The Campus Sustainability Task Force is working to shape the vision and plan of action for campus sustainability at MIT. The Task Force, working with the Office of Sustainability, will provide a forum to share the campus sustainability perspectives of the MIT Energy Initiative, MIT Environmental Initiative, and Climate Action at MIT. Its membership is working to engage the MIT community--faculty, students and staff from across the schools and interdisciplinary laboratories--with regard to campus sustainability. It will publish a blueprint for sustainability in the coming months.
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; hosting meetings and conferences for audiences local and global; and building networks with partners across the region and world.
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.
MITOS seeks to engage and empower staff, students, and faculty to inform and shape the future of sustainability on campus, through the facilitation of working groups, task forces, and key events.
Each year, MITOS engages a group of academic and administrative programs to form an "Earth Day Collective" to sponsor small campus-based projects, by providing small grants. The mini grant initiative is meant to fuel student, staff, and faculty teams to develop creative projects on campus that harness their scientific, social, artistic, and technological problem-solving skills. Projects advance climate action, resource-efficiency, sustainable behavior or other innovative sustainability initiatives.
Sustainability Connect is an annual meeting hosted by MITOS for all MIT committees, groups, and thinkers involved in creating game-changing campus sustainability programs at MIT.
In November 2015, the MIT Office of Sustainability (MITOS) released its first set of recommendations, generated by the 2014-2015 Sustainability Working Groups, which addresses the following topics: building design and construction; stormwater and land management; materials management; and green labs.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn and get involved. Start by joining a group.
MIT staff for sustainability.
Undergraduate Association’s (UA) Committee on Sustainability
MIT Graduate Student Council Sustainability Subcommittee
MIT Sloan School of Management Sustainability Summit - an annual student-run conference
MIT student-run Energy Club
MIT Food and Agriculture Collaborative
MIT student-run Water Club
MIT Sloan Net Impact Chapter
Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development (SEID)
MIT Sloan School of Management Policy Forum
MIT Energy Club at Sloan School of Management
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 types of campus collaborations possible.
Environmental Solutions Initiative
MIT Energy Initiative
Oceans at MIT part of MIT Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Sloan School of Management Sustainability Initiative
Climate CoLab part of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Concrete Sustainability Hub in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Changing Places Group, MIT Media Lab
D-Lab, MIT Edgerton Center
Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change
MIT CoLab, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
MIT Sustainable Design Lab–Building Technology Program, Department of Architecture
Transportation at MIT
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.
Stronger working together
Members of the MITOS team serve on a number of groups and committees in partnership with the Cities of Cambridge and Boston, including:
Cambridge Campus Compact for a Sustainable Future
Cambridge Climate Protection Action Committee
Kendall Square Ecodistrict
Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee
Boston Green Ribbon Commission
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 appointed by the City Manager and is composed of community members who take an active interest in climate change issues in Cambridge and who live or work in Cambridge. CPAC is currently serving as an advisory body for the City’s implementation of the Net Zero Action Plan (2015), which aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s built environment.
MIT’s participation through CPAC is also fostering collaboration conversations with MIT’s community and institutional neighbors.
The Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future – through the collaboration of its signatories and community expertise and application of research, innovation, entrepreneurship, and social enterprise – strives to create a more healthy, livable and sustainable Cambridge community by addressing global environmental challenges together.
The City of Cambridge, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded the Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future (Cambridge Compact) in 2013. They viewed the Compact as a city-wide partnership and encouraged non-profit and business leaders in sustainability to join. Now, the Compact has 20 members comprising some of the largest 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, including large-scale energy procurement and management, and resiliency planning for diverse communities of tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff. The intellectual capacity of the higher education sector provides a source of expertise, motivation, and collaboration for the other members of the Green Ribbon Commission, City of Boston and its Climate Action Plan. Through the HEWG, learnings are diffused to surrounding cities, towns, and institutions.
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.
MIT’s Director of Sustainability was a member of the Regulation and Planning Approaches Working Group and contributed to the production of the final report. In June 2015, the City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Net Zero 25-Year Action Plan.
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. These networks include:
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
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.