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2023-2024 HBS Student Sustainability Associate (SSAs) Projects

Harvard Business School

By Jessica Fixen, HBS Sustainability Manager

What I find most motivating in sustainability is our “environmental handprint” – a way of conceptualizing all of the good that we can do for the planet. This is why I love managing the Student Sustainability Associates (SSAs) at Harvard Business School, and seeing all of the great work that they accomplish.

The SSA program is an opportunity for first-year HBS students to suggest and pursue infrastructure and policy improvements to HBS stakeholders while also running peer-to-peer education campaigns. Sustainability is woven into many facets of life, and our SSAs represent this important range with their diverse areas of interest, work histories, and goals. The program is entering its 18th year, and in that time SSAs have helped the School with waste diversion, environmental justice integration, sustainable dining, and much more!

Our most recent SSAs completed four projects for the School, in addition to leading monthly campaigns for their sections. Their projects were:

Continued Work Reducing Single-Use Waste in HBS

Building on a foundation set by former SSAs, this group worked closely with our wonderful dining services team to find community-supported ways to lower the overall use of disposable items in our on-campus dining halls. Their efforts included meeting with dining hall staff to reinforce best practices – which the team loved and hopes to continue with future SSAs!

Automating and Improving HBS’ Energy Use Reporting

Our Manager of Energy and Commissioning suggested this project, and provided guidance and feedback while this group created a utilities dashboard with the aim of streamlining the reporting process for HBS building energy usage. In its final form, this dashboard will simplify the data input and review process, facilitate greater access and visibility to energy usage key performance indicators, and create a foundation for future reporting needs.

Social Equity & Environmental Justice at HBS: Understanding Opportunities for Student Community Engagement

Equity is a central theme of Harvard University’s Sustainability Action Plan, which reflects social equity and environmental justice’s importance to students, administrators, and the broader community. There are a myriad of ways for students to get involved in supporting initiatives within the broader community, but these can be difficult to find and navigate. This SSA project aimed to disentangle the complicated ecosystem of opportunities and provide a better understanding for future planning using “best-in-class” examples of what student-level engagement communications might look like.

Improving Sustainability and Reducing Carbon Emissions in Student Events at HBS

HBS students ran approximately 20 conferences during the 2023 – 2024 academic year, with most garnering 200+ attendees. Our dining services provider Restaurant Associates has put substantial effort into creating excellent sustainable options for campus events, but students are not currently maximizing the available resources. This project looked at ways to motivate student planners to include environmental impact in their decision-making.

We are so impressed with the caliber of work our SSAs complete! I am always excited to see what projects they’ll choose, and how they’ll help us continue to grow in sustainability.

Continued reading opportunities: