The first-ever EcoExpo will be held tomorrow, April 25, and will feature posters and displays from nearly 30 student-led groups concerned with environmental issues at MIT. Organized by the Students for Global Sustainability group, EcoExpo seeks "to convey the incredible energy and enthusiasm" at MIT and "to inspire new ideas, new connections, and a strengthened campus commitment to sustainability," according to the EcoExpo Web site. EcoExpo will be held in the TSMC lobby of the Stata Center, which faces the intersection of Main and Vassar Streets. Below is a sampling of the groups that will be featured at the event.
5.92: Energy, Environment, and Society
5.92 is a freshman project-based class that explores ways to make Cambridge more sustainable. According to Radu Raduta G, a teaching assistant for the class, the three projects being pursued are the "potential for harnessing wind" for energy, the "possibility of using heat from [the] MIT nuclear reactor," and "assessing renewable energy options at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School." The opportunity of "letting freshmen work on real-world projects" is "empowering for the students," Raduta said.
Bicycle Ambulances: An Appropriate Technology for Sustainable Development
Jessica Vechakul has designed a bicycle ambulance for Zambia that consists of a two-wheeled trailer carrying a stretcher which may be towed by any bicycle. The relevance of this development pertains to the tragedy that many people die in developing areas because medical care is located too far away. A sustainable solution, the bicycle ambulance requires only local materials for its construction and does not rely on fossil fuels or electricity for operation.
A Sustainable Transportation Plan for MIT
The focus of A Sustainable Transportation Plan for MIT, a Spring 2007 subject, is to propose effective and sustainable parking policies at a large, complex institution like MIT. The class worked on "how to encourage people to drive to campus less often and use mass transportation more often," said Michael A. Kay G.
Before A Transition to Hydrogen
The objective of the project Before A Transition to Hydrogen is "looking at different vehicle technologies that can bring us to more sustainable transportation in the future," said Lynette Cheah G. The team is interested in short to medium term solutions that would reduce petroleum and energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. This is an "area we can make a big impact on," Cheah said.
The Business Case for Green Hospitals
The focus of this project is to assess the benefits of environmentally friendly options for hospitals and to educate audiences about those benefits. "We're trying to develop a tool for health care decision makers so they can evaluate costs and benefits of going green," said Jessica Harrington G. A business framework to aid hospital chief financial officers to fully grasp aspects of green investments will be presented.
Energymap.mit.edu: A Web site of MIT's Energy Usage
This is "a project to compute energy data" and "to try to display [it] in a useful manner," said Steven C. Peters G. More specifically, energymap.mit.edu is a Web site designed to display past and current energy consumption patterns of MIT's buildings. The site will "educate people" and allow "students to get involved with trying to improve campus," Peters said.
Exploring Conscientious Design in the Developing World: Architectural Considerations for An Environmental Education Center in the Rainforest of Madagascar
This project focuses on the design of a set of exhibition buildings in a national park located along the coast of Madagascar. Intending to become an example of green systems use, the design will incorporate aspects such as community involvement, construction practices, landscape practices, and architectural design in consideration of one another.
Footprinting for the Future: A Mauritius Case Study
Founded by Christopher Cleaver '08, the Footprinting for the Future program aims to use the tool of Ecological Footprinting, an indicator of environmental sustainability, to promote sustainability among communities in Mauritius. Initiatives in 12 schools across the island is currently being launched, involving students, aged 14-16, to conduct Ecological Footprinting investigations of their schools. The students then compete for grants to implement projects that aim to reduce their school's Ecological Footprint.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals At MIT
Composed of a group of students, this group aims "to put pressure on MIT administrators to enact greenhouse gas emission goals," said Chris J. Lyddy G. MIT has yet to publicly announce any carbon reduction targets, unlike peer institutions such as Yale, Cornell, and the University of California whose targets range between 10% and Carbon Neutrality. The group also focuses on cultivating "dialogue about what goals should be" between students and administrators. It is "important for MIT to take leadership role" on this issue, and this is a "great way to demonstrate we take our science seriously," Lyddy said.
Just In Time Carbon Footprint
This research group focuses on encouraging the conservation of energy at the personal level. It studies how educating occupants of the energy expenditure and carbon footprint of their homes will affect energy conservation.
Lifthouse — Sustainable Reconstruction in the Bayou
Lifthouse is the result of a group of MIT architecture and planning students working to develop a prototype house for the bayou areas of southern Louisiana, ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. According to Zachary B. Lamb G, coordinator of the project, Lifthouse involves low technology, "commonsense," and traditional building techniques of the region that can be used "by anybody down there." Students are actively working with local architects and engineers to further develop the prototype.
Students for Global Sustainability
SfGS is a student organization that raises awareness of environmentally friendly practices at MIT. Last year SfGS organized a Zero Waste Party with free organic food and reusable cups and utensils. SfGS is "committed to bridging the gap between sustainable theory and implementation in both micro- and macro-sustainable development and conservation projects," said Laura K. Meredith, one of the organizers of Zero Waste Party. SfGS is part of the World Student Community for Sustainable Development, which includes eight other universities across the world.
Associate News Editor Valery K. Brobbey contributed to the reporting of this article.