Climate

Glacier
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 has catalyzed MIT research, teaching, and campus operations to accelerate the Institute’s contributions. Since 2014, campus greenhouse gas emissions decreased sixteen percent, including the impact from MIT's purchase of large-scale solar power, which puts MIT on track towards our ambitious goal of reducing emissions at least 32% by 2030.  Such actions aim to protect our campus – and the world – from the extraordinary risks associated with rising global temperatures.

Strategies

Here are just a few of the climate strategies we’re advancing:

  • developing a roadmap to achieve our minimum target of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions at least 32% below 2014 levels by 2030

  • reducing the overall energy use on campus

  • reducing the use of fossil fuels in campus buildings and vehicles

  • increasing the use of renewable energy sources to meet campus needs 

  • minimizing the release of “fugitive” gases from campus operations such as specialty research gases in laboratory buildings.

  • implementing the concept of using the campus as a kind of “living laboratory” to explore innovative and scalable ways of tackling the daunting challenges of climate change, and to use that living laboratory to enhance the educational experience of MIT’s students and provide new hands-on teaching opportunities for its faculty.

  • developing resiliency strategies that integrate mitigation and adaptation and strengthen interconnections among researchers working in human health, biodiversity, water, energy, land use, urban planning, architecture, and other relevant disciplines

MITOS Focus Areas

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

MIT dome
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.  The Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy lays out the pathways and strategies that will guide the MIT administration in meeting or surpassing MIT's greenhouse gas emission reduction goal.

MIT Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy
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. A two-page summary of progress through 2017 is also available.

Leaf
Campus Greenhouse Gas Inventory

MIT measures campus emissions that contribute to climate change. The greenhouse gas inventory includes emissions for fiscal years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 in three areas: building energy use, fugitive gases, and campus-owned vehicles.

Massachusetts
Climate Resiliency

MITOS is working with its research and operational partners to advance campus vulnerability and resiliency planning and is working with neighboring universities and institutions to collectively address shared, regional infrastructure vulnerabilities.

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.

ESI
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. 

MIT CGCS
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.