Tufts Gets Green

Office of Sustainability's Blog

Author: Nicolas Lusardo (page 1 of 9)

Sept 13: Rio+20: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When: Thursday, September 13, 12pm – 1pm

Where: Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room on the Medford Campus (map)

Join us as we start off the fall 2012 semester with a team of Tufts faculty, staff, and students who attended the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this past June 2012. The main purpose of their trip was to host a side event titled “From Burden Bearing to Opportunity Sharing: Reframing Environmental Negotiations,” focusing on how the current negotiations can shift from a pollution prevention framework to opportunities for sustainable development through access to cleaner energy technologies, resilient development, access to fresh water, and improved health. Team members also conducted their own research and analyzed the Rio+20 text that was being negotiated. The panel will discuss some key themes that came out of Rio+20 and some ideas for ways forward.

Panelists include:

Kelly Sims Gallagher is Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts. She directs the Energy, Climate, and Innovation (ECI) research program in the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP). Broadly, she focuses on energy and climate policy in both the United States and China. She is particularly interested in the role of policy in spurring the development and deployment of cleaner and more efficient energy technologies, domestically and internationally.

Mieke van der Wansem is the Associate Director of Center for Environment and Resource Policy at The Fletcher School. Mieke has over fifteen years of experience as organizational and program leader and manager, trainer, facilitator, and researcher on environmental and natural resource policy issues.

Laura Kuhl is a doctoral candidate at Fletcher, focusing on environmental policy and development economics. She is a recipient of a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellowship in Water and Diplomacy. Current research projects include the study of technology transfer for adaptation conducted with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and a NOAA-funded project on climate change adaptation, sea level rise and environmental justice communities conducted in collaboration with a team from Tufts, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the University of Maryland.

Rishikesh Bhandary is a doctoral candidate at Fletcher, focusing on international environment and resource policy and negotiations and conflict resolution. He has a keen interest in climate change policy and is looking to explore innovative sources of finance and market based strategies for low carbon development.

Andrew Tirrell is a doctoral candidate at Fletcher, a human rights attorney and sustainable development researcher, focusing on rights-based approaches to natural resource development and climate change adaptation. Much of his past research has been in Latin America and Southeast Asia on issues of development and human rights, but he has just begun a new project examining climate change adaptation in arctic regions.

Sponsored by Tufts Environmental Studies Program, Lunch and Learn Series and The Tufts Institute of the Environment.

Sept 17: CIERP Meet & Greet

When: Monday, September 17, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Where: Chase Center, Carmichael Hall (map)

Join us for light refreshments while learning about the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy’s ongoing research, upcoming events, internship and job opportunities, as well as other Tufts environmental programs and centers.

Click here for more info.

Student Film Project: Share your story of sustainability

Call for submissions!

Submit by May 25, 2012

Guidelines:

  • Shorts under 5 minutes
  • Sustainability and environmental themes
  • Open to 6th grade through graduate students

Presented by: Green Living Project

Click here for more information.

April 28: Mystic Earth Day River Cleanup

When: Saturday, April 28th from 10:00am until noon

Where: Assembly Row, Waterfront Park in front of the Staples lot, 165 Middlesex Avenue, Somerville, MA

Join the Mystic River Watershed Association and Gentle Giant Rowing Club for an Earth Day River Cleanup along the Mystic River on Saturday, April 28th from 10:00am until noon. Parking is available in the Staples parking lot and volunteers are needed to remove trash along the banks of the Mystic. Find out more here (http://mysticriver.org/watershed-clean-ups/). At noon volunteers can join the City of Somerville at the DCR Blessing of the Bay Boathouse on Shore Drive for a spring clean-up BBQ.

Eco-Reps visit local wind turbine

Last Monday, the Tufts Eco-Reps (along with a few Eco-Ambassadors and staff members who graciously offered to give us a ride) took a field trip to the wind turbine site at McGlynn Middle School in Medford… a mere three miles from the Tufts campus! If you’ve ever driven down I-93 or the Mystic Valley Parkway, it’s hard to miss the towering 150-foot-high structure next to the Mystic River. The renewable energy icon was officially unveiled back in January 2009 but has already generated upwards of 250,000 kWh of energy since it became operational 3 years ago.

Tufts students and staff members visit Medford wind turbine site at McGlynn Middle School

Northern Power Systems, the electrical engineering company that built and manages the turbine, provides real-time data of the turbine’s total energy production, saved energy costs, and even the current rotor speed! Our hosts, Carey Duques, Director of Energy and Environment for the City of Medford, and Alicia Hunt, Medford Energy Efficiency Coordinator, explained thatteachers at McGlynn Middle School have incorporated hands-on lessons from the turbine into their classroom curriculum in order to teach students the benefits of community wind. Although the project faced opposition from those fearing it would be an eyesore, a Medford clean-energy committee worked on the project for three years and was able to raise nearly $650,000 in grant money to pay for the turbine. The project has a payback period of 5-7 years with a carbon emissions offset of 133 tons per year. Read the case study about this exciting innovation in renewable energy in our very own community.

On a national level, there is good news from the US Department of Energy (DOE) – last week, the Obama Administration announced an agreement to streamline offshore wind development in the Great Lakes. The DOE also awarded more than $5 million for advanced fuel cell research and $10 million for promoting zero-emission vehicles.

If you are interested in exploring more topics related to energy, The 2012 Tufts Energy Conference is being held on campus next week from April 20-21. Register here. We hope to see you at Cabot Center next week!

April 13: The Sustainability Consortium: An Inside Look – Featuring Jillian Gladstone

When: April 13, 12pm-1pm
Where: The Fletcher School, C205
The Sustainability Consortium: An Inside Look – Featuring Jillian Gladstone
In 2009, with great fanfare, WalMart launched the Sustainability Consortium with the ambitious goal of quantifying the environmental impact of nearly every consumer products. But what does it mean to compare the impact of paper v. plastic, shampoo v. conditioner, spinach v. sandals? Can this Herculean task be accomplished? Will this help us build more sustainable business practices?Who can tell us??  Jillian Gladstone (Fletcher | Friedman 2012), who manages the Consortium’s Home and Personal Care Sector Working Group! Come hear Jillian tell us about her work and answer all the questions.
Food provided!
RSVP: here
About the Sustainability Consortium:
The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. TSC develops transparent methodologies, tools, and strategies to drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social, and economic imperatives. The Sustainability Consortium advocates for a credible, scalable, and transparent process and system. The organization boasts over 75 members from all corners of business employing over 57 million people and whose combined revenues total over $1.5 Trillion.
About Jillian Gladstone:
Jillian manages The Sustainability Consortium’s Home and
Personal Care Sector Working Group. In this role, she works with corporations, NGOs, and academics to develop tools that companies will use to measure and report on the sustainability of their products. Jillian is currently pursuing a joint MALD/MS from Tufts University, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and The Friedman School of Nutrition. Her research focuses on sustainability efforts in the food and agriculture sectors. Before returning to school, Jillian coordinated Waterkeeper Alliance’s campaign to fight pollution from factory farms. Prior to that, she worked in communications and public advocacy for Human Rights First. Jillian received her BA in Politics and Anthropology from New York University in 2004.

Call for 2013 Tufts Energy Conference Chair

APPLICATION DEADLINE: FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012 5PM

The Tufts Energy Conference (TEC) serves as a dynamic forum for cross-border and cross-sector discussions on pressing energy issues. TEC convenes speakers, students, and professionals to provide complementary and contrasting views on a wide range of energy topics. Check out our website for more information on the conference.

The  Tufts Energy Conference Chair serves as the lead coordinator for the annual conference. Responsibilities include overseeing the management of conference financials, content, showcase, energy competition, sponsorship, marketing, operations and all relevant logistics and relationships. The Chair ensures the overall excellence, dynamism and innovation that has come to characterize the annual Tufts Energy Conference.

HOW TO APPLY 

The TEC Chair position requires a time commitment of at minimum 10-15 hours a week and is unpaid.  If you are interested in applying, please refer to the attached application. If the application is not attached, please contact the 2012 Conference Chair, Katie Walsh,  for the application at katherine.walsh@tufts.edu. Completed applications are due by Friday, April 13th 5PM.

Hodgdon reduces plastic bottle usage by 73%

The 24oz light blue Nalgene with a water bottle-stomping elephant on it has become a familiar sight around the Tufts Medford campus. Making appearances on the T, Boston Common, and even at Logan Airport, it has become a way to identify Tufts students outside of the immediate confines of campus. But what was responsible for the popularity of this particular water bottle?

At the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, returning students found that single-serving beverages from water to fruit juice had been eliminated from Hodgdon Good-to-Go. Members of an environmental action ExCollege class along with the Environmental Justice and U.S. Literature class  joined to form “Tufts Against Plastic” (TAP), the driving force behind the plastic bottle reduction effort. (In previous semesters, the ExCollege class had led campaigns that ultimately eliminated trays from the dining halls and changed default printer settings across campus to double-sided.) During the Spring 2011 semester, TAP campaigned to raise awareness about the issues surrounding bottled water and circulated a petition to eliminate their sale in Hodgdon.

Tufts Dining gladly obliged and made the necessary changes to support the effort, which included giving away the reusable “Choose to Reuse” water bottle for free with the sale a fountain drink during the first two weeks of the fall semester. Dining has since made the Nalgene bottles available for sale wherever plastic bottles of water are still sold, and they offer a beverage discount for those who bring reusable bottles to Hodgdon Good-to-Go, Tower Café, Mugar Café, and The Commons. Those who forget their bottles pay 20c extra for using plastic cups, which can then be recycled.

A full semester after the initial change took place, Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos, estimated a reduction of over 133,000 disposable bottles per semester! That’s 73% fewer bottles from the previous school year when single-serving beverage bottles were still sold in Hodgdon.

One of the water stations installed at Grand Canyon National Park (Photo: Grand Canyon NPS/flickr)

Tufts is now part of a growing trend that can be seen across universities nationwide, although it’s not just college campuses joining the fight against bottled water. This past February, the Grand Canyon National Park announced it would discontinue the sale of bottled water inside the park, responding to growing concerns that scattered empty bottles were ruining views of the natural wonder. Prior to the National Park Services approving a plan to eliminate the sale of the bottles, 10 water stations were installed throughout the park to allow visitors to refill their own water bottles. Officials estimated that plastic water bottles accounted for nearly 20% of the park’s overall waste. Zion National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have implemented similar bans on disposable water bottles.  Tufts Dining also installed water stations to promote bottle refilling instead of water purchase in a few locations.

While all of this news may seem encouraging to many students and environmental activists, it hasn’t come without a powerful response from the bottled water industry. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), a trade organization consisting of companies in the bottled water industry, has launched a defensive campaign against the “misinformation” being used to attract students to the movement. As a part of the response, the IBWA created a YouTube video to voice its side of the bottled water issue, suggesting that the cause is unworthy of students’ energy and resources. The video instead proposes that students tackle more pertinent social and economic injustices, such as racial discrimination and tuition hikes. The IBWA also argues that banning bottled water is taking away the choice of a product they claim is a healthy alternative, easy to recycle, and safer than tap water. A majority of activists disagree with most of these claims, arguing that bottled water contributes to excessive waste, and that companies have privatized what should be considered a human right into a profitable commodity.

Whether you agree or disagree with the elimination of plastic water bottles on college campuses, the evidence for Tufts is clear: plastic bottle waste has significantly decreased, which is a step in the right direction in creating a more sustainable future.

For more information, visit “Bottled water is out, water bottles are in at Hodgdon Good-To-Go.”

April 19: “Yert” Film Screening

When: Thursday, April 19th at 7:00pm

Where: Olin 11

Called to action by a planet in peril, three friends hit the road—traveling with hope, humor, and all of their garbage—to explore every state in America in search of the extraordinary innovators and citizens who are tackling humanity’s greatest environmental crises.

Click here for more information on the film. Here’s the trailer:

Sponsored by CMS and the Environmental Studies Program.

April 12: “Vanishing of the Bees” Film Screening

When: Thursday, April 12th at 7:00pm

Where: Tisch 316

Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the relationship between mankind and mother earth.

Click here for more information on the film.

Sponsored by CMS and the Environmental Studies Program.

 

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