SfGS ERC white paper

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First version by Masa at about 7:35pm, November 28, 2005 (Eastern time) Media:Sfgs_ERC_white_paper_version_1.doc

Second version by Elke, November 30th, 6pm EST

Third version by Elke, Dec 1st, 8am EST

Fourth version by Masa (addition of studio!sus URL, replacement of "activism", and small wording changes), Dec 1st, 9am EST

Fifth version by Elke (small wording changes, should be presentable now, feel free to add more), Dec 1st, 9:45 EST


White Paper to the Energy Research Council submitted by Students for Global Sustainability (and SAVE)

It is our honor to present our recommendation to the Energy Research Council--to establish an MIT-wide comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions reduction initiative, and to actively involve students in such a GHG program. A program with clear quantifiable targets of GHG reductions and strong student participation should be an integral part of the new energy initiative at MIT.

Global climate change is among the top issues of concern in the world today. Creating a campus wide GHG emission reduction program is an opportunity for MIT to show strong leadership not only as a research powerhouse in the energy field, but also as an implementor of progressive energy concepts. Student participation is crucial, both because students have been active in implementing and promoting campus-wide energy projects, but also because of its great educational value. Other white papers (e.g., the MIT Energy Club) support a similar conclusion, reinforcing the importance of such a campus-wide GHG initiative and strong student participation.

A campus-wide GHG initiative would provide not only an opportunity for students to learn more about energy technologies, but also to become more involved in the social impacts of energy production and use. MIT students are well known for their desire to apply what they learn in the classroom to hands-on projects. Their enthusiasm to improve upon their own world could be put to good use in the context of a GHG initiative. Through a possible Public Service Center collaboration, MIT students could be encouraged to work on pieces of a GHG initiative. Moreover, students consume a significant portion of the energy use on campus through the dormitories, offices, and laboratories. Soliciting student support would be necessary to have any significant impact on energy conservation on campus.

Student research can help the Department of Facilities as they plan how to power MIT's campus in the coming decades. One of the recent master’s theses from the Department of Mechanical Engineering examined the impact of the campus energy plan on GHG emissions [T.A. Groode, 2004. A Methodology for Assessing MIT’s Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Master’s thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT]. Tiffany found that the highest CO2 emissions came from the "dirtier" excess power MIT has to buy from NSTAR, and not from one of the internal processes in the cogeneration plant.

Students have much to offer in the way of enthusiasm. Many student groups touch on subjects related to sustainable development. Students for Global Sustainability is one example. In collaboration with groups such as Design that matters, MIT Student Pugwash, SAVE, and the TPP student society, we have organized events such as a recent sustainability mixer, and the upcoming zero-waste party. In the past, we ran a campus-wide campaign with a special focus on the undergraduate dorms, asking people to reduce energy consumption by "Doucing the Juice" (http://web.mit.edu/sfgs/bright). Last year, we published a booklet on what students could do in the area of sustainability around MIT and Cambridge entitled "Studio!Sus" (SfGS Studio!Sus).

We appreciate this opportunity to present our ideas, and strongly hope that a GHG reduction plan will be established. We would welcome any opportunity to take part in such an initiative.