White Roof Reduces Energy, Emissions

In fall 2010, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine took a major step toward environmental stewardship. The School replaced the aging dark roof on the Main Building with 13,363 square feet of white single-ply thermoplastic PVC membrane. What this means is that this roof, which boasts a 20-year warranty and an Energy Star rating for reflectivity, will reduce the building’s air conditioning needs and thereby cut the School’s energy bills.

Energy Star–qualified roof products reflect more of the sun’s rays than do regular roofs, lowering roof surface temperatures and decreasing the amount of heat transferred into a building—and thus reducing the amount of air conditioning needed. And by absorbing less heat overall, the new roof reduces the amount of heat that is radiated upward into the atmosphere, which helps to cool the urban climate.

During the replacement, the roofers removed all of the existing roofing down to the concrete structural deck. They then installed highly energy-efficient insulation, which tripled the overall insulating value of the roof. Finally, the installation of the membrane roof used almost no solvent-based glues, primers, or other adhesives. Further environmental benefits were realized with local production: the plant at which the sheet was manufactured is located in Canton, Massachusetts.

Waste Reduction

Kimberly Hall showed her Earth Week spirit by bringing her own mug to Tea Time!Kimberly Hall showed her Earth Week spirit by bringing her own mug to Tea Time!Earth Week 2012 at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine ended with the School's first-ever Freecycle and special Tea Time event, where faculty, staff, and students joined in on eco-friendly practices. 

Everyone was encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs, and they were rewarded with earth cookies and “dirt and worms” cupcakes.

At the Freecycle, people “shopped” for rarely used office supplies and electronics that were donated for the event. Freecycling is a great way to find a new use for items that are still in working order but rarely get utilized — a wonderful way to recycle and reuse during Earth Week!