Sustainability at Tufts

Month: April 2012 (page 1 of 6)

Campus Sustainability Council update: Waste Working Group

Since the beginning of March, the three Working Groups of the Campus Sustainability Council have been meeting to discuss the current state of energy/emissions, water, and waste policies and practices at Tufts, and to create new policy measures in these areas.

The Waste Working Group met for the first time on March 12th and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include collaborating to create university-wide solid waste reduction/avoidance goals, presenting goals to the main Council for feedback and approval, and creating strategies to meet the goals, including implementation planning.

The group reviewed how Tufts manages its waste as well as consumption data. They learned that causes of waste output variations are usually hard to determine but that waste increases noticeably during a strong economy and times of high consumption, and that reduced consumption and reusing materials could impact waste output considerably. The group reviewed the waste breakdown for the past several years on the Boston and Medford campuses. Finally, the group looked into strategies for waste reduction. The waste management hierarchy follows, from most preferred to least preferred:

  • Source reduction and reuse
  • Recycling/composting
  • Energy recovery
  • Treatment and disposal

In the second meeting, the Waste Working Group decided to break down into smaller sub-groups, and the third meeting was spent working within those groups. The groups, along with their objectives, are:

  • Waste Management
    • To identify gaps and weaknesses in current waste management and address gaps, and to achieve uniformity in waste management practices wherever possible
    • Group will cover practices and metrics
  • Source Reduction
    • Group will impact waste reduction and responsible choices through purchasing contracts and client interface
  • Labs and Hospitals
    • Group will focus on laboratory and hospital waste management including animal facilities
  • Marketing and Education
    • Group will raise the level of awareness for waste reduction across all Tufts communities through behavior change

The working group members are now in the process of brainstorming goals and areas of policy change within their subgroups. Once this process is complete, the sub-groups will discuss their findings and the Waste Working Group will make a report to the Sustainability Council. The working group is co-chaired by Gretchen Kaufman, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Medicine in the Department of Environmental and Population Health and Director of the Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and Dawn Quirk, Waste Reduction Program Manager in Tufts Facilities Services.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

Aug 11-19: Suburban Permaculture Design & Leadership Course, Common Circle (Eugene, OR)

Join an unforgettable program in leadership, permaculture and sustainable design in Oregon with the world’s most renowned instructors and change your life, your community and your planet.  Not only do Common Circle Education courses offer the most complete curriculum of any similar program, but the people who come to the programs make this the most powerful training offered anywhere.

Gain cutting-edge skills in nature-inspired sustainable design that’s applicable virtually anywhere design is used — from green businesses to your own back yard.  Visit ecovillages, organic farms, the nation’s first biofuel station (ever seen a gas station with solar panels and a green roof selling kombucha? ;), while spending two weeks with some of the most inspiring people around!

During the workshop, we will talk about:

* Smart nature-inspired design principles
* Rainwater catchment and storage
* Greywater – smart water re-use with plant filters
* Food forests & garden design for food abundance
* Eco-psychology and Regenerative Leadership
* Intentional community design and dynamics
* Bio-remediation and toxic waste cleanup
* Natural building design – cob, strawbale and more
* Soil biology and regeneration
* Sustainable transportation and fuels
* Green business and sustainable economics
* Natural patterns and principles
* Everything you ever wanted to know about plants and soil!

We’re thrilled to announce the availability of a limited number of scholarships for our upcoming Urban Permaculture & Regenerative Leadership training in August.
Permaculture Design & Regenerative Leadership Course – Aug 11-19th
Tuition co-pay with scholarship:  $1000 (regular price: $3000!)
-> Discount code:  AUGUSTSCHOLARSHIP (only valid for august course)

We’re making ONLY TEN of these need-based scholarships available
first-come-first-serve.  Just sign up online, and if the system
accepts your credit card information with the code, you’re in.

Common Circle Education is the nation’s ecological design and
sustainable living school with courses in Oregon, Hawaii and
California; our instructors are some of the most well-known
leaders in sustainability, organics and permaculture design.

May 2-3: Community Visioning Workshops, Medford LEAP

Medford Local Energy Action Program – Community Visioning Workshops

The City of Medford and the Metropolitan Area  Planning Council (MAPC) are pleased to invite you to the Medford Local Energy Action Program Community Visioning Workshops. The Workshops are being held to solicit your input on how the City can best deliver and support energy reduction programs to Medford residents and businesses, as well as how the City can reduce its own energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Come give your opinion on how the City can help you.

There will be two workshops held, and each will have the same format and content.
1st Workshop Date: Wednesday, May 2, 7:00PM – 9:00PM

2nd Workshop Date: Thursday, May 3, 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Location: Medford City Hall, Council Chambers, 85 George P. Hassett Drive

The Community Visioning Workshops are open to the public, and residents, local business owners, students, and community stakeholders are all encouraged to attend. The workshops will include:

– An introduction to the Local Energy Action Program
– An overview of Medford’s past energy accomplishments
– Brainstorming sessions focused on energy opportunities and interests in Medford

For more information or to request special accommodations, please contact Erin Brandt at (617) 451-2770 ext. 2044 or at

May 14-20: Bay State Bike Week, MassDOT and MassBike

May 14-20 is Bay State Bike Week, a week when Massachusetts celebrates bicycle transportation. Once again, MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) have collaborated to make Bay State Bike Week an exciting statewide happening, with events scheduled throughout Massachusetts.

Bay State Bike Week is an annual celebration of human-powered, two-wheeled transportation. It is fitting that Massachusetts would be the only state in the nation with a truly statewide bike week, given our long history of biking. Bay State Bike Week has grown from a small crop of bike path coffee set-ups and organized rides to a cornucopia of film screenings, bike breakfasts, festivals and more. We certainly can’t plan all the events ourselves. We depend on thousands of hours of work from local advocates, bike shop owners, and just people who like seeing others go by bike to make this week work. Last year we had over 180 events, and we’re hoping for even more this year!

The 2012 Bay State Bike Week website is live!  Please visit the website to learn more about events that are already registered, how to participate in an existing event, or how to organize your own bicycling event for 2012. Also check Facebook and/or on Twitter for events.

If you are interested, you can also register for the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge through the Bay State Bike Week website.

Apr 30: Senior Projects Poster Session,Tufts Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering

When: Monday 4/30 from 12 to 1:15pm
Where: Atrium of SciTech

Join the Tufts Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering next Monday for a poster session highlighting senior student projects! Four out of seven of the projects relate to sustainability.

Project Appetizers:

1 & 2: These projects involve ways of removing carbon dioxide from the waste stream of a power plant.  The titles of these projects are “CO2 Capture with Lithium Zirconate” and “Fabrication and Analysis of a Wetted Wall Column for CO2 Analysis”.

3: This project involves a new method for fabricating solar energy collectors using electro-deposition.  Its title is “Increasing Conductivity in Cuprous Oxide: Doping with Electro-deposition and Hot-Point Probe Construction.”

4: For this project, the students are synthesizing ethanol from a plant called duckweed as an alternative to using corn.  The title of their project is “Hydrolysis Stage Optimization for the Production of Ethanol from Duckweed.”

While these projects don’t directly affect sustainability on our physical campus, it’s worth noting (and celebrating) that our students are thinking about sustainable practices in their research. These undergraduate research projects show the present and future trends in what Tufts students may contribute to sustainability beyond our campus.  We would like to give our students the opportunity to display their hard work and commitment to sustainability with like-minded members of the Tufts community.

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