Geothermal, Monitoring

U.S. University Creates Laboratory for Energy and Environment

One of the more prestigious universities in the United States will strengthen its focus on energy and environmental problems.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, US, 2001-06-06 [SolarAccess.com] One of the more prestigious universities in the United States will strengthen its focus on energy and environmental problems. On July 1, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will merge its Energy Laboratory and its Center for Environmental Initiatives to form the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. LFEE will combine faculty from 14 departments to address the interrelationships between energy and environment, and also the technological, economic and social aspects of sustainable energy development and use. “We are approaching the science, technology and policy of addressing energy and environmental problems in an integrated, coherent way,” says chancellor Lawrence Bacow. “Tough problems like energy and the environment do not respect disciplinary boundaries. We’ve tried to create a new organization to deal with those tough problems.” LFEE will house more than a dozen existing centers, groups and programs, and will serve as a focal point for energy and environmental activities throughout MIT. The new lab will enhance synergy among the university’s diverse energy and environmental activities. The Energy Lab was founded in 1972 and the CEI was formed in 1997. “What distinguishes this program from other universities’ programs that look at energy and the environment is that the technologic expertise is here at MIT and here in spades,” explains LFEE director David Marks, currently head of the CEI. “The expertise is such that we can look not just at single technologies in depth but also across technologies; and we can study interactions between the technology side and economics, management and policy issues.” Initial areas of focus will be energy supply, demand and use technologies; integrated assessments of alternative technology portfolios; improved methods of modeling, monitoring and measuring impacts of human activity on environmental systems; and improved understanding of the economic, political and institutional dimensions of energy- and environment-related problems and solution options. An emphasis will be on forming links between technical and economic and policy groups. Jefferson Tester will step down as director of the Energy Lab after eleven years, and will continue his research on geothermal and other renewable energy technologies through LFEE.