Gina McCarthy, former U.S. EPA Administrator, launches C-CHANGE at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

From left: Aaron Bernstein, Joseph Allen, John Holdren, Gina McCarthy, Michelle Williams, and John Kerry

Center using science to drive actions on climate change and improve public health

For immediate release: May 30, 2018

Boston, MA – The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) 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.

“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.

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For more information:

Liz Purchia

Todd Datz

photo: Sarah Sholes


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.