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MIT, NSTAR team up on energy-efficiency program

'MIT Efficiency Forward' aims to cut the Institute's electricity use by 15 percent over three years

In an effort to dramatically cut energy use at one of the country’s premier academic and research institutions, NSTAR and MIT are teaming up to launch the single most aggressive efficiency project in NSTAR history. Dubbed “MIT Efficiency Forward,” the program has a goal of cutting electricity use by 15 percent over three years through innovative programs, substantial student, faculty, and staff engagement, and the piloting of new technologies and approaches at MIT. The long-term partnership is a first-of-its kind for both the Institute and the utility and establishes a new approach for sustainable solutions. In the three-year period, the target energy savings is 34 million kilowatt-hours; that’s equivalent to the amount of electricity used by more than 4,500 Massachusetts homes in a given year.

“What we are launching with MIT is a bold new plan for confronting climate change and a proposal to officially establish energy efficiency as the ‘first fuel’ in Massachusetts,” said Tom May, NSTAR Chairman, President and CEO. “Aggressive goals require aggressive action, and MIT is demonstrating its leadership in campus sustainability once again. They are taking advantage of every energy-saving tool NSTAR has available and I’m confident the results will be a model — and an inspiration — for all other customers to follow.”

Energy efficiency is one of several key strategies being implemented at MIT to demonstrate leading approaches for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions both locally and globally. The Institute has already begun to utilize combined heat and power generation, sustainable design and construction, and significant commuter-benefit programs, among other strategies. NSTAR predicts that over the three years, MIT Efficiency Forward will provide MIT with savings over the lifetime of the projects completed in excess of $50 million through a combination of sustainable new construction, major renovations, and both electric and gas incentive programs to promote new synergies. The company will work with MIT to conduct heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical, and lab systems improvements, and lighting fixture and control upgrades, in addition to other steps.

“MIT Efficiency Forward will capitalize on one of MIT’s core strengths: the passion of our faculty, staff and students to tackle the world’s most challenging problems,” said MIT President Susan Hockfield. “Through this exciting new program, right here on the MIT campus, we will pursue one of the major opportunities to reduce energy consumption: finding smart, sensible, economic approaches to energy efficiency. Our participation in the program signals that the solutions for today’s climate and energy challenges will come not only from our research laboratories and classrooms, but also from practice-based management innovations.”

MIT Efficiency Forward will also have substantial student engagement facilitated by the program’s Student Advisory Group. Building on work coordinated by the MIT Energy Initiative’s (MITEI) Campus Energy Task Force using MIT’s campus as a living laboratory, MIT Efficiency Forward will offer students and faculty rich research, educational and learning opportunities. In particular, through close collaboration with the MITEI Energy Education Task Force, unique project-based coursework for freshman, sophomore and advanced student teams will be developed to help to advance the goals of MIT Efficiency Forward. An aggressive, sustained campaign to encourage the MIT community to reduce energy consumption will be a key component of the program, and students will help develop approaches to measure, monitor and verify those savings.

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