Higher Education Working Group

The Higher Education Working Group represents the unique constituency of large research and residential campuses in Boston and neighboring cities.


Colleges and universities have a significant footprint in the City, as well as a particular set of sustainability challenges, including large-scale energy procurement and management, and resiliency planning for diverse communities of tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff. The intellectual capacity of the higher education sector provides a source of expertise, motivation, and collaboration for the other members of the Green Ribbon Commission, City of Boston and its Climate Action Plan.


Participating Colleges and Universities:

Boston College Boston University
Emerson College Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Northeastern University
Tufts University University of Massachusetts, Boston


HEWG Main Topic Areas of Focus

The HEWG is chaired by Katie Lapp,  executive vice president of Harvard University, and managed by the Harvard University Office for Sustainability.  The working group focuses on the following topic areas:

Green Labs Symposium 2014 and 2016

Lab facilities are often the source of the greatest energy use on our campuses, disproportionate to the square footage they occupy, so they are a key area of focus for our institutions. These two symposia convened experts in the lab arena to identify and share information on innovative best practices and best-in-class progress in reducing energy use and emissions. For meeting materials and footage of the presentations, visit the Green Labs Symposium website.

Renewable energy purchasing


The Higher Ed Working Group is a leading participant in the GRC’s Renewable Energy Purchasing Network and is a driving force behind a comprehensive analysis of impacts of different purchasing strategies and related communications claims. The whitepaper, Guidance for Purchasing Renewable Energy and Associated Claims, responds to the growing interest of America’s institutions and businesses in purchasing renewable energy. It offers a roadmap for potential buyers to navigate through the increasingly complex and still emerging renewables landscape. The accompanying powerpoint presentation on the right illustrates options. Given the background set out in the Guidance for Renewable Energy Purchasing and Associated Claims report, the next step for institutions is to begin quantifying the emissions impacts of renewable energy purchases, which informs decision‐making. The Higher Ed Working Group, therefore, published a quantitative addendum to the original report which aims to provide more detailed guidance to institutions considering how to conduct emissions impact analyses associated with procurement decisions.

Institutional Carbon Pricing

From college campuses to Davos, carbon pricing is a policy instrument regarded by climate scientists, economists, and political and business leaders as an important part of efforts to mitigate global climate change.  The Higher Ed Working Group looks at best practices from institutions around the world with an aim to deliver options and guidance for GRC members and others in Boston. For more information on the HEWG, contact Caroleen Verly at the Harvard Office for Sustainability at caroleen_verly@harvard.edu.



From the Library: Higher Education Working Group Documents