Staff Lunch & Learn Series addresses climate action at MIT

MIT Office of Sustainability

Staff Lunch & Learn Series addresses climate action at MIT

Photo by Christopher Harting, 2009

Building on the success of last year’s Lunch & Learn series for members of the Office of Sustainability’s working groups, this spring’s series focused on climate action topics and brought together over 240 people. The talks engaged staff members involved in all aspects of energy, facilities, and campus planning around discussions and brainstorming on the emerging climate action plans underway at MIT. Effective sustainability solutions, after all, require an all-hands-on-deck approach powered by faculty, staff, students and the community. 

This four-part Lunch & Learn Series kicked off with a discussion of MIT’s current climate targets and plans. The session provided an overview of recent agreements and goals including The Plan for Action on Climate Change (2015), The Shared Statement on Climate Action (2016), MIT’s greenhouse gas commitment, and the Cambridge Net Zero Building Ordinance, and current efforts underway to meet these goals. Director of the Office of Sustainability, Julie Newman, was joined by speakers Tom Kiley, Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Research, and Don Holmes, Director of Maintenance & Utilities.  

The second session in the series looked at MIT’s greenhouse gas inventory. The inventory is a measurement of how MIT’s building energy use, fleet vehicles, and other activities contribute to climate change. Participants learned about how greenhouse gas emissions are measured, where they come from, what MIT’s current profile looks like. The speakers for this session were Ken Packard, Director of Utilities and Steve Lanou, Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainability. 

Following up on the discussion of MIT’s greenhouse gas inventory, the next session took a closer look at MIT’s plans to meet green house gas reduction goals and the role that data plays in achieving these reductions.  

The focus of the final session was MIT’s plans for climate resiliency, and featured speakers Kerry Emanuel, EAPS Faculty and Co-Chair of the MIT Climate Resiliency Committee and Sarah Brylinsky, of the Office of Sustainability and Co-Chair of the MIT Climate Resiliency Committee. 

“I want to thank all my colleagues who took time out of their busy schedules to attend one or all of the Lunch & Learn sessions," said Steven Lanou, Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainability. “There was palpable excitement about the topic and a genuine interest in learning more. With attendance and engagement through the roof, I believe the there has never been a better time at MIT to come up with solutions to pressing sustainability challenges.” 

The Office of Sustainability welcomes feedback from staff who attended this year’s series and will be developing a program for the next academic year.