Green Living: Sustainability at HBS

Meghan Duggan, Manager of Energy and Sustainable Services for Harvard Business School, works with the HBS community, Harvard University and Operations to identify and implement sustainable measures. In this interview, she shares her perspective on how HBS is doing in its sustainability efforts.

Harbus: What are the HBS sustainability goals and what are the key things HBS Operations is doing to further these goals?

Meghan: There are four areas of focus under the sustainability initiative: energy conservation, waste management, best practices and behavioral change.

Measures taken toward each area of focus include:
 In FY06 HBS Operations completed lighting retrofit projects at Kresge, Burden, the Chilled Water Plant and Morris Hall. These projects represent over $61,629 in annual savings and have offset CO2 by 883,365.
 HBS achieved a 48% recycling rate in FY06-up 11% from FY05. This was accomplished through the educational efforts of the Green Living Representatives and the Green Team. Another major contributor to the recycling success was the hard work of Stephen Coughlin, Edgar Ventura and the Unicco custodial staff.
 HBS has established best practices or standards that we would like to see implemented to ensure we have a sustainable campus. One of these standards is following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines for major renovations. HBS is currently striving for LEED certification at three buildings on campus: Hamilton – Gold Certification; Wyss – Silver Certification; and Aldrich – Certified.
 FY06 was the first year of behavioral change efforts at HBS. The graduate green living program was new to HBS along with the HBS Green Team. The premise behind both programs is peer-to-peer education. Representatives educate and promote sustainable behaviors to their colleagues. Another measure taken in FY06 was the second annual Green Week-an event promoting environmental stewardship. Green Week is hosted by the HBS students and supported by HBS Operations and the Harvard Green Campus Initiative.

Harbus: What is the Green Living Program at HBS and what are its goals?

Meghan: Green Living is a peer-to-peer educational program where Green Living representatives educate and promote sustainable behaviors to their colleagues. They educate classmates about climate change, water conservation, recycling and energy conservation. The program goals are a 10% reduction in energy use, 10% reduction in water use and a 35% increase in recycling for the dorms that are involved with this program.

Harbus: How do you think we have done so far?

Meghan: HBS was so pleased with the success of last year’s program that we have decided to sign on with the HGCI again in FY07. In fact, there will be six representatives versus the four we had last year. Aside from the program goals of reducing utility consumption and increased recycling, HBS has found additional benefits in the Green Living program. We have learned which communication strategies work and which do not work with the MBA students. Also, Green Living representatives have presented HBS Operations with potential energy saving opportunities. We were also pleased with initiatives such as the waste audit, the energy competition and the tabling events that took place last year.

Harbus: What are some of the challenges faced by HBS operations?

Meghan: HBS Operations is very fortunate that most of the community understands the current situation with climate change and the need for efficiency and conservation, and therefore supports our efforts. Some challenges that we face are time constraints when implementing projects or the best approach for educating/marketing our new initiatives.

In the past, HBS Operations has worked on sustainable tasks behind the scenes with projects including photo voltaic panels, cogeneration and a state of the art irrigation system. A new goal for our department is to showcase our efforts and we are still learning the best method for doing this. Programs such as Green Living, the Green Team, the HR resource fair and the new sustainability website have assisted and will continue to assist in spreading the word!

Harbus: What are your priorities for the coming year?

Meghan: HBS will continue to pursue opportunities under each area of focus.
 Chuck Stronach and Doug Scatterday have been heavily involved with the review and selection of a new high-efficiency chiller for the chilled water plant.
 We are planning a major lighting retrofit at Teele Hall this winter. All spaces will be equipped with occupancy sensors so we can ensure lights are off when an area is unoccupied.
 We are working with Engineering & Utilities on a new network metering program. Spangler Hall was part of the pilot program and we are currently able to view utility usage at this building in real time.
 The first year of the Green Team was primarily educational-based. We were learning about issues such as global warming, waste management and energy conservation. This year we will be more activity-based and host events such as a Guest Speaker Series and we intend to put together an HBS Green Team newsletter.

Harbus: What can students do to help HBS operations and the Green Living Program at HBS achieve its objectives?

Meghan: The best thing students can do is be aware and get involved. I’m not sure students realize how influential they are, but they have the ability to make a lot of good things happen on campus (i.e. the photo voltaic panels on the roof of Shad were driven by HBS students). Students can identify conservation opportunities and present them to their Green Living Reps or they can simply make small changes in their every-day activities. Simply shutting off lights when leaving a room, using a coffee mug versus styrofoam and recycling items such as batteries, yogurt cups, clamshells and cell phones can have a major impact on the success of our program.

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