Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Julie Newman
Submission Date Oct. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 MIT Office of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:

1. MIT Water Club:
The MIT water club is the leading student network for water research and innovation at MIT. They organize conferences, lectures, research showcases, and entrepreneurship events to explore the most pressing issues in water technology, policy, and science.

2. Undergraduate Association Committee on Sustainability
The Committee on Sustainability strives to generate interest, awareness, and action in sustainability on campus by raising awareness, fostering good habits, providing resources, and driving policy changes. This committee regularly interfaces with campus staff and administrators to identify and seize opportunities for improvement in the areas of composting, waste reduction, and energy conservation. This committee also works with other like-minded student groups from MIT and other universities to promote awareness and sustainable behavior through events and competitions. Past and present projects include the Trashion Show, RecycleMania, Dorm Electricity Competition, and Composting Initiative. This committee dreams of making MIT the most sustainable campus in the world.

3. MIT Energy Club:
The Energy & Environment community aims to bridge the gap between energy and environmental issues by providing a fresh and fact-based platform for energy enthusiasts, scholars, policy makers and experts in the field.

4. Graduate Student Council Sustainability
The GSC Sustainability Subcommittee (GSCSS) is a gathering point for climate-conscious, action-driven students to collaborate on implementing sustainable practices on the MIT campus. They collaborate with other student groups and Institute partners across campus to educate, inspire, and engage students in sustainability and advance MIT’s greater Climate Action goals.

The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

Nine of the campus dormitories have small gardens maintained by students (W1, W4, W61, W71, W85, NW10, NW30, NW35, NW86). A research project called "OpenAg" at the Media Lab expanded in 2017 at the MIT’s Bates Research and Engineering Center, and now contains several OpenAg “Food Servers” - shipping containers which grow vegetables, cotton, and other plants and trees using open source hardware, software and data. As part of its research mission, the project is exploring how to engage and empower communities large and small to produce more sustainable, fresh, healthy food.

The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

The MIT Water Innovation Prize is a startup competition focused on water innovation that awards up to $30k in innovation grants annually to student-led teams from across the country. It is the innovation-focused main event of the MIT Water Club and helps emerging entrepreneurs translate their research or idea into a business, access mentors and resources, and build their networks in the water industry. They welcome all approaches to water innovation, from engineering and product design to policy and data analytics.

The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

1. The Legatum Center

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship catalyzes entrepreneurship for broad-based prosperity in low-income countries. The Center was founded on the belief that economic progress and good governance in low-income countries emerge from entrepreneurship and innovations that empower ordinary citizens.

The Center administers programs and convenes events that promote and shape discourse on bottom-up development. Led by Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder of Grameenphone and Emergence BioEnergy, the Center administers a competitive fellowship program for incoming and current MIT students, from across all academic and professional disciplines, who have demonstrated the potential and commitment to create innovative and inclusive enterprises in low-income countries. In addition, the Center convenes an annual conference, hosts lectures, and supports teams of enterprising men and women at MIT who are passionate about starting viable businesses in the developing world.

The Legatum Center seed grants are intended to assist teams in developing for-profit, sustainable enterprises in low-income countries. These grants fund market research, travel, accommodations, project scoping, and pilot studies or proofs of concept.

2. J-PAL

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at the Economics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.

Finance & Microfinance group at J-PAL:
J-PAL’s Finance Program brings together leading academics to expand both the understanding of how households and firms demand and use financial services and how financial service providers perform and engage in the market. The program is especially interested in recent financial innovations that are improving the quantity and quality of financial access for all levels of financial actors.

Recent evidence suggests that product innovations, new contract structures, and regulation can be effective tools for overcoming market failures. With public, private, and nonprofit institutions working to increase financial access around the world, the time is right to explore new ideas, expand conceptual frameworks, and collect compelling evidence in order to better understand financial constraints, especially among the poor, as well as the implications of alternative policy strategies.

The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:

1. The MIT Sustainability Summit
The MIT Sustainability Summit is an annual event that has grown to include more than 350 attendees ranging from professionals, academics, and students. The past Summits have featured discussions with thought leaders and expert practitioners like Jeremy Grantham (GMO), Jim Hanna (Starbucks), Mindy Lubber (Ceres), Nancy Gillis (GSA), Jeffrey Hollender (Seventh Generation), Scot Horst (USGBC), James Balog (Chasing Ice), Rick Ridgeway (VP Patagonia) and many more.

2. The MIT Energy Conference

Every year, thought-leaders in energy from technology, policy, industry, and finance descend on MIT for one primary reason: to formulate powerful, productive ideas in the face of a rapidly changing industry.

MIT has merged entrepreneurial risk-taking with technological innovation and scientific breakthrough. Taking on the toughest challenges, MIT’s scientists and engineers have pushed the boundaries of the possible and taken ideas from the laboratory to the living room. We want to build on that tradition. The MIT Energy Conference seeks to provide a platform for the most cutting-edge research, the latest industry know-how, and the most innovative business models. Through discussions on specific challenges facing the world today, we explore how energy innovation can make a significant impact on the global energy landscape.

3. MIT Energy Night

The MIT Energy Night: the Largest MIT Energy Technology Showcase in the Fall
The MIT Energy Night is a celebration of the ingenuity, innovation, and imagination of MIT faculty, researchers, students, and alumni. Hosted annually at the MIT Museum and organized entirely by students, the MIT Energy Night features over 70 interactive poster presentations from every energy affiliated department at MIT as well as early stage start-ups based on MIT technologies. Presentation topics span conventional energies, renewable energies, energy storage, energy efficiency, and other areas.

4. The MIT Clean Energy Prize
The MIT Clean Energy Prize‘s mission is to be the catalyst for a unified competition to help develop a new generation of energy entrepreneurs and great new companies. This will be achieved by working to stimulate productive relationships between academic, community, industry, and government organizations with strong interests in meeting the world’s energy challenge through innovation and entrepreneurship.

5. The MIT Energy Club bring speaker series, conferences, and symposia to MIT several times a month year-long. Below is a description of some of the flagship events offered. There are many more similar events throughout the year all focused on sustainability. Aside from the MIT Energy Club, several other groups/departments bring conferences and speakers to MIT several times a month to talk about sustainability to the student populace.

6. People and Planet Lecture Series
The Environmental Solutions Initiative People & the Planet Lecture Series presents individuals and organizations working to advance understanding and action toward a humane and sustainable future. During the 2016 series lecturers Will Turner and Sandy Andelman of Conservation International discussed how we can track the health of the planet–from ecosystems to agricultural systems to human well-being–and harness science, engineering, analytics, and visualization to better value, monitor, and ultimately manage the ecosystems that people around the world rely on.


The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:

The MindHandHeart Innovation Fund was created in the spirit of service to the MIT community. It will support new innovative projects, presentations, activities, events, or campaigns that promote mental health and well-being at MIT. Recent projects include
Indoor Lawn (A project providing indoor lawns in high traffic areas where students can sit, relax, and enjoy a bit of nature), Artful Meditation (A drawing class that meets weekly and alternates between Artful Meditation and Draw What You See) and Studio (a drop-in art studio for members of the MIT community to draw, color, sketch, and connect with others). For more information, please reference: http://mindhandheart.mit.edu/innovation-fund/grant-recipients.
In addition, the MindHandHeart supported an art installation called "Helping You, Helping Others installed in the W20 Student Center lobby during the fall of 2016. This participatory sculpture showcases students’ help-seeking efforts and included offering tokens to the estimated 1,700 students who visit Mental Health & Counseling and approximately 5,000 who visit S-Cubed (Student Support Services). For more information, please refer to: https://mindhandheart.mit.edu/events/interactive-sculpture-unveiling.

The Borderline Mural Project (Ongoing)
The labyrinthine tunnels of MIT are home to a variety of offices, laboratories, and storage spaces. For some, the tunnels serve as a quick alternative to the oft-crowded Infinite Corridor; to others, they’re a handy way to duck out of bad weather while still making progress toward their destinations. But in 2017, the tunnel joining Buildings 66 and E17 became home to something new entirely: The Borderline Mural Project; an installment of twenty-six murals painted on the wall of one of MIT’s busiest underground corridors.The concept emerged when Rue noticed a lack of an outlet for students passionate about art to pursue that interest in a casual, shared setting. The mural also serves to help provide relief from the intense and rigorous academic work.

The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

"MITOC members are students, staff, alumni, and faculty from MIT and the greater academic community who come together for year-round outdoor recreation in the company of other enthusiasts. MITOC members hike, climb, ski, bike, camp, tramp, backpack, snowshoe, and canoe to the highest, widest, most scenic vistas in New England and beyond. Join us for friendship, adventure, and fun.

MITOC offers hiking events several times throughout the year: a monthly, 60-students hiking/climbing trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire during April to october and snow-hiking and climbing during the winter months in the same region. All trips follow ""Leave No Trace"" principles, meaning all participants have ziploc/trash bags in their backpacks to put their own trash (everything from food wrappers, food remains, and event toilet paper.) Nothing is left on the trail, nor is anything taken from the trail, meaning: the path must look exactly the same before and after you passed through."

The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

"Terrascope is a learning community for freshmen to solve complex, real-world problems starting in their first semester at MIT.

At the core of the Terrascope program is one basic but important idea: MIT students, even as freshmen, are ready to take control of their own education and to tackle big, important problems. With each new class of freshmen, Terrascope explores a different global issue called a Mission – and it’s the students who take command of each Mission. Our students work in teams to develop solutions, drawing on diverse perspectives, interdisciplinary research, and a supportive Terrascope community.

Like other programs in the MIT Office of Experiential Learning, Terrascope offers the advantages of a small, vibrant community, plus academic advising, a unique curriculum, and extracurricular activities."

The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) Sustainability Sub-Committee has embarked on a unique collaboration with the Department of Materials Management, the Office of Sustainability and the Information Systems Technology unit to design new training modules (Responsible Waste Practices Training and the Green Labs Training) that are focused on providing students with real-world skills related to materials flows and best practices for energy conservation and sustainability in labs. These are recommended modules within the Atlas learning Center (The course is reference on this link: http://web.mit.edu/facilities/environmental/recycling.html)

The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

The MIT Office of Sustainability is the main office focused on advancing sustainability across campus. This office offers paid student employment and the students can be involved in a variety of sustainability activities including but not limited to: research and analysis, communication and design, community engagement, climate action planning, etc.

The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledges:

Fossil Free MIT (student organization)
The idea behind the Climate Career Pledge arose from discussions within Fossil Free MIT and with others both within and outside of the MIT community. Members realized that MIT students and alumni often feel uncertain how their personal actions could help change the systemic dynamics behind climate change mitigation.

Because of MIT’s close ties to industry and the career focus of many students, students recognized that careers offered an opportunity to galvanize students to channel their passion for mitigating climate change and advancing sustainability in a way they might not have considered previously.

The ambition is that this Pledge is not a “sign and forget” activity. Rather, we hope to cultivate a community of MIT students and alumni who remain steadfast in: (1) considering how climate change and sustainability impacts their lives, including their careers, and (2) exploring ways of taking more direct action within the companies and institutions they will (or have already) become a part of. In the future, students have the ambition to explore ways of connecting students and alumni about the sustainability commitments of specific companies, as well as offering general resources about how to promote climate-friendly policies within companies and institutions.

Goals for the Pledge
1) Leverage MIT’s relationships with industry to encourage bolder action on climate and sustainability.
2) Clearly communicate the MIT community’s values related to climate and sustainability to potential employers, aimed at influencing their behavior and employee recruitment strategies.
3) Vocalize public support of MIT community members’ advocacy of climate and sustainability efforts within industry.
4) Utilize MIT’s reputation to endorse strong climate action.
5) Allow individuals to make personal commitments to become climate champions, improving the leadership potential of future graduates and current alumni.
6) Empower the MIT community to better influence industry “from the inside” toward climate and sustainability goals.
7) Inspire members of the MIT community to rethink what they can do personally to help advocate for climate action in general.

The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):
Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:

A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

GSC Sustainability Subcommittee
The purpose of the GSC Sustainability Subcommittee is to cultivate sustainable behaviors and systems in the graduate community and throughout MIT. Members collaborate with representatives from the graduate dorms and other sustainability-minded groups at MIT (including the UA Sustainability Committee, MIT Department of Facilities, and several MIT clubs) to educate, inform, inspire, and lead changes.

Undergraduate Association on Sustainability
Be a leading force in sustainability, spread environmental awareness, and inspire community action. The goals of this organization are to foster green habits, to drive policy reform, provide resources, and build connections between environmental and global issues. For more information, please refer to: http://sustain.scripts.mit.edu/.

The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):
Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.