The Harvard Graduate School of Education aims to prepare education leaders, researchers and innovators to put powerful ideas into action, and to incorporate sustainability into their future. That commitment is made clear by how we run our campus and engage our students, staff and faculty in confronting the climate crisis and other environmental challenges.

Live It

We are living through a challenging time where crises of public health and structural racism and inequality are intertwined with the health of the planet and all its beings. There is no more time to waste. We must all educate ourselves and continue to find ways to come together and take action. Start with this action guide, read on for more opportunities and share with us how you would like to be involved.


All students, faculty and staff interested in making our campus healthier and more sustainable are welcome to join the HGSE Green Team:

  • Attend the monthly HGSE Green Team meetings, which are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 12-12:45pm at Gutman Conference Center, Event 8 (the Boardroom), and on Zoom. At each meeting, we take time sharing what sustainability projects each of us is currently working on for school, work or at home; reflect on our team’s most recent initiatives; and brainstorm and plan for new campaigns and projects. Beyond providing a space to tackle projects, meetings provide a great opportunity to get to know people from across the Ed School.
  • Join our community over email by subscribing to the HGSE Green Team listserv.

Originally formed in 2006 with volunteers representing an array of Ed School departments, the HGSE Green Team has run a variety of fun projects and events to raise environmental consciousness and engage the whole community in making our campus and our future more sustainable.  

Let us know what you would like to see at HGSE.  We are always ready to pilot something new.

hgse sustainability fellows


Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Sustainability Fellows work alongside the HGSE Sustainability Manager to develop individual projects that will push the School to become even more sustainable. 


Past projects have included highlighting global migration spurred on by climate change, raising awareness about how disability and planetary health are intertwined, waste diversion on campus, planning for a food pantry for food insecure students, and a (virtual) bike week.


Please note that this opportunity is unpaid however each fellow can use a limited amount of program funding towards their projects.


Applications for 2022-23 have closed..


Donate Items for reuse

Donate your clean, functional unneeded items to one of our popular reuse campaigns:


Freecycles (August & January)

Valentine's Day Drive (February)

Move Out Donation Station (May)

Harvard Recycling & Surplus Center (Year-round)











School supplies





Home & kitchen supplies















Green your office

Staff and faculty, as you prepare to return to campus, make your department HGSE’s next certified Harvard Green Office by taking the following steps:

  1. Register your office online
  2. Download and review the application form
  3. Collaborate with your colleagues to earn points for green actions

Leaf Level

Points Required

Leaf One


Leaf Two


Leaf Three


Leaf Four


Check in with colleagues at one of HGSE’s previously Recognized Green Offices for tips.

Learn it: get to know our sustainable campus

We have taken many steps in alignment with the University’s Sustainability Plan to make our campus more efficient, resilient and healthier, and continue to look for opportunities to do even more. 





Greenhouse gas emissions reduction

HGSE achieved the University-wide goal of reducing Harvard’s greenhouse gas emissions 30% (inclusive of growth) compared to 2006 emissions levels by 2016. That reduction is the equivalent to the emissions produced each year by every building on campus except Gutman! HGSE met and maintains that standard, despite having doubled the number of activities booked on our campus during that same period, through a myriad of energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects including:

Adhering to the Harvard University Temperature Policy and scheduling setbacks during slow periods, especially University breaks.

Shutting most buildings down on weekends, by scheduling most weekend activities in just one building, Gutman, in order to conserve energy and resources across the rest of the campus.

Pursuing Energy Conservation Measures, including installing LED lighting and upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Installing Solar Panels on Gutman Library. The Gutman Library solar photovoltaic system consists of 24 solar panels that produce over 5.3 kW of power each year—the equivalent of powering Westengard, where Operations is housed at the corner of Garden Street and Appian Way, for 6 months.


HGSE follows the Harvard Green Building Standards and is home to six Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designed (LEED) certified projects to date. In 2007, HGSE completed its first LEED certified project: the first LEED Gold Platinum classroom in the world. With HGSE’s contributions, the University has more LEED certified building projects than any other higher education institute in the world (with 132 LEED projects, a total of 3.5 million square feet of LEED certified space, as of 2016).

  • 2019: Gutman Conference Center (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Gold)
  • 2015: Longfellow Hall Renovation (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Platinum)
  • 2013: Gutman Library (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Platinum)
  • 2009: Larsen Classroom Renovation (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Platinum) 
  • 2008: Larsen Classroom Renovation (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Gold)
  • 2007: Longfellow Hall Basement Renovation (LEED for Commercial Interiors, Silver)


100% of our landscaping at HGSE is maintained organically. We have also brought some of the outdoors in through the living walls in the Gutman Library and Conference Center, which boost productivity and help to create a healthier and more inviting place for our community to gather and learn.


For our most recent LEED certified project, the Gutman Conference Center, we prioritized health by extending the building’s central staircase, encouraging those who are able to walk between floors—and selected furniture, carpeting and finishes that minimize our community’s exposure to toxic chemicals. The space also features a living wall whose plants improve indoor air quality and contribute to well-being.


Squeaky clean and green! 98% of the cleaning products used by HGSE’s Custodial Team Products are Green Seal Certified. These products clean just as well as conventional options, even if they're harder to notice (they don't smell as much) and they're better for our bodies and the planet.


The Gutman Commons Café and catering have always been dedicated to serving sustainable and locally-sourced food and minimizing the waste produced through preparing and consuming the food. We are proud the Café is now a 3-star certified Green Restaurant. 


Walk, bike or opt for public transit

If you are able, consider walking, biking or taking public transit to reach Appian Way.

Biking to the HGSE campus? Lock up your bike at one of these locations:

  • Gutman Front Entrance
  • Larsen Front Entrance
  • Larsen Rear Entrance




Our incoming graduate students usually receive a durable tote bag and reusable water bottle that make it easier to refuse single-use, disposable bags and bottles. Bring your bottle or mug with you to the Gutman Commons Café to enjoy a discount on coffee and tea refills.

Filtered Water Stations: Fill up your reusable bottle at one of our filtered water stations, which you’ll find at: 

  • Gutman, ground through 4th floors
  • Longfellow Hall, ground through 3rd floors
  • Larsen Hall ground through 2nd floors

Cambridge tap water is safe to drink, more highly tested and regulated than bottled water and a better choice for you and the planet given the plastic and microplastic pollution crisis.

Reuse Events and Campaigns: The HGSE Green Team hosts a Freecycle during course preview week each semester that gives students a chance to pick up what they need second-hand and give new life to items they no longer need; the Harvard Recycling Valentine’s Toiletries and Cosmetics Drive to benefit the Cambridge Family Shelter; and the Move Out Donation Station, a collection box in the Gutman vestibule where students can drop off items they choose not to bring with them at the end of their studies. 

Compost and Recycle

Help HGSE divert waste from landfills and incineration by composting and recycling whenever possible. Clearly marked posters by the bins help you sort your refuse and ask a staff member if you have any questions.

Compost: When you’ve finished a meal at the Gutman Commons Café, place any leftovers, your utensils, napkins, plate, cup and straw right in the bin for biodegradable waste labeled, “Compost.” Nearly all of the Café’s packaging and dining ware is made with 100% recycled fiber, or plant-based biopolymers. 

Recycle: Toss all your recyclable items—paper and cardboard, cans and foils, bottles and jars and plastic containers—all in the same bin, labeled “Recycle.” Discard any leftover food or liquids in the compost bin before recycling containers. Place any plastic wrap or plastic bags in the “Trash” bin to avoid getting them tangled up in the recycling equipment. Properly recycled plastic films and bags at most grocery stores instead.