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Harvard Healthier Building Academy Case Study

Case Studies

Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center 

The Smith Campus Center was the flagship pilot project of the Harvard Healthier Building Academy (HHBA), with a projected 30,000 visitors per month; when it opened in 2018, it was the largest project at Harvard to incorporate healthier materials. The vision for the project was grounded in Harvard’s Sustainability Plan and the University’s goal to use the campus as a living laboratory for enhancing health and addressing climate change. Healthier materials and additional sustainability measures allowed the project to deliver on the goal of creating a vibrant front door for the University and a gathering space that enhances the community’s well-being. 

Frequent collaboration and communication across the entire project team is necessary for success. This project involved multiple meetings with the project team in the design-development and construction-documents phases. Harvard’s Office for Sustainability (OFS) educated the project team about healthier materials and facilitated goal-setting.  The project team grouped possible furniture pieces into three tiers in order to engage manufacturers, based on estimated quantities and budget, and provided potential product selections to OFS to vet for health considerations. OFS provided confirmations for products that already were compliant and, as needed, worked with manufacturing companies to adapt products to meet project goals, including senior-level executives and, when applicable, sustainability heads. In only a few cases were reselections needed. 


Location:Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project Area:130,000 square feet
Occupancy Type: Mixed-use with offices, food vendors, and public areas
LEED Certification:LEED Gold v4
Architects:Hopkins, Bruner/Cott 
Internal Project Managers:Harvard Capital Projects, Harvard Planning Office 
External Project Manager:Arcadis
Internal Harvard Partners:Harvard Office for Sustainability, Harvard Green Building Services


  • All 3,000 pieces of furniture met HHI Healthy Interiors standards. Of the 32 furniture and textile manufacturers, 75% had never previously met the HH-Healthy Interiors standard but did so due to the engagement of OFS. 
  • 100% of the wood used in the project was FSC-certified with a Class B fire-spread rating to reduce the number of chemical flame retardants. 
  • 100% of carpet met Harvard’s healthier-materials criteria by featuring no chemical flame retardants, no PFAS or other highly fluorinated stain and water repellents, no antimicrobials, no fly ash, and no PVC. 
  • 100% of the interior paint meets LEED v4 healthy-materials requirements.