Climate Solutions Living Lab

Climate Solutions Living Lab

Professor Wendy Jacobs
Spring 2017 course
W 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 3019
3 classroom credits

Note: Only two hours of this three-credit course are currently scheduled. Hours for the third credit will take place in small group meetings and and in the field and will be scheduled at a later date.

Prerequisites: By Permission. Please send a statement of interest and CV to with a copy to Cross-registrants are encouraged to apply.

Exam: No Exam.
There will be short written and oral exercises throughout the semester and, at the end of the semester, a short final paper that describes and analyzes the project development process. Grading will be based on the quality of class participation, team work, exercises and final paper.

This is a new course with a limited number of seats to be filled by students from multiple disciplines (law, business, engineering, policy, public health) who will together design and study practical solutions for reducing the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and abroad. The course will focus on solutions that could potentially help low-income, under-served populations improve their living conditions with power generated by renewable sources of fuel as well as identifying innovative legal and financing pathways for such projects. Together, we will identify potential projects, analyze their feasibility from multiple perspectives (economic, technological, legal, health, etc), and select several projects for further scrutiny and development of implementation pathways. For example, we may consider innovative projects that may be of interest to Native American communities in the U.S., indigenous Mexican communities, and other low-income or isolated communities. We will also consider projects that could help Harvard and other institutions meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals. Together, we will develop the appropriate screening criteria to apply to projects we identify. For example, projects selected should be replicable and scalable and could include (1) mechanisms for innovative renewable energy solutions in inner-city public schools; (2) studying ways to create markets for displacing “dirty”, mined natural gas with captured biogas with a view to the use of biogas at Harvard’s own steam plant; (3) using big data to redesign traffic flow around key intersections in Boston to optimize GHG emissions reductions and public health for nearby sensitive and underserved inner-city populations; and (4) studying the carbon offset and renewable energy procurement markets. We will break into teams for intensive analyses of and development of implementation pathways for projects that survive the screening process. Students in this class will learn how projects proceed from concept through screening, design, financing, environmental review, challenges, and permitting.

This course is practical, highly interactive, and hands-on. Faculty from other Harvard graduate schools, including Public Health and SEAS will be involved. In addition to lectures and regular team meetings, there will be field work (e.g., data collection, meetings with technology developers, discussions with government representatives). Lectures will provide background on pertinent topics including the science of greenhouse gases (GHG) and air pollution, atmospheric chemistry, the health impacts and other co-benefits of GHG emission reductions, the laws pertaining to air pollution, electricity markets and their regulation, the siting, permitting and financing of projects, and, data collection techniques (including chemistry, data analysis, and GIS methods). Law students will learn about key elements of the practice of environmental law, including mechanisms for raising and resolving controversies, identifying the environmental impacts of a project, parsing and applying relevant statutes and regulations, analyzing mechanisms for mitigating project impacts and managing controversies, identifying the permits and approvals needed for a project.

Subject Areas: Environmental Law, Procedure & Practice, Regulatory Law