The 2017 MIT Campus Sustainability Task Force Report

As reported earlier in MIT News, the text of an open letter to the MIT community announcing the recent release of the 2017 CSTF Report follows below:

MIT News Office 
September 28, 2017

The following email was sent today to the MIT community by Provost Martin Schmidt and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz.

To the members of the MIT community,

Two years ago we convened the Campus Sustainability Task Force (CSTF), charged to shape a vision and plan of action for campus sustainability at MIT. The CSTF has now drafted its report, Pathway to Sustainability Leadership by MIT, which reflects input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni since the CSTF launch in 2015. In releasing the preliminary report, we are opening a comment period through November, during which we are actively seeking feedback from across the MIT community.

We invite you to attend a campus-wide forum to discuss the report on Tuesday, October 17, 12:00 pm–1:30 pm in the Millikan Room (E53-482). Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP if you would like to attend.

We encourage you to read the report, which lays out the five key elements of the pathway to sustainability leadership. It is important for all voices to be heard as Institute leadership considers the task force’s recommendations. We and task force co-chairs Andrea Campbell and Julie Newman are eager to hear your thoughts, and hope you will attend the open forum. You may also send comments to


Marty Schmidt

Israel Ruiz
Executive Vice President and Treasurer

I encourage all members of the MIT community to attend the "campus-wide forum" to be held Tuesday, October 17, at 12:00 pm in the Millikan Room (E53-482), if for no other reason, to inquire as to exactly what any of the following verbiage from the Report actually means in terms of concrete commitments and clearly-defined actions to be taken...


In light of its mission and history, MIT is exceptionally well positioned to take the lead and join forces with committed partners in devising evidence-based solutions for sustainability. We are poised to transform the campus into a scalable laboratory in which to devise, pilot, implement, and evaluate sustainable campus-based and urban strategies to combat climate change. The Institute’s efforts to demonstrate best practices in limiting carbon emissions and decreasing adverse effects on both the environment and on human health will help expose all members of its community—who are full participants in this campus-wide effort—to the challenges of grappling with complex problems and working across seemingly disparate disciplines and functions. 

MIT is on a path toward creating a sustainable organization, but different steps will advance at different rates. Some require a thoughtful stakeholder engagement process over the long-term. Other efforts need to be implemented swiftly. We are well versed in meeting challenges such as urgent problems and budget constraints as well as the short-term and long-term impacts of our day-to-day decisions. We must consider and define what it means to develop an adaptable, flexible, values-based sustainability model that both supports the Institute’s mission and becomes integral to it. 

Our work has only just begun."

As for me personally, I have absolutely no idea what any of that means in terms of actual commitments on the part of MIT to meet any defined goals, what steps are to be taken immediately in furtherance of meeting those goals, and what departments or offices are charged with any directives related to meeting any of those goals.

I do, however, know exactly what the following means...

lame duck

/ˈˌlām ˈdək/  noun

  • An ineffectual thing.

​Sometimes more talk is just that... more talk.



Curt Newton's picture

Hi Shahnawaz, learn more

Hi Shahnawaz, learn more about sustainability projects on the MIT campus at  In particular:

  • the Living Lab projects, which support students and faculty working directly on campus systems
  • the data & metrics initiative that shares essential facts about campus energy and sustainability
  • The Access MIT initiative to encourage better commuting behavior (i.e. free public transportation passes, discouraging car driving)
Rick Shankman's picture

"[T]he five key elements of

"[T]he five key elements of the pathway to [MIT's] sustainability leadership...

Model of Sustainability​

MIT must exemplify the incorporation of sustainability principles and practices into campus infrastructure, operations, student life, and daily decision making.

Transformed Organization

MIT must transform itself into a resilient and environmentally sustainable organization, demonstrating and modeling the process for such transformation.

Generator of Sustainability Research

MIT must become a generator of new ideas and meaningful sustainability research, building on its history and capacity for contributing solutions to vital global needs and priorities.

Educational Innovator

MIT must be an innovator of educational experiences for its diverse communities of learners, both on and off campus.

Thoughtful Partner, Disseminator, and Mobilizer

MIT must be a thoughtful partner within its local and global communities, a disseminator of great ideas, and a mobilizer of actors to implement sustainability solutions."

Pure rhetoric.

[sound heard in background]