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Projects and Initiatives

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Learn more about the policies, projects, and initiatives taking place at HLS in support of Harvard's sustainability commitments. 


Energy-Efficient Hand Dryers

Facilities is piloting two models of energy-efficient hand dryers to replace paper towels in the Caspersen Student Center 1st floor hallway men's and women's restrooms. The two models being piloted are the Dyson Airblade and the Excel Xlerator.  These dryers have multiple benefits compared to paper towels: 

  • Cost: The Dyson Airblade dries 22 pairs of hands for the cost of a single paper towel. Stocking paper towels in the Caspersen 1st floor men's restroom costs about $4,000/year, whereas the electricity to run these dryers costs less than $40.
  • Environmental Impact: The hand dryers generate 80% less carbon per use compared to paper towels. A life cycle assessment that considers the cradle-to-grave impacts of paper towels vs hand dryers found that, including the impacts of paper production and transportation for paper towels and the production and electricity consumption of the hand dryers, both hand dryer models are more environmentally friendly than either paper or cloth towels or a conventional air hand dryer. Read the full study report, conducted by Harvard's own Professor Greg Norris, Life Cycle Assessment expert here
  • Sanitation: Anti-microbial coatings on the outside, a filter to remove bacteria from the air on the inside, and a fast dry time have been proven to remove bacteria from hands.
Excel XleratorDyson Airblade 


HLS Temperature Policy

The Law School is committed to adhering to the University's Temperature Policy.  Having adopted this policy in May 2009, the Law School was instrumental in leading the University to commit to a campus-wide Temperature Policy in July 2009.  

  • During the winter heating season (October 16 – May 14), occupied spaces will be heated to 68-70° F.
  • During the summer cooling season (May 15 – October 15), occupied spaces will be cooled to 74-76° F (where air conditioning equipment currently exists).

In accordance with this policy, Law School Facilities heats or cools buildings to temperatures within the above seasonal ranges.  During the heating season, systems are operated to target 70° F.  During the cooling season, systems are operated to target 74°.  

Dean of Administration Francis X. McCrossan’s original May 20, 2009 e-mail is below:

Green EIP  

The Green Early Interview Program was created by students in the Harvard Environmental Law Society in order to encourage firms participating in the on campus Early Interview Program to reduce the environmental impacts of the recruiting process.  The Green EIP is co-sponsored by the Office for Career Services and the Harvard Office for Sustainability and coordinated by a student representative:

2013 Green EIP Coordinator: Samantha Caravello, JD'15, greeneip@law.harvard.edu

Visit the to learn more.

Green ITS

Law School Information Technology Services is actively working to reduce the environmental impacts of the machines and technologies it manages, by minimizing power consumption and ensuring that electronic equipment is properly reused and recycled.  Practices currently in place are below.

Computer Lab Power Management and Printer Settings

  • WCC basement lab printers are set to standby after 10 minutes of non-use
  • WCC basement lab printers are set to duplex by default, however, this can change
  • Instructions are posted that explain how to choose double sided printing
  • WCC basement lab computers are left off until a student needs to use them; instructions for turning them on are posted
  • WCC basement lab computers found on at close are shut down each night
  • Solar-powered keyboards and mice with 3-year battery life are used in the Student Lab.

Electronic Waste Recycling:

The ITS help desks in the WCC basement is the campus' electronic recycling drop-off space.  Drop off includes:

  • Batteries and used toner cartridges at the Faculty/Staff help desk
  • Toner in the hall
  • Data storage device (i.e. USB keys, CD, DVD) secure box
  • Computer and electronic equipment recycling at Faculty/Staff help desk


  • ITS purchases EnergyStar certified computers and printers. 
  •  ITS uses energy-efficient LCD monitors. According to the EPA, LCD monitors are 80% more efficient than CRT monitors and making the switch can save 98-143 kWh per year. 


  • Smart Strips: ITS is rolling out smart strips at personal workstations on a by-office basis. Want your office to be next? Email sustainability@lists.law.harvard.edu
  • Printer consolidation: we aim to minimize the use of personal printers in favor of shared office printers to capitalize on economies of scale in ink and toner packaging and energy savings. Have a personal printer you don’t need? Contact ITS to connect you to the shared system and recycle your old printer.

Server Virtualization:

  • HLS has 8 physical servers running about 115 Virtual Machines (VMs). According to Microsoft, “Hardware Virtualization uses software to create a Virtual Machine (VM) that emulates a physical computer. This creates a separate OS environment that is logically isolated from the host server. By providing multiple VMs at once, this approach allows several operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical machine.  Rather than paying for many under-utilized server machines, each dedicated to a specific workload, server virtualization allows those workloads to be consolidated onto a smaller number of more fully-used machines.”


Organic Landscaping

The Law School's grounds, like others at Harvard, are maintained organically-- without the use of inorganic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.  Resulting soils and plants are healthier, have more vital root systems, and require less irrigation than those maintained conventionally.  Harvard's organic landscaping practices were  featured in a September 2009 New York Times article.  Learn more about Harvard's organic landscaping program at http://www.uos.harvard.edu/fmo/landscape/organiclandscaping/.


Four HLS buildings have received recognition by the U.S. Green Building Council through the Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certification system.  LEED measures the performance of buildings by assessing energy efficiency, water efficiency, CO2 emissions, indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.   These projects were  managed by HLS Facilities Management, with LEED commissioning by the Harvard Office for Sustainability.

Griswold 2-South- LEED Platinum Commercial Interior

  A renovated suite of offices in Griswold Hall (2-South) is a LEED Platinum Commercial Interior space.  This is one of under twenty projects in the world to gain this distinction, the highest level of certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.  Learn more about the Griswold project and associated energy savings and waste reduction statistics here on the Office for Sustainability web site.  Read a detailed case study of the renovation project and view photos of the completed interior here on the Harvard Green Building Resource. 

125 Mt. Auburn Street 2nd Floor- LEED Silver Commercial Interior

The second floor of 125 Mt. Auburn Street, home to staff in the HLS Human Resources and Finance Departments, is a LEED Silver Commercial Interior.  Read a detailed case study of the renovation project and view photos of the completed interior here on the Harvard Green Building Resource

North Hall - LEED Gold Commercial Interior

The North Hall dormitory interior, renovated in Summer 2010, achieved LEED Gold certification. Read a detailed case study of the renovation project and view photos of the completed interior here on the Harvard Green Building Resource

Wasserstein Caspersen Clinical Building - LEED Gold for New Construction

The Wasserstein Caspersen Clinical Building, opened in January 2012, achieved LEED Gold for New Construction. Read more about the building's sustainability achievements on the Law School website, take a virtual student-led "Green Tour" by watching this Youtube video, read the Crimson article about the LEED Gold achievement or check out the Facilities building page


Green Cleaning Procedures

The Law School is cleaned by Harvard Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations (FMO) staff trained in Green Seal™ cleaning procedures.  Law School buildings feature environmentally friendly hand soaps and are cleaned with toxin-free cleaners and micro-fiber cloths, instead of paper towels.  To learn about other components of Harvard’s Green Cleaning Program, visit http://www.uos.harvard.edu/fmo/custodial/greencleaning/.

As part of this program, HLS' paper towels and bath tissues are made of 100% recycled content.  Towels contain as much as 82% post consumer content, and tissues contain up to 49% post consumer content.  ("Recycled content" refers to both pre-consumer and post-consumer waste).

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)

VFDs control the speed of fan and pump motors, allowing them to supply air or water for ventilation or temperature control in volumes which closely match demand.  This means, for example, that fans can ventilate rooms at different rates throughout the day, depending on occupancy and temperature, instead of running at fixed speeds.  Nearly all pumps and fans have been updated with this technology, which has contributed considerably to reducing our GHG emissions.

North Hall Thermostats

In June 2009 Facilities installed new occupancy based thermostats in all dorm rooms in North Hall.  These devices use a door mounted sensor to help back room settings when a room is unoccupied.  Before installing these devices, Facilities ran a one-week trial period in May 2009 to solicit student feedback. 

 With these devices, Facilities expects to save around $8,000 and 28 MTCDE  each year by minimizing energy waste.


Lighting Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors turn off lights after no occupants have been detected in a space for a certain period of time (usually between 10-30 minutes, depending on the space).  The following Law School buildings use occupancy sensors to minimize wasted electricity:

  • 125 Mt. Auburn: all offices, conference rooms, and kitchens
  • 23 Everett Street: all offices
  • Areeda Hall: all restrooms
  • Austin Hall: all offices and restrooms
  • Gannett House: all offices
  • Griswold Hall: offices, seminar rooms, and classroom
  • Gropius Dormitories (Ames, Dane, Holmes, Shaw, Story): common hallways and kitchens
  • Hauser: Basement offices and restrooms
  • Holmes Hall: first floor offices
  • Langdell Hall: restrooms, North/South classrooms, third floor offices
  • ILS-Lewis: Seminar Room 102 and all offices
  • Legal Services (Jamaica Plain): offices, rest rooms, copy rooms
  • Pound Hall: first floor classrooms and restrooms, student mailroom
Water Filtration Systems and Improved Water Fountains

During the summer of 2008, Facilities Management removed bottled water systems wherever it was possible to improve or install a water filtration system without major construction.  In addition, water fountains around campus were retrofitted with “gooseneck” glass fillers in order to encourage HLS affiliates to fill up water bottles, instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.

Click on the image to the right to see a map showing the locations of filtered water stations and fountains at HLS, which include all residence hall kitchens and Harkness Commons.  To learn how this map came to be created, visit the Green Team page.  To learn why drinking tap water is better for the environment than drinking bottled water, visit the bottled water page.

Waterfree Urinals

The Hauser basement and dormitories of Ames, Dane, Holmes, and Shaw all feature low-flow urinals (.125 gallons per flush).  Compared with previous models (2.5 gpf), HLS avoids using around 530,000 gallons of water (around $9,500) a year.  Waterfree urinals can also be found in Harkness and Griswold. 

Dual-Flush Toilets
Facilities has installed “dual-flush” toilets throughout the Law School, particularly in Austin, Harkness, Griswold,  and Pound Halls, as well as the Hauser basement.  Pushing the handle on an HLS dual-flush toilet down uses 1.6 gallons; pushing it up uses just 1.1 gallons.

The installation in the Gropius dormitories alone (Ames, Dane, Holmes, and Shaw) saves HLS around 650,000 gallons (around $11,500) a year, compared to previous models. 

Last modified: November 06, 2014

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