MIT’s Commitment to Sustainability

Updated November 13, 2012

MIT is committed to embodying excellence.  As an institution deeply engaged in intellectual endeavors related to environment, energy, and sustainability issues, MIT both inspires and is inspired by our many stakeholders - friends, colleagues at other institutions, and our entire community of faculty, students, staff, and alumni.  The leadership we demonstrate in environment, energy, and sustainability related teaching and research carries over into our approach to managing our campus and operations.  We are supported in these efforts by vast reserves of intellectual capital that enrich and inform our commitment to stewardship of the environment, and to the health and safety of our community.  MIT leverages these resources in numerous ways – from high-level administrative groups to broad-based campus initiatives and far-reaching research and educational collaborations. 

In 2001, the Academic Council approved a comprehensive Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Policy that commits MIT to embracing strong environmental stewardship and pollution prevention – foundations for sustainability. This policy establishes a set of guiding principles, which help shape and set a foundation for embracing operational practices that are greener, cleaner, and more sustainable. 

In January 2010, President Hockfield joined 25 of her national and international counterparts in signing the World Economic Forum's Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) Sustainable Campus Charter.  The Charter reaffirms MIT's commitment to embrace sustainable development principles that guide campus operations towards a more energy-efficient and sustainable future.  This commitment will be a guiding feature in many aspects of our campus development and we look forward to engaging the broad MIT community in shaping our progress. In addition, the Charter provides an additional platform to engage with and share our experience with many international peer institutions on the important issues surrounding campus sustainability. MIT's second annual progress report on the Sustainable Campus Charter is now available. Our past 2010 report is available here

Quick Links: A summary of key initiatives is available in our 2012 Campus Energy Update report, and highlighted in our Acting on Our Committment pages. Additional project summaries can be found at MIT Energy Initiative Campus Energy Activities, and Department of Facilities. Learn more about our bold efficiency program with NSTAR MIT Effiency Forward. A compilation of on-campus news stories about our sustainability work is also available.

Mission

MIT seeks to be a leader in integrating principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship into all aspects of MIT’s facilities, activities and operations, in a manner that enhances the Institute’s core education and research mission. MIT works to continually advance this mission through broad participation of faculty, students, and staff. 

Goals

In 2001, MIT adopted a set of long-range environmental goals designed to promote campus sustainability:

  • Conserve energy through reduced consumption and efficiency measures
  • Reduce campus air emissions of greenhouse gases and regulated pollutants, including those from transportation
  • Reduce consumption, including office and laboratory supplies and water
  • Reduce waste through increased conservation and increased recycling rates;
  • Increase the use of recycled-content products;
  • Reduce the volume of toxicity of our hazardous waste streams;
  • Improve our indoor environment, including indoor air quality and the comfort and productivity of our work and living spaces, by considering sustainability in our design, operations, and maintenance policies;
  • Improve the urban environment, including landscape quality and the site and pedestrian environment;
  • Educate our students in sustainable concepts so that they may apply them in their professions;
  • Support community-wide and regional sustainability efforts;
  • Construct and renovate campus buildings to a high level of sustainable design.

Our Approach to Advance Sustainability

Updated December 03, 2013

Setting the Course

MIT continually strives to demonstrate a high level of commitment to sustainable business, research, and educational practices.  This commitment begins at the highest administrative levels and is evident in all aspects of our community.  Faculty, staff, and students work in collaboration to define the goals and strategies we follow to act upon our shared commitment to sustainability.  The Institute is united around several critical objectives, which include:

  • Honoring our legacy of leadership in science, technology, and innovative problem solving;
  • Promoting research, academic, administrative, operational, and individual activities to advance MIT’s environmental standards, which demonstrate stewardship and extend well beyond compliance with local, state, and federal regulations;
  • Protecting our environment and the welfare or our community.

An Institute-wide Approach

  • MIT has taken a decentralized and institute-wide approach to sustainability by embedding environmentally sound practices in campus operations with a goal of coordinating, empowering, and elevating the various players and departments.  To maximize the impact of this approach, the Office of Sustainability, which reports to the Executive Vice President and Treasurer, now serves as a guiding and enabling unit that develops new initiatives, and unifies Institute-wide initiatives, while allowing MIT’s rich and diverse community to develop and demonstrate its own contributions and approaches to sustainability.  The Office of Sustainability partners with campus departments, including Facilities, Housing, Campus Dining, and IS&T and many others to support a vibrant campus sustainability community. 
  • The Office of Sustainability was established to collaboratively develop, strengthen, and realize MIT’s institutional commitments to fundamentally integrate principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship into all aspects of MIT’s facilities, activities and operations, in a manner that enhances the Institute’s core education and research mission. The Office of Sustainability is led by Director Julie Newman and Deputy Director Steven Lanou. 

Integration with our Academic Mission

MIT’s core mission is to advance knowledge through education and research.  The Office of Sustainability works to integrate research and learning opportunities into our campus sustainability activities by partnering with our students and faculty. Students and faculty study MIT’s campus as a living, learning laboratory, where they test new skills and sustainable solutions.  Through the integration of campus sustainability and education, students and faculty work together to discover better solutions for energy andenvironmental problems on and off campus. Opportunities for student and faculty engagement are outlined in the Education and Learning section.

  • The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), established in September 2006, is an Institute-wide initiative designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today's energy systems.  The MITEI program includes research, education, campus energy management, and outreach activities that cover all areas of energy supply and demand, security, and environmental impact.  MITEI serves as an integrating platform where sustainability programs and academic departments work as synergistic partners. 
  • MIT has seized the many opportunities available to engage faculty and students in tackling energy and environmental problems and their solutions.  MIT has successfully integrated sustainability into project-based classes, undergrad research opportunities, and undergraduate and graduate theses.  The Campus Energy Task Force, established by MITEI has representatives from all 5 schools and functions as a coordinating party for campus research on greenhouse gas and energy reductions. 

Acting on Our Commitment

Updated March 19, 2013

MIT's sustainability initiatives demonstrate our commitment to exceed regulatory obligations and forge new approaches to advance campus sustainability through focused, broad-based activities.  MIT's Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Policy establishes a set of guiding principles, which help shape and set a foundation for embracing operational practices that greener, cleaner, and more sustainable. The EHS Headquarters Office, through its Sustainability Program, guides these activities, which reflect the interests and concerns of a broad spectrum of the MIT community - from undergraduates and administrators to senior faculty.  The initiatives presented here represent some of the proactive steps MIT is taking to manage the consumption of resources within our community and reduce our impact on the environment.  Interested individuals can also learn how they can get involved directly.

Learn more about what MIT is doing on campus by clicking on the topic areas below.

Some recent accomplishments are highlighted in our Campus Energy Update. Our FY2011 Campus Energy Update is available here.

Campus Energy update PDF

Get Involved

Updated May 14, 2013
  • Green Ambassadors
    • MIT began the Green Ambassadors Program in 2009 to help individual faculty, staff, and students bring sustainable change to the MIT campus and make MIT a model for sustainable action.  The program focuses on engaging the community on a range of sustainability issues including energy and resource conservation, green purchasing, and sustainable transportation.  The program currently includes over 200 volunteers that educate the campus and promote MIT’s environmental initiatives with the help of the Campus Energy Task Force. 

 

 

Sustainability Contacts

Updated February 28, 2014
  • Dept. of Facilities Systems Engineering Group
    • Peter Cooper, Manager, Sustainability
      Engineering & Utility Planning
  • Dept. of Facilities Recycling Program
  • Dept. of Facilities Parking and Transportation
  • Campus Dining
    • Mike Myers, Assistant Director

Campus Sustainability