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Workshop topics for October 17 meeting

Learn more about each topic. The exact set of topics held in each parallel session will be determined based on member feedback to the survey on the topics, found here.

The role biomass will play in a decarbonized economy is greatly debated. This workshop will show how the supply of biomass will be constrained by various factors as discussed in our technical team meetings thus far. We hypothesize that making the best use of this scarce resource is only possible through cross-sector coordination. During this workshop, we will run scenarios for how each member could contribute to coupled strategies and practices along the supply chain, and find opportunities for cross-sector synergy.

Prof. Noelle Selin presented in our July 2022 IAB meeting. This session will be an opportunity to learn more about and provide input on the platform she and her co-Lead, Raffaele Ferrari, are spearheading to leapfrog existing climate decision-support tools by leveraging advances in computational and data sciences and in the availability of Earth observations from space and from the ground. Their platform will improve the accuracy of climate models, quantify their uncertainty, and conveniently provide an optimal trade-off between performance and computation time suited for stakeholder needs. These will be test cases to apply the platform in software tools used for assessing risks of climate hazards and potential adaptation strategies. We will invite members to provide input on test cases that are a good match.

This session will further our cross-industry written perspective on circularity challenges including discussion of supply-demand mismatches, recovery technologies, logistics and infrastructural needs, policy gaps, and traceability of circularity actions to impacts. Leading into this session several companies have shared individual stories of circularity challenges. We will use the time together to develop these out across the members and identify links between these stories.

This workshop will survey key challenges related to climate change and sustainability, and present opportunities where machine learning (ML) can be leveraged to accelerate solutions. A subset of these opportunities will be highlighted through lightning talks by domain experts that will distill multifaceted challenges into critical data gaps. These talks will frame a brainstorming session where participants will discuss how to identify, collect and collate data and apply the ML toolset to advance problem-solving in the domain. Groups will share their collective learning and participants will be able to identify opportunities for future research and collaboration beyond the topics discussed in the workshop by drawing on the common themes across data-driven problems in sustainability.

This session will be a study group addressing knowledge gaps around fleet and fuel choice answering the question: what are the cross-sector knowledge gaps we need to close to accelerate decarbonization of tough to decarbonize transport? Electrification of long-haul trucking will be used as an example to kick off the session and then questions will be answered by experts in the domain to support business strategy development

We will demo the latest iteration of an interactive map that aims to support business decisions related to decarbonization and resilience. The evolution of the map has been through several cycles of prototype development and MCSC member feedback; the result is a platform that aims to be more comprehensive at addressing cross-sectoral needs than other interactive geospatial mapping tools. Currently the prototype contains more than 30 geospatial data layers from public sources including the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Geological Survey, and the Federal Emergency Management Association. These data layers include descriptions of point source emitters, carbon capture infrastructure, natural hazard risk, and social vulnerability. Some of the features of this interactive map include filtering capabilities which allow the user to find facilities that meet certain emissions thresholds, proximity criteria, and natural hazard risk levels. The utility of the map will be demonstrated through case studies related to energy grid resilience and new business models within carbon capture and sequestration.

We will present a design innovation in structural concrete called PixelFrame. PixelFrame, developed by Prof. Caitlin Mueller’s team (MIT Architecture), uses discretized reusable concrete structural elements called Pixels, which are designed for material efficiency and adaptability through an optimisation algorithm. Pixels are designed to be reused in various configurations multiple times, with a potential to provide solutions to the high carbon-intensity of conventional concrete structures and the challenges with recycling them. The optimized PixelFrame design leads to an estimated 60% reduction in carbon footprint relative to a conventional structural element, with further expected reductions if Pixels are reused multiple times. The MIT team has developed a novel structural concrete design that is efficient, reusable, versatile, reconfigurable and resilient, and received MCSC member company feedback on technical design specifications and feasibility of on-the-ground implementation. The goal is to fabricate prototypes at MIT and MCSC member company facilities in Fall 2022, aiming for a full-scale demonstrator building construction in Spring 2023. 

How do we create value in the social dimensions of sustainable solution-building? What metrics of social impact allow us to benchmark and re-design equitable value chains from the ground up? How do we avoid failures in the deployment of technology in real-world settings?

In this interactive workshop, we will explore the integration of social dimensions of sustainability into the design of technical solutions. Participants will engage in multi-criteria decision-making about metrics of social value, particularly aspects that are difficult-to-quantify and commensurate. We will learn from MIT researchers about new approaches to community engagement, and innovative collaborations that integrate social and technical change.

The social dimensions cross-cutting theme works collaboratively across the technical pathways of the MCSC to amplify and extend the design, implementation, and vestment of our solution-building. We are invested in a comprehensive approach to sustainable solutions that are practical, desirable, equitable, and respectful of human needs and contexts. Our transdisciplinary approach, exemplified by MCSC funded projects across multiple themes, enables us to consider users and the cultural and geographic context of innovation at the outset of solution-building.

Building on our impact pathway efforts, several of our members are pursuing focused work to enhance data and methodology capability towards improved assessment of the potential for soil carbon removal. The motivation for this work is that the impact of carbon sequestration within agricultural soils either through enhanced agriculture practices or through transitioning to grasslands, shrublands, and forests is largely unknown.This workshop is an opportunity to kick off this work with case study framing. These case studies will be analyzed in the larger context of what the potential is to improve overall carbon capture through nature-based solutions.

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