MIT staff for sustainability.
Our commitment to sustainability is guided by scientific research that shows that efforts to meet the needs of an ever-increasing global population are undermining the natural environment’s essential life-support systems. As an Institute, we have great capacity to tackle this challenge and to find and test solutions. But we know we must work across departments, neighborhoods, and political boundaries to make this happen.
At MITOS, we are tapping into the collective intelligence of staff, faculty, and student partners across MIT and the broader community to study current conditions, craft solutions and analyze impacts related to sustainability and climate change. We do this by facilitating working groups and task forces around specific subject areas; participating on committees within the City of Cambridge and Boston; hosting meetings and conferences for audiences local and global; and building networks with partners across the region and world.
Learn more about the networks and groups on campus, city-wide, and around the region and globe.
MITOS Vision for Networks and Strategic Partnerships
To engage diverse networks to learn and share knowledge and perspectives to create better solutions for sustainability. To build and strengthen the capacity of our communities to enable change towards a just, equitable, safe, and sustainable future.
When climate scientists, transportation experts, and researchers work with staff and the broader community – each bringing their own backgrounds and expertise – new ideas emerge and have the momentum to succeed. From the Undergraduate Association’s Committee on Sustainability to the Working Green Committee, such campus partnerships and strategic collaborations inspire and inform MIT’s efforts to create a more sustainable campus.
In addition to facilitating working groups and task forces, MITOS also organizes events like the annual Sustainability Connect meeting, which convenes MIT committees, groups, and thinkers involved in creating next generation campus sustainability programs. Learn more below.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn and get involved. Start by joining a group.
MIT Sloan School of Management Sustainability Summit - an annual student-run conference
Outdoor recreation club for students, staff, alumni, and faculty from MIT and greater academic community
The following groups and departments are just a sampling of the campus departments and initiatives that partner on sustainability.
MIT Sustainable Design Lab–Building Technology Program, Department of Architecture
The challenges of sustainability – from bike infrastructure to climate resiliency – do not end at our campus’ boundaries. Meanwhile, the intellectual pool of problem solvers in the Boston and Cambridge region is rich and diverse. As an urban campus that stretches along the banks of the Charles, we seek to leverage MIT’s unique potential to serve as a partner and as a physical test bed for urban solutions to climate change.
The cities of Cambridge and Boston have a long history of coming together with partners from higher education, business, industry, and the nonprofit community to advance leading-edge climate and sustainability initiatives like the Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future, the Net Zero Action Plan, the Kendall Square Ecodistrict, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, as well as a broad range of transportation, waste management, and climate vulnerability efforts. Find out more about our collective efforts below.
Working together on groups and committees
Members of the MITOS team serve on a number of groups and committees in partnership with the Cities of Cambridge and Boston, including:
As part of its climate action strategy, MIT seeks to advance the development of renewable energy systems off-site that contribute to the campus’ climate action goals, as well as drive research, education, and collaboration.
MIT serves on the City of Cambridge Climate Protection Action Committee (CPAC) as a key avenue for ensuring continued alignment of campus climate activities with City-wide initiatives. The Committee membership is composed of community members who take an active interest in climate change issues in Cambridge and who live or work in Cambridge.
The Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future strives to create a more healthy, livable and sustainable Cambridge community by addressing global environmental challenges together. The City of Cambridge, Harvard University, and MIT founded the Cambridge Compact in 2013 and has 20 members comprising building owners and operators in Cambridge along with several strategic non-profit organizations.
The Higher Education Working Group of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission represents the unique constituency of large research and residential campuses in Boston and neighboring cities including Cambridge. Colleges and universities have a significant footprint in the greater Boston area, as well as a particular set of sustainability challenges.
In December 2013, the City of Cambridge created the “Getting to Net Zero Task Force” charged with advancing the goal of putting Cambridge on the trajectory towards becoming a “net zero community,” with focus on carbon emissions from building operations. This includes reducing energy use intensity of buildings and taking advantage of opportunities to harvest energy from renewable sources.
MITOS recognizes that the underlying challenges of sustainability are global – and require deep collaboration with regional, national, and global partners. The campus itself—while embedded in a distinct, urban community– is a truly global institution, educating, hosting, and employing thousands of international scholars, staff, and faculty.
Connecting to communities of problem solvers across the Northeast and globe
MITOS actively participates in networks around the region and globe – working together on shared issues ranging from climate resiliency strategies to data and metrics. Read about the groups below.
The Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC)
NECSC was established in October 2004 to support sustainability officers in advancing education about and demonstration of sustainable systems on university campuses in the northeast and maritime region of the US and Canada.
Ivy Plus Sustainability Working Group
The Ivy Plus Sustainability working group is committed to the on-going exchange of campus sustainability solutions common to all of our campuses. Participants agreed that a unified effort on the part of the leading institutions of higher education to respond to one of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change, is essential. The Ivy Plus group is faced with the opportunity and responsibility to develop cutting edge model operations, engage top scholars and educate the future leaders on issues of sustainable development and climate change. The group was initially convened in 2007 and continues to meet on an annual basis at one of the participating institutions:
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Duke University
- Georgetown University
- Harvard University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- The University of Chicago
- University of Pennsylvania
The International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN)
MIT is an active member of the ISCN, working with our peers across the globe to devise and open source solutions for campus sustainability. ISCN is a global forum supporting leading colleges, universities, and corporate campuses in the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable campus operations and integrating sustainability in research and teaching.
Sustainability Fellows Exchange
Through the ISCN/MIT Sustainability Fellows Exchange, participants are able to develop a deeper understanding of one another’s sustainability efforts, challenges, opportunities, and visions at their respective institutions through a comprehensive, on-campus experience. Exchange programs may be tailored to meet the needs of participating institutions but often include a combination of topic specific meetings with staff throughout MIT, tours of the campus and the power plant, and extensive time with members of the MIT Office of the Sustainability along with opportunities to connect with other area universities. The work of the exchange continues after the on-campus visit through communication and other means fitting to the partnership.
MIT/PUCP Fellows Exchange
A recently completed Sustainability Fellows Exchange between MIT and Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Peru (PUCP) featured discussion of shared challenges and opportunities, and presentations both at MIT and the Encuentro Campus Sostenible at Universidad de San Buenaventura Cali - Colombia. Ideas from the exchange aided in the formalization of plans to launch an Office of Sustainability at PUCP in 2020. This exchange was also part of the development of an ISCN Latin America network to advance campus sustainability throughout the Americas by understanding what can be gained via cross cultural exchanges and support a roadmap for Office of Sustainability implementation among ISCN university members in Latin America region based on the success of PUCP.
To learn more about the Sustainability Fellows Exchange at MIT and share how your institution might benefit, please send an email explaining the interest of your university and purpose for the visit to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alumni interest and involvement in sustainability work is as diverse as the MIT alumni population itself. A number of alumni work in sustainability at nonprofits, startups, corporations, universities, and other public institutions, while others are advocates for living more sustainably. More still have an interest in supporting a more sustainable MIT. With the creation of MIT’s environment and sustainability minor, the number of MIT alumni in this space will only continue to grow. Engaging alumni is an important facet of the work of the Office of Sustainability (MITOS). Alumni are uniquely positioned to work in support of MITOS's mission of transforming MIT into a powerful model for sustainability and sharing those lessons learned in hopes of making a better world.
To learn more about the office and how you can engage with it, please read on.
What is the mission of the Office of Sustainability?
The MIT Office of Sustainability (MITOS) was established in 2013 under the Executive Vice President and Treasurer's Office to integrate sustainability across all levels of our campus by engaging the collective brainpower of our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and partners. We have set out to ensure that sustainability is a critical part of MIT’s standard operating procedures and is fully integrated into the working, research, teaching, social and cultural spheres of our campus.
Our mission is to transform MIT into a powerful model that generates new and proven ways of responding to the unprecedented challenges of a changing planet via operational excellence, education, research and innovation on our campus.
What is MIT doing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions?
MITOS works closely with the Department of Facilities and other partners to track performance and publicly report on progress towards reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions, working in close collaboration with Facilities to identify and develop mitigation measures across campus. One outcome of these collaborative efforts is significant efficiency gains from MIT’s updated Central Utilities Plant as well as new complementary approaches to scale-up energy efficiency gains in buildings. Examples of these scaled up efforts include testing artificial intelligence to optimize building control systems, wholesale mechanical systems, changes in labs to reduce air change rates, and requirements creating a more efficient, and comfortable work environment.
These tracking, reporting, planning, and mitigation efforts enable MIT to better understand our direct contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, inform our carbon reduction strategies, and measure progress over time against the Institute’s previous commitment to a 32% reduction in campus emissions by 2030. Since 2014, MIT has reduced its net emissions by a total of 24% towards this 32% goal, taking into account the purchase of solar power from Summit Farms. This positive progress to date establishes a strong foundation for meeting MIT’s new goals of a net-zero campus by 2026 and elimination of direct campus emissions by 2050. This experience to date will help inform the necessary new and expanded strategies needed to reach net zero and zero carbon emission goals. You can see the most up to date progress and strategies here.
Can someone from the Office of Sustainability speak at my alumni event?
As scheduling and events allow, members from the Office of Sustainability may be available for webinars or local speaking events. For more information, please email: email@example.com
How can I support the Office of Sustainability?
The Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT faculty and principal investigators (PIs) to partner with operational experts to leverage to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management, and design. The seed funds enable teams of students, faculty, and researchers to explore the physical facility and social context in which they are working, living and learning at MIT. The initial fund was made possible through a generous gift from Malcom M. Strandberg. You can support this fund directly here.
How can alumni stay informed of the work of the Office of Sustainability?
Alumni can subscribe to our monthly newsletter here to stay up to date on projects, research, events, reports, and more related to the work of the Office of Sustainability. For an update on all sustainability work across campus, you can visit the news section of the Office of Sustainability website here. You can also find up to date reports from working groups, researchers, and faculty in our Resource Library. Additionally, you find the Office of Sustainability Twitter and follow the MIT Energy, Environment & Sustainability Network for alumni on Facebook.
I’m an alumni vendor, how do I share my product or idea with you?
The Office of Sustainability does not work directly with vendors. Operational decisions related to vendors are made outside of the Office of Sustainability. If you have a product or idea you would like to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will send to the appropriate people. Should there be interest, a representative within the MIT community will be in touch. We do not respond to individual requests for meetings.
Institute-level Initiatives and Offices
MIT Department of Facilities
MIT Energy Initiative
MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative
Academic and Research Entities
Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab
City Science group (MIT Media Lab)
Climate CoLab (MIT Center for Collective Intelligence)
Concrete Sustainability Hub (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
D-Lab (Edgerton Center)
Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research
MIT Community Innovators Lab (Department of Urban Studies and Planning)
MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment (Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics)
MIT Sea Grant Program
MIT Sustainable Design Lab (Building Technology Program, Department of Architecture)
Open Agriculture Initiative (MIT Media Lab)
Sloan Sustainability Initiative
Transportation@MIT (School of Engineering)
Staff Sustainability Initiatives
Student Sustainability Initiatives
Undergraduate Association Committee on Sustainability
Graduate Student Council Sustainability Subcommittee
MIT Energy Club
MIT Food and Agriculture Club
MIT Sustainability Summit
MIT Water Club