Living Labs

Discover Living Labs

The MIT Office of Sustainability launched on a platform that utilizes the campus as a test bed and incubator for sustainability in an effort to transform the campus into a powerful model that generates new and proven ways of responding to the challenges of our changing planet.

By leveraging the campus as a test bed for sustainability - faculty, staff, students and researchers alike are able to grapple with sustainability challenges at the local level as they seek to solve for them globally.  Moreover, our staff provide access and insight to these everyday challenges in the process.

MIT has embraced a unique place-based research platform that utilizes the college campus as a test-bed for innovation and the co-production of knowledge. The living lab concept may be thought of as a variant of the experiential learning model that involves concrete experience followed by observation, reflection and the formation of new concepts and testing in new situations.

Click here to learn more about the emerging Living Lab Frameworks at MIT.

Solar panels
Solving for Carbon Neutrality - MIT Class

This course engages a team of multi-disciplinary faculty representing the five schools at MIT to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear upon solving for Carbon Neutrality at MIT.  The course is managed by two co-instructors; Tim Gutowski, Professor Mechanical Engineering, and Julie Newman, Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Director of the Office of Sustainability at MIT. The course content is provided by invited MIT faculty via lectures, readings and discourse, as well as staff experts, responsible for the operational management of MIT, and relevant State and local officials.

Solving for carbon neutrality at MIT requires a deep understanding of technology options, and human behaviors, as well as regional, state and municipal energy production and distribution systems, economic frameworks and policy.  The course is designed for students to consider the local, state, regional and national context of solving for carbon neutrality to inform the development of the pathways they design.  The course leverages the MIT campus as a test bed for understanding climate adaptation and mitigation in this context. Learn More.

Current Course Offering

Additional MIT Initiatives
Cambridge Solar Lab
Cambridge Solar Map

A simulation based technique to predict the amount of electricity yield from arbitrarily placing solar PV's anywhere in the world using the City of Cambridge as an example.

protective safety glasses
Interdisciplinary Approach to Sustainable PPE

United under the Sustainability Incubator Fund, researchers strategize sustainable sourcing solution for crises at the local and global level.

Energy Monitoring set up
Real-Time Energy Monitoring

Device Research Lab and CSAIL. With MIT Green Labs seed funding, the team developed a lab-wide wireless energy monitoring system.

Urban Modeling Interface

UMI is a design environment for architects and urban planners interested in modeling the environmental performance of neighborhoods and cities.

pink flowers growing in a garden box
The Hive Sustainability Garden

A collaborative project between the Office of Sustainability, Undergraduate Association Committee on Sustainability (UA Sustain), and MIT Grounds Services.

five men stand on a building roof in front of water system tank
Recovering Fresh Water from MIT'S CUP

Technology captures water evaporating from cooling towers; prototype installed on MIT’s Central Utility Plant.

Fault Detection

Danielle Dahan received MIT Sustainability Incubator funding to analyze the effectiveness of fault detection and diagnostics systems using the campus as a testbed.

subway train arriving at station
Access MIT

Providing flexible, affordable, and low-carbon commuting choices, while reducing the demand for parking.

Load more
Key Living Lab Partners

The Department of Facilities works directly with researchers to implement sustainability projects on campus

The MIT Transit Lab has been an essential partner, combining research with operational thought-leadership on sustainable commuting options.

Researchers in the Joint Program are actively mapping potential flooding on campus.

Channels MIT’s unique culture to create solutions to environmental challenges through activities in education, research, and convening.

Scales of Impact

The challenges of sustainability are both local and global. Creating transformative solutions requires deep collaboration among community leaders and members on campus, city and global scales.

It starts with you on campus.

We start with you to find solutions at the campus level to serve both the institution's needs as well as to incubate new and big ideas.

you, campus, city, globe