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Achieving Sustainability and Environmental Resilience

When: Wednesday’s, January 17th- April 19th
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm ET
West Village F, Room 020, Northeastern University | Livestream


Recent reports raise issues about slow progress in achieving sustainability, climate justice, and environmental resilience. This interdisciplinary lecture/workshop course includes case studies, quantitative and qualitative measurement tools, and research from scholars, practitioners, advocates, and data analysts to examine metrics for achieving progress in these areas, with a focus on water, heat, planning, policy, ethics, equity and climate racial justice. The course will focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of sustainability rating systems, and is offered in conjunction with partners including the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). We will cover ISI sustainability rating system (ENVISION) credits, certification, and project audits requirements. The course is co-taught by public policy (Prof. Ted Landsmark) and engineering (Prof. Abdel Mustafa) faculty, and is intended to assist in addressing issues of environmental justice, social equity, and the impacts of environmental interventions that may generate measurable social consequences.

Matriculating students seeking academic credit must register for SPPUA 5225/5226, and participate in class discussions on Wednesdays from 4:35 pm to 5:50 pm. The class is also offered in conjunction with Honors section HONR3310, Racial Dialogue. Matriculating students will write short exploratory papers and a semester-long research paper. There is no final examination.

Weekly lectures and on-line presentations are open to the general public without registration.

Please reach out to with any questions.

Upcoming Sessions

Boston’s Climate Progress Report: achieving net-zero emissions, climate resilience, and equity

This Wednesday’s open classroom speakers are Policy School Prof. Joan Fitzgerald (Ph.D.) and Michael Walsh, Ph.D, Founding Partner, Groundwork Data.

Dr. Walsh was the co-PI on the Boston Climate Assessment and oversaw the execution of the Carbon Free Boston and Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap studies where he obtained an unmatched familiarity with Boston’s and the Commonwealth’s historical emissions data and climate progress, and the technical, policy, and equity strategies needed to achieve the City’s and State’s targets. He has also overseen local climate action projects for Boston University (waste) and the Rose Kennedy Greenway (assessment of natural carbon stocks). Currently, he is leading a municipal-focused gas transition study (for HEET, GRC, and RMI) and developing a framework for the analysis of urban waste-to-energy pathways (for Pacific Northwest National Lab). Dr. Walsh also served on the Livable Street’s Go Boston 2030 Progress Report Advisory Committee. He will be responsible for quantitative data analysis and reporting and serve as a technical expert.
Prof. Joan the co-author of the inaugural Boston Climate Progress Report, which first time in the history of Boston, examines Boston’s progress toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, its resilience to future climate disruptions, and the equity of climate response. In her book, Greenovation: Urban Leadership on Climate Change (Oxford Univ. Press, 2020), she argues that the climate strategies of most cities represent random acts of greenness rather than integrated and aggressive action. She points to leading cities in North America and Europe and offers strategies for cities to accelerate their action. She is co-authoring a new book, Cities and the Struggle for Climate Justice. Fitzgerald also blogs on urban climate action on Planetizen. She teaches The 21st Century City, Cities, Sustainability & Climate Change, and Intro Environmental Science & Policy at the Policy School.

There will be no public portion for tonight’s open classroom.

Envision Rating System for Sustainable Infrastructure 

This week’s guest speaker Anthony Kane is President & CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure in Washington, DC where he oversees the organization’s overall operations and leads the development of the Envision framework for sustainable infrastructure. Kane also sits as a commissioner on the Washington DC Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency. He will talk about ISI and particularly the Envision rating system, designed to help infrastructure stakeholders implement more sustainable, resilient, and equitable projects. Envision helps communities cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, create good-paying “green” jobs, address environmental justice, and meet climate-change targets. Infrastructure owners and design teams, community and environmental groups, constructors, regulators, and policymakers can all benefit from using Envision.

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation efforts by the Maldives
This week’s guest speaker, Hussain Ziyath, is a Humphrey Fellow SPUR MIT, and Chief Planning Officer at Housing Development Corporation, Maldives, where he worked on nationwide masterplans providing planning consultancy for new urban and regional developments. In his private capacity, he works as a planner with local government agencies and communities to produce local development plans through participatory planning. Hussain holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Architectural Science from Curtin University and a Master of Arts in Urban Planning and Design from the University of Sheffield. At MIT, Hussain aims at exploring how decentralized planning and governance can bring equitable access to services and sustainable urban development.

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

Spring Break! Class will resume next week.

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

The European Green Deal – Towards the first climate-neutral continent


Dr. Irmgard Buder has been a Professor of Renewable Energies since April 2012 and Head of the Environment and Energy B. Sc. program since April 2013. After completing her PhD on the application of cyclic electroanalytical measurement methods and their application to new substances, she first worked on the development of new nano-based materials, and later on the development of new membranes for fuel cells. She is also active in several projects on energy transition with a focus on energy storage in the form of hydrogen and on sustainable transport, e.g. in the field of multimodal mobility concepts (PROMUOVE) and on the sustainable development goal “affordable and clean energy” in the form of hydrogen in the project TransRegINT – Transformation of the Lower Rhine Region, Innovation, Sustainability, Participation.


Irmgard Buder will talk about “The European Green Deal – Towards the first climate-neutral continent”. How should the EU 27 become climate neutral by 2050 while ensuring a just and inclusive transition and a clean, affordable, and secure energy supply?

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

The ENVISION Program for the Pedestrian Bridge and the Sustainable SITES Initiative for Carter Field and Playground
This week’s open classroom will be joined by Cassandra McKenzie (she/her). Cassandra is the Associate Vice President (AVP) of Real Estate and Capital Projects in the Planning, Real Estate, and Facilities Division of Northeastern University (NU). As the AVP, Cassandra is responsible for the real estate portfolio and $500M of new construction and renovations in Northeastern’s footprint including the Global sites. Cassandra has transformed the project management practices at Northeastern and shifted the focus to a more data driven decision making process. She is particularly adept at team building and has focused her return to NU on developing staff through mentoring, training, and professional development. Cassandra is dedicated to increasing diversity in the construction industry both in hiring practices and supplier engagement.

There will be no speaker for this week’s open classroom.

This weeks open classroom will be joined by Prof. Maria Ivanova, Director of the Policy School  at 6:00 pm (West Village F 020). She will talk about Leadership in Global Environmental Governance: Individuals, Institutions, and Ideas.

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