Our Student Grant program funds creative projects that contribute to Harvard's commitment to climate and health and help create a more sustainable community.
The Office for Sustainability founded the Student 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 funds 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 enhance human well-being.
This year, the Student Grant program will fund projects that take place both on- and off-campus. Support for Student Grant projects will be provided virtually.
Student Grant Application deadline for 2020-2021 is October 23.
Potential areas of focus include, but are not limited to:
Environmental education, behavior change social marketing, industrial ecology, business and environment, sustainable development, environmental economics, engineering and the environment, sustainability policy and research, resource conversation, community awareness, arts and humanities, 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 or other sustainability metrics
- Impact on furthering sustainability efforts
- Quality of work plan and application
- Harvard graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to apply, and may have a faculty or staff adviser for the project.
- Projects associated with programs run by OFS are eligible (e.g.: Resource Efficiency Program [REP], Green Living Reps, Student Sustainability Associates).
- Individuals or teams can apply. Teams must designate one main contact for the duration of the project.
- APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, October 23, 2020. However, applications are accepted and considered on a rolling basis between September 1 and October 23. Early applications receive priority consideration.
- Awarded funding typically ranges from $100 - 2,500; however, larger grant requests may be considered (please contact email@example.com).
- We encourage partnerships with staff and faculty members.
- Administrators, facilities and operations, and/or appropriate building managers 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 Friday, April 9, 2020.
- Projects must be completed by Friday, April 23, 2020.
- Funds cannot be used to pay for Harvard student time.
- 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 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.
- All applicable University and School financial policies must be followed. More information
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 efforts, and what makes this work innovative.
- Name of faculty or staff adviser for this project
- Adviser email address
- Role/position of faculty or staff adviser
- 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
Potential project ideas
Below is a list of ideas for potential projects that students might pursue that resulted from a brainstorm hosted by the Office for Sustainability. This is not a definitive list of projects that could be pursued, but rather we are posting these to help spark your imagination and get you thinking about ideas that might be worth piloting here at Harvard.
If you are a student interested in the grant program, please feel free to reach out to our team if you're interested in pursuing any of these ideas, or have other creative concepts. If you are a staff member and have an idea for a sustainability project or a sustainability challenge that you would like students to work on feel free to submit ideas to email@example.com (put “Sustainability Grant Idea” in the subject line).
Buildings and Landscapes
- Partner with IT re: IT security barriers to building analytics
- Reduce stress on storm drains
- Pilot circadian rhythm lighting
- Submetering for energy, water – to track impact of interventions
- Audit completed capital projects – did they meet design objectives and sustainability objectives?
- Pilot an ecosystem services tracking (e.g., ESII tool)
- Better match-making communications platform to bring together teams of students, staff, and faculty to work on sustainability projects
- Utilize the Visualization Lab
- How might art help communicate the existential threat of climate change?
- Develop a training for student groups using the Sustainable Meeting and Event Guide
- Guide for sustainable travel (e.g., how to live sustainably in other countries)
Resource efficiency and waste reduction
- Reduce the number of small personal printers on campus
- Add “what not to bring” to move-in lists
- Reduce “fast fashion”
- Reduce single-use plastic items
- Online ordering – ways to reduce/eliminate packaging and ensure cardboard gets recycled
- FixIt events to encourage culture of repair
- Host a “re-maker’s” event (instead of a maker’s event) to encourage culture of repurposing
- Lab recycling solutions
- Rescuing leftovers from catered events - HKS piloted this last year (make sure to be in touch with Environmental Health and Safety if you’d like to pursue this)
- Pilot innovative bike storage
- Long-term storage for bikes (over the winter/summer)
- Urban biking classes
- Video/teleconferencing nudges to reduce air travel
- Evaluate impact from online shopping, food delivery, or ride sharing
- Create a guide for purchasing healthier products in everyday life
- Increase demand for plant-based foods using behavioral insights
- Air quality monitoring (make sure to be in touch with Environmental Health and Safety if you’d like to propose a project related to air or water quality testing)
- Measure food insecurity on campus
- Place-making projects or designs (e.g., pedestrian-izing streets, temporary installations)
Zero-Waste Sustainable Meal Pack
Faculty Advisor: Christiana Atkins
Pre-packaged, take-home meals are an essential precaution taken by HUDS this year, with a set of plastic utensils accompanying each meal. Both Green Think and students on campus have expressed concern over the significant amount of plastic waste that will be produced during this academic year.
Our project hopes to target the excess amount of plastic waste that will be produced during this unprecedented year at Harvard College. The Zero Waste Sustainable Meal Pack aims to provide students living on campus with a reusable bamboo utensil set, which are manufactured in a sustainable manner from bamboo wood.
Investing in sustainable products tends to be difficult for college students as it requires a significant contribution of time and money by providing students with these sets, we hope to make sustainable alternatives more accessible to students on campus Our ultimate goal is to promote the awareness and use of reusable, sustainable alternatives in place of plastic products, which will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by our campus during this year
The New Earther (Newsletter)
The New Earther is a bi-weekly newsletter that highlights sustainability at Harvard and in the news, offers Earth-friendly recipes and living tips, and spotlights environmentally-focused students or student groups. The Environmental Action Committee was inspired to create this newsletter because this remote year brings unprecedented challenges in sustainability communication, and many students are living away from home and outside the dorm setting for the first time. You can sign up at tinyurl.com/TheNewEarther. Each newsletter ends with a fun action item! Harvard-affiliated subscribers who submit proof of completion will be entered in a raffle to win a prize (examples include: reusable utensils, water bottle, decomposition notebook, reusable mask). Join us today!
Project Team Members: Rebecca Cadenhead (College), Katherine Enright (College), Christina Janulis (College), Veronica Peterson (GSAS),
Phoebe Pohl (GSD), Kaitlin Pomerantz (HGSE), Paige Proctor (College), Olivia So (GSD)
Faculty advisor: Joyce E. Chaplin and David Moreno Mateos
We request funds to rewild a small but visible part of Harvard. Rewilding is ecosystem restoration that is self-sustaining, using scientific and traditional environmental knowledge acquired over millennia. Its benefits include increased biodiversity, revitalization of depleted animal and plant species and habitats, and creation of environments to withstand and combat climate change. We will replant an area in front of the Museum of Natural History on Oxford Street, using native plants that sustain insect pollinators and soil fungi, the site also functioning as an outdoor exhibit. Our plan follows two emphases in rewilding. First, restoring ecological processes without continued maintenance; reliance on continuous human intervention is detrimental to self-sufficiency and can be avoided by using native species. These builds “bottom-up” ecosystem regulation, beginning with recovery of plant communities. Second, we consider people as interfaces with rewilded places. Rewilding this site aligns with the museum’s mission “to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it.” By encouraging the public to witness rewilding, we hope to spark an environmental consciousness with ramifications extending beyond this project. The creation of urban wild spaces also addresses historic inequality in access to “wilderness” recreation spaces in the US.
Rain Garden Resiliency Initiative
Project Team Members: Alida Monaco, Paul Smith, Nazneen Cooper, Stephen Fisher, Zina Fraser, Cory Beizer,
Nina Parrott, Samantha Tracy, Maddie Mauro, Austin(Chunfeng) Lu,
Jessica Schiff, Arty Vartanyan, Boyd Carson
Faculty advisor: Kris Locke
In the Spring of 2019, Green Think ‘22, a freshmen think tank group successfully installed two rain gardens on Harvard’s campus (in Mather and Leverett House) to pilot an infrastructure resiliency program at Harvard that could combat increased flooding from heavy rainfall caused by climate change. This program further piloted a cost-effective alternative to drainage repairs and replacements. Both of these pilot rain gardens were successful in reducing standing flood water from their local areas and were innovative new forms of increasing resiliency and student-led climate change mitigation efforts. I served as the sophomore coordinator for the original Green Think project and have been awarded the UN Millennium Fellowship for the Fall of 2020 to continue work on expanding the initiative, as it intersects with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Sustainable Cities and Communities and Climate Change Action. Because flooding is still a serious issue on campus, one that will only increase over time, OFS funding will be used to expand Harvard’s Rain Garden Resiliency Initiative to more spaces on campus, simultaneously augmenting campus aesthetic and strengthening Harvard’s resilience to future effects of climate change.
Climate of Empathy
Project Team Members: Charles Hua & Kiana Ziadkhanpour
Faculty advisor: Nicola de Blasio
We believe thoughtful storytelling is critical to galvanize individuals and organizations to take meaningful climate action. Too often, the personal stories of how climate change presently affects individuals and communities, particularly regarding equity and justice issues, are left untold. This is a missed opportunity.
We intend to produce a podcast focusing on stories centered around the intersection of climate and empathy. The podcast’s aim is to leave listeners more reflective, empowered, and driven to generate sustainability impact in their own communities. Whereas many climate-oriented podcasts tend to focus on “telling the facts,” few such podcasts aim to leverage the advantage of audio — the power of the human voice — to build an emotional connection between audience and subject. Additionally, few climate podcasts are hosted by youth, who are disproportionately affected by climate change, or tell stories centered around the youth perspective. We aim to change this paradigm.
We will interview a range of Harvard affiliates to explore how sustainability affects individuals and communities within and beyond the Harvard community. We hope to tell compelling stories reflecting a diverse cross-section of lived experiences. We hope this podcast drives greater reflection, discussion, then action, empowering people to spearhead positive sustainability change.
Mather house water filling station
Faculty advisor: Christiana Akins
By proposing the installation of a touchless bottle filling station in Mather, this project aims to alleviate residents’ heavily limited access to safe drinking water to meet their health needs, reduce plastic waste, and encourage equity between Harvard’s residential communities. Mather doesn’t currently have any water filling stations. For many on campus, because water fountains have been turned off as a safety precaution, drinking water is limited to their bathroom sinks and disposable plastic bottles from HUDS. Although bathroom sinks have filtered water, they are an impractical drinking water source because they are too shallow to put a nalgene under and they raise concerns over cross-contamination because they are shared. Thus, students often request up to 6 water bottles per visit to the dining hall, contributing to excess plastic waste. Because of shared-space restrictions, targeting “high traffic” campus zones to ensure positive environmental impact is no longer feasible. Access to sustainable drinking water sources must be expanded to be all-inclusive to reach especially the most isolated, vulnerable communities like Mather. If COVID-19 has taught many one overarching lesson, it is this: as a community, we are only as strong as our weakest members. This project aims to uplift these members.
Project Team Members: Paul Smith, Nazneen Cooper, Stephen Fisher, Zina Fraser, Cory Beizer,
Nina Parrott, Samantha Tracy, Maddie Mauro, Austin(Chunfeng) Lu,
Jessica Schiff, Arty Vartanyan, Boyd Carson
Faculty advisor: Paul Smith, Nazneen Cooper, David Havelick, Giovanna Parmigiani
"The Harvard Micro-Prairie Project” is an urban landscaping initiative for the protection and preservation of pollinators. After identifying underused, deteriorating, and under-accessed ground spaces around the Harvard campus, we will convert them into monitored micro-prairies featuring a variety of native pollinator-friendly plants, blooming from spring through fall. While minimizing labor costs as well as reducing equipment emissions and water usage, this project targets the damaging effects of grass-centric monoculture landscaping on pollinator species and on the health of our local soil.
This project is a collaboration with HDS Holy Bees, HDS Garden Club, the GSBees, HDS Animism Reading Group, and other student-led organizations
Faculty advisor: Farouq Ghandour and Sany Ouayda
Goo aims to improve the sustainability of 3D printing. We are developing a bio-based/marine biodegradable 3D printing filament, a sustainable and reusable spool, and a program that “upcycles” existing filament to enhance its quality and biodegradability. 3D printing has become increasingly prominent in design ideation/prototyping and small scale customized production; however, initial mockups and failed prints are often discarded and result in increased plastic waste. We want to produce a filament for both individuals with a 3D printer and institutions (e.g., maker spaces, university fabrication labs) that is more sustainable and cost-competitive compared to existing filaments. We will provide this filament on either a cardboard spool made of recycled material or a reusable spool made out of metal. Finally, we will partner with our customers to minimize plastic waste in the 3D printing ecosystem.
Crimson Goes Green
My goals would be to attempt to assess the scope of discarded athletic goods and materials at Harvard, and to propose sustainable alternatives. In addition, I would like to quantify the water and energy conservation impact of rescuing such goods and materials. I believe this is important and innovative because sustainable initiatives may be lacking in the athletic industry. This project could grow and eventually supplement Harvard’s efforts at campus-wide sustainability to include all sectors of the campus. I would begin my efforts with my Harvard athletic community, the Harvard Fencing Team, and expand and apply similar measures to other athletic groups as I am able. There are significant water and energy costs required to make something new. The global average water consumption varies for different materials that are made from scratch. After completing some preliminary research, it’s believed that polyester requires 10 gallons of water per pound of polyester made, but cotton materials require much more water, approximately 500 gallons of water per pound of cotton. This means that to make a single cotton shirt, a lot of water is needed. This includes water for cotton to grow, for the manufacturing processes to run, for material dyes etc. Other materials, e.g. leather may require many thousands of gallons of water per pound. Thus, to some extent, I would hope to be able to quantify how much energy and water was conserved per pound of discarded athletic material saved.
Explore past Student Grant recipients
Climate Justice Education Project (CJEP)
Project Team Members: Joana Avrami, Shannon Beattie, Arielle Blacklow,
Aislinn Devlin, Valentina Doerre Torres,
Campbell Erickson, Saskia Fisher,
Shayna Grossman, Maddie Mauro, Josh Stern, Mia Sturzu, Matthew Su, Maya Skarbinski, Joseph Winters
Harvard undergraduates recognize that climate change is a defining challenge of our generation, but a substantial proportion of them still fail to engage with environmental issues in their daily lives. The Climate Justice Education Project (CJEP) will establish a long-lasting, replicable pedagogical structure to create the climate leaders needed in the 21st Century. CJEP will accomplish this through orientation, pre-orientation, and gen-ed based curriculum programs at Harvard and beyond. This initiative will provide a lasting structure that has the potential to change the tenor of Harvard College's engagement with the climate
Narratives of the Climate Crisis
Project team Members: Ilana Cohen, Arielle Blacklow, Gabrielle Langkilde, Noah Secondo
There is no question about the dire need for climate action: The latest IPCC report gives us only a decade to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, beyond which we will see catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change. Already, we are feeling the effects of climate change and the injustices it generates, with increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters hitting our most vulnerable communities the hardest, from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Thus, even as the climate crisis can seem distant at times, for many people, it is an imminent reality. Narratives of the crisis — which disproportionately impacts communities of color, low-income communities, and women worldwide — are not confined to the corners of the globe but are present within our local communities. And they are present here at Harvard, too. This publication aims to bring to light those stories within our university’s walls and to increase recognition of the stakes of climate injustice for our friends, coworkers, colleagues, neighbors, and community members. At the center of our work is a belief that we are part of an interconnected and interdependent world. When we think of climate change as a faceless and abstract entity, we neglect the stark reality of its palpable impact on so many lives and livelihoods right now, and on all of our futures. All of us have a stake in the fight for a more just and stable world — and that fight and the search for meaningful climate solutions starts with listening to the voices of those who are on the frontlines of this emergency.
Ana Luiza Nicolae, Harvard College
Project Team Members: Josh Stern, James Coleman, Arielle Blacklow, Stacy Blondin
Faculty advisor: Elsie Sunderland, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry, SEAS and SPH
Consumption of sugar permeates most of our everyday meals. It is well-known that sugar affects health and life expectancy dramatically, but often the environmental cost of this ubiquitous crop goes unrecognized. Today, sugar fields cover 65 million acres of land and require extensive human labor and ecological sacrifices. Almost nine gallons of water are required to produce a teaspoon of refined sugar. With the expansion of sugarcane fields and growing global demand, deforestation is intensified. Additionally, sugarcane production washes pesticides and fertilizers into the sea, damaging ecosystems. Furthermore, the human cost at which sweetness comes is most grievous, exploiting workers, some enslaved, in order to meet rising agricultural demands by the needs of today’s food production. Our goal is simple: to make Harvard students conscious of these facts about sugar production and make small, meaningful changes in their behavior accordingly. We believe that some of the most powerful impacts we can have as students is to give our peers information that allows them to make more informed decisions about their role in building a sustainable world.
ENERGY AND EMISSIONS
Heating energy use and occupants’ behavior in Graduate Residence Halls
Pablo Izaga Gonzalez, Graduate School of Design
Faculty advisor: Holly Samuelson, Assistant Professor of Architecture, GSD
The proposed study aims to increase the understanding of occupants’ behavior in relation to heating use, and levels of comfort in one of the Harvard GSAS Residence Halls. The collection and analysis of the data is a first step to the implementation of initiatives targeted to change specific behaviors, based on tested hypothesis. During the study, minimal behavior change interventions will be deployed, and their impact will be assessed. In recent years, Harvard has run several initiatives to change electricity use. Increasing the understanding of heating use and identifying potential pathways to reduce the consumption through behavior change constitutes a new strategy in the University’s sustainability plans.
Human Powered Vehicle
Rainy Michelsen, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Project team members: Alexander Giglio, Andrea Rodriguez-Marin Freudmann, Camilo Castellanos Sanchez, Allison Gunnar, Sofia Schreiber, Quinn Perini, Jack Goodwin, Matt Jacobsen, Terrance Williams, Olivia Oldham
Faculty advisors: Evelyn Hu, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering; Nathan Taylor, Lecturer in Engineering Sciences; Craig Mascarenhas, Fellow in Environmental Science & Engineering
The Human Powered Vehicle Team is designing a human powered vehicle for sustainable transportation. We teach members how to design and build a vehicle that is efficient, fast and appropriate for city transportation. The goal of the project is to raise awareness of alternative transportation that is more environmentally-friendly than cars, and to encourage engineers to consider green enterprises.
Real-time Energy Monitoring
Ike Jin Park, College, 2016/2017
Data is an integral part of policy decision. The Office for Sustainability already has huge amount of information on monthly energy consumption of Harvard’s buildings. However, we want to go beyond that, and increase transparency of the data. The idea of this project is to install real-time energy monitor sensors in Harvard buildings. Ideally, we want to get as detailed as how much energy each electrical outlets are using in individual dorm rooms. With this detailed picture of energy consumption, we have two plans. Firstly, we want to look at short-term interventions. With the real-time data we collect, our plan is to build “if x, then y” code, so that when energy consumption of the dorms drop below a certain baseline for a certain amount of time, the dorms get a reward automatically ordered and paid for them. Secondly, we want to look at long-term policy implications. With a track record of this detail, we can figure how energy is being wasted. For instance, we can track which electrical appliances are too old and consume excessive energy. We might find out certain appliances have been wrongly programed to operate when not in use. With this understanding, we hope to make some policy recommendations to go along with the great work Harvard and OFS has done so far.
Joanna Chang, College, 2015/2016
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.
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.
Project Team Members: Dann Huh, Anna Anderson, Billy Lau, Dirk Landgraf, Nathan Lord, & Thomas Norman
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.
Mather House Community Garden
Project Team Members: Isabelle DeSisto and Isabella Di Pietro
The Mather House Community Garden is an indoor vertical garden in one of Harvard’s undergraduate houses. As student representatives from the Resource Efficiency Program and Food Literacy Project, we have noticed a growing interest within the undergraduate student body in better understanding the connection between food, environmental sustainability, and health. With this project, we will grow produce and educate students about sustainable farming and eating habits. By collaborating with and developing stakeholders among Mather House faculty, staff, tutors and students, we aim to make this garden a lasting fixture in Mather. This project integrates two of the five core topics of the Harvard University Sustainability Plan--“Health and Well-Being” and “Culture and Learning.” Moreover, it aligns with our faculty deans’ personal commitment to making Mather more green. We plan to use this garden to foster a community conversation about how our food choices can impact both our bodies and the planet. We also hope to develop a model that can be replicated in other houses and spaces around campus.
Growy: Pilot for Smart Indoor Gardening
Spyridon Ampanavos and Aziz Barbar, GSD, 2017/2018
Growy aims to improve the future of our planet and its food systems by enabling people to grow their own food. It is a step towards a better healthier lifestyle that shifts away from industrial agriculture, whose practices of excessive pesticide use, monoculture farming and water consumption contribute to roughly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This comes at crucial time, where urbanization is on the rise and modern society continues to concentrate in denser and larger cities, losing connection to the earth and the processes of food production. The Growy pilot project provides a solution through automated hydroponic technology, allowing plants to be grown and harvested year round from the comfort of users’ homes. This not only reduces carbon footprint, water consumption, and use of toxic chemicals, but indoor plants and gardening can alleviate stress and support emotional and mental wellness. Additionally, each unit is connected to a network of fellow urban farmers through an app that features augmented reality interfaces, creating a highly engaging and immersive experience around the understanding of plant life.
Interactive Design Tool for Natural Ventilation
Nari Yoon, GSD
My project will examine an interactive design tool that measures the effectiveness of wind-driven natural ventilation (NV) for buildings. Because the simulation of NV requires significant time and high degree of expertise, various approaches have been proposed to reduce the time and complexity of simulation. However, less attention has been paid to the dynamic design processes. This is critical because design at an early stage is highly likely to be changed which leaves simulations very challenged. Therefore, this tool will be devised in such a way that it responds to various design alternatives including the sizes of a space and windows. The method will be also integrated into 3D modeling tool and beta-tested by a group of students. Successful project will allow students at the GSD to examine the NV effect of their building design more effectively, thus encouraging the idea of sustainability be integrated in their design. The calculation and parameterization will enable quick responses to the design, and yields a natural ventilation metric of each space to help the design be modified accordingly. This project will facilitate the consideration of NV within the building design process, which can save energy consumption of buildings.
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
Project Team Members: Julian Thomas, Devan Darby, David Bartels, Jana Jarolimova, & Nicholas Abreu
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
VerEatTas 2.0: Making Sustainable Menu Options APPealing
Laura Zatz, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Project team members: Aviva Musicus, Brett Otis, Stacy Blondin
Faculty advisor: Eric Rimm, Professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, SPH
The global food system accounts for roughly 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions and will contribute more than 50% by 2050 if current production and consumption trends continue. Animal products constitute 60% of food-related emissions, with meat and dairy exerting the greatest impact. Reducing consumption and production of meat and dairy is essential for preserving climate, biodiversity, and water systems. Achieving healthy, sustainable eating patterns rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes could simultaneously address climate change, improve food security, and reduce chronic disease; however, little progress has been made toward mobilizing consumer behavior change. One promising and underexplored opportunity lies in effectively communicating the environmental impact of dietary choices to consumers at the point of food selection. Thus, the proposed project aims to design, implement, and evaluate environmental sustainability labeling and behavioral economic nudges delivered via an Android/iOS mobile phone application for ordering food on campus. This intervention is expected to positively influence students’ dietary decisions via strategies that can be scaled up across colleges and universities nationwide via the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative. This project has the potential to reduce our collective campus “foodprint” by influencing the next generation of consumers toward more sustainable dietary patterns.
Greening Harvard's Undergraduate House Grilles
Emma Clerx, College
Project Team Members: Stacy Blondin, Carolyn Chelius, 2017/2018
Shifting consumer dietary patterns in a more sustainable direction is imperative to achieving global warming reduction targets. Six of Harvard’s twelve upperclassmen residential Houses (Elliot, Dunster, Quincy, Winthrop, Lowell, and Pforzheimer) operate student-managed grilles, which offer the only source of prepared food after dining hall dinner hours. House grilles are also popular because they are one of few campus food vendors that accept student Board Plus funds and provide a space for students to socialize. Therefore, House grilles are a primary source of late-night sustenance and House life.
However, current menu offerings include relatively unhealthy options with considerable environmental footprints, such as beef burgers, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, and milk shakes. To shift students’ choices in a more sustainable direction, we propose piloting trendy, novel menu items that are healthier and more environmentally friendly, such as pita and hummus, tortilla chips and guacamole, beefless burgers, popcorn, smoothies, and non-dairy milk shakes. Moreover, we plan to educate students about the relative environmental impact of menu offerings by adding sustainability labels to the newly designed menus. We will measure the impact and receptivity of this environmental intervention by assessing changes in grille purchasing and sales data as well as student surveys.
Sustainable and Healthful Meeting Guidelines
Aviva Musicus, ChanSPH
Project Team Members: Adam Meier, Stacy Blondin, Brett Otis, David Havelick, 2017/2018
We have drafted Sustainable and Healthful Meeting Guidelines to be used across all schools at Harvard University, to encourage all meetings, conferences, and other catered events at the university to offer nutritious and sustainable foods and beverages, incorporate physical activity, and utilize sustainable waste practices. These guidelines align with many of the focus areas of Harvard’s Sustainable and Healthful Food Standards, so their implementation would support these standards.
Currently, there are no university-wide standardized guidelines or standards for meetings; most events do not consider sustainability or physical activity in their planning and often serve foods high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. Adopting sustainable meeting guidelines across Harvard University will foster a culture of health and wellness in meetings and conferences, helping employees and students to eat well, be active, and protect the environment. Adopting these guidelines sends the message that health and sustainability are important to the Harvard community and that we support the health of our community.
Our goals for this project include: (1) conducting focus groups with key stakeholders across the university to determine barriers to implementing healthy meetings; (2) modifying guidelines based on stakeholder feedback; and (3) designing, finalizing, and publishing Sustainable and Healthful Meeting Guidelines.
Development of a Hydroponic-Aquaponic Filtration System
Amy Li, College, 2017/2018
Interactive and visual demonstrations of sustainability efforts are crucial to encouraging communities to engage in environmental issues. Through developing an aesthetic and novel display for a hybrid hydroponic-aquaponic system, we hope to ignite public interest in greater incorporation of sustainability into public spaces and design. Hydroponics is a low-energy, low-waste, GHG-reducing method of water filtration that is also visually intriguing. We intend to build a working prototype of a biologically diverse hydroponics system capable of sustaining aquatic life, fueled by wastewater, greywater, or rainwater runoff from a building around campus. Once a successful prototype is developed, we will work with administration towards implementing a large-scale system in a public location around campus. This will introduce the potential of plant-based filtration (and the importance of wetland buffers) to the Harvard student body and general public. Ultimately, we hope the entire community is able to connect with this design, inspiring greater thought towards sustainability.
Evaluating and encouraging occupant window control for natural ventilation
Yujiao Chen, GSD, 2016/2017
Natural ventilation helps to improve indoor air quality and thermal comfort, and in some situations, reduce energy consumption for fans or air conditioning. On the other hand, the misuse of natural ventilation can waste substantial heating/cooling energy. Meanwhile, residents may rely excessively on HVAC systems and may not be in the habit of opening or closing windows regularly. In this project, we will employ window close/open sensors and indoor/outdoor weather sensors to measure occupant window control. The collected data will be analyzed using statistic models to find the relationship between occupant behavior and indoor/outdoor temperature, humidity, wind speed, CO2 level, and noise. Furthermore, the findings will help us reveal the impact of window control on building energy consumption, and provide guidelines for effective window control in different seasons. The project will encourage college students to actively interact with the building and environment, at the same time cultivating an awareness of sustainability and indoor air quality.
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
MakeHarvard 2019 Environmental Challenge
Jessica Han, Harvard College, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Project team members: Elton Lossner, Tim O'Brien, August Chen, Carolyn Wong, Dhilan Rampersand, Nick Sundberg
Faculty advisor: Anas Chalah, Dean of the Active Learning Labs, SEAS
Innovation has become an integral part of the college experience across the world, be it through start ups or hackathons, but much of this innovation is geared towards products that will attract the most customers or make the most money. Innovation for cleaner, more environmentally-friendly technology is often left out. Through the MakeHarvard 2019 engineering makeathon, we will work with our talented, bright group of 250 students from around the world to tackle critical environmental issues. Our makers may find new solutions for carbon sequestration, create a device to remove the plastic from our oceans, or develop green lighting for the masses. We provide the makers with everything they need: materials, industry and educational mentors, food, machine shop tools, and competition categories. Our overall goal is to create a collaborative community around environmental technology that lasts longer than the duration of the makeathon.
Yard Bathroom Waste Minimization
Maya Levine, College
Team: Brandon Geller, 2017/2018
The Bathroom Waste Minimization project is an initiative that aims to reduce paper waste in freshman dorms. The ultimate goal is to replace all dorm paper towel dispensers with the hand dryers, so this project will include piloting the installation of one or a couple hand dryers. This aligns with the long-term goals of the college as well, but the path is lengthy and expensive. We hope to both expedite the process and provide a more environmentally friendly alternative during the execution of this long-term goal. Bathroom paper waste is one of the largest contributors to dorm waste, despite the fact that all paper towels are compostable. This is because the large bathroom trash cans are used for both paper and non-compostable waste. The plan aims to successfully separate the compostable paper waste and the non-compostable personal waste via two separate and clearly labeled trash cans: a small black foot-pedal trash can for personal waste and a large green slim-jim for paper towels.
Sustainable Development of Robotics at Harvard
Andrew Meersand, College, 2017/2018
With a focus on engineering education, the Harvard Undergraduate Robotics Club consists of project teams that work to further innovation on campus through building robots. We would like to create a culture of sustainability throughout SEAS while also building robots to address environmental problems with high impact. We will use reclaimed materials and start a culture of sustainability through building an environmentally-focused underwater robot. The underwater remote operated vehicle team plans to translate our engineering education in the classroom to innovative solutions for monitoring and cleaning waterways in inaccessible areas. Our goal is to create a robot capable of retrieving and removing debris from waterways, installing environmental data collection systems, and monitoring environmental conditions.
3D Printing Recycling
Robert Anderson, College; SEAS, 2016/2017
This project will eliminate the unnecessary waste of 3D printed materials within the Harvard Learning Labs and Engineering Department. By installing this recycling system, the filament used to 3D print parts can be entirely reused: cutting waste and drastically reducing the amount of new filament purchased by the University. Because many engineering projects involve multiple stages of prototyping, many 3D printed pieces quickly become obsolete and are discarded. This project is extremely practical, as it emphasizes to students the importance of sustainability in the labs and allows them to recycle the material themselves.Smart Surplus
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
Stormwater Runoff in Harvard Longwood Area
So Yon Jun, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Project team members: Rachel Croy, Sanjay Seth
Our goal for the Sustainability Grant is to identify impervious surfaces on the School of Public Health’s campus, measure how much pollution and excess nutrients are entering the stormwater drains along with the runoff water, and implement a feasibility plan of converting these impervious surfaces to permeable surfaces through green infrastructure. This proposal will work in tandem with efforts at Brigham Women’s Hospital to reduce impervious surfaces across the Longward Area. In addition, this project will build upon the “Stormwater Modules” project as a way of establishing not only Harvard’s Cambridge Campus but Longwood Campus as sustainable living labs. Impervious surfaces in the area surrounding the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health raise concerns over stormwater runoff contributing to Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) events and polluted runoff water traveling to tributaries of the Charles River. Water which cannot penetrate the earth runs along impervious surfaces and enters the storm drain. These surfaces increase both the volume and speed of storm water which is determined by slope and elevation of a site. Using GIS, a sloped, impervious area along the HSPH campus was identified to address these issues.
Refill by Studio30
Joshua Stern, College, 2017/2018
Every second, 1,500 plastic bottles of water are consumed in America. The cost of this unnecessary habit is 50 million barrels of oil per year by estimate of the Earth Policy Institute. Because of this, Harvard and other sustainability-minded institutions now seek to incentivize use of reusable water bottles with water bottle refilling stations. However, price remains a key problem with the implementation of this green technology: the installation of a single water bottle filling station costs around $1,000. This project will fund prototyping for a new design of water bottle refilling station that should cost no more than $30. The device will add the function of a water bottle filling stations to existing sinks. It allows the user to redirect water flow off the side of the sink, where they will be able to fill a water bottle. By demonstrating the feasibility of this idea, we hope to develop a cost-effective product that could encourage proliferation of this sustainable technology, thereby reducing campus carbon footprint and increasing individual awareness of sustainable living strategies.
Safe, Free, Green Tap Water Campaign
Abby Bloomfield, Beverly Ge, and Green '20 team, College, 2016/2017
Cambridge tap water is clean, safe, and accessible; however, many students, for a variety of reasons, choose not to drink it. Instead, they are purchasing plastic water bottles, in-room water bottle dispensers, or allowing themselves to become dehydrated. We want to change this anti-tap attitude by informing students that the tap water is safe and, most importantly, making tap water cool again. In other words, get Freshmen to view tap water as Safe, Free, and Green. To accomplish this, we want to print out large posters featuring some of Harvard’s in-house celebrities (such as Dean Khurana and John from Annenberg) drinking tap water. There will be an accompanying slogan along the lines of, “If Dean Khurana drinks tap water, you can drink tap water, too” as well as some general health information about Cambridge tap water and goals from the Harvard Sustainability Plan Water Goals. These posters will be part of a larger Green 20 initiative that also includes a webpage, three videos and Facebook filters. Through this campaign, we hope to get students excited and educated about tap water which will in turn reduce bottled water consumption.
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.
Nature and Ecosystems
The Harvard Micro-Prairie Project
In collaborarion with: Harvard Council of Student Sustainability Leaders, HDS Holy Bees, GSD Bee Club, HDS Garden Club, and other student-led organizations.
In response to the Earthwatch Institute’s September 2019 pronouncement that bees are "the most important living being on Earth," the Harvard Micro-Prairie Project is an urban landscaping initiative for the protection and preservation of pollinators. Through the introduction of a variety of native pollinator-friendly plants, unused, deteriorating, and under-accessed ground and grass areas around the Harvard campus will be converted into monitored micro-prairies blooming from spring through fall. Honoring the university's commitment to sustainability and biodiversity, this project targets the damaging effects of grass-centric landscaping on environmentally critical species such as birds, bees, and butterflies, while minimizing labor costs as well as reducing equipment emissions and water usage.
Project team Members: Dylan Anslow Michael Cafiero Jessica Lau
Since 2011, the student group GSBees has brought together those at the Harvard Graduate School of Design who have a shared interest in beekeeping. We have revitalized the group in the past year and in the upcoming year, aim to grow the Harvard community’s awareness of local ecosystems through beekeeping and beyond. With support from the Office of Sustainability, we will expand our work beyond the apiairies to host several innovative workshops that will educate the community and promote cross-school connections, while leveraging our design expertise. The workshops will include designing and building an observation hive for honeybees; designing and building habitats for native species of solitary bees, which serve as important pollinators in our local ecosystem; and using beeswax to make candles and reusable food wraps, in collaboration with student beekeepers from Harvard Divinity School.
Native Plants at Harvard
Project Team Members: Dakota McCoy, Ben Goulet-Scott, Jacob Suissa, and Sam Church (Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Faculty Advisor: David Haig, George Putnam Professor of Biology
Native plants capture carbon, stabilize ecosystem webs, and make life possible for thousands of native insects, birds, fungi, and more, but they are vastly under-represented in urban communities. Urban college campuses are rare green spaces, but too often campus landscapes are dominated by exotic or even invasive species. With our grant funds, we will purchase seedlings and seeds to plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers on campus in 20 new large planters on the Science Center plaza, at the Divinity School, and in other green spaces. Drawing upon our expertise in plant biology and conservation, we will generate a report of ideal native plants to grow on Harvard’s campus based on their ecological importance as well as aesthetic value through multiple seasons. Further, we will establish an endowment to fund the inclusion of native plants in future landscaping projects. We will pair these native plant installations with minimalist signage to educate tourists and students about the value of native plants, and we also will host several events where students can take home their own plant in a pot. Cities are not undisturbed wild spaces, but they can nonetheless be refuges for biodiversity. We want to make Harvard a better place from a bee’s eye view.
Digital Monitoring of Harvard Hives
Julia Yu, College, 2015/2016
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.
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.
Nudging towards a smaller footprint: Using behavioral economics interventions to reduce disposables usage in dining halls
Project Team Members: Seo-Hyun Yoo (College), Sakiko Isomichi (HDS), Marissa Garcia (College), Maddie Mauro (College), Charles Hua (College), Jasper Johnston (College), Aviva Musicus (HSPH)
Advisor: David Havelick, Erez Yoeli
Food-related waste is a major sustainability and climate change challenge that every individual can have an impact on. Given the central role dining halls play in Harvard College students’ eating patterns and lives in general, they present a significant opportunity to both make large scale change and introduce more environmentally friendly long-term dining habits to thousands of students each year. Taking inspiration from Harvard's Sustainable and Healthful Food Standards, we aim in particular to reduce student usage of disposable cups and utensils (as opposed to the reusable options available) in the dining halls. Guided by best practices outlined in behavioral economics literature, we plan to engage and empower students to make more sustainable dining choices. The initiative will include a marketing campaign, community engagement, and the introduction of nudges such as placement changes of the disposables. We will then measure the impact and receptivity of these interventions by tracking disposables usage before and after the interventions
Sustainable Travel Guide
Project Team Members: Jessica Huang, Council of Student Sustainability Leaders
Faculty Advisor: Mohamed Khalifa, Center for African Studies
Members of the Harvard community often travel for coursework, research, service projects, and other types of collaborations, with a desire to impact the world in a positive way. In 2018 alone, Harvard Global Support Services reported that there were 8,760 registered trips to 165 countries. Resources internal and external to Harvard are used to support many of these trips, and we have a collective opportunity to ensure these resources are being utilized as responsibly as possible. Inspired by the Harvard University Sustainability Plan’s commitment to “maintain and continuously improve sustainable transportation opportunities, programs, and incentives for Harvard affiliates,” we are building upon prior work on the environmental and social impacts of travel to develop a sustainable travel guide. We plan to hold focus groups and events on the Cambridge, Longwood, and Allston campuses to engage students, staff, and faculty in providing input and feedback. We also plan to provide virtual options to engage university community members and partners located beyond the Greater Boston Area. At the end of this community process, we would like to make a living version of this guide accessible to all as a resource to build upon, which can evolve in the future as we learn more best practices and need to respond to new challenges.
Project Team Members: Jasper Johnston, Jenny Baker, Eric Tarlin, Isa Pena, Nico Vallenas
Trayless Tuesdays is a movement, founded at Harvard College as part of a course, Music 178R: Applied Music Activism, aimed at increasing public awareness of the issue of food waste. As a start, Trayless Tuesdays encourages community members to stop using trays in dining halls, at least on Tuesdays, because trays have been linked to significant increases in food waste, as people have a tendency to take more food than they can eat. To raise awareness of Trayless Tuesdays, our team has launched a socio-musical campaign, producing a series of short videos, which integrate musical elements, and launching them via social media, email lists, and partnerships with student organizations and University departments. To learn more or watch the videos, check us out on Facebook and Instagram - @TraylessTuesdays.
People Pedal Power: Community-Driven Sustainability Initiative
Malika Leiper, Graduate School of Design
Project team members: Lanie Cohen, Stefano Trevisan, Hanna Kim
Faculty advisor: Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, GSD
Over the past two years, POP'UP collaborated with several community-based organizations to design temporary installations across multiple sites in Somerville and Cambridge. This year we are partnering with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell to co-design and co-create a sculptural bike rack out of reclaimed materials from Harvard’s Recycling Center to be installed at Harvard and in Lowell. In addition to providing necessary bike parking infrastructure, the installations will serve as a site for biking workshops to inform participants about road safety, rules, and maintenance. The installations will be at once playful, active and reactive. Our style is small-scale, big-impact. POP^UP’s commitment to experimentation as a necessary component of knowledge-building, means that we consider the process of designing and building this bike rack to be equally as important as the outcome. Through our partnership with the CMAA, we hope to learn how design can best serve under-resourced communities and how sustainable transportation initiatives can be culturally-sensitive and respond more directly to the lived realities of its end-users. Through this lens of health and sustainable transportation, we will build upon the existing assets of the CMAA and Harvard University to create more points of connection between our institution and its surrounding ecosystem.
Veganali - a short film documenting the first vegan ascent of Denali in order to inform about the environmental impacts of diet choice
Carlo Alberto Amadei, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Project team member: David Ding, HMS
Faculty advisor: Chad Vecitis, Associate in Environmental Science and Engineering, SEAS
Veganali will be the first fully vegan ascent of Denali, the highest point of North America. We will make a short film for sharing through film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, shortoftheweek.com), social media and local outing clubs. The film will use a relatable human story and beauty of natural landscapes as vehicles to inform about the latest scientific consensus quantifying the need for a radical shift in our diets in order to maintain a safe operating space for humans on this planet given expected population and income changes. By demonstrating the ease of choosing a vegan lifestyle in our daily lives, as well as under extreme conditions, we hope to empower viewers to make informed decisions about their consumption. Our film will complement efforts from Harvard University in leading changes in consumer behavior, such as through forthcoming Sustainable Healthful Food Standards. We also hope to show that such an expedition is possible with little or no use of harmful compounds such as fluorocarbons or bisphenols, which are commonly found in outdoor gear. As scientists we can provide accurate information on this issue: Carlo has contributed to academic research in collaboration with the OFS that quantifies fluorine in consumer goods, namely the Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund project on PFAS. We are also lucky to be advised by Arlene Blum, one of the innovators in this area.
Teach-in on IPCC Report (The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C)
Saul Levin, Graduate School of Design
Project team members: Sury Dewa, Saf Shersad, Joel Seidner, Emily Klein
We will be hosting a teach-in/lecture type event to share the contents of the most recent IPCC report with students at Harvard. We are concerned that a few days of press allowed people to read a sentence or paragraph of this dire document without fully understanding the implications. At this plant-based event, we will share key takeaways as they are relevant to students and faculty at the GSD and across Harvard University so that they don't need to go looking for the information themselves.
Joanne K. Cheung, GSD, 2017/2018
Future Horizon tells the story of climate change at the scale of a book and the scale of architecture. This project is a momento mori for our environment. With the rising sea level, the length of the coastline from which we can look at the ocean recedes. The length of the horizon that we can see also shortens. If we take the horizon as a metaphor for infinity, its shortening then represents a reduction in the scope of our imagination. Materials for this project were produced in Iceland, along the coast of the entire island and on the Svinasfelljokull Glacier. At the scale of the book, the photographs of the horizon are typeset into a book by the Icelandic poet Stefán Hördur Grimsson, staging an imaginary dialogue between text and image. At the scale of architecture, the photographs are printed at the length of the University Hall facade, anticipating a new waterfront on the Harvard campus in 100 years. This photograph is designed for viewers to cut, take home, and install at the level of the projected sea level in physical space, as a window onto the future landscape.
A Seat at the Table
Alice Armstrong, Estello Raganit, Lanie Cohen, GSD, 2017/2018
As a student group at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, we seek to leverage our skills as designers to support local organizations and bring memorable and educational experiences to their audiences. This year we plan to augment local advocacy efforts for sustainability and equity in our food systems by designing and building an interactive, modular, communal table that will be strategically deployed to multiple sites in Cambridge in April 2018. This table will serve to facilitate community discussions and shared meals centered around the idea of food as a networked resource. Partnering with local initiatives such as Harvard Common Spaces, The Welcome Project, and Shape Up Somerville, we hope to build connections between diverse communities around issues of food security, sustainability, and socialization around a common table. The design of the table itself will similarly focus on the social dynamics of dining, the sustainability of materials used in fabrication, and the re-usability and adaptability of its components. We plan to engage various stakeholders in the design process, and connect different groups through a series of events using the table as a mobile shared site.
Mkutani Schoolhouse Project
Engineers without borders; Sophia Lee, College, 2016/2017
The importance of environmental hazard assessment within sustainable building design is a rising concern for environmental and human health. The Harvard University chapter of Engineers Without Borders is currently working in the village of Mkutani, Tanzania to build sustainable school houses, teacher residences, and latrine systems. In Mkutani, most of the village’s 600 school children are crammed into a dilapidated six classroom building complex. Because of the Tanzania’s recent abolition of primary school fees and compulsory education laws, this complex is not large enough to accommodate the growing student population. Additionally, the current complex has deteriorated significantly and no longer remains structurally sound for learning. Over the course of the next few semesters, Harvard EWB plans to engage students on campus to participate in the sustainable design of the new school complex. Design plans include integrating the town's new access to electricity, environmentally-friendly and hazard-free building materials, and significant collaboration with professionals and corporations in Boston that specialize in sustainable design. Through constructing this school, Harvard EWB hopes to not only raise awareness on campus for the importance of environmental sustainability in building design but also create a safer and structurally sound learning environment for Mkutani students.
Simon Black, HKS, 2016/2017
ecotrack is fitbit for sustainability. It's a free app which passively tracks your carbon footprint, giving you personalized advice on how to reduce it. ecotrack leverages big data technologies to pinpoint and track carbon footprints across transport, home energy and food. Passive data collection and machine learning algorithms yield estimates in real-time, computing the most efficient ways for individuals to cut carbon, subject to their lifestyle preferences. This information is then delivered to users in an informative, intuitive and actionable way, with an occasional behavioral ‘nudge’. We aim to create the world’s first passive carbon footprint tracking app, and intend on building and testing the prototype on Harvard students.
Michael Haggerty, GSD
Project team members: Alice Armstrong, Helena Cohen, Shani Cho, Evan Farley, Farhad Mirza, Matthew Okazaki, Haibei Peng, David Pilz, 2016/2017
Spring Cleaning will be an afternoon activity at Peabody Terrace that, through placemaking and the visual arts, aims to provoke dialogue about the roles of reuse, recycling, and materials exchange in urban living. A team of GSD students is working support the Harvard Graduate Commons Program's end-of-year event at Peabody Terrace on April 29, 2017 by designing outdoor furnishings and an exhibition area. The exhibition will display colorful household materials collected during a coat-, toys-, and plant-drive at Peabody Terrace, and will also show artworks created by children at Cambridge schools and art centers. In addition, the furniture and exhibition design will feature sustainably sourced materials and demonstrate methods for how to minimize waste in the fabrication process.
Akshay Goyal, Jiyoo Jye, Scott Valentine, GSD, 2015/2016
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.
John Kirsimagi, GSD, 2015/2016
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.
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.
Sustainability Signage Campaing
Project team members: Ashkay Sharma, Samuel Parker, Radhika Jain, Matthew Yarri, Richard Ebright, Sandra Korn, Breeanna Elliot.
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
Designing the Green New Deal Conference
Saul Levin, Carlee Griffeth, Soren Dudley
Project Team Members: Saf Shersad (GSD), Jeb Polstein (GSD), Tessa Crespo (GSD), Avery Wendell (HKS), Ilana Cohen (College), Isabelle Dupraz (GSD)
We propose to hold a day-long conference on the Green New Deal. Organizers for Radical Climate Action (ORCA) is organizing a similar conference that brings together students, policymakers, academics, professional associations, and experts to develop the strategy and tools necessary to pass just and rigorous federal climate policy.
The explicit goal of the project is to advance the growing conversation surrounding the Green New Deal, building off similar events held by other prestigious universities (most recently at the University of Pennsylvania in September). This event will use Harvard’s unique position and network to bring together community leaders, policy makers, and experts for a day of strategy, education, and engagement. Events like this are gaining recognition in peer universities but have never before been hosted at Harvard; given Harvard’s established leadership in policy and design education and the national salience of this current debate, this is an opportune moment for Harvard to host such an event. This event will forward important discourse about national climate policy while cementing Harvard’s leadership on smart climate policy.
The benefits of our project will be quantified in the number and prestige of panelists attending, breadth and diversity of student organization co-hosts, size of audience, social media activity around the event, number of articles written about the event, and what happens afterwards including tangential events, proposed collaborations, and reception or feedback from relevant groups.
A Clean Future: An Imagined Future by Harvard's Community
Project Team Members: Andrew de Souza, Wyatt Hurt, Robert Powell, Leticia Schettino, Micah Williams, Emily Fans, Austin Dawson
Faculty Advisor: Professor George Baker
Harvard Undergraduate Clean Energy Group’s year-long project, A Clean Future: An Imagined Future by Harvard’s Community, has been going well for the past semester, and we are excited to continue the tradition of success moving forward. In the past year, we have been publishing weekly newsletter to the Harvard community, highlighting various environmental events happening on campus and around the greater Boston area. Aside from providing informative content, we have also launched the monthly speaker events. Thus far, we have had Brandon Sorbom, a pioneering MIT scientist from Plasma Science and Fusion Center, to talk about his involvement in developing nuclear fusion reactors. To kick off the new semester, we have arranged Lady Barbara Judge, previous chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), to share her experiences working in the industry. With more diversified events planned for this semester, including workshops and speaker dinner, we hope to engage more students and motivate the Harvard community to explore a clean and sustainable future.
Not Just Sea Turtles: Measuring the Human Consumption of Microplastics from Plastic Drinking Utensils
Project Team Members: Sue Chan, Chris Mawhorter, Yue “Lee” Li
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jonathon Buonocore
There are three things certain in life: death, taxes, and microplastic consumption. Microplastic consumption could have dire health consequences, impacting our reproductive systems (i.e. due to the abundance of BPA-like plastics) and neurological functioning. Yet, the *exact* impact of microplastic consumption is not well known, as chemical and polymer makeup varies widely in the plastic industry, and microplastics under a certain size are difficult to accurately measure. This pilot project will toquantify microplastic consumption from beverage containers (including baby bottles) and utensils (e.g. straws, lids) found on Harvard’s campuses and in Boston. Our approach to locating microplastics is based off new and innovative research demonstrating that Nile Red dye and certain fluorescent lights can accurately identify presence and types of microplastics.
Our goals go beyond just finding microplastics: we want to (1) determine the health impacts of microplastics in a follow-up study--especially for endocrine disruptors in baby bottles--and (2) create standard operating procedures for reducing microplastic consumption. This project will educate and empower our Harvard community and families by translating our research into best practices in and outside of Harvard--two of four ways the Office of Sustainability is changing the culture of how we learn, work and live. But we first have to diagnose the problem before finding a cure, and that starts with this project.
Nature as a Teacher for Urban Resiliency Education: Harvard NATURE program
Project Team Members: Charlotte Dyvik Henke, Caleb Schwartz, Mei Collins, Martha Denton, Sheccid Ontiveros, Lauren Church, Maddie Mauro, Wooddynne Dejeanlouis
The need to equip the next generation for a changing climate is clear, yet there is an absence of environmental education programs in most schools. The Harvard NATURE project seeks to address the climate crisis at a structural level by facilitating hands-on environmental science lessons for K-8 students that will help children gain exposure to scientific ideas that prepare them to understand environmental issues. We are partnering with three non-profit organizations to build out a science curriculum aimed at connecting students with their local environment. An OFS grant will provide funding for scientific equipment such as microscopes, refractometers, and water testing kits. Harvard NATURE will amplify Harvard’s local impact by building strong relationships with Harvard college students, local primary school students, and community organizations. Harvard students will benefit by learning how to communicate environmental ideas and build partnerships with community stakeholders. We will draw guidance from faculty in HGSE, FAS, SEAS, and HKS to develop a new environmental curriculum based on innovative learning principles and environmental justice. We will pilot the program in four classrooms during the 2019-20 academic year, and seek to expand the program to more classrooms next year.
One Harvard Climate Initiative
Sanjay Seth, HKS/GSD, 2017/2018
We are organizing graduate students with an interest in climate change at Harvard. We intend to help lay the groundwork for effective climate action by ensuring interested students receive a comprehensive education that prepares them to be effective climate leaders. We will achieve this goal with student-led research and advocacy campaigns focused on improving the climate change curriculum and cohort experience for graduate students interested in climate change across Harvard. We will accomplish this goal by gathering student data, reviewing course evaluations, creating lists of classes at each school, identifying allies in the faculty and administration, holding student-led workshops, sponsoring student-led gatherings to discuss climate curriculum, measuring the success rate of existing climate change classes, and measuring the student demand for additional or improved climate change offerings. This is an on-going, cross-campus effort that will continue into the following academic year.
Women for Wildlife Conference
Julia Bright Ross, College, 2015/2016
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.
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%.