A two page informational handout on MIT's progress towards the GHG goal.
MIT's greenhouse gas inventory
Each year, MIT measures the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operation of our campus to better understand our direct contribution to the heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere – the gases contributing to global climate change. This basis informs our carbon reduction strategies and allows for tracking progress over time.
In 2021, MIT’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions remained relatively flat, with emissions rising approximately 2% from 2020 levels. This slight increase was driven in part by the addition of new buildings and pandemic-related building safety measures that ultimately required higher energy consumption. However, these higher emissions were offset through building-level energy efficiency investments, operational efficiency of the Central Utilities Plant (CUP), and improvements in the New England regional electricity grid. Since 2014, MIT has reduced its net emissions by approximately 22%. Of that net reduction achieved to date, approximately 13% is attributed to our solar power purchase agreement, 8% to on-campus mitigation measures, and less than 1% to carbon improvements to the local electricity grid. This sets MIT on the path toward the newly announced 2026 goal of net-zero emissions.
MIT Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions*
*Net-zero emissions goal and trend line is inclusive of off campus offsets including PPA.
Explore each year of MIT’s GHG Inventory in detail via the tabbed pages above. Also check out the resource list below for presentations, data, and handouts as they become available.
MIT published its Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy in 2015, which lays out the pathways and strategies that will guide the MIT administration in meeting or surpassing MIT's greenhouse gas emission reduction goal.
The current inventory includes emissions associated with three primary sources: owned and leased buildings, specialty research and process gases, and campus vehicles. In October 2015, MIT set a goal to use the campus as a “test bed” for climate action, and develop solutions to reduce campus emissions by at least 32 percent by 2030 and aspire toward achieving carbon neutrality as soon as possible.
Scope 3 Emissions
In 2019, the MIT Office of Sustainability (MITOS) expanded upon a multi-year effort to build a preliminary picture of the Institute’s Scope 3, or indirect, GHG emissions. This is done to inform MIT’s total greenhouse gas emissions activities (Scopes 1 + 2 + 3) and explore where strategic opportunities may exist to reduce emissions beyond what MIT is currently tracking. This effort is developing additional emissions data associated with MIT’s purchased goods and services, MIT-sponsored travel, commuting, and capital goods (furniture, fixtures, tools, etc.) using the WRI & WBCSD GHG Protocol for Scope 3 framework.
The Role of Summit Farms Solar Power Purchase
Summit Farms Solar LLC is a solar photovoltaic facility in Currituck County North Carolina, operated by Dominion Energy. MIT has contracted through a long-term power purchase agreement for the purchase of 73% of the electricity produced. MIT has chosen to retire the renewable energy credits associated with the purchase.
The offsets produced by Summit Farms’ clean, emissions-free power are clear and tangible. The solar facility displaces more carbon-intensive sources of energy, in a region where forty percent of its power is generated from coal. In addition to displacing power, the solar farm has helped to facilitate the early retirement of a large coal-fired plant nearby, by providing substitute power to make up for the coal plant’s contractual peak-power delivery obligations. The owners of the coal plant are paying the purchasing partners (that include MIT) to provide substitute capacity as they come offline, making it economically feasible for the coal plant to retire ahead of schedule.