Although Harvard’s campus emptied out as a consequence of Covid-19 final 12 months, the College’s campus greenhouse gasoline emissions remained stagnant for a fifth straight 12 months, based on preliminary information launched Friday as a part of the College’s 2020 sustainability report.
Harvard has pledged to grow to be fossil fuel-neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel-free by 2050. However the college has seen no discount in its emissions since former College President Drew G. Faust set the targets in 2018.
Nonetheless, college officers preserve that Harvard is on monitor to satisfy each targets.
“The College is on tempo to satisfy its targets to be fossil fuel-neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel-free by 2050,” Heather A. Henriksen, managing director of the Harvard Workplace for Sustainability, wrote in an announcement Monday.
To offset emissions, Harvard has additionally invested in offsite renewable vitality, together with photo voltaic and wind.
The varsity made regular progress between 2006 and 2016, reducing emissions by 40 % when factoring in campus progress. However emissions numbers have stayed flat ever since.
Julian Dautremont, the director of applications for the Affiliation for the Development of Sustainability in Larger Training, mentioned faculties typically see emissions plateaus as they pursue reductions after first taking good care of “low hanging fruit.”
“It’s not unusual to see some plateauing, after which there’s some larger-scale change that doubtlessly people have been engaged on for a number of years,” he mentioned.
Final 12 months, Harvard met a lot of the targets set in its 2014 Sustainability Plan, however fell in need of decreasing waste and water utilization by its 2020 deadline.
The College pledged in 2014 to chop campus waste numbers in half by 2020 in comparison with a 2006 baseline, with the hope of ultimately reaching zero waste manufacturing. In 2020, Harvard did see drastic reductions to its waste manufacturing — however the report acknowledged the information is essentially as a consequence of campus de-densification and never consultant of a pattern.
Trash per-capita final 12 months was 27 % larger than the 2006 baseline. The report attributed this leap to “vital operational modifications” required to implement public well being measures through the pandemic.
Dautremont mentioned the affect of the pandemic on campus waste has been combined, with reductions as a consequence of de-densification at many colleges being a minimum of partially offset by a rise in disposable merchandise, akin to masks.
Lowered campus inhabitants in 2020 additionally considerably improved Harvard’s water-use numbers. The College surpassed its water-reduction goal set in 2014 — although a 12 months late.
The College’s 2019 sustainability report blamed a “identified infrastructure break” for its failure to satisfy the purpose of decreasing water use by 30 % between 2006 and 2020. In 2020, water utilization on campus was 36 % decrease than 2006 — water financial savings equal to filling Harvard’s Blodgett Pool 298 occasions.
The report pointed to the 14 % lower in water use achieved by 2018 as “probably the most correct” measure of its progress, acknowledging the 2019 and 2020 numbers weren’t reflective of a pattern.
Past waste and water, Harvard took strides in its efforts to enhance sustainability, reaching a 7 % lower in web vitality utilization and finishing building on the brand new Science and Engineering Complicated, which achieved Management in Power and Environmental Design platinum standing, the best distinction supplied by LEED.