Students Launch Fund for Green Projects

19. dubna 2013 v 8:26 |  solar photovoltaic system
A student-run website launched last week will connect sustainability projects on Harvard's campus to potential donors, paving the way for green improvements to University facilities, including LED lights in the Quad and a new dishwasher for Cabot Cafe.

Through a grant from the University's Sustainability Office, three Harvard affiliates-Seth Berger, student at the Extension School, Sachin Desai, third-year student at Harvard Law School, and Nicholas Morris, MBA candidate at Harvard Business School-developed Project Green Campus.

An idea conceived in Harvard's Innovation Lab, an initiative in Allston designed to facilitate innovative entrepreneurship, Project Green Campus is a platform that will allow alumni, students, and other University affiliates to donate money that will then be used to fund environmentally friendly projects, from both the Sustainability Office's backlogs and student-led initiatives.

Desai said that the idea of targeting young alumni is based off of initiatives that alumni started while students at Harvard. In 2008, the University pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2006 levels by 2016.

"That generation of people who made the greenhouse gas reduction goal are today's young alumni," Desai said. "Now those people are in a perfect position to help support what they helped start in the first place which was Harvard trying to become a sustainable campus."

Despite young alumni's enthusiasm, Desai said that there are few outlets for their activism.

"There is no direct way that alumni can get involved. They can not invest-the divest approach-or they can go to the Sustainable Trace Fund," Desai said. "But this is something where they can learn about projects, see what's happening and get more attached to it...If you've worked in this area before, it's easy to get disillusioned and so this is something that is really appealing because you can make progress now."

Project Green Campus has so far announced two specific efforts: the replacement of overhead lights in the Quad with new, energy-efficient LEDs and a dishwasher in Cabot Cafe designed to reduce water use. So far, as a pilot project, only the Quad lights endeavor has accepted donations-currently, a total of $400. That figure, according to the website, is around half of the project's fundraising goal, which itself, Desai said, amounts to only about 1 percent of the project's cost.

"We're launching a pilot right now to get support, get feedback, and try to see if there's enough interest in one of these projects," he said.

Desai said that another purpose of the platform is to enable Harvard to tell its "sustainability story", as the projects remain on the website once they have been funded.

"You could have a hundred projects-a hundred stories about sustainability at Harvard," he said.

Colin B. Durrant, Harvard's manager of sustainability communications, said that Project Green Campus fit into the Sustainability Office's grant program's goal of encouraging innovation that might otherwise be unable to receive funding. Durrant said that he could not disclose the exact amount of the grant, but noted that they are generally limited to $5000.

Durrant asaid that the Sustainability Office also facilitated partnerships between the project and other campus offices, such as the Harvard Alumni Alliance for the Environment and the University Facilities and Planning Offices.

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