Sustainability at Tufts

Month: August 2011 (page 2 of 4)

Eco-Ambassador Laurie Sabol: a green champion within and beyond Tufts

Laurie accepting the Bridge Builder Award from President Emeritus Larry Bacow

Last June at the 2011 Tufts Distinction Awards, the Office of Sustainability was proud to note that former Eco-Ambassador Laurie Sabol (FY 2009-10) was recognized* with a Bridge Builder Award for “bringing out the best in others”. It is easy to see why: apart from being the Social Sciences reference librarian at Tisch Library, Laurie has long been a “green advocate” within and beyond the Tufts community.

During her stint as an Eco-Ambassador, she wrote a proposal to start the Tisch Sustainability Team which has since received support and recognition from library administration. The Team has started several initiatives such as office composting and becoming a TerraCycle recycling site for chip/granola bar bags and writing implements. (Proceeds from TerraCycle benefit the Eco-Reps program.)

On being an Eco-Ambassador, Laurie says she really enjoyed networking with people she otherwise would not have met. She found the session on “Social Marketing and Communicating Change” most helpful because she found that the biggest challenge is convincing people to actively participate in sustainable initiatives.

In 2000, Laurie answered a call for board members at the statewide recycling coalition Mass Recycle and became involved with the organization for six years. She served as the board’s secretary, doing a lot of “grunt work” but also looked for speakers and spoke at a conference herself two years ago about the Tisch Sustainability Team. Of her time at Mass Recycle, she humbly remarks that “I learned how much I didn’t know.”

Before joining Tufts, Laurie worked at Chicago Public Library and Bowling Green State University (Ohio) where she had also started recycling initiatives. “At Chicago Public Library, we just had a laundry cart that we filled with newspapers and I found a local recycling organization who would take them.” There was no formal organization or recognition, as was the case in Bowling Green where the library staff began recycling cans and hauling the lot themselves to a recycling facility nearby. “It was fun and very low maintenance,” Laurie recalls. “We’d bring the cans over every Friday and go out for a beer.”

Not surprisingly, Laurie remains an active member of MassRecycle and the recycling program at her current hometown of Ayer, MA. She’s got plenty of other things going on, so drop by the library sometime and ask her about being a weekend puppy mom for NEADS and what she was doing in Xi’an, China in 1992…

*Another Eco-Ambassador, Chantal Hardy (FY 2010-11) of the English Department was also recognized for exceptional customer service with The Extra Mile Award.

Tufts earns a Silver in STARS

This August, Tufts earned a Silver rating for its sustainability achievements under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS), a new program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

Tufts got a 62.73% overall score for its submission, just shy of a Gold rating.

“Tufts’ Silver rating in the recent STARS assessment provides strong recognition of our institutional achievements in sustainability,” University President Tony Monaco noted. “This is a priority for me personally, and in light of the clear support across the university for intensifying our commitment, I am certain that we will accomplish even more in the years ahead.”

In STARS, institutions evaluate performance in four main areas: Education and Research; Operations; Planning, Administration and Engagement; and Innovation.

Tufts received full points in several areas and above average scores in two out of three main categories, earning maximum credits for innovation; student-led initiatives such as trayless dining; sustainability outreach and publications; research initiatives, incentives for developing sustainability courses; diversity and affordability; and human resources.

The STARS Silver rating is the latest accomplishment in Tufts’ long history of leadership involving sustainability and the environment. In 1990, then-President Jean Mayer convened a conference of global educational leaders at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. The conference led to the Talloires Declaration, a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities that has since been signed by 433 institutions in over 40 countries.

Tufts was also a founding (and the first university) member of the Chicago Climate Exchange. In 1999, under then-President DiBiaggio, the university publicly committed to meet the Kyoto goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Developed by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It is the only program of its kind that involved publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, STARS is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS Rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

Of  121 STARS rated institutions in the U.S. and Canada, 22 earned Gold, 65 earned Silver, and 27 earned Bronze designations.

See the full scorecard for Tufts at the STARS website.

Sep 7: The National Climate Seminar

When: September 7

Speakers: Mike Tidwell, author and Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Mike has been at the center of the clean energy movement for a decade, and is helping organize the large-scale civil disobedience action at the White House this month, as well as supporting’s Moving Planet global day of action scheduled for October. He will be speaking on The Tea Party and Climate Strategy.

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy is pleased to announce an exciting fall line up for The National Climate Seminar. The Seminar is a twice-monthly national conference call with top climate scientists, policy makers, analysts, and communications experts. Join us this fall on the first and third Wednesday of each month, at noon Eastern time.

For more information, please contact or visit

Tufts delegate at Recharge! Retreat

Focus the Nation selected 20 rising clean energy leaders—5 each in the categories of Technicians, Innovators, Politicos and Storytellers—to spend one week on Mt. Hood, Oregon together at its Recharge! Retreat. One of the delegates in the Innovators category is Julie Paul from Tufts, an incoming second year graduate student in Chemical Engineering. Her research is primarily focused on the interactions between mammalian and bacterial cells, but she has worked on a project exploring the creation of biofuels using e.coli.

“I’m excited to see the technology and I’ve never been to Oregon, where we will be able to see solar, hydro and wind energy projects all in one place,” Julie said over a phone interview. The retreat will end with a hike on a glacier.
We will catch up with Julie when she gets back. Find out more about the Recharge! Retreat here.

Book Release: “Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System For All”

When: August 4, 2011, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Where: FIrst Parish, 3 Church Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge

Join us for the release of Oran Hesterman’s new book! Seasonal Refreshments provided by CHIVE- Sustainable Event Design & Catering. This event is free, but space is limited! Please RSVP to Alex Linkow at

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