Faculty, staff, and students affiliated with UMass Boston’s Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) were busy this fall spreading the word on sustainability from a number of different angles. Below is a nonexhaustive list of some of the center's activities.
UMass Boston faculty affiliated with SSL participated in four different events during Boston’s HUBweek, which took place October 9-14:
- On October 11, UMass Boston’s School for the Environment (SFE) led a Boston Harbor cruise during high tide focused on sustainability, marine life, and climate adaptation. The event featured demonstrations and talks from SFE’s faculty and researchers on local marine life and oceanographic instruments, such as the floating radiometer and shallow water sonar. Fred Laskey of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority gave a talk on the engineering feats of the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant.
- On October 12, in a session titled "Linked Threats: Climate Change and Social Inequality," McCormack Graduate School Dean David Cash and Atyia Martin, chief resilience officer of the City of Boston, discussed resiliency planning efforts at UMass Boston’s Sustainable Solutions Lab, the Green Ribbon Commission, and the City of Boston’s Offices of Environment, Energy and Open Space and Office of Resilience. They described how Boston has learned from other U.S. and international cities on innovative ideas in planning, research, implementation, and policy with the goal of addressing climate justice in a comprehensive and holistic way.
- On October 13, Professor Maria Ivanova was a featured expert in an OpenSpace session on climate innovation hosted by the MIT CoLab. She discussed global governance of climate change and the intersection of issues at local and global levels. Nyhan Fellow Bridget Bearden led a group discussion on the role of savings and investment in the mitigation of climate change.
- On October 15, in a session titled "Designing for Climate Change," Professor Paul Kirshen joined a discussion on how Boston’s best architects, developers, and thought leaders are approaching resilient design to plan for Boston’s future from a real estate perspective. The panel was hosted by Arrowstreet, Inc. in partnership with Lendlease, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Boston Waterfront Initiative.
DC, Massachusetts, and the Future of a Clean Energy Economy
The Alliance for Business Leadership and the Sustainable Solutions Lab co-hosted a special event titled "DC, Massachusetts, and the Future of a Clean Energy Economy" on October 17, 2017. It was a lively conversation about what the federal government's current approach to policies related to clean energy and the environment will have on the Massachusetts clean energy economy. The event was moderated by Heather Goldstone, science correspondent for WCAI and WGBH Radio, with David Cash, dean of UMass Boston's McCormack Graduate School; Ruben Mencos, founder and CEO of Proper Pipe, U.S.A.; and Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Lab.
DCIIA Academic Forum
Also on October 17, SSL’s Nyhan Fellow Bridget Bearden moderated a panel on sustainable investment at the annual Defined Contribution Institutional Investors Association (DCIIA) Academic Forum in New York City. Top scholars from across the country offered perspectives on sustainability accounting, investment performance, and fiduciary responsibility. Panelists included Jeffrey Hales of Georgia Tech and vice chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Advisory Board, George Serafeim of Harvard Business School and co-founder of KKS Advisors, and Susan Gary of the University of Oregon School of Law. The three academics told the institutional investment community that fiduciary frameworks do not prohibit plan sponsors from incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision making. In fact, ignoring ESG factors may be a fiduciary risk given increased disclosure, commoditization of ESG data, and new research on the materiality of ESG factors.
Clean Energy Is Today's Moonshot
On October 30, McCormack Graduate School, UMass Boston’s Sustainable Solutions Lab, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation sponsored a clean energy event on campus. Dean David W. Cash moderated the discussion with UMass Boston alumna and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Greentown Labs Executive Director and CEO Emily Reichert. Event coverage is available here.
Climate Adaptation Forum
On November 17, the Sustainable Solutions Lab and the Environmental Business Council of New England hosted the inaugural Climate Adaptation Forum. The half-day quarterly series of Climate Adaptation Forums will provide cutting-edge thought leadership on adaptation to climate change for environmental and energy professionals, policymakers, municipal officials, NGO leaders, and practitioners. The next forum is scheduled for January 12, 2018, titled "Risk Management Choices: Adaptation Strategies by Government and Insurers."
McCormack Graduate School's Dean David Cash commented, "All in all, fall 2017 saw SSL make advances in researching the solutions to climate impacts in the Boston region, and play a major role in convening cutting-edge discussions about resilience, equity, and climate change.”
Thought leaders at the Sustainable Solutions Lab develop, test, and implement environmentally sound, economically sustainable, and socially just solutions to the complex impacts of climate change on human and natural systems. This cross-college collaborative operates under the guidance of the deans of the College of Liberal Arts, College of Management, the John W.McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, and the School for the Environment, as well as center directors David Levy of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and Regional Competitiveness and Maria Ivanova of the Center for Governance and Sustainability.