The Climate Solutions Living Lab is an innovative course taught by Professor Wendy B. Jacobs in which advanced students from graduate schools across Harvard University (law, business, engineering, design, public health, public policy, and education) collaboratively design projects to help universities, for-profit, and non-profit entities reduce their own climate impacts via off-campus actions and investments. Each project must achieve quantifiable greenhouse gas emissions reductions, quantifiable public health and other social benefits (e.g., improved water and air quality, training, jobs) and, in addition, be scalable, replicable, fundable, permittable, and otherwise feasible to implement.
View the Spring 2020 course description for the Climate Solutions Living Lab.
Spring 2020 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects
Team 1: An innovative, university-based investment initiative to fund and catalyze pilot and demonstration projects that are currently unable to access funding, but that show promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing co-benefits.
Team 2: A pilot program to assist farmers in reducing nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions, with a specific focus on the use of cover crops. Use of cover crops improves soil health and water quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in several ways.
Team 3: A manual for university athletic departments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While many athletic departments already engage in sustainability efforts, the students’ manual identifies measures to enable athletic departments to achieve deeper emissions reductions, offset emissions from travel, and tap into new funding sources to pay for these efforts.
- Click here to view the Changing the Game: A Playbook for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at University Athletic Departments Manual
Spring 2019 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects
Reducing the Climate Impact of Refrigerant Use:
- Click here to view the Options for Replacing Halocarbon Refrigerants to Reduce Damaging Climate Impacts Manual
- MIT Science Policy Review, “Institutions and governments can slow climate change by regulating and reducing halocarbon refrigerant use” (August 20, 2020)
- Click here to view the students’ original Report and Implementation Plan
Anaerobic Digestion and Production of Biofuels on Dairy Farms in Wisconsin
Spring 2019 Climate Solutions Living Lab students, faculty and teaching fellows
Spring 2018 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects
Spring 2017 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects
Climate Solutions Living Lab Press
- Harvard Law Students Visit Wisconsin Dairy Farm, The Mid-West Farm Report, February 20, 2020
- Testimony – Breaking Through, The Environmental Forum, Environmental Law Institute (January/February 2020 Issue)
- Harvard Law School’s Climate Solutions Living Lab, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) Spring 2019 Update, June 4, 2019
- Puerto Rico Benefits from Harvard’s Living Lab, Harvard Law Today, December 14, 2018
- Students help groups to pursue climate action, Harvard Law Today, November 20, 2017
- Students help groups to pursue climate action, The Harvard Gazette, November 14, 2017
- Harvard Class Assignment: Solve Rural Alaska’s Fossil Fuel Woes, Alaska Public Media, March 14, 2017
- Harvard strengthens ‘living laboratory’ to help mitigate climate impact, Harvard Law Today, October 7, 2016
- Harvard Strengthens ‘Living Laboratory’ to Help Mitigate Climate Impact, The Harvard Gazette, October 6, 2016
Read more on the University’s Living Lab Initiatives at the Harvard Office for Sustainability website.
Augusta Williams, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
“The project I was assigned to during the Living Lab course, renewable energy credits for unregulated entities, was a topic I was not very familiar with, but learned so much from the experience. Working with students from the other Harvard schools and MIT was an invaluable experience that gave me vital experience for further team collaboration in my doctoral program. During a recent science policy fellowship I completed, I was tasked with completing a proposal on private sector greenhouse gas emissions. Initially I didn’t think I had much knowledge of this topic, but after diving in, realized all of my Living Lab experiences applied to this topic. I was able to complete the proposal with high praise and minor edits by the experts involved in the project, including scientists, lawyers, and policymakers.”
Dakota McCoy, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences:
“CSLL is not a typical course. CSLL brings together students from interdisciplinary backgrounds to address real-world problems. As a graduate student in biology, I mostly work in a narrow research area with other like-minded folks. CSLL placed me on a dynamic, interdisciplinary team with four brilliant women from the School of Public Health, the Kennedy School, the Graduate School of Design, and the Law School. I learned so much from the way they tackled problems and generated results; we all brought expertise and strategies from our own fields to the table. It was immensely rewarding to work on a real world problem– anaerobic digestion for emissions reduction– where our proposed solution actually may be implemented in the near future. CSLL is learning by doing: the course’s practical atmosphere was energizing and fulfilling. We all invested buckets of energy and time into our project, learned more than I would think possible in a single term, and made connections that I am sure will stretch far into the future. I strongly recommend CSLL: it is truly refreshing and energizing to step out of our bubbles at Harvard, interact with each other, and shoot for real-world solutions to the pressing problem of climate change.”
Veronica Saltzman, Harvard Law School:
“The Living Lab gave me the opportunity to get hands on, real world experience practicing in an area of law I’d never tried––energy law–– and a type of legal practice I’d never tried––transactional. More than any other course in law school, the Living Lab made me feel more prepared to enter the workforce. The other amazing part of the Living Lab is the amount I learned from other students on my team and on other teams. Because the course is multidisciplinary, students from different areas of study must learn to communicate, collaborate, and teach one another. I think it is truly important for law students to gain real-world legal experience and learn to collaborate with non-lawyers. This course gave me the opportunity to do both.”
Nick Eberhart, Harvard Law School:
“I found the CSLL to be the most rewarding and engaging class I have taken at Harvard. It provides a rare opportunity to do meaningful work, to learn from experts in industry and academia, and to help the university achieve its climate goals. Through the course, I felt more involved both in Harvard’s efforts and in the broader movement to address climate change. The CSLL is structured to be an interdisciplinary experience and I valued the opportunity to learn from other students across fields including engineering and business. We learned to communicate with people from diverse disciplines, which is something that is rare in graduate education and will be helpful for a career in the environmental field.”
Bridget Nyland, Harvard Business School:
“The Climate Solutions Living Lab was an unparalleled opportunity to both develop relationships with students passionate about climate change throughout the University and to get hands on experience doing the hard work of changing organizational behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In HBS case discussions, we often say ‘Well, we should work across the organization to change the policy and make lowering greenhouse gases a priority on the same line as profit,’ as if that is trivial. The Living Lab made clear how difficult that change can be and gave me the hands-on tactical experience to actually make it happen.”