SustainabilityConnect 2016 brings MIT together around big ideas for campus and the globe

May 19, 2016

SustainabilityConnect 2016, the second annual conference sponsored by MIT?s Office of Sustainability, embraced the local and the global in equal measure. Held on May 9 in the newly renovated Building E52, the conference drew faculty, students and staff from across the Institute and addressed issues ranging from rising sea levels to greenhouse gas emissions, from green labs to an MIT roof study.

An overarching message for the day was that achieving sustainability requires both commitment and innovation. Locally, the speakers said, MIT is creating a next-generation sustainability platform, an open data hub to help make informed decisions, and a living laboratory to experiment with solutions.

On a larger scale, they observed, MIT needs to model forward-thinking strategies and share lessons learned as widely as possible. Collaboration is key: with colleagues, researchers, entrepreneurs, inventors, industry, community partners, and experts at other universities.

As Julie Newman, Director of the MIT Office of Sustainability, noted in her opening remarks, MIT has already taken some important steps in the year since the first SustainabilityConnect conference was held:

First, the Office of Sustainability formalized its framework to consider the role of the individual, the campus, the city, and the globe. It has committed to transforming MIT into a powerful model that generates new and proven ways of responding to the challenges of a changing climate through operational excellence, education, research, and innovation on campus.

Second, in October 2015, MIT published its Plan for Action on Climate Change, which included MIT?s first public greenhouse gas goal, to reduce its emissions by at least 32 percent below 2014 levels by 2030. This goal was later amended to serve as a starting point while MIT seeks carbon neutrality as soon as possible. And third, in November 2015, the MIT Campus Sustainability Working Groups released their collective recommendations, setting foundational strategies for sustainable design and construction, materials management, storm water and land management, and green labs.

Read the full article on the MIT News website.