Being Green in Pfoho

Click on the links below to learn more about what Harvard and Pfoho are doing to reduce the University’s environmental footprint and how you can help!


Green Cup is an inter-House competition that runs throughout the academic year. There are three categories that each carry a cash prize—Participation, Resource Conservation, and Greenest House Committee (Green HoCo)—plus an awesome, giant trophy for the overall winner.

Participation: (40% of overall score)
  • Recycling Challenge
  • Pre-break Pledge
  • Carbon footprint evaluation
  • Green Toon Contest
  • And more!
Resource Conservation: (30% of overall score)
  • Electricity reduction
  • Trash minimization & Recycling Rate
  • Food waste minimization
  • Dishware retention

Living Green

Green Dining

To ensure you the freshest products, and to actively support regional industries, HUDS seeks local sources for produce, baked goods, fresh seafood, dairy products, and more. In fact, at any given time our produce may come from one of more than 225 Massachusetts farms affiliated with the Pioneer Valley Growers Association or the Southern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership.

Some other sustainable food highlights:

  • All our milk and milk-based products are from New England dairies, and are hormone-free.
  • We partner with several nearby farms to grow produce expressly for us, including squash from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA, and tomatoes from Backyard Beauties in Madison, ME.
  • Our eggs – still in the shell or pre-shelled - are all cage free
  • Every dining hall offers a selection of organic produce, beans, grains, cereals, peanut butter, and soy products
  • Our seafood is purchased with guidance from National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver, who focuses on sourcing seafood that also helps restore our oceans

Food Literacy Project and rep (Amanda Beattie) 

Food Better

Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic

Harvard Farmers’ Market and blog

Harvard Community Garden

Green Cleaning


  • Machine info
  • How to save energy and $$$

Cleaning Products

Green Cleaning practices can improve indoor air quality and reduce allergies. The Harvard custodial staff uses green cleaning products and practices to protect your health and our environment and you can too! When cleaning your suite, please keep these in mind:

  • Look for Green Seal certified carpet, floor or window care products
  • Buy recycled content paper products
  • Look for “Green Label” certified vacuum cleaners
  • Use microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Recycling

Energy Conservation: Lighting

What is a CFL?
A Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CFL) is a fluorescent tube bent into a compact spiral that can fit within a conventional lightbulb socket. The cylindrical plastic base is the “ballast”, which converts the AC power used by conventional light bulbs to the high-voltage DC required by fluorescent lights. Wow — an entire fluorescent light system that you can hold in the palm of your hand!

Why does REP give away CFLs?
CFLs are much more energy efficient than conventional incandescent light bulbs. They convert a larger fraction of the energy they consume into light, meaning that a CFL can produce as much light as a conventional 60W bulb (~900 lumens) but use only a fraction of the energy (~15W). CFLs have a higher initial cost than incandescent light bulbs, which means that from the standpoint of pure personal economics, it makes the most sense for the average Kirklander (who doesn’t have to directly pay the electric bill) to buy the cheaper, less efficient incandescent bulb. However, it is better for Harvard’s budget and the environment if everyone uses CFLs. By buying CFLs for you, the University saves money and reduces its impact on the environment — an important step in its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2016. In return, you get a free lightbulb that lasts 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. It’s a good deal for everyone!

How do I dispose of CFLs properly?
All fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury: the silvery, liquid-at-room-temperature, heavy metal that is hazardous to human health. After your CFL burns out (from an average of ~8000 hours of use), you must dispose of it as hazardous waste. In Kirkland, take the bulb to the hazardous waste receptacle by the G-entryway laundry room.

What happens if my CFL breaks?
If a CFL breaks, ventilate the room by opening a window. (Mercury within the bulb will evaporate into the air.) Clean up broken fragments with wet paper towels and seal the fragments in a plastic bag. Dispose of the bag as hazardous waste, as above. Wash your hands, too.

What is the difference between fluorescent and incandescent lights?
A conventional incandescent lightbulb produces light by the resistive heating of a thin filament at the center of the bulb. This filament heats up to the point that it glows by blackbody radiation, emitting a continuous spectrum of light. A fluorescent bulb produces light by exciting mercury atoms to emit ultraviolet light at specific frequencies. This light excites the white phosphor coating on the outside of the bulb, which then emits visible light at specific frequencies. Because fluorescent lights emit light only at specific frequencies, they cannot show colors “as true to life” as incandescent bulbs. As humans, we are used to viewing colors under sunlight, which is a blackbody source just like an incandescent bulb. We perceive colors because objects absorb and reflect specific frequencies of light. But if an object is illuminated by a fluorescent source, it doesn’t not have a full complement of colors to reflect back at your eyes and may seem abnormally colored. The good news is that CFLs are held to a higher standard than the long fluorescent light bulbs that might illuminate an office. The industry has been working to tune their phosphor coatings to make CFLs just as good as conventional light bulbs.

Energy Conservation: Heating

Our Pfoho students living in Jordan North, South, Moors and Wolbach Hall have heat provided by 130-degree hot water circulated throughout the building by electrical pumps with thermostats located in each suite regulate the temperature throughout the building.

Holmes and Comstock Halls are heated by 320 steam radiators.  For those of you unaccustomed to steam heat, it is very efficient and reliable. However the expansion and contraction of the pipes and the flow of condensation back through the pipes will make some noise. You may hear this through the walls. Some of you may find this annoying at first but after a few days you won’t notice it.  It will even become reassuring to hear the heat rising up through the pipes on those early cold mornings. Each radiator has an automatic control valve that you may adjust. This valve is meant to give you control of the heat level in your room and to prevent the wasting of energy providing an individual level of comfort.  Remember, that comfort is a relative term, as each person may perceive heat, cold and humidity differently.

You may hear some hissing as the steam rises and pushes any air out of the radiator.  Hissing is a good thing.  It means your radiator isn’t air bound allowing steam to enter.  

The steam supply coming into the building is automatically controlled by two variables: the outside air temperature and the time of day.  When the outside air temperature drops below 55 degrees during the day from 6:00 AM to Midnight or below 45 degrees at night from Midnight to 6:00 AM, the steam supply valve opens and a heating cycle begins.  The steam then cycles on and off for 40 minute periods throughout out the day or night, supplying your room radiator with heat.  


  1. Locate the gray handle dial protruding from the valve. The valve is attached to the radiator, which in some rooms is encased in a cabinet or bench seat.
  2. Select a comfort setting between 1 (lowest temperature) and 5 (highest) on the dial. This offers you a choice of plus or minus 5 degrees Forcing the valve beyond the maximum setting will not produce more heat but may damage the valve.


  1. Please check that all windows and storm windows are closed tightly. Windows should not be open during the heating season.
  2. Remove all clothing and books from around radiators to allow air to circulate.  Keep the radiators clear.
  3. Please contact the Building Manager’s office if your room is overheating and you feel it is wasting energy or if your room will not remain comfortably warm during daytime hours.
  4. Set the gauge on the snowflake symbol when you know your room will be unoccupied for 2 or more days.  This setting will not completely shut off the heat but will allow a small amount of steam to trickle into the radiators to prevent them from freezing.  If not, hot steam suddenly introduced into a cold pipe may cause the radiator to crack

The walls are full of terra cotta brick, which store and give off heat much like an oven. Early in the Fall, on these cooler mornings followed by warmer afternoons, it never really gives the building a chance to absorb the heat.  Until we get into the really cold weather some of you may feel a bit chilly. You may need to layer on clothing.  Wear a sweater or sweats.  Remember this is New England. Once it becomes colder and we get the heat up and going all of the time, you will find the building to be very comfortable. No one has ever suffered from frostbite or exposure to the cold here in the House. No one has ever frozen!

If an emergency occurs during non-office hours or on the weekend, you may contact the Control Center directly at 495-5560 to report any heating or plumbing problems.

Remember, before you call for help, be sure that all your windows are closed. 

Other non-emergency maintenance problems may be reported through this link.

Should you have any questions or problems with your heating (no heat, broken valve or condensation leaks) do not hesitate to speak with me. I do want you all to be warm and comfortable but we cannot afford to overheat the building.