Eighteen months ago, President Faust issued a campus-wide call to action, committing Harvard to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) by 30% in eight years. Eighteen months into the effort, and on the heels of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, I’m pleased to report that Harvard University Hospitality & Dining Services (HUHDS) is more than half way to its goal.
Our 2006 baseline was 4,623 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE). By 2009, our actual utility data shows us at 3,883 MTCDE. This 740 MTCDE (or 16%) reduction from the 2006 baseline has been achieved through everything from modest lighting and equipment-firing time changes to major modifications like refrigeration and exhaust fan controls, which are progressively being rolled out across all HUHDS operations.
And while the GGE reduction initiative only looks at utility usage, we continue to press forward in greening our locations in every way. At the forefront of that effort is our Sebastian’s Café at the Harvard School of Public Health, which was recently awarded two stars by the Green Restaurant Association, making it one of only four restaurants in Massachusetts to achieve that mark.
Key initiatives of Sebastian’s sustainability include compostable disposables; 100% recycled or unbleached papers; bio-based or recyclable take-out containers; faucet aerators; LED lighting; occupancy sensors; 29% vegetarian or vegan products; green cleaning products; pre- and post-consumer waste composting; co-mingled recycling; re-usable mugs and trays; and dual-flush toilets.
Similar efforts are in place at cafes and dining halls across campus, and events are going green, too. With Commencement around the corner, we are already planning to increase the number of zero-waste events we managed last year.
And we can’t forget the food. Last Thursday’s Earth Day Dinner in the dining halls and at Dudley and Cronkhite was a celebration of sustainable and local foods. But it’s important to note that most all of those items are available regularly in the dining hall – everything from locally grown greens and tomatoes to New England dairy products through pasta, breads and desserts made by Massachusetts artisans. Twenty-five percent of the food we buy is locally grown or sourced, the latter of which is an important category to include in a place where the best growing season is while you are away from our kitchens.
Finally, we’ve kept sustainability as a regular topic of conversation, primarily through the Food Literacy Project, which has hosted numerous events and discussions this year that have provided food and food for thought. Perhaps you joined one of the four free film screenings this year, or sampled New England cheeses and talked with a dairy farmer at the recent Keep Local Farms-sponsored events. And don’t forget to try your hand at cooking in your House’s Top Chef competition – after all, you may be the next Top Chef Harvard.
HUHDS’ sustainability initiatives from the last year are available for review in our 2010 Sustainability Report. Our recent green carpet recipients reflect the work highlighted there. I’m pleased to acknowledge individual award recipients Theresa McCulla ’04, Food Literacy Project Coordinator, and Robert Leandro, Director for HUHDS Facilities. And Sebastian’s Café won a team award for Waste & Water reduction.
So while the school year is winding down, the work of greening our campus continues. Next up: the greenest Commencement yet, and the June 17 re-opening of the Farmers’ Market at Harvard. And don’t miss a chance to sink your hands in the soil, volunteering with the new Harvard Community Garden! I hope to see you there.