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Harvard’s Sustainable Building Standards

Developed in 2009 and updated every few years, Harvard’s Sustainable Building Standards incorporate holistic requirements across climate, health and equity. The Standards set projects up for significant emissions reductions, high performance, better indoor air quality, healthier and sustainable materials, improved equity and accessibility, across University buildings, capital projects, campus planning, and ongoing building operations.  

Harvard will advance and strengthen Harvard’s Sustainable Building Standards to continue to establish a high bar for climate, equity, health, and resiliency in the built environment and along the value chain.  

Read the Sustainable Building Standards 

Learn about Harvard’s Healthier Building Academy

Metal façade of Harvard's Science and Engineering Complex

How were the Sustainable Building Standards developed? 

Several factors have contributed to the success of this initiative to institutionalize sustainable building practices into capital projects, including:  
  • Faculty engagement through a subcommittee of the Presidential Committee on Sustainability 
  • The commitment and hard work of hundreds of facilities leaders and project managers across the University’s Schools and departments 
  • A collaborative decision-making and stakeholder engagement process led by the Office for Sustainability to develop and continually improve the Standards 
  • Development of knowledge-sharing resources, trainings and financial tools to support the implementation 
  • Internal sustainable built environment experts that support project teambuilding consultant group that provides a full range of services and technical assistance to project teams 

All updates to the Sustainable Building Standards undergo a University-wide process focused on data-driven decision-making and informed by best practices at Harvard and benchmarked against other industry leaders. These Standards were approved by Harvard’s Administrative Deans Council.  

Harvard Science and Engineering Complex named one of the world’s healthiest lab buildings

Harvard University’s Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) was certified by two international building certification programs as one of the healthiest, most sustainable, and energy-efficient laboratories in the world. The SEC won the 2023 American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) COTE® Top Ten Award for setting the standard in sustainable design excellence.

Read more.

Front of the Science and Engineering Complex at sunset.