New HGSE Classrooms First in the World Receive LEED-CI Platinum Designation

07/14/2010 9:51 AM
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The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s new Larsen classrooms were recognized earlier this month by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) as the first LEED-CI Platinum classrooms in the world.

“Achieving Platinum status is a tremendous honor and a result of the collaborative effort of the entire project team,” says Director of Operations , who also heads the HGSE Green Team.

LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification is an internationally recognized industry standard for green building. Developed by USGBC, LEED provides building owners and operators a framework for identifying and implementing green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. The LEED for Commercial Interiors rating system focuses on interior improvements of new or existing space.

The Larsen classroom project undertaken in summer 2009 involved renovating the first and second floors of Larsen Hall into an 80-seat, tiered classroom with adjacent seating areas on the first floor, as well as a 50-seat, tiered classroom and breakout space on the second floor. The new classroom spaces incorporated many green aspects in their design and construction ranging from the installation of energy efficient demand-controlled lighting and ventilation to the use of materials that are locally manufactured, high in recycled content, and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The culmination of all the energy efficiency measures is estimated to reduce the Green House Gas (GHG) footprint of Larsen by 5 percent. (Note: This is an estimation of the GHG reduction for the entire building. This project only involved ~20 percent of the building’s total square footage.)

Carlson also notes that the project itself served as an education to the community about the importance of incorporating environmental considerations into the educational process.

“It is great to think that our new classroom spaces may do more than support the learning experience of future educators, researchers, and policymakers, but might also impact how they think about the integration of sustainability into the classroom and inspire them to push the limits of this ideal in their endeavors,” Carlson says.

In the three years since its inception, the – a 15-member volunteer team consisting of students, faculty, and – has made significant strides in greening the Ed School. Beyond the Larsen classroom project, the Green Team has launched the following initiatives on :

  • Recycling program that includes clearly labeled and conveniently located recycling bins throughout the campus. Additional efforts focus specifically on improving recycling in the café, common areas, and offices.
  • Green food-service program uses materials that are compostable, as well as reusable. One highlight of the food-service program is its exclusive use of organic coffee.
  • At Commencement 2010, HGSE diverted over 200 gallons of food scraps and compostable paperware by composting.
  • Sustainable facility improvements include the installation of low-flow restroom fixtures which saved us 800,000 gallons of water last year, and a recent conversion of the Longfellow Hall boiler from oil to natural gas to reduce the campus carbon footprint. The conversation was a coordinated effort with the adjacent Radcliffe campus and University Operations Services (UOS). The school won a Harvard University Green Carpet Team Award for this project.
  • The installation of solar panels on the roof of Gutman. This is HGSE’s first renewable energy project, and will help reduce the school’s annual electricity use.
  • Green Team campaigns offer opportunities for members of the HGSE community to support green initiatives by dropping-off items to be reused or recycled at the annual freecycle event and participating in zero-waste events and composting. Additionally, HGSE has had the highest percent participation in the Office for Sustainability’s (OFS) Sustainability Pledge – a campaign intended to promote students, faculty, and staff to maintain a greener life style, both at work and at home.
  • “Green Your Scene” campaign encourages students, faculty, and staff through various public service announcements to make environmentally conscious decisions.

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Jill Anderson

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