Perched on Columbia Point, a coastal peninsula just south of Downtown Boston, the University of Massachusetts Boston is intricately linked to its surrounding coastal environment. The university's location has inspired a focus on environmental science and policy in teaching and research as well as ambition for greater operational sustainability.
Pursuit of sustainability requires a comprehensive and continuously evolving approach to environmental and social stewardship. The Center for Governance and Sustainability plans to initiate efforts to assess, monitor, and evaluate campus sustainability at UMass Boston and beyond and apply this knowledge to analyzing sustainability efforts and prospects in other organizations—private, governmental, non-governmental and intergovernmental. The goal is to help transition UMass Boston to a more sustainable model of an urban, public, higher education institution and generate intellectual capital about sustainability more broadly.
The center's focus on sustainability includes research and operational engagement. To this end, the Center plans to perform three primary functions:
- Catalyze new sustainability research, with a focus on student research opportunities
- Catalyze operational projects to improve the university's sustainability with an emphasis on best practices to be adapted from other colleges and universities
- Serve as an avenue for collaboration between students, faculty, staff, and other universities globally in tackling issues of sustainability
The center will advise the university administration in making sustainability decisions, encourage researchers and students to focus on the interdisciplinary nature of the issue, catalyze new research, and provide an outlet for student initiatives.
UMass Boston's flagship sustainability project, the Green Harbors Project (GHP), has joined the Center for Governance and Sustainability.
The Green Harbors Project (GHP)
Initiated and led by Anamarija Frankić, the Green Harbors Project (GHP) has integrated contemporary research in biomimicry and the ancient Hawaiian sustainable practice of Ahupua’a, to adapt and sustain human activities within coastal ecosystems and their environmental limitations.
Biomimicry is an emerging discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The structure and function of biological materials provide examples for analogous synthetic design and manufacturing. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies by learning from and ‘listening to’ nature. The 1500-year-old native Hawaiian Ahupua’an approach defines sustainable relationships among land, water and humans from the tops of islands to the coral reefs and the open ocean. The main connection—as well as impediment—among the different self-sustaining units in this approach was the quality and quantity of the water. Land stewardship practices were established to ensure that water used for agricultural purposes higher on the mountains was either unharmed or enhanced for downstream uses.
Highlighted Link: Living in a Box
As part of the sustainable earth photos, the recent newsletter from the National Geographic Museum promoted the sustainable initiative of using discarded shipping containers for living and office space.
The case of Amsterdam is presented in a 11-photos slideshow. This city has been meeting the pressing needs for student and low-income housing by using these containers in the construction of dorms and small apartments. The results are a new trend in creative housing that requires less energy and materials, is cost efficient and reuses container to house people rather than products. This construction technique is being used in many other facilities around the world, becoming an innovative alternative to provide sustainable and comfortable space.