Research & Innovation

MIT is at the forefront of cutting edge research related to sustainability. Every day, faculty and students are discovering new perspectives, knowledge, and solutions around the most pressing challenges of sustainability. Feeding off the core collaborative nature of MIT, researchers approach problems through an interdisciplinary lens that brings together the power of science, technology, policy, planning, and more.  For example, while materials science and water researchers are working together to develop cost-effective water filters for desalination to address the global water crisis, computer science and aeronautics researchers are developing algorithms for “mobility on demand,” a one-way vehicle-sharing system, that could dramatically cut transportation emissions.

Moving forward, the Office of Sustainability will continue to build strong partnerships with the labs, centers, and programs at MIT to advance innovative research opportunities that address the sustainability challenges of our campus, local, and global communities.  Below is a selection of research-related resources:

Undergraduate Research

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROPs are unique opportunities for MIT undergraduates to partner with faculty and staff on sustainability-research projects, especially to pursue. Students have the chance to work on established cutting edge research projects or to pursue their own ideas. The MIT Energy Initiative works with the UROP program to support energy research. Find out more about MITEI's program here.

Departments, Labs, & Centers

Below are examples of departments, labs, and centers leading innovative research projects and initiatives related to sustainability.

City Farm - Changing Places Group

A group within the MIT Media Lab, City Farm is exploring what it means technologically, environmentally, and socially to design industrially scalable agricultural systems in the heart of urban areas.

City Science Lab

An initiative of the MIT Media Lab, the City Science Lab works to leverage advances in data analysis, sensor technologies, and urban experiments, City Science will provide new insights into creating a data-driven approach to urban design and planning.

Climate Co Lab

A project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the Climate Co Lab works to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change.

Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub)

CSHub advances research on concrete - a fundamental part of the buildings in which we live and work and the infrastructure that connects us. CSHub’s research focuses on three main platforms of concrete: materials science; buildings and pavement; and economics and environment.

D Lab

Affiliated with the Edgerton Center, the D Lab is building a global network of innovators to design and disseminate technologies that meaningfully improve the lives of people living in poverty.

Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change

The Joint Program is working to improve knowledge of interactions among human and natural Earth systems, with a particular focus on climate and energy, and of the forces that drive global change.

MIT Center for Energy and Environmental and Policy Research (CEEPR)

A research center jointly sponsored by the MIT Sloan School of Management, the MIT Department of Economics, and the MIT Energy Initiative, this center promotes rigorous and objective empirical research on issues related to energy and environmental policy to support decision-making by government and industry.

MIT Co Lab

A center within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), the MIT Co Lab CoLab works to support the development and use of knowledge from excluded communities to deepen civic engagement, improve community practice, inform policy, mobilize community assets, and generate shared wealth.

MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)

MITEI interdisciplinary research program focuses on innovative technologies and underlying policy analysis that will improve how we produce, distribute and consume conventional energy.

MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment (LAE)

Situated within the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, this lab works to advance our understanding of the environmental impacts of aviation, and to develop approaches to mitigate those impacts.

Sloan Sustainability Initiative

The Sloan Sustainability Initiative provides opportunities for deep engagement and collaboration to researchers working intensively in key focus areas: creating markets for alternative fuels and enabling socially sustainable enterprises.  The Initiative also provides seed funding and connects those researchers with practitioners, scholars, and industry leaders who are interested in exploring these focus areas.

Sustainable Design Lab

Within the Building Technology Program, the MIT Sustainable Design Lab sets out to produce high quality fundamental and applied research that facilitates the design of resource-efficient and comfortable environments at the building and neighborhood scale.