Who We Are

Founded in 2014, the Environmental Solutions Initiative is MIT’s institute-wide effort to mobilize the substantial scientific, engineering, policy, and design capacity of our community to contribute to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges of global import. We pursue multidisciplinary research, education, events, and partnerships to help move society toward an environmentally and socially sustainable future.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts on MIT’s main campus, ESI is powered by a lean staff working closely with students and faculty across the full spectrum of disciplines.  Led by architecture professor John E. Fernandez, a leading scholar in the emerging field of urban metabolism, ESI is advised by students, faculty, alumni, and thought leaders from many sectors of society.

Reporting directly to Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber, ESI plays an active role in the implementation of MIT’s Plan for Climate Action and collaborates closely with partners in departments, labs, and centers across MIT, as well as with undergraduate and graduate student groups.

Read more about ESI’s beginnings here, or learn more about ESI’s activities in this brief video:

An Agenda for Research, Education, and Engagement

Humanity’s past actions and current behaviors have resulted in dramatic damage to people and to nature, and pose huge risks for our planet’s future. From declining fisheries to acute urban pollution to record-breaking global temperatures, the evidence of human impact on the environment continues to mount (USGCRP, 2017). Across the MIT community, our scholars and students are working to understand, address, and reverse the negative effects of humanity’s footprint on the Earth.

ESI seeks to accelerate environmental solutions in three vital domains:

  • Climate Science and Earth Systems
  • Cities and Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Production and Consumption

History has shown that effective solutions to challenging environmental problems nearly always depend on multiple disciplines. To advance a durable, sustainable relationship between humans and the environment, we require contributions not only from science, engineering, and technology, but also from the humanities, arts, economics, history, architecture, urban planning, management, policy, and more. MIT’s exceptional strength in all of these areas is matched by our proficiency, born of long experience, in bridging them.

Learn more about ESI’s projects in: