Posted by: climatecollaborative | February 24, 2009

2.23.09 Meeting Minutes

“Finances and Implementation”


Present: Nick Morales (HLS; filling in for Craig Altemose), Amy Lawrence (HLS), Nicole DeSantis (Extension School), Peter James (HSPH), Kevin Banahan (HSPH), Daniel Chandler (GSAS), Andrew Costigan (GSE), Lina Swislocki (GSE), Gracie Brown (FAS), Karen McKinnon (FAS), Charles Allen (HILR), Marty Leape (HILR), Allison Myers (HKS), Emma Crossen (HDS), Tiffany Curtis (HDS), Moeko Yoshitomi (GSAS), Kelsey Smith (HMS), Erin Bettendorf (HMS), Spring Greeney (FAS, HCC coordinator), and Aron Chang (GSD, HCC coordinator)


Guest Speaker: Dan Shore (Harvard University’s Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance)



Discussions of feedback from the last HCC meeting; reminder to email Spring and Aron the necessary information for the HCC Progress Report.


HGSE “current student action” presentation

  • passed out handouts with a drawing of the Ed. School along with some of the key features and defining characteristics of the school, along with challenges unique to a program where students are around for only one year.  See handout here.
  • asked HCC members to brainstorm ideas for how to approach the issue of sustainability at such a school where little carries over from year to year, at least from the students’ perspective
  • Suggestions from HCC reps included finding doctoral students with vested interests and having a presence at admitted students day and also during orientation
  • GSE has contributes relatively little to Harvard’s total GHG emissions, so the focus of student action should be on how one can teach sustainability as a method of encouraging change and action, beyond the usual emphasis on scare tactics and purely science-based approaches
  • GSE students are working on composting and getting double-sided printing as the default setting, though this may have to overcome some faculty resistance
  • bringing in a speaker who’s making a film on a Superfund site, in conjunction with the HMS and HSPH
  • “Green Gifts” for incoming students, such as travel mugs



Introduce Dan Shore and HCC members, recap purpose of group


Dan Shore:
CFO Shore emphasized the following in his brief presentation and the ensuing Q & A:

  • GHG emissions were a good target for the University to tackle as a whole because of its emphasis on physical planning – good for coalescing as an institution
  • Harvard is building on the work of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative
  • energy audits for each school to establish baselines; each school has a different starting point
  • with current financial crisis and impact on the endowment, the GHG goal remains but there are some changes in strategy: change of pace in capital planning (new construction, renovations), behavioral change is low cost, and also quicker payback projects
  • emissions reductions can compete against other initiatives
  • each school has their own budget and endowments – they submit their budgets to Harvard’s Office of Budgets and Financial Planning (OBFP) in July, and the OBFP sends questions back to each school in regards to the budget and specific items
  • a capital plan from each school comes in at the same time AND every individual project also requires a separate approval from the OBFP
  • the Office for Sustainability is also involved in budget planning and large projects
  • transparency is a critical issue – some schools are more transparent than others – students must push their administrators to reveal as much as possible what is and isn’t happening at their individual schools – students should sit down with administrators and staff to learn about operations and to hold those in charge accountable
  • Incentives: People who are responsible have to be accountable and incentives should be targeted towards them to encourage behavioral change. For example, most occupants of labs and Harvard’s offices don’t get utility bills, so there’s little incentive to reduce their waste.
  • With Drew Faust, there has been a much more collaborative spirit in the interactions between the Office of the President and the various deans.
  • Carbon Tax? The OBFP has not yet worked on the possibility of a state or federal carbon tax, though there were discussions of implementing an internal carbon tax – this was difficult to achieve at the outset of the campaign, so no carbon tax in place
  • What should students do? Students should get in front of faculty and administration with their objectives and demands; demands are much more effective coming from students than from administrators
  • Not all schools have standing committees or dedicated resources and personnel devoted to sustainability, but every school should have a visible local presence so that the GHG reduction goals and other objectives are embedded in the culture of the school – perhaps some kind of “Green Fellows” program or other ways of increasing the visibility of efforts being undertaken and making sustainability a vital part of academics and student life – this would need to start with the deans, from the top



HMS “current student action” presentation


HMS presentation available here.

  • Kelsey and Erin represent Students for Environmental Awareness in Medicine (SEAM)
  • HMS and the OFS produce a “Sustainability Snapshot” for each fiscal year, which contains data for key indicators in one easily digestible page, available here and on the OFS website
  • Past Projects and Concerns: Lighting updates – switching in less energy-intensive bulbs, but the sheer number of light bulbs on campus has minimized the positive impact of these changes, looking into reducing total number of bulbs; Temperature controls – old buildings, many rooms overheated – switching in better thermostats and controls; greener laundry – energy efficient cycles; HMS has a disproportionately high number of faculty, many of whom never see students and don’t want to be told how to regulate temperatures in their labs; Freecycling (similar to Supply Swaps at other schools); Green Labs, Green Cleaning, regular Green Tips emailed and posted
  • Longwood Area Task Force on Sustainability – focus groups with student body to identify issues and possibilities
  • Current and future projects: working with dining providers to give out tupperware to incoming students to reduce the usage of disposable containers; working to replace current disposables (clamshells) with better alternatives; possibility of giving out coffee mugs and working to get discounts for use of reusable containers and mugs; Earth Day activities include focus group, Mount Trashmore in commons, roll out dining discounts for those with reusable dishes and mugs, party; Green Labs – first year students have one summer off and many work in labs or research facilities – SEAM is planning a meeting in May for first year students to plan to bring sustainable practices to the labs, at Harvard and beyond, where they will be working for the summer; Stericycle – reusable hazardous waste containers; installing software for Computer Power Optimization for computers around campus; install energy-efficient copier defaults


Informal Poll to gauge interest in bringing in another outside speaker for the March HCC meeting: members generally in favor.


Due to time conflicts with a class, the HCC is considering moving meetings to the 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. time slot on Mondays. Coordinators will send info.


Submit your reports!


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