MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The Program for Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER) has now completed its fifthth year of operation. The Program functions as a virtual center with the mission of coordinating and focusing research and education on the intersection between technology and sustainable development. Centered mainly in the School of Engineering, PEEER involves faculty and research staff members and students from all of the other schools at MIT in examining a wide range of technology-related environmental problems, at all levels from local concerns to issues of international concern and transboundary effects. The objective of the program is to establish multidisciplinary research efforts where none now exist and to strengthen existing efforts. The MIT units most active in PEEER activities are:

MIT Energy Laboratory
Professor Jefferson Tester, Chemical Engineering

Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development (CTPID)
Professor Daniel Roos, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Nicholas A. Ashford, School of Engineering

Program in Business, Technology and the Environment
Dr. John Ehrenfeld, Chemical Engineering and CTPID

MIT/EPA Center for Airborne Toxins
Professor Adel Sarofim, Chemical Engineering

MIT/EPA Center for Environmental Remediation
Professor Dennis McLaughlin, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Materials Systems Laboratory
Professor Joel Clark, Materials Science and Engineering

Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Harold Hemond, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Philip A. Gscwhend, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Professor Larry Susskind
Professor Lawrence Bacow
Professor Vicki Norberg-Bohm

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor Ian Waitz

Department of Chemistry
Professor Jeffrey I. Steinfeld

Department of Nuclear Engineering
Professor George Apostalakis
Professor Michael Golay

Department of Chemical Engineering
Professor Gregory McRae

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor Donald Sadoway

Department of Ocean Engineering
Professor Alan Brown
Professor Judith Kildow

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Professor Rafael Reif

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Professor David Wallace

Division of Toxicology
Professor Stephen Tannenbaum


This year, the PEEER research agenda has been focused on expanding its established long-term goals . The program has pursued work in the four areas of:


A large volume of research in traditional disciplines is underway at MIT in the area of environmental sciences, technology, and engineering. This research, and its educational components, have kept the Institute in the forefront of international research into environmentally relevant science and technology.

The PEEER perspective represents a new phase of environmental study at MIT, both internally and in international leadership. The Program is designed to stimulate and support inter-disciplinary activities especially in areas of newly evolving research, such as industrial ecology and the influence of science and technology on environmental policy. These activities build on MIT's strong disciplinary base in fields fundamental to the understanding of environmental issues. They bring together groups of investigators studying differing aspects of an environmental problem to analyze it and contribute to appropriate solutions. In 1995-96, PEEER faculty members have extended the Program's interdisciplinary focus into a major international collaboration on issues of sustainable development. The Alliance for Global Sustainability, described below, has completed its first year of activities, and has embarked upon a research and educational agenda of global scope.


PEEER is supporting the formation of consortia seeking strategies to enable industrial groups to anticipate environmental concerns. Some of these strategies depend on the concept "industrial ecology," an analytical perspective regarding systems of materials extraction, processing, product design, manufacturing, recycling and use in a holistic manner. The main tool of industrial ecology is life cycle analysis, a framework including not only materials flows and waste emissions but also the internal and external incentives that guide them. Other approaches to the development of pro-active environmental strategies are focusing on how an industry might develop an approach that is right for it. Part of this effort involves developing structures for dialogue between industry, regulators, and public interest groups. Two meetings developed during the year and presented in spring of 1996 furthered this effort:

Proactive Environmental Strategies for Industry

In May, PEEER in collaboration with the Industrial Liaison Program, presented a conference on "Proactive Environmental Strategies for Industry: Anticipating the Future in Environmental and Sustainability Driven Problems." The meeting showcased MIT research and educational work in this area. Speakers outline the ways in which industry is moving away from a reactive stance to command-and-control regulation towards proactive strategies, empphasizing the anticipation and avoidance of problems. Participants, including MIT faculty members, senior corporate executives, public interest group representatives, and high-level government administrators discussed:

What is sustainability and what does it mean to business?

What issues will drive new technology development?

Who will have the ability to compete internationally and at what cost?

What changes in organizational structure are indicated?

How are industries responding both technically and strategically?

Managing the Future Uses of Chlorine

On June 12-13, 1996, PEEER sponsored a conference entitled, "The Future Uses of Chlorine: Issues in Education, Research, and Policy." The meeting capped the third and final year of the MIT Chlorine Project, which supported interdisciplinary education and research into the management of chlorine in the environment. the project was part of the MIT Initiative in Environmental Leadership. A central theme of the meeting, convened by Professor Marks, was that complex environmental problems, such as managing chlorine, require collaboration among multiple academic disciplines as well as diverse stakeholder groups. The conference featured plenary sessions and research workshops which addressed the toxicology of organochlorines, public concerns about their use, and how industry is responding. One conclusion of the meeting was that working independently, researchers may fail to grasp the full dimensions of environmental problems that are huge--global-- in scope. Environmental impacts may be more profound at the global level than at the local level.


The Technology, Business, and Environment Program focuses upon the new demands of sustainability and the cultural changes taking place in firms as they move toward greater environmental awareness. Research examines tools and strategies that can speed up learning and change in corporations. One project probes the question of whether industry-initiated "codes of environmental management" such as the Responsible Care initiative and ISO 14000 are moving firms in the direction of environmentally sustainable practices. A second study examines the adoption and implementation of design for environment methodologies. Research also looks at European environmental management, for example, how the Netherlands' use of voluntary agreements between government and industry impacts its goal of achieving sustainable development in one generation. An additional research focus is industrial ecology, specifically, the historic development of closely coupled industrial communities, such as Kalundborg, Denmark, where energy and materials from each industrial plant are used efficiently by others.


PEEER is part of a confederation of MIT groups working on how automobiles interact with the environment in every phase of their production and use. In the Materials Systems Laboratory, Professor Joel Clark is developing detailed cost models of materials substitutions in the auto industry and their impacts on environment, cost, fuel economy, and safety. Funding for this program comes in part from the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) directed by Professor Daniel Roos and from the US Department of Energy through the MIT Energy Lab, with some industrial sponsors. The PEEER Initiative in Regional Air Pollution detailed below is also contributing to these activities. The Technology, Business and the Environment Program is investigating industrial responses to environmental pressures in conjunction with the IMVP. Investigators in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering are studying the nature of combustion. Research into the impacts of automobile traffic is being pursued in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Ongoing work in both these areas are being integrated into a systems approach to the study of the impact of automobiles on the environment.

In July, 1996, a symposium on Advanced Instrumentation for Air Quality Measurements was held at Endicott House. The meeting was organized by Center on Airborne Organics directed by Professor Adel F. Sarofim. The Center is a joint enterprise of MIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and California Institute of Technology. The symposium explored how recent and ongoing advances in trace gas and aerosol measurement technology might benefit the urban and regional air quality community as it grapples with issues of photochemical oxidant and airborne aerosol pollution.


Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) and Semitech are collaborationg on a large program on the "Greening of the Work Station" dealing with problems of recycling, material substitution, and health effects related to electronics and computer equipment. Professors Rafael Reif (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Donald Sadoway are building a full-scale pilot chip production chip facility in the Micro Systems Technology Laboratory, The work is addressing issues of pollution prevention, particularly the use and emission of toxic and hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process.


Members of the Design Group in the Department of Mechancial Engineering studying environmentally-conscious design view the interest in design-for -the-environment as part of a trend toward system-oriented product design. They are developing integrated product system models to account for complex interactions when designing to simultaneously meet manufacturing, in-use performance, and environmental goals. The group is led by Professor David Wallace.


PEEER faculty and affiliates continue to look for a way to describe and define the intersection between technology and sustainable development. Research teams within the Parsons Laboratory, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program are investigating the many ways in which human beings interact with and alter their environments. This research is leading toward a new discipline which might be termed "ecological engineering". Its objective would be to identify and remediate impacts of past improper practices, and to move towards a better, more sustainable relationship between natural processes and human activities. PEEER faculty are engaged in both aspects of the developing idea of ecological engineering: environmental remediation and environmental management.


Dr. Elizabeth Drake of the MIT Energy Lab is leading a new interdisciplinary team to develop funding and cooperation to handle large quantities of mixed waste (radioactive and hazardous) at weapons sites and bases managed by the US Departments of Energy and of Defense. To build new environmental remediation technologies and tools, the E-Lab group is drawing on expertise in the Parsons Laboratory, the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, of Nuclear Engineering, and of Mechanical Engineering, and the Plasma Fusion Laboratory (Physics) to find ways to neutralize or dispose of hazardous and toxic wastes currently threatening the environment. Under the leadership of Professor Marks, MIT faculty members have begun a long-term project to direct the development of education and new technologies for environmental remediation at the Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


As industry moves toward more ecologically sound systems of production, distribution, and disposal of products, government must find ways of managing currently unavoidable environmental problems. This PEEER-sponsored project, under the leadership of Professor Gregory McRae, has brought together faculty members from the Departments of Architecture, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Urban Planning, and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in a major modeling initiative. The group, funded through the Lee and Geraldine Martin Foundation, is developing strategies to implement the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments in the northeast United States.


PEEER also awards a fellowship made possible by the Martin Foundation . This year's recipient was Jennifer Howard, a student in the Technology, Management and Policy doctoral program whose "home" department is Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is working in the area of industrial ecology, and is studying the chemical industry and the organizational and management changes required by their "Responsible Care" initiative (a non-regulatory code of environmental practices developed by the industry). She is particularly interested in the organizational changes demanded by practices directed towards environmental sustainability . Ms. Howard's advisor is Dr. John Ehrenfeld; other members of her doctoral committee are Professors Maureen Scully (Sloan), Michael Piore (Economics) and Leo Marx (Science, Technology and Society).


MIT does an excellent job of educating and advancing the knowledge base for those who see themselves as environmental professionals (in areas like Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and Urban Studies and Planning) While promoting these programs, PEEER faculty are also focusing on the much larger group of engineering, science, management, and social science students whose daily professional decisions about materials choice, processing, product design, development strategies and recycling will have substantial implications for the environment.


PEEER has created a four-subject graduate sequence in Chemicals in the Environment designed to give graduate and advanced undergraduate students the skills they will need to become effective managers of the environment. The subjects have been developed to provide a systematic and interdisciplinary look at the critical issues of chemicals introduced into the environment and the work place. These subjects, designed for non-majors, are: Chemicals in the Environment: Sources and Controls (Chemical Engineering); Chemicals in the Environment: Chemicals and Human Disease (Toxicology); Chemicals in the Environment: Environmental Fate and Transport (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Chemicals in the Environment: Policy and Management (Urban Studies and Planning). In 1991, this series received the MIT Sizer Award for outstanding contribution to education at MIT.


The AT&T Foundation has awarded grants to six academic institutions for research and educational development in the emerging field of industrial ecology. This perspective enables analysts to find ways to eliminate or minimize environmental impacts at every stage of a product's life cycle, from design to manufacture to use and disposal. The field, which deals with the integration of technology and environment in all economic activity, includes elements of engineering, physical science, economics, management, and law.

In funding this project, AT&T has named Professors Clark, Richard de Neufville, Marks, Sadoway, and Dr. Ehrenfeld as AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellows. The proposal for the project outlined a major educational initiative designed to interject environmental options into masters-level engineering education at MIT . Through design, development, testing, and implementation of such materials at MIT, the project proponents hope to influence similar advances in other institutions as well. The immediate goal of this work is to establish the foundations of a masters-level professional degree in industrial ecology at MIT. This year, a module of industrial ecology subjects has been developed to support the new industrial ecology option of the new professional masters degree in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, as described below. The industrial ecology project group is working toward integration of this module into other degree programs.


A three-day Environmental Boot Camp has been developed by Professor Marks and Dr. Ehrenfeld for students in the Leaders for Manufacturing Program (LFM). The subject covers environmental issues that confront those working in industry and the regulatory context for environmental management. It addresses questions most often asked by former LFM graduates. Subsequently, Dr. Ehrenfeld also leads a group interested in product life-cycle concerns for the LFM. Dr. Ehrenfeld and Professor Marks are serving as advisors for a new group of environment-oriented LFM students.


PEEER is committed to integrating environmental awareness into the educations of all MIT students. To this end, the program has encouraged the creation of several subject designed to provide "environmental literacy" for non-majors. In addition to the Chemicals in the Environment and Industrial Ecology subjects described above, such offerings now include 1.01J, 10.27lJ Environment and Technology (Professor Philip Gschwend and Dr. Ehrenfeld); l6.542 Environmental Aerospace Engineering (Professor Ian Waitz); and 1.782 Environmental Remediation Engineering (Professor Marks in conjunction with a local consulting firm), and a new course on technology and the environment initiated by Professor Vicki Norberg-Bohm (DUSP). Of the three MIT subjects currently explicitly addressing issues of sustainable development, three are taught by PEEER faculty.

Course modules emphasizing environmental concerns have been introduced into regular professional design subjects in the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Ocean Engineering.


At the undergraduate and graduate level, degree programs in Environmental Engineering Science (Civil and Environmental Engineering) continue to grow and expand. The Technology, Management and Policy Program, and interdisciplinary standing doctoral committee recognized by the Dean of the Graduate School, now enables doctoral students to compose a significant minor or major in pollution prevention/ industrial ecology/clean technologies areas, which has not been institutionally feasible in the past. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has established a professional Masters of Engineering degree program with an option in environmental engineering. The Department of Ocean Engineering has also established an master's program with an ocean environmental systems focus.


A minor program in environmental engineering is offered through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The program specifies six sets of approved subjects that MIT will recognize as an official environmental minors to be so recorded on transcripts and diplomas. Professor Gschwend is directing environmental minor program.


Led by Professor J. I. Steinfeld, a Traineeship Program funded by the National Science Foundation and located in the Department of Chemistry, focuses on the Chemistry of the Environment. Nine faculty members are carrying out research in diverse areas relating to the production, dispersion, and removal of chemical species in the natural environemnt, and their interactions with biological systems. A centralintegrating component of the program is an interdisciplinary Seminar in Environmental Chemistry, which is required of the trainees but is open to all graduate and undergraduate students. The seminar addresses technical, economic, political, and environmental aspects of problems involving the intersection of chemistry and society.


Several of the initiatives outlined above included outreach to the industries, and governmental agencies, and public interest groups involved in the issues taken up by PEEER. In order to improve problem definition, share research findings, and identify emerging issues of interest to MIT, the program is communicating with these sectors through meetings, invited speakers, and publications.


PEEER is responsible for the publication of a monthly newsletter Environmental Calendar, edited by Dr. Teresa Hill (PEEER and DUSP). The newsletter includes details of upcoming events and synopses of research, editorial comment by faculty members, announcements, and other news of environmental studies at MIT. Special issues of both these publications distribute information about environmental subject offerings each term and for IAP.


The Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), an international partnership focused on issues critical to ensuring the sustainability of the global environment, has just completed a very successful first year of activities. PEEER faculty members are active in the research being developed collaboratively through the Alliance. Three major science and technology institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, and the University of Tokyo are the founding members of AGS. With concerns growing world wide to find pathways to future economic and social development that will be harmonious with protection of the environment, and the future of its vital ecosystems, the partners seek to apply scientific and economic disciplines to define new approaches to a sustainable civilization.

In January 1996, researchers affiliated with the AGS met in Tokyo to begin forming consortia of multidisciplinary research projects designed to address issues in ten thematic areas. The project areas are: Mobility, Energy, Health, Regional Sustainability (watershed scale), Global Change, Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing, Cities of the Future, Regulatory Harmonization and Trade, Framing Sustainability, and Monitoring. Researchers in each thematic area subsequently met throughout the year to discuss and coordinate their work. Several of these workshops and planned activities, in the areas of energy, global change, cleaner technologies, and cities of the future are taking place during the summer and fall of 1996. Alliance projects are designed to benefit from the differing geographic perspectives of the three institutions' faculties and participants from all continents. Environmental issues of particular significance to developing nations are an additional focus of AGS research. Projects are being structured so that they can achieve maximum synergy among the partner institutions, have major contact with all stakeholders in each decision-making process, and promote world-wide education and communication.

The next annual meeting of the AGS will be held at MIT Jan. 22-25, 1997. In addition to the meetings of affiliated faculty from the three founding universities and presentation of ongoing research, the meeting will include the first meeting of the recently appointed AGS International Advisory Board. Stephan Schmidheiny, Swiss industrialist and author of Changing Course and Financing Change about the role industry can play in promoting a sustainable future, will serve as the first Chairman of this Board which includes the presidients of the three universities and six additional members.

Professor Marks is coordinating Alliance activities at MIT. The work of the Alliance projects onto the international stage PEEER's founding principles of knowledge-sharing between all sectors; interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental issues; and the continuing interplay of research and curricula development.

David H. Marks

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96