The FINANCIAL -- Boston, MA – The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment was officially launched today at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and its leadership announced a new collaboration between Harvard University and Google that will seek to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in building products and materials.
Led by Director Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and Co-Directors Joseph Allen and Aaron Bernstein, C-CHANGE is committed to transforming science into meaningful actions that will deliver a healthier, more just, and sustainable world. The Center will ensure that government officials, business leaders, and the public have access to the best science so they can understand the health and environmental challenges they face, why it matters to them, and how they can get engaged.
The event was keynoted by John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, and John Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Science Advisor to President Obama and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Their remarks focused on the role of science in solving our country’s most pressing health problems and how our children’s future, economic stability, and national security depends on a healthy environment, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“C-CHANGE will work with experts across our School on increasing sustainable development, creating opportunities to challenge the status quo, addressing issues of inequality, and building a safer and more secure future,” said Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams. “The Center will pave the way for new research and student engagement on energy systems, food and nutrition, healthier buildings, and products to benefit our school, our country, and the world.”
McCarthy spoke about the importance of broadening support for environmental and climate action by calling attention to the impact of climate change on people’s health and the solutions to address it.
“Climate change isn’t about saving the planet and it’s not about politics, it’s about our kids and making sure they have the opportunity for a healthy, sustainable world,” said McCarthy. “C-CHANGE will ensure that cutting-edge science produced by Harvard Chan School is actionable—that the public understands it, and that it gets into the hands of decision-makers so that science drives decisions.”
At the event, C-CHANGE launched a new collaboration between Harvard University and Google that will seek to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in building products and materials used in construction and renovation projects. Many of these chemicals are placed in consumer products like furniture and carpets even though science has shown their potential for negative health effects. C-CHANGE, the Harvard Office for Sustainability, and Google will work together to develop a set of public tools and resources that use the latest scientific research to inform decision-making by large institutions, purchasers, and manufacturers to help transform the marketplace to healthier alternatives. The collaboration aims to improve public health and the well-being of communities, reduce the use of harmful chemicals, and leverage lessons learned to create a model that can be replicated by other organizations.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals in use today, many of which are associated with long-term problems for our health and the environment. A key component of C-CHANGE’s mission is to reduce the use of these chemicals and influence purchasing practices. The C-CHANGE team collaborated with the Office for Sustainability to pilot and prove healthier products in over 25 capital projects across campus before updating University-wide Green Building Standards to eliminate certain classes of harmful chemicals. Moving forward, the two groups will continue partnering with Harvard’s schools to use the campus as a living lab to test new ideas and verify performance.