Initiative Aims to Spur Innovative Solutions to Environmental Challenges

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Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 9:03 pm

Cambridge, Mass. -- The city of Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology signed a historic “Community Compact for a Sustainable Future” aimed at leveraging the intellectual and entrepreneurial capacity of the business, non-profit, education, and municipal sectors in Cambridge to contribute to a healthy, livable and sustainable future. The three signatories also announced they have already recruited the participation of an initial group of major business partners including Akamai Technologies, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, and Whole Foods.

“Climate change is a crisis that requires a comprehensive and collaborative response. Cambridge is uniquely positioned to serve as a leader in this response: We have unmatched intellectual capital and a culture of innovation and commitment to the environment. I am thrilled to partner with Harvard and MIT and look forward to joining with others in the business community to create a more sustainable Cambridge for residents, students and employees,” said Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis.

The Compact lays out a clear framework for how the group can address climate change at the local level and improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the Cambridge community by considering nine key areas of collaboration such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate mitigation and adaptation, storm water management and green tech incubation. It aims to harness the signatories’ collective capacities in research, teaching, social best practices and governance to generate new and innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change and sustainability.

“Harvard is honored to be among the first signatories of the Community Compact,” said Harvard President Drew G. Faust. “We have much to gain from continuing to work together to confront climate change, and I hope other leaders across the city are inspired to join us, and our partners in the private sector, in creating a healthier and more sustainable Cambridge.”

“Climate change is a global challenge. But momentum for action begins with strong local collaborations," said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Cambridge has helped to pioneer the idea of urban environmentalism. Building on that commitment, and drawing on the scientific, technological and policy expertise of MIT and Harvard, together we can make a difference for our local community and perhaps extract lessons with global value as well."

Signatories will work to develop and share new and innovative strategies, technologies, services, products, and best practices that can be used as replicable models for others considering cost-effective solutions. They will build capacity and support for the Compact by establishing a steering committee to oversee the effort, begin collecting data to evaluate progress, and create a forum for annual reporting to the community. Additionally, the group will explore opportunities to connect researchers with community needs and initiatives and to better connect students with local entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

“We are proud to take a leadership role in measuring and then minimizing the environmental impact of our business operations, and sharing the financial and social benefits of sustainability with our customers,” said Tom Leighton, CEO of Akamai. "We believe energy efficiency and the management of greenhouse gas emissions are not only critical in information technology, but in all fields. We applaud the mission of the Cambridge Community Compact for a Sustainable Future, and hope others in our business community will join with this important initiative.”

The Compact grew out of on-going discussion and collaborations amongst Cambridge, MIT and Harvard who have all established aggressive goals and initiatives focused on climate change and sustainability, including targets for greener transportation, efficient buildings, and greenhouse gas emissions and energy reductions. The Compact will enable the signatories to build on these commitments by continuing to share best practices and improve operational efficiencies on topics ranging from waste reduction to energy efficiency, green buildings and shared support for projects such as the Hubway bike share program.

“Today is about formalizing the sustainability work of Harvard, MIT and Cambridge, but it is also about beginning the process of reaching out to other key partners,” said Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy.


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