Climate Conversations S1E4: Making MIT's Campus Sustainable

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This week, Climate Conversations team are joined by special guest, MIT's Director of Sustainability, Julie Newman.

In this episode, we explore the challenging and growing role of sustainability officers, plus autonomous vehicles, the campus building renaissance and MIT's path to carbon neutrality.


Rajesh Kasturirangan

Laura Howells

David Damm-Luhr

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Rick Shankman's picture

Curt, what do you think the

Curt, what do you think the chances are that if you walk the one block down Portland Street to N16, you will find #6 fuel oil in a storage tank?

 Further, are we to rejoice in the fact that CUP decided in 2016 to stop burning that junk?

Curt Newton's picture

From what I understand, while

From what I understand, while MIT's old oil burners capable of burning both #2 and #6 fuel oil won't be decommissioned for a couple more years, MIT stopped using #6 (bunker fuel) in

2016 as a matter of policy.

Rick Shankman's picture

Julie, just a quick question

Julie, just a quick question about the longstanding activities over in Building N16 on Albany St...
Hasn't MIT been feeding those boilers Bunker C (sulfur-laden #6 Fuel Oil) for years? Isn't CUP (Central Utilities Plant) still using cheap Bunker C right now as I'm typing this? I'm familiar with the MIT CUP Second Century Project proposal, but couldn't understand why the Institute didn't simply purchase cleaner, more ecologically-sound alternative fuel for the plant all this time? The proposal suggests expensive new infrastructure construction. That's fine. But wasn't the purchase of cleaner fuel an easier, quicker (albeit temporary) fix? How much MIT emissions reduction could have been had in the interim? Have you seen the CUP on a climate emissions map?... "Category: Very High" In the end, isn't the reason purely economics? All that endowment money. An endowment fueled (pun intended) by fossil fuel investments for which MIT refuses to divest. Surely there was enough spare money to refuse to burn the black goopy junk various governments are trying to ban? This makes me wonder about the destinction between climate rhetoric and climate action. For those who may not be familiar, this is Bunker B ("Bunker Fuel")...
Rajesh Kasturirangan's picture

I find it fascinating that so

I find it fascinating that so many of our interviewees have an eclectic career path - Julie's early career dilemma's, her work in the Peace Corps and then a career in sustainability seems typical of t
his domain, just as John Reilly's path from Ag Economics to the program on Global Change. It points to a distinction between climate science which is a well defined scientific discipline and climate action, which is a smorgasbord of various talents and interests.