Air Programs

Updated April 14, 2011

The federal government enacted the Clean Air Act in order to protect and enhance the quality of the nation’s air. The key regulatory programs include National Ambient Air Quality Standards, New Source Performance Standards, National Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, Operating Permit Program, and New Source Review Permitting Program.

The Clean Air Act requirements are applicable to any activity at the Institute that might be a source of air emissions, such as boilers, emergency generators, water heaters, space heaters, and parts cleaners. EMP is responsible for assisting individual DLCs with air emission requirements to which they might be subject to, and providing mechanisms to meet those requirements.  EMP also maintains an inventory of all emission sources at the Institute.

On August 7, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)
that requires the state and hence regulated entities to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause global warming by between 10 percent and 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is by far the most ubiquitous GHG.  It is emitted through any use of fossil fuel energy, from driving to heating to computing.  However, there are many other GHG that might be emitted on a regular basis.  Some of these are very significant, despite being released in much lower volumes than CO2, because they trap much more heat per unit of mass.  The power of a GHG to trap heat is measured as a factor of CO2’s heat-trapping power.  This value is referred to as the gas’s global warming potential (GWP).  Other common GHG are methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and various refrigerants are tens, hundreds or thousands of times more powerful than CO2.

Regulated facilities (of which Cambridge campus is one) are registered with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and will be reporting calendar year 2009 CO2 emissions that include emissions from stationary (boilers, generators, etc.) as well as mobile (vehicles, lifts, etc.) sources by April 15, 2010. Starting calendar year 2010 we will be reporting all GHG emissions.

Both EPA and Massachusetts DEP impose significant regulatory requirements on the use and operation of a wide variety of combustion equipment, including boilers and emergency diesel generators. Permits are required by the DEP for many activities, which could result in air emissions. However, the addition of any new sources that might not require a permit must still be tracked by EMP to determine the cumulative or aggregate effect of these emission units over time, and to evaluate the impact of these activities on the status of the MIT's existing Operating Permit.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also requires educational facilities with 1000 or more employees to comply with the Rideshare Regulations, which call for reduction of single-occupancy vehicle trips to campus.  Vehicles emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is associated with significant climate change problem affecting our planet. 

An annual report submitted by MIT includes:

  • The total number of commuters
  • The number of commuters who use public transportation
  • The number of single-occupant commuter vehicles
  • The number of commuters who customarily carpool
  • The number of commuters who customarily vanpool
  • The number of commuters who use other means of transportation
  • The percentage which is single-occupant vehicles
  • The number of van-type vehicles with 8 or more commuters
  • The type of carpool matching program and description
  • The level of participation achieved in the most recent program
  • The types of incentives offered
  • Promotional strategies used

MIT actively encourages its employees to form carpools and vanpools to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips by providing them with preferential parking spaces and reduced parking fees. Also as another trip reduction incentive, MIT currently offers a transit pass subsidy to commuting students, faculty and staff. 

To comply with the Rideshare regulations and assist in providing data that MIT may use in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with our campus, EMP surveys the entire MIT community.  Our next transportation survey is scheduled for October, and we are encouraging everyone to participate.