Harvard’s Sustainability Plan and the Green Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece

Last October, the Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece became one of Harvard’s certified Green Offices. The Harvard Green Office Program is implemented by the Office for Sustainability and designed to guide staff members through the process of creating a more sustainable workspace, underlining the importance of individual disposition and action for the achievement of sustainable development. It is structured as a points-based system, under Harvard’s first University-wide Sustainability Plan which was adopted back in 2014.
The Sustainability Plan has been aligning Harvard’s decentralized campus (“One Harvard”) around a holistic vision of how to achieve a healthier and more sustainable collective community, resulting in “an unprecedented level of ‘One Harvard’ collaboration among the University’s decentralized and diverse community, allowing for significant progress to be made against the Plan’s goals”, as cited on the Office for Sustainability webpage. While the University’s primary role is to address global challenges through research and teaching, Harvard also uses its campus as a living laboratory for piloting and implementing solutions that can be widely replicated and institutionalizes best practices in sustainable operations, translating research into action.

In this spirit, the Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece joined forces with this diverse community to form a more sustainable workspace, by registering at the Green Office Program, and it has already achieved the first (“Leaf 1”) certification level that the program offers. The past few months have been a continuing learning experience for our CHS team in Greece, who, through simple guidelines, began adopting new everyday habits and pinned down related practices that were to a certain extent already in place. Sharing meals to reduce food waste during hosted Harvard programs, obtaining and preserving office plants, as well as a small garden on the terrace of our building, and utilizing video and web conferencing for the meetings with our colleagues in other Greek cities or in DC, are just some of the practices that CHS in Greece has established to ensure a “greener” future.
By building a more sustainable workspace, we hope to become a source of inspiration for both the Harvard and the local communities who visit our Center, as well as for other Harvard international offices, in endorsing the University’s commitment for a healthy and more sustainable Harvard community, whether in Cambridge, MA, or abroad.