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Introducing: The HBS Green Corps

How many times have you wondered if you should recycle a plastic container, which you subsequently threw in the trash because you just weren’t sure? If you answered in the affirmative, keep reading.you just might learn something from your HBS green corps.

Cue Bond theme music; enter six non-descript individuals-channeling their inner super hero-armed with lots of personality, and a passion to make you live more greenly. Sure, Bond has his damsels in distress, but we have an altogether more convincing goal! Simply put, our mission is “to promote sustainable living through peer-to-peer education that encourages energy and water conservation, and recycling and waste reduction through activities and information sharing in each HBS dorm and common area.”

To make this more concrete still, the green living team on campus is all about making green habits a way of life. We hear a lot about the green buzz on a daily basis, which is tremendously important. To complement this, our aim is to support the actionability of living sustainably (tautological?), and in so doing, to have a bigger impact in our immediate community. We aim to do this in three ways-(1) by providing you with information on how to make greener choices, (2) by providing you with resources to make it easier to enact green habits and (3) by soliciting your feedback / input and implementing suggestions that move the green needle (how many times have I used the word green so far?-first correct answer wins a free dinner!). The above having been said, we would be remiss if we did not have some friendly in-house competition-watch out for McCulloch-and track key metrics. In the spirit of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, transparency is our watchword!

What do we need from you? We will not be able to achieve our joint goals without your input and support. As such, we need you to commit to making the small changes that result in big impact. For instance, one of our ideas is to send out regular actionable tips that we can incorporate in our lifestyles. Research indicates that it takes 66 days to form an ingrained habit. Unless we’re intentional about making these small changes (reduce plastic usage, reuse as much as possible, take shorter showers, switch off lights that are not being used, etc.), we will fall back into old habits even though we are conservationists at heart. We also need your real actionable feedback to ensure that we’re spending time on the right things, and being effective in enabling our collective body to live more sustainably. Lastly, we need your support when we organize campus wide events!

Over the next month, keep an eye out for competitions among sections that target conservation behaviors, dorm welcome dinners hosted by your green living rep, and a month-long electricity competition among the dorms in November. We’ll also be sharing the results from the green living poll that you were asked to complete, which, along with your ongoing suggestions, will culminate in an action plan for the year.

I couldn’t sign off without leaving you with some requisite fun conservation facts.

Shock to action: So, did you know that Americans buy 30 billion single-use water bottles every year with 845 bottles ending up in landfills every second? These water bottles are made from petroleum, and require petroleum to be shipped. If you were to visualize a water bottle one-quarter full with oil, you’d have an idea of how much oil was needed to produce the bottle.

Proud of Harvard: Harvard boasts an impressive array of sustainability efforts, including having the most LEED certified buildings of any higher education institution in the world (LEED is a national green building rating system) and a dedicated Office for Sustainability to help implement sustainable occupant behavior programs and green building practices across campus. Last fall, Harvard committed to a Greenhouse Gas reduction goal of 30 percent from Fiscal Year 2006 levels by 2016, including growth! This is a very ambitious goal that can only be accomplished through the involvement of everyone, including you. Can you imagine what difference it would make if we all had individual plans to reduce our GHG emissions by 30%? If you do have a story, let us know. We’d love to hear it!

Proud of HBS: Even before Harvard announced its Greenhouse Gas Commitment, HBS Operations was behind a lot of sustainability initiatives on campus. In the last six years, HBS has completed more than 45 energy conservation measures, which offset greenhouse gas emissions by 2,495 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCDE) and reduced operating costs by $920,000. No NPVs or IRRs, you can definitely eat that!

Check out green.harvard.edu/hbs/green-living for more info, contact a rep with any suggestions and look out for our next Harbus article. Until then, live Green!

Your Green Living Reps

Jeff Engler, RC
Rep for: Chase Hall

Ruhana Hafiz, EC
Rep for: Hamilton Hall

Onyinye Ibeneche, RC
Rep for: McCulloch Hall

Dinkar Jain, EC
Rep for: Gallatin Hall

Jenny Liu, EC
Rep for: Morris Hall

Liqian Ma, RC
Rep for: Common Areas

**Liqian has also recruited a section green rep for each RC and EC section.
Stay tuned for updates from your section rep!

(And for Section F-Shashank Kohli!)

October 26, 2009
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