Sustainability Working Groups

The first report of the Sustainability Working Groups released November 2015

In November 2015, the MIT Office of Sustainability released the first set of recommendations, generated by the 2014-2015 Sustainability Working Groups, which address the following topics: building design and construction; stormwater and land management; materials management; and green labs.

Click on the image below to go to the Report page & find out more

Introducing the Sustainability Working Groups

The MIT Office of Sustainability facilitates working groups that examine and reimagine the campus and its systems. Working groups are organized around topics related to the sustainability of the built environment, the natural systems on which the Institute relies (air, water and land), as well as the communities of people who make up the MIT. The findings and recommendations generated by these Working Groups seek to set a strong foundation for the rigorous and innovative integration of sustainability principles across the Institute. The MIT Sustainability Task Force reviews final working group recommendations for further action and endorsement. Through this process, the Office seeks to inspire the MIT community to reframe the decisions we make everyday about buildings, transportation, energy, water, and materials as powerful opportunities to positively impact the campus, city and the world. To see a complete list of working groups and committees working across the Institute on campus sustainability issues, click here.

SustainabilityConnect 2015 and beyond

In March 2015, SustainabilityConnect 2015 convened the staff, faculty, and administrative sponsors supporting eight working groups and committees tasked with developing recommendations on campus sustainability, including the Climate Change Conversation - the first event of its kind at MIT. This forum combined presentations from topical experts with concrete working sessions, in order to set a foundation for the development of recommendations in the spring. Stay tuned as the Office of Sustainability develops SustainabilityConnect 2016 for the spring.

Next Generation Thinking

The working groups are poised to reimagine MIT as a model sustainable campus and to propose the next generation of solutions for the 21st century. To understand how to shrink the gap between current limits and innovative future solutions, the Office will guide working groups through a process of recognizing the complexity and interconnectedness of systems. From there, working groups will be able to recommend strategies that are equally interconnected and advanced.  For instance:

  • Instead of simply asking: can we increase our recycling rate? We might also explore: How might the principles of “sharing economy” models (i.e. mechanisms for sharing human and physical resources) transform our purchasing, work, and waste cultures at MIT?
  • Beyond asking: can we build buildings that save energy and water? We can push our thinking further and explore: how can our buildings use less but also generate and restore resources. How might our buildings operate efficiently, generate their own electric, treat its water, and grow its own food?

MIT is well positioned to excel in a next generation approach to campus sustainability given its strong administration and collaborative fabric of researchers, entrepreneurs, and inventors working on the cutting edge of sustainability science, technology, and policy.


The working group process begins with an analysis of current conditions related to the priority area at hand. After revisiting current practices, each group will explore how our peer institutions, the private sector, and leading cities are applying sustainable strategies across each of these areas.

Based on an analysis of our systems and a comprehensive examination of best practices and case studies, each working group will develop and deliver a set of innovative, research-based recommendations for how to align campus operations across rigorous sustainability principles. Additionally, the working groups will identify areas of learning and research collaboration with faculty, staff, and students to support MIT as a living laboratory that advances excellence in sustainability. At key points during the process, working groups will collaborate and share information across priority areas to ensure a set of integrated solutions.

MIT Working Groups and Committees related to Campus Sustainability

The following working groups and committees are currently operating (unless otherwise noted) throughout campus, administered at both the Institute and department-level, as indicated below.

  1. Campus Climate Conversation (Institute) (concluded in Summer 2014)
  2. Transportation and Parking Committee (Institute)
  3. Design Standards Working Group (MIT Facilities)
  4. Net Zero Working Group (Office of Sustainability)
  5. Sustainable Design and Construction Working Group (Office of Sustainability) (concluded in Summer 2014)
  6. Green Labs Working Group (Office of Sustainability) (concluded in Summer 2014)
  7. Materials Management Working Group (Office of Sustainability) (concluded in Summer 2014)
  8. Stormwater and Land Management Working Group (Office of Sustainability) (concluded in Summer 2014)
  9. Student Leadership
  10. Sustainability Data Aanalytics
  11. Climate Vulnerability & Mitigation