Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Houghton Skips to Green Leaf Four, Tozzer Earns Leaf One

public spaces recycling  

Houghton Library staff who took part in the Green Office Program display the certificate recognizing the library for reaching Grean Leaf Four.


September 17, 2010 – On the heels of the Harvard College Library Green Team’s announced target of Green Leaf One certification for all libraries by January 1, two more units have met or surpassed the goal.  Harvard’s Office of Sustainability (OFS) recently recognized Tozzer Library for achieving Green Leaf One and Houghton Library for achieving Green Leaf Four, becoming just the seventh workspace University-wide, and the second library workspace, along with HCL Operations, to reach the Green Office Program’s highest level.

Though completing all four levels at once was challenging, Houghton came to the process with two advantages. First, many of the steps outlined in the program, such as adjusting thermostats, installing occupancy sensors and using compact-fluorescent bulbs, had been initiated centrally by HCL Operations. In addition, the library had already met some of the criteria, thanks to the work of the Houghton “Greening” the Library Task Force, created as part of Houghton's three-year strategic plan.

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Formed in the spring of 2009, as the HCL Green Team was convening, the Houghton task force was charged with identifying and recommending actions to help the library go green, including seeking Green Office certification. Other steps included increasing signage to keep staff and patrons informed about recycling, holding green orientation sessions for staff, pursuing projects to reduce energy consumption, like installing additional occupancy sensors, and reducing waste through the use of double-sided printing and redesigning library stationery.

“When we started to work on Green Office certification, a good part of our homework had already been done,” said Staff Assistant Monique Duhaime, who led the process and serves as Houghton’s representative on the HCL Green Team. “It was still an intensive process to look at every single certification requirement, but once we got people’s attention, I think staff got excited. As we went through the process, they began pointing out areas where we could do something differently, or additional steps we could take. Going forward, it’s important we stay active and keep looking for ways to improve.”

  public spaces recycling

Tozzer Library staff who took part in the Green Office Program display their Green Leaf One certificate.

At Tozzer, Acquisitions Assistant Sarah Kasten echoed Duhaime, and credited the library’s environmentally-conscious staff with making the process easy.

“We already had people who were focused on steps like printing on both sides of paper, or reusing office supplies,” she said. “I think the real value of the Green Office Program is that it provides some recognition of what we are already doing, which is a morale booster.

“Overall, the process was pretty easy,” Kasten continued. “I think if we pursue other levels, we’ll need to change some behaviors and some purchasing patterns, but with the enthusiasm that was generated through Leaf One and the high level of environmental literacy here, I think that process will be fairly painless.”

To receive certification, offices must meet criteria that are increasingly rigorous for each level – from providing recycling bins at all work stations for Leaf One to asking commercial printers to use vegetable-based inks on library materials for Leaf Four. The completed checklist, along with the signatures of the office head or program director and at least 75 percent of staff are then submitted to the OFS for review.

In addition to HCL Operations, Houghton, and Tozzer, the Harvard Map Collection recently received Leaf One certification.   Although not an HCL unit, the Harvard University Archives resides in Pusey and is a member of the HCL Green Team. They recently reached Leaf Two. Work is also underway on Green Office certification for units in Widener and Lamont libraries.