The Harvard Green Building Standards ensure the University's commitment to climate and health is reflected in the design and creation of our spaces.

Our Green Building Standards include process-oriented requirements to ensure that all sustainable design and operations opportunities are vetted and that performance requirements are achieved in a cost-effective manner. The Standards apply to all capital projects (new construction and major renovations) over $100,000 and should be included in all Request for Proposals.

Download the Standards (pdf)

Download the Checklist (Excel)

Implementation Tools

What do they include?

The Harvard Green Building Standards were last updated in 2014, building upon the 2007 Green Building Guidelines and 2009 Green Building Standards. The 2014 version of the Standards includes healthy material requirements for the disclosure of health and environmental impacts of products that are used on campus in order to help Harvard assess opportunities to understand the community’s exposure to potential toxins.

They also include requirements for analyzing the feasibility of Net-Zero and Living Building Challenge certification for major capital projects and special considerations for laboratories and data centers, the most energy-intensive spaces on campus.

Additional updates include a requirement for LEED v4 Gold certification and revisions to Measurement and Verification standards that are used to assess the effectiveness and performance of energy and mechanical systems. Aggressive energy reduction targets, beyond the Massachusetts energy stretch code, require 30% reduction below ASHRAE 90.1 2010 for new construction, 18% reduction for major renovation, 19.5% reduction for laboratories.

In addition to these updated requirements and recommendations, the Standards require:

  • Integrated design goal-setting charrettes with all key stakeholders
  • Multiple iterations of energy models
  • Life Cycle Cost analysis
  • Prescriptive requirements such as aggressive energy and water reduction targets.

To support successful implementation of the Standards, Harvard has developed a set of tools and resources including: The Green Building Resource knowledge sharing website with LEED case studies and documentation; a University-specific Life Cycle Cost Calculator, Green Revolving Fund, and in-house Green Building Services consultant services.

How were they developed and updated?

Updates to the Green Building Standards are led by the Office for Sustainability and Green Building Services, in coordination with the Sustainability and Environmental Management Council. A review committee co-Chaired by Jason Carlson, Chief of Operations at the Harvard Graduate School of Educations, and Pamela Choi Redfern, Director of Space Planning and Design at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, updated the Standards in 2014 based on a University-wide process focused on data-driven decision-making that was informed by best practices at Harvard and benchmarked against other industry leaders. The Standards were approved by Harvard’s Administrative Deans Council.

Several factors have contributed to the success of this initiative to institutionalize green building practices into capital projects, including: the commitment and hard work of hundreds of facilities leaders and projects managers across the University's Schools and departments; a collaborative decision-making and stakeholder engagement process led by the Office for Sustainability and Green Building Services to develop and continually improve the Standards; development of knowledge-sharing resources, trainings and financial tools to support implementation; and an experienced internal green building consultant group that provides a full range of services and technical assistance to project teams.