School Agrees on Sustainability Principles

All new development projects will conform to guidelines

All future Harvard development projects will be reviewed to ensure they are compliant with six broad “sustainability” principles, the University announced yesterday.

The guidelines, which aim to ensure that new buildings are resource efficient and cause minimum disruption to the “campus ecosystem,” came in response to concerns raised by students and others following University President Lawrence H. Summers’ October 2003 announcement of plans to develop the new 341-acre campus in Allston.

Two undergraduates and two graduate students who formed a group called Sustainable Allston met with Summers and Associate Vice President for Facilities and Environmental Services Thomas E. Vautin last December, and the University convened a committee of students, faculty and administrators to consider sustainability, Summers said.

He said yesterday that the six principles, which were recommended this summer by the committee, “will lead us to win-win outcomes—both better environmental values and lower costs.”

Vautin said that while a new committee will be formed “to translate these broad principles into very specific actions,” they represent “significant” progress and a “very holistic approach to sustainability.”


“Many other organizations focus attention specifically on buildings,” he said. “This is not just about’s important to look at it in that perspective.”

Leith J. Sharp, director of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, said that the University will make individual schools report on whether they are following the principles in both their existing campuses and new development plans.

She said the requirement would help “really give [the principles] some teeth and effect, stating immediately.”

Zachary D. Liscow ’05, one of the founders of Sustainable Allston who met with Summers last December, said he hopes the results will be “implemented in a meaningful fashion.”

“In some senses, it is actually more than we expected,” he said. “We were just hoping to have sustainability principles for the building in Allston, but this will be applied to the entire University.”

The six principles include promoting sustainability through institutional practices like energy efficiency, ensuring health and productivity through “the design and maintenance of the built environment,” improving the campus ecosystem, developing analytical tools, encouraging environmental awareness and monitoring progress on sustainability.

The University has also hired a sustainability consultant to work with Allston master planner Cooper Robertson and Partners.

—Lauren A.E. Schuker contributed to the reporting of this story. —Staff writer Stephen M. Marks can be reached at

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