CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a first for any higher education institution, Harvard University has achieved its 50th Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The green building milestone includes six platinum-level projects and represents more than 1.5 million square feet of labs, dormitories, libraries, classrooms, and offices. An additional 3 million square feet of space is registered and pursuing LEED certification.

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and founding chair of the USGBC, said, “The strength of USGBC has always been the collective strength of our leaders in the building industry. Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, Harvard University demonstrates a tremendous accomplishment and exemplary leadership through its 50th LEED certification.”

Harvard’s commitment to green building is part of a university-wide goal adopted by President Drew Faust and the school deans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2006 levels, including growth, by 2016.

“As a university, we have a special responsibility to confront the challenges of climate change, not only through academic research but by transforming the way we operate our campus,” said Faust. “By constructing more efficient buildings and renovating older buildings to make them greener, we are reducing energy use, cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and improving the teaching and working environment for our entire community. I want to thank the staff members across Harvard who partnered with faculty and students to reach this milestone.”

In all, Harvard has more than 90 green building projects that have received or are seeking LEED certification. Energy models suggest that the 14 LEED new construction projects have delivered more than $1.5 million in energy savings annually and a reduction of more than 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE) annually, which equates to an average reduction of 34 percent below industry energy standards.

Since its first LEED Commercial Interior Pilot Project in 2001, Harvard has used the USGBC’s rating systems to advocate for sustainable design and to ensure accountability in building design, construction, maintenance, and operations.

Design, construction, operations, and sustainability teams collaborate to reach their goals throughout the project development and implementation processes. In addition, as part of a focus on implementing “net present value” projects, the university’s schools and units developed and approved a life cycle costing tool to prioritize projects that are both economically viable and environmentally beneficial.

Publication date: 08/22/2011