Skip to content ↓

MIT symposium charts future of 'green' cities

The MIT School of Architecture and Planning and the Boston Society of Architects are staging the first of a pair of symposia featuring leading urbanists from around the world discussing challenges facing the modern city in a period of global climate change.

Held at MIT's Tang Center, the March 28 symposium is focusing on "Architecture for the Green City." A second symposium, on June 9--also at the Tang Center--will focus on "Cities and Systems: Strategies for the Future." Speakers for both include architects, engineers, urban and regional planners, political leaders and specialists in urban policy, public health, new technologies and transportation.
The symposia, titled "Mass Impact - Cities and Climate Change," were motivated by the fact that while cities cover only 2 percent of the world's surface, they accommodate half the world's population and consume three-quarters of its resources. In their density and compactness, they also present a substantial opportunity for easing the causes and effects of global warming.

The goal of the symposia was to establish an agenda for Boston, informed by current best practices, that will help it become an example-to-follow as a 21st century sustainable city. It is already well on its way, organizers say. Boston is the first city in the nation to adopt LEED Gold as an equivalent standard in its zoning ordinance for all major new construction efforts, and Mayor Thomas Menino has committed to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He has also committed to purchasing at least 15 percent of the city's municipal power from renewable sources by 2012.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with 11 other northeastern states to reduce CO2 emissions from all power plants to 1990 levels by 2014. And Gov. Deval Patrick has committed the Commonwealth to a 35 percent reduction in energy use by all state-owned buildings by 2020.

Based on those precedents and on the region's remarkable resources--academic, medical and research institutions and leading practitioners in architecture, urban design, energy systems, public health and transportation engineering--the symposium organizers believe that Boston is well-positioned to set new standards for the environmental, economic and social sustainability of cities in a global economy.

Both symposia include a feature called Ten Slides/Ten Minutes, in which professionals associated with the built environment present projects or research exploring aspects of the discussion topics. The keynote address at the March symposium is being given by Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and former governor of the country's Parana province; keynote speaker for the June meeting will be Nicky Gavron, deputy mayor of London from 2004-2008.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Andrew Scott, one of the organizers, at

Related Links

Related Topics

More MIT News