part of the daily routine that each student adopts.
House Wide Reusable Party Kits
FAS Operations Funded
Marcelle Goggins, 2013
Community events and student get-togethers are a central component of the Harvard House culture. Because many of these meetings are held in dorm common rooms—away from Dining Halls—tutors and event organizers use disposable items that result in a significant volume of annual waste and money (estimated at $1000–$2000 per year per house for tutor-run parties alone). The “Reusable Party-Kit” aims to reduce costs and waste of individual and tutor-run parties, engage students in a tangible way to decrease their individual impacts, and expose students to Harvard’s environmental culture and commitment.
Sort It! An app for composting and recycling at Harvard
Gabrielle Hodgson, (HLS), 2013
Harvard has embraced a single stream recycling program to make recycling easier and convenient for the Harvard community—but when it comes to composting versus recycling versus the trash, there still exists confusion over what goes in which bin. Tin foil? Saran wrap? Pizza boxes? Students, faculty, and staff are routinely confused, and it is evident in the contents of the bins. The goal of this project is to collaborate with computer science students at Harvard to develop a simple app for teaching the community about single stream recycling and composting at Harvard.
Bookworms Feed Real Worms
Pin-Wen Wang, Annie Baldwin, Brooke Griffin, Ivonne Nolasco, Samita Mohanasundaram, Emily Wong, Arturo Elizondo, Matthew Yarri, Sam Wohns, Gary Gerbrandt, Kristen Wraith, Francisco Maldonado Andreu, (FAS), 2011
Bookworms Feed Real Worms is a project aimed at creatively engaging the students of Thayer Hall in waste reduction efforts by involving them in composting via vermiculture. Students will learn how worms process food scraps into compost, which will then be sued to enrich the soil at Harvard Garden.
Firing Paper Towels
Kristen Wraith, Annie Baldwin, Sam Arnold, Marina Bolotnikova, Claire Flintoff, Ben Kovachy, Charlene Lee, Jeffrey Mulligan, (FAS), 2011
Over half of the waste generated in the dorms (by volume) comes from paper towels. As part of a “waste-reduction” campaign, students will encourage behavior change by placing “I come from trees” stickers on each paper towel dispenser in the freshman dorms. Students will then benchmark and monitor the reduction of paper towel usage over the spring semester.
Harvard Community Garden: Rainwater Capture
Louisa Denison, (FAS), 2011
In the spirit of their mission to provide opportunities for experiential education, the Harvard Community Garden will use this funding to explore the implementation of a rainwater capture system as a means of water conservation in the garden.
Student Publications for Environmental Conservation
Shiv Gaglani, (FAS), 2010
Student publications at Harvard print hundreds or thousands of copies that are never read because their readership comprises a small subset of the campus population (e.g. the medieval enthusiasts). This project will create an online, centralized, and user-friendly website which lists all of the student publications. Publishers will be able to log on to update their "Publication Profile," consisting of a link to their website, description, and a sample pdf issue. The readers will be able to select which publications they want to receive.
Composting in dorms
Myra Blake, Nigel Barella, Jenny Lee, Hilary Thrasher, Krystyna Wamboldt, & Rachel Heron, (HLS), 2010
The group will do a pilot project to extend the composting that happens in the HLS Hark Cafeteria to the HLS dorms. Many students cook in the dorms, but the only option for leftover food waste is the trash can. Note: This project will be funded by the HLS Operations Department.
Kennedy School Student Government Green Bill
Elana Safran, Graham VanderZanden, Dave Baumwoll, Ibrahim Kuzu, (HKS), 2010
A February waste audit at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) revealed that 65% of the trash could have been recycled or composted. Sodexo, the campus caterer, carries foam plates, but they do offer recyclable or compostable dishware at an added cost. However, student group event-planners are either unaware of these alternative options or unwilling to commit additional group funding to ensure their use. The KSSG will pass a bylaw to reduce waste by requiring student groups which apply for Student Activities funding to use recyclable or compostable dishware at their events. The grant will be used to pay for the difference in cost.
Judy Fan, (FAS), 2010
Each week, the Cognition, Brain, and Behavior (CBB) working group in the Department of Psychology hosts a lunchtime talk which nearly 60 people attend. An alarming amount of disposable waste in the form of waxy plates, cups, foil containers, napkins, and utensils is generated each week. Since the department already has composting, the grant will be used to purchase a year's worth of compostable plates and utensils and larger compost bins.
Laura Blecha, Alison Farmer, (FAS), 2010
The annual Center for Astrophysics (CFA) barbecue for staff and families is attended by about 500 people, and the Octoberfest is attended by several hundred. The main focus of both these events is food, which is served with disposable plates and cutlery. The goal is to make both of these events zero-waste. The other main goal is education, for both our community and their children (who attend these events).
Dunster Green the Grill and Greening Masters’ Open Houses
Jennie McKee, (FAS), 2010
The grant would purchase compostable dishware, napkins, and silverware for the Dunster Grill and Masters’ Open Houses to replace the disposable dishware used now and pay the increased fees for an added compost pick up. Another aspect of the project is that students will be asked to start bringing their own dishes/mugs/cups to the grill to use.
Pforzheimer Greener Grills
Lucien Weiss, Dan Thorn, (FAS), 2010
The Pforzheimer Grill serves food to students daily. Food is served with plastic utensils on paper plates, all of which is thrown out. The aim is to reduce the amount of trash produced by the Grill to zero by replacing all disposable items with compostable or recyclable alternatives. An additional aim of this project is to create a composting culture in PfoHo. Adding a compost bin inside the Grill will promote composting by providing a central drop-off point during the Grill’s operating hours.
WATER AND OPERATIONS
Beyond the Bottle
FAS Operations Funded
Kristen Wraith, Danny Wilson, Environmental Action Committee, 2013
The goal of Beyond the Bottle is to generate enthusiasm and awareness on Harvard’s campus about the benefits of consuming tap water instead of bottled water. Efforts towards bottled water reduction should begin with a visible campaign to educate students and staff. For our most prominent project element, we will place informative signs in strategic locations in the Science Center, Lamont Café and in student housing. These high-quality signs will emphasize how using tap water effectively decreases greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary waste, and combats the exploitation of a shared resource for monetary gain. In addition to signage, we plan to install water fountain directories in campus centers to allow for easy and quick access to water sources. Our project will also include the installation of a retrofit bottle filling station at the drinking fountain in the Science Center basement. By tracking the number of plastic bottles saved with each use, the filling station will provide a useful and engaging metric by which students can track their impact and waste reduction.
FAS Operations Funded
Patrick Xu, 2013
Many students waste water by being unproductive in showers. To save this wasted water, shower timers will be implemented to notify students when their showers are taking an excessive amount of time. It is planned that these shower timers will be placed in every shower in the freshman dorms. Usage of these timers will be completely optional, as these shower timers will not regulate water flow; instead, students will have the ability to start the timers when they wish. In addition to monitoring water usage, these shower timers will also aid students if they are short on time.
Sustain the Runway
Saad Amer, College, 2015
The Sustain the Runway fashion show will showcase a line of high-end environmentally friendly fashion designs. Pieces will be made to minimize waste, cost, maximize environmental impact/efficiency and, of course, be appealing to the audience. This project will survey environmentally friendly fabrics, including organic cotton, linen, lyocell, organic wool, and recycled fabrics. In 2010 alone, the world textile industry was about $2,560 trillion. The world market produces only $5 billion of organic cotton the same year. While organic cotton does not represent the only environmentally friendly fabric, it is the most widely used, and yet it accounts for less than a millionth of a percent of the world textile industry. This series will be exhibited in a fashion show drawing attention from fashion enthusiasts and environmentalists alike with the goal of publication in major magazines both in and beyond Harvard. The goal of this project is to combine two areas of sustainability, fashion and business, with the intention of growth into a viable business practice centered at Harvard with potential for large-scale growth of maximizing environmental impact within the fashion industry.
The Art of Sustainability
Nandhini Sundaresan, College, 2015
The Art of Sustainability festival plans to engage the Harvard community in a visual and oratory conversation about sustainability. This event will combine performance art, public exhibition, and sustainability into one unique experience this Spring semester. Art has historically been used to make important issues a part of our cultural fabric. We want students from vastly different backgrounds to provide an answer to the question “what is sustainability and what does it mean to you?” in the form of a play, dance, stand-up, poetry, spoken word, music, short film, etc. Short educational TED-like talks would bookend these performances, and collaborative public art, online photo project, and social media campaigns would continue the conversation beyond the festival.
Work-Out of the Box
Vero Smith and Palak Gadodia, GSD, 2015
Students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be invited to re-imagine the production and usage of electricity through the creation of kaleidoscopic works of interactive art. Work-out of the box will focus on the aesthetics of alternative energy production, while incorporating aspects of exercise. Viewers will convert mechanical energy to operational electricity through physical exertion to power a series of light bulbs while propelling translucent panels to spin and display a colorful range of shapes and patterns. Participants will also be able to charge their cellular devices by interacting with our installation. A monitor will inform participants of how much energy they have produced, while all data gathered over the lifetime of the installation will be collected and displayed in a public, internet-based format. Adaptable to almost any location, the art works will beautify the campus, encourage healthfulness, and reduce energy consumption.
Abhinav Bhushan, HMS, 2014
Sustainable practices are already transforming the lives of millions across the globe. Even though in the big picture, sustainable practices have a common goal of reducing consumption and greener living, thereby helping to improve the environment and planet, at the level of the individual or a diverse community such as of Harvard and in Cambridge, sustainability can be complex because it means different to different people. For example, engineers may think of it as energy efficiency, architects may relate to it as efficiently designed habitats, farmers may relate to it as organic agriculture, facilities management may consider energy and water conservation, residents may think of it as reducing consumption and more recycling, and so on. Each discipline or line of thought can benefit from the others because the goal is common and many of the lessons can be shared.
However, the silo nature of our surroundings restricts interactions between these diverse groups and limits sharing of information that could be useful for everyone. My objective is to bring these diverse groups together in an exciting, outcomes driven, interactive event. The goal is to get diverse ideas mixed with each other and to setup this strategy as a model platform to inspire lateral thinking and organization of such events in the future.
Community Art Awareness
Jenny Mahlum, (HGSE), 2013
The intentions of the Community Art Awareness project are three-fold: to foster cross-community involvement, heighten awareness of sustainability by transforming public space and as a result, create a new visual stimulus to stir conversation and activism. We will work together to organize three public art projects: poetry collaboration, “Message in a Bottle”—a plastic bottle installation, and a community blackboard. These projects will transform a conversation and community through art and bring people from the community together providing an opportunity to strengthen bonds and create relationships.
The Harvard Green Project Fund
Sachin Desai, (HLS), 2013
The Harvard Green Project Fund (HGPF) enables Harvard alumni to directly fund sustainability projects on our campus that could not otherwise be funded. It does so by creating a custom-designed, social-networking-enabled platform that will engage young, internet-generation alumni with campus sustainability projects and with the faces behind those projects. The HGPF will work with OFS and ‘project advocates’ such as environmental student groups to develop potential projects. These projects will be profiled on the website platform in detail, including information about the project advocates, a project blog, photos, and more. Using social media tools such as Facebook, mGive, and LinkedIn, the HGPF will rapidly spread interest among young socially-connected alumni. This service will also actively engage alumni through project-specific networking and showcase events, and by offering perks such as project-specific gifts.
Daniel Wilson, Kristen Wraith, Environmental Action Committee, 2013
This grant endows the first year of a speaker series on sustainability hosted by the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) and Sense & Sustainability (S&S). This proposed collaboration is the result of networking facilitated by the Council of Student Sustainability Leaders (CSSL), and it serves as an excellent example of the inter-group partnerships enabled by CSSL. SustainabiliTeas, are intimate events, that will act as a central source for student-driven interaction with faculty working on critical, interdisciplinary issues of sustainability. These events will be supported by the EAC’s deep connections with the undergraduate population, combined with Sense & Sustainability’s expansive knowledge of critical environmental issues and key players.
Sense and Sustainability: A Podcast on Sustainable Development
Jisung Park, 2012
Sense and Sustainability is a podcast that looks to tap into the demand for accessible information about the many facets of sustainable development. The podcast will feature interviews with experts from across disciplines and sectors to provide a forum for educated and incisive conversations about a broad range of issues pertaining to global sustainable developments. The goal is to plant the seeds for increased awareness and dialogue both on campus and beyond through podcasts, blog posts, and on-campus events that foster discussion on these issues in a high-impact manner.
GSD Pollinators: A beehive on the roof of the GSD, Green Design at the Graduate School of Design
Connie Migliazzo, 2012
Graduate School of Design students have been maintaining a beehive on the roof of Gund Hall since the spring of 2011 in an effort to increase pollination and biodiversity in the Cambridge area as well as engage the community in discussions about sustainability within the field of design. GSD Pollinators is a project to engage the community in a design competition to shelter and cover the hive, protecting it from the wet winter months. Migliazzo hopes that the competition will result in a design that is cheap, sturdy, easy to build, and successful in contributing to the wellness of their bee colony. If so, it could be a design that expands beyond the walls of the university and brings about some sorely needed innovation to existing beekeeping practices.
Sustainability Signage Campaign
Ashkay Sharma, Samuel Parker, Radhika Jain, Matthew Yarri, Richard Ebright, Sandra Korn, Breeanna Elliot, (FAS), 2011
Students in the Green ’14 will create and position customized water and energy conservation signs throughout the freshman dorms as part of an outreach program to encourage students to be more aware of their usage in the dorms.
HCC Green Surveys
Cassandra Freyschlag, Stephen Jensen, Eric Uva, 2011
HCC will conduct incentivized surveys across all of the schools in order to assess and improve “green knowledge,” and gauge student support for implementing changes on their campus. The focus of the survey will be topics that will have a broad impact such as double-sided printing, elimination of bottled water and composting.
ACADEMICS AND RESEARCH
Emerson and the Environment
Michael Popejoy, GSAS, 2014
This project attempts to draw connections between the thought of one of Boston, and Harvard’s, most famous residents, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and current concern for the environment and sustainability. Emerson was born in Boston, and was a graduate of Harvard; the home of the Department of Philosophy, with which I am associated as a Fellow, is named after and holds a statue of Emerson. My project attempts to increase the visibility of the thought of Emerson and his historical connection to Harvard and the Boston area, but also, and more importantly, to emphasize the relevance of his thought to contemporary environmental concerns. Emerson constitutes one of the earliest voices in the tradition of deep concern for the natural world, and my project explores this concern through a series of essays. My aim in these essays is to faithfully present Emerson’s insights in such a way that they can be both illuminating and motivating for the contemporary reader concerned about the environment. I think that this project has the potential to be of interest beyond just the Harvard community, and that it can serve as a bridge between academia and wider society on perhaps the most pressing issue of our age.
Sustainability and Cooperation Across Generations
Oliver Hauser, (GSAS), 2013
"Sustaining the world’s resources is a critical issue that affects multiple generations over an extended period of time. If resources are not sustained today, then future generations will pay the cost of overexploitation. While the societal optimum would be to sustain resources, individuals in the current generation are faced with the temptation to explore resources for their own benefit.
In this project, we aim to leverage the extensive literature on the evolution of cooperative behavior to explore mechanisms that can help promote sustainability of resources. We use empirical methods to test our theories for sustainability in the lab, and then apply these methods in the field - in Harvard's classrooms, dorms, and departments. The quantitative results of our research have the potential to impact and inform policy decisions at all levels of the University and beyond."
Blood and Biological Fluid Disposal Using Carbon Nanotube Filtration with Electrochemistry
William Marks, 2012
The Blood and Biological Fluid Disposal Using Carbon Nanotube Filtration with Electrochemistry Project attempts to significantly decrease energy usage in hospitals, research labs, and medical labs on Harvard's campus and throughout the world. Safe and efficient disposal will be achieved by filtering blood and biological fluids through a carbon nanotube filter with electrochemistry, an adaptation and scaled design of a system currently being developed for water treatment, instead of incineration. If successful, it will be able to achieve the same environmental and biological safety for a fraction of the energy and cost.
Reusing DNA Spin Columns
Karmella Haynes, Christina Agapakis, Patrick Boyle, Mara Inniss (Systems Biology), (HMS), 2010
This pilot project will replace pre-packaged DNA purifying kits that are used once with a vacuum system that reuses DNA spin columns up to 10 times. The system will also reduce liquid waste, as pre-packaged kits contain double the amount of solution that is needed. Costs should be reduced by 50%.
Lab Plastic Reduction
Rachel Brust (Genetics), (HMS), 2010
The lab’s research involves the use of several sets of disposable plastic tubes and reagents, which must be treated as biohazardous waste. To reduce the amount of waste created in this process, the lab will move to a 96 well stem cell culture format, which will reduce plastic waste by 70%.