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MIT should implement campus sustainability best practices plan for reducing campus greenhouse gases.



MIT should implement Climate change mitigation using existing technologies for reducing campus greenhouse gases.

What actions do you propose?

  • Small-Scale Energy Efficiency


  • “Go Cold Turkey” Energy Competition:

 At Harvard University (MA) dormitories, students turned off their computers, lights, appliances and heat before leaving campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. Students saved about 329,000 kilowatt hours of electrical energy, which is equivalent to the amount needed to power 5.5 million standard incandescent 60-watt light bulbs for one hour.

  • Computer Energy Savings Program: The University of Ohio uses Computer Management Software that shuts down computers when they are not in use. It has saved the university 15,150,000 kilowatt hours and 15,000 tons of CO2, which makes up 45% of their total computer energy use.
  • Light Bulb Replacement: Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with CFLs can cut lighting costs by up to 75%. The University of Florida has replaced 3,700 incandescent light bulbs in university-owned light fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs in the 208 apartments, which they anticipate will save residents more than $15,000, and will eliminate 200 tons of CO2 annually.
  • Energy Efficiency in Laundry Rooms: Using front-loader washing machines provides substantial water savings. Tufts University (MA) has installed over 100 frontloading washing machines which save the university about $23,000 and 17,000 gallons of water per year and cut carbon emissions more than 30 tons a year.


  • Large-Scale Energy Efficiency:
  • Building Metering: Using consumption data to monitor flows of electricity, water, chilled water, and steam allows schools to determine areas of inefficiency. Competitions between dorms can help promote sustainable resource use among the students. Using careful monitoring, Oberlin College has been able to save $66,000 annually in electricity costs, and reduce over 100 pounds of CO2 per resident per year.  


  • Renewable Energy:
    • Wind Energy: Campuses are starting to implement and utilize both small-scale and commercial wind systems. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy installed a 660 kW turbine in June 2006 which produces over 1 million kWh a year and saves the school $160,000 annually. In its first fifteen months of operation, 690 tons of CO2 were avoided.
    • Solar/ Photovoltaic Energy: Cape Cod Community College (MA) a solar array has been installed on the school’s new science building. Combined with the dual occupancy/daylight sensors and daylight controls, the building systems will use 35% less energy than conventional systems.  


  • Transportation:
  • Give Free Bicycles to First-Year Students
  • Biofuels/ Alternative Fuels: Students at Appalachian State University (NC) voted to pay $5 per semester to build a “closed- loop” processing system to make biodiesel that  uses solar-thermal and PV systems to supply all necessary electricity and hot water needs, as well  as a greenhouse with aquatic habitats to treat wastewater. The 80-gallon processor converts  waste vegetable oil to biodiesel and the finished product is blended with regular diesel (20% is biodiesel) and used in campus vehicles.
  • Vehicle Fleet Efficiency: Columbia University (NY) is introducing hybrid cars into its patrol fleet as older vehicles are retired, with a goal of eventually replacing the entire fleet. The hybrid vehicles offer more than 70% better city fuel economy than the department's older vehicles and are expected to save an estimated 2,200 gallons of gas per year.  


  • Food:
  • Organic Food: Maharishi University’s (IA) new student center dining hall is serving 100% vegetarian and 90 - 95% organic food. Campus farms provide the school with fruits and vegetables during the summer, and campus greenhouses offer tomatoes and greens during the winter.
  • Composting
  • Environmental Procurement:
    • Recycled Paper:  Ohio State University has adopted a new policy which ensures that copy paper used on campus contains at least 30% recycled materials.
    • Biodegradable Dishware:  The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay replaced foam and paper dishware with biodegradable plates made from corn, potatoes, and limestone in each of the university's five dining facilities.
    • Reusable Bottles :Brandeis University (MA) purchases and distributes reusable aluminum water bottles to all of the approximately 1,000 first year students. The new students are expected to bring the bottles to all orientation events in order to reduce plastic bottle and cup waste.
    •    Green Cleaning Products: The University of Washington has a green cleaning policy that states that the university will only use cleaning products that meet Green Seal standard or products with low-volatile organic compounds (VOC), purchase chemicals that are automatically and accurately diluted using cold water, and use products that are packed with recycled materials.


  • Waste:
    • Recycling Awareness
    • Reduce Plastic Bag Usage
  • Green Building Design:
    • White Roofs  : At the University of California, Davis all dormitories with  flat roofs have been upgraded to reflective white roofs, thus  decreasing the solar heat gain of the facility and reducing  demand for cooling.
    • Daylighting: Daylighting is the practice of placing windows, or other transparent media, and reflective surfaces in buildings so  that, during the day, natural light provides effective internal  illumination for building users.


  • Water and Ecological Design:
  • Green Roofs: A “green roof” is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil. Green roofs provide energy savings (insulation for both heating and cooling), water runoff reduction, increased roof lifespan, aesthetic improvements, and other environmental benefits.
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Reducing Campus Water Waste and Consumption


  • Education and Outreach
    • Green Laboratories: The University of Oregon launched a green chemistry lab which uses less toxic solvents and reagents, and teaches students to consider the environmental cost of the chemistry they are learning by evaluating potential hazards of chemical processes.  
    • Incorporate Sustainability Awareness Early: Many colleges and universities are now focusing sustainability efforts on first-year students, utilizing orientation and educational materials to promote environmental mindfulness and energy savings.


  • Innovative Sustainability Financing Opportunities:
  • Alumni Sustainability Fund: Schools that demonstrate leadership in sustainability may attract new gifts and donations from alumni. The University of California, Berkeley (CA) is working to cultivate a new support base of 3,000 environmentally-minded alumni for an alumni sustainability fund.  
  • Student Fees: Student fees help expand small-scale energy efficiency initiatives and offset campus carbon emissions. At Tufts University (MA) undergraduate students voted overwhelmingly to create a yearly $20 fee to pay for wind power credits.





Who will take these actions?

MIT administration, faculty, staff, students, alums and all concerned stockholders.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

85-90% greenhouse gas reduction.

What are other key benefits?

The key benefits are:

  • Clean energy
  • Reduce pollution
  • Maintain ecological balance
  • Healthy environment

What are the proposal’s costs?

Proposal’s costs depending on the nature and type project.

Time line

Depending on nature of program. Generally within 1 month to 5 years.

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