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Pledge Earns Wind Energy

By Sonam S. Velani, Contributing Writer

A record number of University affiliates have promised to limit their energy use by signing the Harvard Sustainability Pledge, earning certificates for wind energy for 30 Harvard buildings.

The pledge drive—sponsored by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Medical School, and School of Public Health—reported a 75 percent increase in pledges from last year, amounting to a total of 7,000 students, faculty, and staff who vowed to reduce their energy use by carrying out a range of tasks such as turning off their computers, using fluorescent bulbs, and donating used laboratory equipment, among others.

“Our goal is to raise awareness and to get people thinking about their eco-footprint,” said Jaclyn Emig, a program manager for the Green Campus Initiative, which implements sustainability programs.

“When people sign something, they are much more likely to commit to it,” said Emig. “The pledge campaign has a far-reaching affect on the Harvard community.”

Administrators had promised renewable energy certificates (RECs) to any building that managed to get 50 percent of its occupants to sign the pledge. The purchase of RECs compensates for the fossil fuels currently used by the buildings. The RECs do not actually supply energy that Harvard will consume itself—the money goes to support a wind farm in Minnesota, indirectly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Harvard will provide enough RECs to offset 10 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions produced this year by the 30 buildings, which is the equivalent of removing 2000 cars from the road over the course of a year, according to the HGCI Web site.

Emig could not provide cost estimates for the RECs.

Over 3,500 people at the Faculty of Arts and Science signed the pledge, and 18 FAS buildings won renewable energy credits. Pforzheimer House led the undergraduate residence halls with a 64 percent participation rate while William James Hall claimed the lead among the FAS office buildings with 220 signatories and a 55 percent participation rate.

Green Living Representatives from the College, the Business School, and the Law School promoted energy conservation by advertising sustainability programs in House dining halls, sending e-mails over open lists, and implementing a door-to-door advertising campaign, said Philip W. Kreycik ’06, the HGCI undergraduate program manager.

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