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Sustainable development at MIT: not much this term

For those of you who don’t know, I have just started a Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) at MIT.  I am about 3 weeks into the program and I love being back in school.  So many resources at my fingertips, I don’t know when I will be able to sleep again.

I decided to come back to school as I really want to continue my life in real estate and doing more sustainable/ green development; however, I would like to do bigger projects than just one single family residential property at a time.  I had lots of fun on my Fitzroy project and learned a ton but want to try to make a bigger difference.

I thought that going back and getting my MSRED would allow me to not only quantify my projects better, as there is a lot of emphasis on financial analysis, but also provide me with significant exposure to cutting edge sustainable development.  Why did I think this?

Because this is what they wrote for the Vision of the program:

The structures built by the real estate industry comprise over a third of the world’s tangible wealth, and are responsible for over a third of the world’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions. For the industry to maintain its responsible leadership in the global community, it must encourage a culture of sustainability and innovation that meets the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world.MIT is uniquely positioned to help the industry increase its efficiency, prosperity, and social responsibility. Through research and education initiatives at the MIT Center for Real Estate, MIT applies its tradition of excellence in technology, knowledge transfer, and global reach to the real estate industry, developing innovations to help practitioners build responsibly and profitably.

Our goal is to educate the next generations of industry leaders, preparing them with tools to develop better real estate worldwide. In keeping with the MIT tradition, we bring to industry the very best offered by practical experience coupled with the interdisciplinary studies of design, science, and engineering. We offer:

  • A specialized, globally recognized, one-year Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) program that emphasizes the creation, operation, and management of the physical product of real estate.
  • A unique, interdisciplinary research platform that links academia with industry to meet the need for more informed decision-making based on practical knowledge.
  • A network of global outreach that links the real estate industry with Center graduates and MIT to develop and support the industry’s long-term growth.

Envisioning the industry’s integrated stewardship of its land and products, the MIT Center for Real Estate provides tomorrow’s practitioners with the means to transform an ever more vital and complex market.

Unfortunately, the center has let me down quite a bit so far. Although there is class offered by the Center of Real Estate on sustainable development this next spring semester, it is only an elective course and appears to only skim the surface of this enormous topic/field.  I hope that I am wrong.

Sure, there are other classes offered by other departments that try an tackle the topic of sustainability (and I am taking/sitting in on those that I have been able to find for this term) but nothing that is that amazing at the moment.

Overall, I am little bit disappointed that such a technology-focused institution would not try to be at the forefront of this new wave of development.  I would have hoped that they would be mandatory for anyone getting a MSRED.

However, there is still hope as there are a couple of interesting courses offered in other departments next term – and I have not taken the Center’s sustainable building course yet and I may be pleasantly surprised. And there seems to be quite a bit of interest in the topic by the students themselves so maybe we just need to start a class/group by ourselves.