Investigating global solutions, testing local strategies

Science indicates that our changing climate is causing sea-level rise, retreat of arctic sea ice and mountain glaciers, and intensifying hydrological extremes like droughts and floods. As a research institution at the frontier of science and technology in one of the world’s most dynamic innovation districts, MIT is uniquely suited to tackle the complex, interdisciplinary nature of climate challenges at the global scale, but also in our own backyard. The MIT campus is embedded in a coastal community, which presents risks and opportunities for innovation.

Campus as a test bed for climate solutions

At the MIT Office of Sustainability (MITOS), we’re mobilizing and integrating intellectual, technical, and cultural forces across campus to create a model community that generates and practices solutions to the realities of climate change, from resiliency planning to greenhouse gas mitigation efforts. MIT President Rafael Reif’s Plan for Action on Climate Change and Fast Forward: MIT's Climate Action Plan for the Decade have catalyzed MIT research, teaching, and campus operations to accelerate the Institute’s contributions. Such actions aim to protect our campus – and the world – from the extraordinary risks associated with rising global temperatures. See MITOS Focus Areas below for deeper exploration into our work on climate.

MITOS Focus Areas

MITOS is currently working collaboratively to advance climate action on campus via operations, education, research, and innovation in the following areas.

Campus Greenhouse Gas Inventory

MIT measures campus emissions that contribute to climate change. The greenhouse gas inventory includes emissions data from 2014 through the most recent fiscal year in three areas: building energy use, fugitive gases, and campus-owned vehicles.

Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy

MIT's Plan for Action on Climate Change calls for a reduction of campus greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 32% from 2014 levels. The Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy report lays out the pathways and strategies that will guide the MIT administration in meeting or surpassing MIT's greenhouse gas emission reduction goal.

Fast Forward MIT Campus Commitments

Working hand in hand, the Office of the Vice President of Campus Services and Stewardship and the Office of Sustainability are working to organize and activate the campus in order to implement the Fast Forward Climate Action Plan commitments outlined. The campus commitments range from the strategic to the tactical and collectively strengthen our foundation for a net zero future. 

A Plan for Climate Action

MIT's Plan for Action on Climate Change - released in October 2015 and updated in April 2016 - outlines steps MIT will take to act on climate change over the next five years in five key areas of climate action.

Additional MIT Initiatives

MITOS is part of a community of departments, labs, and centers working toward elements of a sustainable campus and globe. Featured below are a few initiatives from across campus.

climate action
Climate Action

The Plan for Action on Climate Change embodies the fundamental agreement across the MIT community that the problem of climate change, demands society’s urgent attention, and that MIT has a particular responsibility to lead. 

climate x
Climate X

An online space where people from the MIT community can share their knowledge and ideas about climate change with the outside world.

Environment & Sustainability Minor

Developed by the Environmental Solutions Initiative, the proposed minor is designed to address both people and the planet in an integrated manner. 

Climate Modeling Initiative

The Climate Modeling Initiative is a collaboration between scientists at MIT, coordinated by the Center for Global Change Science, to develop a modeling infrastructure for the study of the atmosphere, ocean and climate of the Earth.

Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Assessing Global Change

Independent, integrative assessments by the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change aid decision-makers in confronting multiple, interwoven challenges.

Climate CoLab
Climate CoLab

The goal of the Climate CoLab is to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change.

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Key Climate Partners

MITOS works in close collaboration with the Department of Facilities, which leads our efforts in increasing energy efficiency and powering our campus.

The Office of Campus Planning supports the MIT mission by serving as stewards of the evolving physical campus and providing services that guide and inform campus strategy and transformation. Planning for climate resiliency and a low-carbon campus are essential components.

The Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) channels MIT's unique culture and enormous capacity from across the Institute to create solutions to today’s environmental challenges through diverse activities in education, research, and convening.

In our climate work, EHS is a key partner in developing our annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory and a key resource for lab-related sustainability work.