With the impacts of climate change already being felt, preparedness and resiliency are key steps to ensuring the longevity of our campus.

Harvard is partnering with the cities of Cambridge and Boston to actively prepare for sea level rise, extreme weather events, and other impacts that climate changes will have on our campus, buildings, and surrounding communities.

We are developing a University-wide Climate Preparedness and Campus Resilience Plan and standards for critical infrastructure. VIEW OUR PLAN

Harvard Climate Preparedness Working Group

The Harvard Climate Preparedness Working Group is focused on preparing the Harvard campus for the impacts of climate change.

The group has four major goals:

  1. Vulnerability Assessment to determine impacts of climate change on critical infrastructure.
  2. Preparedness Policies and Standards for facilities and infrastructure in high risk areas.
  3. Severe Weather Emergency Preparedness Initiatives.
  4. Define connection points with local, state  and federal agencies, and regional higher education institutions.

The working group is comprised of partners from the following departments:

  • Energy & Facilities (Critical Infrastructure)
  • Emergency Management/Environmental Health & Safety
  • Office for Sustainability
  • Planning & Project Management
  • Risk Management & Audit Services
  • Information Technology
  • School representatives

In September 2013, Harvard hosted a Climate Preparedness Summit attended by emergency teams from all Schools and administrative departments, peer higher education institutions and local, state and federal officials.

In addition to this work, Harvard faculty serve as advisors to the City of Cambridge’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and through the Office for Sustainability, Harvard is partnering with the cities of Boston and Cambridge, business, and peer higher education institutions to share best practices in the area of climate preparedness.

Community planning

Boston's Climate Plan is integrating climate preparedness into all planning, program development, and project reviews undertaken by the City.

The vulnerability assessment is largely a technical study of the Cambridge population, infrastructure, public health, and local economy in terms of risks and vulnerabilities to impacts resulting from increased temperatures, more intense storms, and storm surge flooding associated with sea level rise. 

Academic Resources

  • The Graduate School of Design’s Risk and Resiliency Program sets out to develop an anticipatory approach to spatial planning, providing communities with tools to effectively prepare for, cope with, and manage rapid change and the spatial, social and economic vulnerabilities it produces.
  • The 2013 Humanitarian Action Summit: Climate and Crisis included an overview of climate change as well as talks on climate change and food security, conflict and migration, humanitarian aid, climate predictions, and related initiatives in humanitarian organizations. It was co-sponsored by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.​