Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

HCL Green Efforts on Track

Energy saving light bulb  

A spiral compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) by Sun Ladder (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


September 19, 2011 – Harvard University’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2016 is still more than four years away, but records show that Harvard College Library’s efforts to go green have already begun paying dividends.

Recent utility figures show that, through June of FY11, energy and water use, and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings managed by HCL Operations – Widener, Houghton, Lamont, Pusey, and Tozzer libraries – have dropped dramatically when compared to FY06, the baseline year for Harvard’s greenhouse gas reduction effort. For the most recent 12 months measured, the data show a 17.8% reduction in energy use; a 28.9% drop in water use and greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 23.7%. Taken together, the reductions translate into $385,991 in estimated annual avoided utility costs, based on current utility rates.

The reductions are the result of dozens of projects the libraries have completed in recent years, including installing motion sensors in staff offices and library stacks, programming the libraries’ HVAC systems to reflect the operating hours of the libraries, replacing more than two dozen bottled-water coolers with filtered water dispensers, installing water-conserving bathroom fixtures and even replacing older exit signs with power-saving LED signs.

“Cumulatively, all the projects we have completed have contributed to the savings we are seeing now,” said Paul Bellenoit, Director of Operations and Security for HCL.

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Though not factored into the savings, Bellenoit said the energy savings have also paid off in other ways, most notably in the form of savings on maintenance costs.

“If we are using more efficient light bulbs that last longer, we don’t have to change them as often, meaning our maintenance costs also go down,” he said. “In the Widener stacks alone, we have 725 light bulbs that had to be changed every two years. The reductions in energy use mean those bulbs now last four or five years, and the result is dramatic savings.”

Going forward, Bellenoit said, the libraries will continue to seek out new and creative ways to reduce utility costs while still serving patron needs.

“We’re on our way to reaching Harvard’s sustainability goals,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know that our efforts are producing results, are paying off for Harvard College Library, and are helping to support the University’s effort to promote sustainability.”

Outlined in the fall of 2008 by President Drew Faust, Harvard’s sustainability goals include three major commitments: reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent reduction from 2006 levels by 2016, developing and applying sustainability principles, and implementing green building practices.