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Mapping MIT’s path forward on climate change

Students, faculty, staff to join MIT Climate Change Conversation in open, interactive event.

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Kimberly Allen
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On Thursday, March 12, MIT students, faculty, and staff will gather to discuss and share ideas on how the Institute can and should move toward a lower-carbon future.

The open event, titled “Creating the Roadmap: Envisioning/Reducing MIT’s Carbon Footprint,” will be held in Room 3-270 from 4 to 6 p.m. It is the second of four open-forum events this spring that are part of the MIT Climate Change Conversation.

“The goal of the series is to help the MIT campus engage with the question of what MIT should do about climate change,” says Sarah Brylinsky, a project manager in MIT’s Office of Sustainability and member of the Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation. “The event on March 12 will allow the campus community to suggest ideas for new ways of thinking about improving our carbon footprint on campus, air concerns, and brainstorm bold ideas to envision what a lower-carbon future might look like for the Institute.”

The first hour of the event will feature panelists and speakers including Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, Director of Sustainability Julie Newman, and members of the Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation, including Brylinsky, Christoph Reinhart, an associate professor of architecture, and Henry Jacoby, professor emeritus of management.

“The panelists will explain where MIT is today in terms of operational carbon impact, the context in which we make decisions about campus operations, and where we might go in the future,” Brylinsky says.

The second hour of the event will be an interactive brainstorming session. Attendees can submit questions and comments through an online portal, and throughout the event there will be real-time digital polling to gather data on participants’ opinions and show the results of the surveys. The committee encourages people to submit questions or topics of discussion prior to the event by emailing climatechange@mit.edu.

The organizers hope to emerge with a collection of new ideas for MIT’s role in addressing climate change. “This gives us a chance to turn the lens of innovation inward and look at the campus as a laboratory for inventing a lower-carbon future,” Brylinsky says.

Proposals for how MIT can take action are collected in an idea bank on the MIT Climate Change Conversation website, where members of the community can present ideas and give feedback.

“Come to the event, listen, think on it a bit, and come up with new ideas,” Brylinsky says. “The best place to share those ideas is the idea bank.”

The event is an open conversation, she emphasizes, and students are especially welcome. “We really want students’ input at every stage in the conversation, but at this stage in particular,” Brylinsky says. “You don’t have to be a expert to come to this event and offer new ideas.”

Topics: Sustainability, Environment, Administration, Special events and guest speakers, Campus buildings and architecture, Climate change, Community


Would it be possible for MIT to expand their nuclear plant? If MIT were to install small modular inherently safe nuclear reactors to power the entire campus and surrounding facilities, MIT could become a model for the Nation. Perhaps we could make an arrangement with Elon Musk to have all electric vehicles for the campus, for faculty, administrators and staff. Perhaps MIT could develop and build its own electric vehicles. Students could continuously develop and test improvements in power generation, transfer, efficiency, battery and hydrogen fuels cell technology. MIT could reduce its energy generated carbon dioxide emissions to zero. Then we could offer to power more and more of Cambridge. If we offered Teslas and free electricity to the mayor and city council members, to facilitate permitting this pilot project over the next 10 years, it might be well worth the investment. An ever expanding zero emission high energy footprint!

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