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Environmental Virtual Campus site is a big hit

MIT's Environmental Virtual Campus (EVC), an award-winning web-based tool designed to aid colleges' compliance with federal environmental regulations and implement "green" practices, has attracted more than 10,000 visitors from 71 countries since it went public six months ago.

The EVC, free to users at, provides information about campuses' environmental compliance and green practices, including recycling, pollution prevention and energy savings. The tool allows users to navigate a virtual campus and identify the regulatory requirements and best management practices applicable to nine generic areas on a typical campus that are subject to federal environmental regulation.

The areas featured include an arts/theater facility, a cafeteria, a dormitory, drains and sewers, a grounds/vehicles maintenance facility, a laboratory, a medical area, a power plant and a waste storage facility. By organizing the information by campus area or department, the EVC allows users to focus on those issues and regulations most applicable to them.

"Our biggest surprise has been the amount of international traffic," said James T. Curtis, MIT's EVC project leader and an officer in MIT's Environment, Health and Safety office (EHS). "The site was created with an American audience in mind, with its focus on U.S. laws and regulations, but the data indicate that we have hosted visitors from every continent and many areas of the world. This is truly a remarkable result and clearly demonstrates the power of the Internet to foster environmental awareness."

The Environmental Virtual Campus was developed by the EHS with assistance from Cambridge-based Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. and Myriad Inc. of Boston. The EVC is a Supplemental Environmental Project that stemmed from an enforcement action brought by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Justice Department as part of the EPA's wide-ranging college and university initiative. MIT has gone beyond what is required in the settlement to demonstrate that its long-held commitment to environmental research and teaching applies equally to MIT's operations.

"MIT intends the EVC to be a reflection of MIT's commitment to environmental education, innovation and stewardship," said Jamie Lewis Keith, MIT's managing director for environmental programs and senior counsel, in accepting the Environmental Business Council of New England's 2003 Achievement Award in Environmental Education for the EVC.

The site is hosted by the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence, a consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to improving their campuses' environmental performance through environmental professional networking, information exchange, the development of professional resources and tools, and the advancement of innovative regulatory models.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 3, 2003.

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