Setting a course for campus sustainability at MIT

December 11, 2018

To the members of the MIT community:

Today we are excited to share the next phase of work for the Campus Sustainability Task Force. The Task Force report “Pathway to Sustainability Leadership by MIT: Incubation, Transformation, and Mobilization” (also known as Pathway to Sustainability Leadership), shared on April 5, 2018, provided a vision and comprehensive framework for MIT’s commitment to campus sustainability, now and into the future. The report underscored the magnitude of the sustainability challenge, and called on MIT to act boldly and become an organizational standard-bearer for a sustainable future.

On June 1, 2018, 125 MIT faculty, staff, and students assembled for an implementation design forum to debate and formulate ways to realize that vision through concrete actions and evaluation of outcomes. Co-sponsored by the Campus Sustainability Task Force and the MIT Office of Sustainability, with input from the Environmental Solutions Initiative, Terrascope, the Undergraduate Association Sustainability Committee, and the Graduate Student Council Sustainability Committee, the forum generated many innovative ideas and outlined conditions to ensure success as we pursue commitments described in the Pathway to Sustainability Leadership report.

We want to share with you today these conditions for success that, through the appropriate channels, we will work to ensure:

  1. Oversight: We will position the MIT Office of Sustainability to provide institutional guidance and strategy to ensure the implementation of the Pathway to Sustainability Leadership commitments.
  2. Governance: We have appointed a Sustainability Leadership Steering Committee of faculty and staff to begin their work in early 2019. That group will be led by Campus Sustainability Task Force co-chairs Professor Andrea Campbell and Julie Newman to support implementation by making recommendations, reviewing progress, and determining priorities as sustainability benchmarks are set and achieved.
  3. Availability of and Access to Data: The Office of Sustainability will continue to work with the MIT community to expand the Sustainability DataPool, which hosts MIT-specific data and is accessible to all members of our community, to catalyze sustainability decision making and research.
  4. Visibility: We will design and launch an MIT Sustainability communication and visibility campaign to enable all members of the community, as well as campus visitors and MIT alumni, to gain a deeper understanding of our goals and successes.

At the annual Sustainability Connect event on May 3, 2019, the Office of Sustainability will host an open forum to discuss and debate progress to date, and we, along with the Task Force co-chairs and Sustainability Leadership Steering Committee, welcome your continued participation; stay tuned for additional details. We hope that many of you will work with us to ensure the Institute’s success in this endeavor to help make a better world by testing and sharing our ideas to create a more sustainable campus.

Sincerely,

Martin A. Schmidt
Israel Ruiz