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Annual sustainability report shows progress on many fronts

Posted: 01 May 2018 07:11 AM PDT

When the switch was flipped on the new rooftop solar installation at 38 Oxford St. in 2017, it not only became the second-largest solar system at Harvard, it helped the University create more than 1.5 megawatts of solar energy on campus — enough to power 300 average-sized homes for a year.

This and many other milestones are included in the 2017 Harvard Sustainability Report released Wednesday by the Office for Sustainability (OFS) documenting the University's transformation to a healthier, fossil-fuel-free campus. The report, produced annually and available online, details the progress made toward the goals, standards, and commitments laid out in the Harvard Sustainability Plan adopted in 2014.

"Our progress has illustrated the power of One Harvard collaboration," OFS director Heather Henriksen wrote in a message to the community. "It has proven that we are stronger when we work together across Schools, across disciplines, and across departments to generate new ideas, learn from each other, and, most importantly, to use our campus as a test bed for incubating and proving exciting new solutions that tackle climate and enhance public health."

Believing that transparency is a key ingredient for accountability and continual improvement, in this year's report OFS included new interactive graphs developed with the cutting-edge data analytics and visualization software Tableau and aggregated in an online dashboard available to all. A new Data Hub web page aggregates the data sets that are available to students, staff, and faculty to use for ongoing research, benchmarking, and to inform decision making.

As in past years, the report uses a combination of data and storytelling to mark the progress at every level of the University. This year's achievements include:

  • A 44 percent reduction in trash per capita, 26 percent reduction in water use, and 30 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 to 2017. Reductions in building energy use over the past 11 years offset the impact of growth in square footage and the addition of energy-intensive space.
  • Ten living lab research projects have been funded to date by the Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund, and all 900 first-year students at Harvard Business School were tasked with a classroom project on how climate change will impact business.
  • The Healthier Building Materials Academy partnership with faculty experts to address chemicals of concern in the built environment. The academy is collaborating with 25 major capital projects across campus and more than 100 manufacturers to remove harmful chemicals from their products.
  • 129 LEED-certified green building projects across campus, including the first and second LEED v4 commercial interiors projects in Massachusetts.
  • Sustainable IT standards were approved by the Harvard CIO Council, and healthful and sustainable food standards and green cleaning standards are currently being developed in collaboration with students and faculty.

"Ten years ago, when our initial climate goal was set and the Office for Sustainability was created by President [Drew] Faust, we didn't know how we'd meet the 30 percent reduction in net emissions by 2016, but we worked together, and we met our goal." wrote Henriksen. "Now, we will use our lessons learned to inform how we achieve our ambitious new fossil fuel-free goal. And we will also continue our commitment to accomplishing the goals, standards, and commitments embedded in our Sustainability Plan by 2020."



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At Radcliffe forum: The Sox beyond Fenway

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 02:10 PM PDT

As the Boston Red Sox look to build on their strong start this season, the team's work off the field, including its efforts to support inner city children and to confront racism, took center stage at a panel discussion Friday at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez and others speakers at the forum highlighted the unique responsibilities of professional sports teams in their communities and how the Red Sox in particular have tried to step up to the plate to be a positive force for their region.

"In Boston, probably more than everywhere else, it's easy to see baseball as a social institution," said moderator Shira Springer, sports and society reporter for WBUR radio. "The organization is woven into the cultural and social fabric of the city, of New England, in a way I think creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community, both inside and outside Fenway Park."

How the Red Sox embrace that special role was the focus of discussion among Martinez and fellow panelists Sam Kennedy, president and CEO of the Red Sox, and Rebekah Salwasser, executive director, Red Sox Foundation. WBUR senior political reporter Anthony Brooks introduced the panel.

Kennedy spoke of the Red Sox' recent efforts to combat racism, including its request — recently approved by a Boston commission — to rename Yawkey Way because of its connection with former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, perceived by many to have overseen a racist legacy.

Citing the team's "shameful past with respect to race relations," Kennedy said, "We were the last team to integrate, we had a poor record of hiring not just on the field but off the field. Diversity was a huge issue for us." But he said that renaming Yawkey Way, the street in front of Fenway Park, was "really about people and people's feelings."

In speaking to community leaders, employees, and players, Kennedy said, the team consistently heard the refrain that " 'We never knew Tom Yawkey… But that symbol had been a reminder for many people that Fenway was not always the most inclusive, welcoming environment."

"It's just one step — it's a symbol, it's a street name. We don't fool ourselves and think it's going to change things overnight," he added. "We still need to walk the walk and do the right thing with respect to making Fenway welcoming to everyone… It should be everyone's team."

Red Sox fans and community members flocked to Radcliffe to hear the discussion between Springer (from left), Martínez, Salwasser, and Sam Kennedy

Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Kennedy also spoke of how two incidents at Fenway Park last year, in which a visiting player reported being taunted with racial epithets, and a fan uttered a racial slur regarding a Kenyan woman singing the national anthem, spurred the team to take action against lingering racism.

"For us as an organization, I think it was a wake-up call," he said.

He said the team chose to take on the issue directly, joining with Boston's other professional sports teams on an initiative to combat racism, including by forbidding hate speech at their venues.

Martinez, who spent seven seasons with the Red Sox and is now a special assistant for the team, said he has not been personally touched by racism in the city.

"For me it's really difficult to go deep into those details because I've always been treated right, I've always been treated with class."

Salwasser, a former professional soccer player for the Boston Breakers, said being hired to head the foundation in January was "a dream come true" because "I know the power of sport" and the impact the foundation is making, including through a college scholarship program and an inner-city baseball initiative that also promotes positive decision-making.

"We were the last team to integrate, we had a poor record of hiring not just on the field but off the field," explained Kennedy. "We still need to walk the walk and do the right thing with respect to making Fenway welcoming to everyone … It should be everyone's team."

Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study


Reflecting on his own extensive charitable work in his native Dominican Republic and locally, Martinez said it is rooted in the extreme poverty he experienced growing up.

"I've been there… I know what it's like to need something and not have it," he said.

The ace pitcher wants to be remembered not for his baseball accomplishments, but "as a sign of hope, as a sign of opportunity for other to follow," Martinez said, "because if I can do it … they can also do it."

Martinez said  young players need to understand that particularly in today's social media culture they need to always be "responsible and accountable" for their actions, both inside and outside the ballpark.

"My advice would be to really pay attention  to those little details and understand that everything they do means something to someone," he said.

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Harvard expert looks at potential progress, fallout from North, South Korea meeting

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:45 PM PDT

South Korea and North Korea may be on the verge of a historic accord that would end 65 years of conflict and division between the two nations. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Kim Jong-un of North Korea stunned the world by announcing their intent to formally end the Korean War later this year and rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. Though neither offered specifics on how or when they might accomplish this feat, a lasting truce could have transformative geopolitical implications for Asia, the U.S., and the world.

It's a shoot-the-moon goal that would have been unimaginable less than two years ago when Kim, who of late had dramatically escalated his rhetoric and taunted the world with demonstrations of North Korea's nuclear capabilities, used a model of South Korea's presidential residence, the Blue House, as a target during a nuclear operational drill.

John S. Park is director of the Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He spoke with the Gazette about what's driving the talks, the likely outcome of this possible accord, and what both sides will have to overcome to make the results into reality.


John Park

GAZETTE: As someone who's spent many years studying this region, were you surprised by this announcement?

PARK: I think the Panmunjom Declaration is very consistent with previous inter-Korean agreements. These landmark agreements have similar language, so I think it more fits a pattern rather than being an outlier. However, after the elevated tensions last year resulting from North Korea's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing, the Panmunjom Declaration is a particularly welcome development.

GAZETTE: Why now?

PARK: There's a big debate about why now. At the core of that debate is whether Chairman Kim Jong-un agreed to the summit meetings out of a position of weakness (i.e., sanctions biting hard) or strength (advanced nuclear weapons development). I argue that Kim did so out of a sense of unique opportunity to explore what South Korean and American leaders are prepared to offer for denuclearization. President Moon Jae-in assumed most of the risk by investing a lot of South Korea's political capital to accelerate the momentum for a diplomatic off-ramp with the summit.

GAZETTE: So it was South Korea's efforts that really moved the ball here?

PARK: Seeing how dangerous the situation became on the Korean Peninsula last year, with an elevated risk of military conflict, President Moon acted swiftly in deploying South Korea's political capital. The game plan began with arranging North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, quickly followed by a senior South Korean delegation's meeting with Chairman Kim in Pyongyang. That was followed by the South Korean national security adviser's meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office, where he agreed to a summit with Chairman Kim.

GAZETTE: Is this a legitimate diplomatic breakthrough, or merely for show?

PARK: It has to be viewed through the perspective of a process. The notion of tackling these very contentious issues, moving from an armistice to a peace treaty and also from the current state of nuclear weapons development in North Korea to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula — all of these things are incredibly complex. But we're looking at it from the perspective now of what kind of process can be put in place so that these difficult issues can be resolved in a way that can meet the security needs of all of the countries involved.

GAZETTE: What will you be looking for to see whether this is more than just a splashy event from the summit?

PARK: This is just the beginning. Whether it's a short-lived process or something that gains momentum remains to be seen. However, we have a planned U.S.-North Korea summit coming up next. I think from what's been agreed to in the inter-Korean context, more on the side of principles and goals and aspirations, we now have a nascent foundation on which the U.S. and North Korean leaders can get into more of the details on what a denuclearization mechanism may look like.

GAZETTE: What is Kim expecting to get out of this?

PARK: I think broadly it's the idea that his regime can focus on longer-term economic development. This is why we have to manage expectations. It's not going to be a function of North Korea giving up the nuclear weapons all at once, but rather, as part of a process. And this is where the timescale becomes a big focus of the diplomacy and negotiations ahead. From a North Korean perspective, the longer the process, the better it is for them. But from the U.S. perspective, given the rapid development of nuclear, and particularly the intercontinental ballistic missile capability last year, the timescale is much shorter. So the big focus of the process ahead is on the interim steps. But the idea that the countries are actually looking for a package deal is the positive beginning point here.

GAZETTE: What are the most important, substantive elements of this agreement that have not been part of past talks?

PARK: What's new in the Panmunjom Declaration is North Korea's level of nuclear weapons development. July of last year was an important threshold that they passed, and that was the ability to range the American homeland with intercontinental ballistic missiles. North Korea is still at the earlier stages of the development of that capability, but they have entered this dangerous ballpark. We have had previous summits, we've had previous inter-Korean dialogues and agreements related to the denuclearization, and, frankly, we've had multilateral deals as well. What's different now is that if diplomacy collapses, there's a real possibility that we could go back to the elevated tensions of last year.

GAZETTE: So what's pushing them to the table now is that they're within U.S. range?

PARK: The stakes are higher for Washington. It's the U.S. position that North Korea has to give up its nuclear weapons, and there are two ways they can do it: through negotiations or through the use of force. This is something we haven't seen before. In the past, the U.S. supported diplomatic activities, but when talks collapsed, [you] just went into a dormant phase as opposed to this idea of elevated tensions with the increased possibility of conflict. This cycle could be dramatically different if we do see the collapse of diplomacy this time.

GAZETTE: The pledge is for a treaty to end the Korean War. But after that, what's the end goal? Is it premature to think that there will be a unified Korean Peninsula in the not-too-distant future?

PARK: I think reunification actually becomes something that's pushed further away. If they move to a peace treaty, there will be peaceful coexistence, and maybe more economic development and advanced joint activities in terms of overall economic opportunities for their respective people.

GAZETTE: Is there any reason to trust that North Korea will denuclearize given its track record, and how will that be addressed?

PARK: The parties all around mistrust each other, so that's a perennial challenge. The bar is higher now. The U.S seeks irreversible denuclearization for economic development and security concessions to North Korea. Transforming the demilitarized zone into a peace zone is certainly positive, but the big question is the timeline of denuclearization. Everyone is cautiously optimistic. Launching a denuclearization mechanism is a critical initial step. The subsequent steps are much more complex — verification and inspection actions.

GAZETTE: How might the Panmunjom Declaration affect the U.S.-North Korea summit? Does it blunt the import of that meeting? And conversely, how does the U.S.-North Korea summit potentially threaten to introduce a third wheel that could disrupt the accord?

PARK: The hope is that the momentum created by the inter-Korean summit will carry over into the U.S.-North Korea summit. A positive practice taking place is close coordination and consultation on a bilateral basis between Moon and Kim, as well as Moon and Trump. In mid-May we'll see President Moon go to Washington to debrief President Trump about what happened at the inter-Korean summit. I think that's going to be another opportunity to try to do some more planning on what could take place at the U.S.-North Korea summit.

GAZETTE: Beyond the timeline expectations, what are some of the likely hurdles to such a treaty and, presumably, a rapprochement between the two Koreas, and how do they realistically overcome them?

PARK: North Korea is expecting sanctions relief. The U.S. opening statement is that lifting sanctions is directly tied to North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons program. However, for other countries, there's more wiggle room since diplomacy is gaining steam — China is reported to have already eased up on sanctions implementation.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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