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Engage alumni in the sustainability process by creating an interactive app directly tying donations to sustainable/resilient improvements



As architects, Arrowstreet knows that the design of successful sustainable and zero emissions projects relies on engaging future occupants, the surrounding community, and the larger global network. For MIT, this means involving the alumni community.

Creating excitement, gathering input & expertise, and soliciting funding from alumni are all vital components in achieving the goals of the MIT climate action plan. Our proposal strives to appeal to the many small- and mid-range donors who may feel that their donation is not impactful, and those who are interested in something different from standard “name-on-a-plaque” recognition.

Just as innovative technologies will be employed in the built environment to meet climate goals, it is important to have similarly innovative ways to engage alumni in creating a more sustainable campus. We propose “GiveGreen MIT,” an interactive, virtual world that ties climate goals with real-time progress. 

MIT has a comprehensive climate action plan that is aligned with the goal of keeping global warming under the 2°C threshold. A big part of meeting the goal is creating zero emissions in the built environment, and the way to achieve this goal is by maximizing alumni participation. 

What actions do you propose?


1. The first step in implementing the plan is for MIT to conduct a holistic assessment of all campus buildings and infrastructure. MIT is already conducting studies on a limited number of building factors, such as the sustainable roof study; however, a holistic assessment that combines all aspects of the individual studies is needed to create an overall implementation plan for the campus. This implementation plan would indicate which projects are necessary for each building and infrastructure system and the timeline for these projects.     

2. Create “GiveGreen MIT,” a 3D digital interactive MIT campus that can be accessed via a mobile app and/or web URL.  The map will provide data on how each building fits into the overall climate action plan and net zero emission goals, the specific renovations and improvements that are necessary for the building to meet the goals, and the energy, water, and waste use of the building.

3. Create ways for alumni to interact via GiveGreen MIT to fund campus and building improvement projects. As individual improvement projects are completed, the progress towards each building’s goal will be tracked, as well as statistics on the reduction in energy, water, and waste use.

4.  Create ways in which alumni can give input on how their own expertise can be incorporated into the potential building projects.


To portray MIT as a first-in-class institution – the most sustainable university campus in the world – a web-based or mobile app could be created (GiveGreen MIT).  Harnessing MIT’s technology base, the app could serve as crowdfunding source that allows individuals to fund specific sustainability initiatives on campus.  Small to mid-range donors would be able to see the funds they contribute go directly into a building upgrade.  The app would allow users to interact with a campus map to see what initiatives currently need funding, would acknowledge individual donors, and would allow users to track project progress and environmental impact.  The app would also encourage users to share their involvement and news via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; so to spread the word and gain connections and participation from other MIT alumni and groups.  

The Challenge

One idea to drive an increase in donations would be to create a competition between alumni—between class year, school, or major, for example.

Another idea to drive donations would be to create specific campaigns of the various improvement projects such as an Adopt a Roof challenge.  MIT is currently conducting a sustainable roof study that will determine how the buildings within the campus can contribute to the climate action plan by reducing heat island effect, controlling stormwater runoff, producing renewable energy, and reducing greenhouse gases. Adopt a Roof will allow alumni to fund a portion of or a full roof improvement project. The app will allow them to watch as the project is built and then see the impact of the project on energy, water, heat island reduction, and greenhouse gases reduction. 

The app would also feature a forum connecting individuals to an idea-sharing discussion environment that would allow alumni to share expertise to further sustainability in their communities and workplaces.

Finally, the app would track progress and impact of donations. Donors would be able to track how funding is progressing for each building, and also the progress of specific projects once they begin.  Energy data could be tracked over time to demonstrate how upgrades impacted energy use.

Donor Recognition

We suggest that donors would be recognized by some of the following:

1)      Online app recognition…donors can be seen in a tab when clicking on each building.


2)      Technology installations in each building that would recognize donors; if donors visit the campus they would be able to visit and see their name on a scrolling list.


3)      Project donors’ names could be projected onto the main campus dome and tied in with MIT’s Sustainability Summit, a student-led event during Earth Week.


4)     A social media campaign that would recognize donors (donors would be asked to give their Twitter handle when donating).