Sustainability Connect 2017 brings MIT together to balance needs of the present and future

05/27/2017

Third annual conference explores innovation, social justice, and the Institute as a living lab for sustainability.

MIT faculty, staff, and students came together to celebrate the progress of the Institute’s campus sustainability efforts and to put their heads together to brainstorm ways MIT's unique culture of innovation can be further leveraged to test new ideas.

The diverse group gathered on May 8 for Sustainability Connect 2017, the third iteration of the annual conference sponsored by MIT’s Office of Sustainability (MITOS).

Over the past several years, MIT has used its power both as a research institution and living lab to tackle the issue of global climate change. In October 2015, MIT released a five-year Plan for Action on Climate Change, setting goals like reducing campus emissions by at least 32 percent by 2030. In November 2015, the MIT Campus Sustainability Working Groups released their collective recommendations for advancing sustainable design and construction, materials management, and green labs across campus.

“Two years ago, when we launched this event, we challenged ourselves to determine how MIT can be a game-changing force for sustainability in the 21st century,” MITOS director Julie Newman said in her opening remarks. “And I’m pleased to report that in this short period of time we’re at a place where we can point to the transformative efforts that MIT has made.”

It has been a busy year for sustainability at MIT. Newman noted several recent developments including Access MIT, a commuter benefits program for employees to encourage the use of public transportation; Summit Farms, MIT’s landmark solar energy power-purchase agreement with area partners; and the launch of Energize MIT, a digital platform through which MIT faculty, students, and staff can access data about campus energy use.

Deputy Executive Vice President Tony Sharon invited the audience to see new opportunities arising from the work already being done in sustainability and to maintain the momentum.

“We can reinvent the ways we build our buildings and shape our open spaces, rethink the ways we provide energy to the campus, and with the new data analytics in place, we have many opportunities for analysis, critique, and learning,” Sharon said.

Read the full article on MIT News.

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