Author: Stina C. Stannik (page 2 of 28)

Tufts Wins Green Ribbon Commission Renewable Energy Prize

In February, PowerOptions, in cooperation with Tufts and Endicott College, was selected as the winner of the inaugural Green Ribbon Commission Renewable Energy Leadership Prize.

The Prize awards $100,000 to nonprofit institutions for their strategy for large-scale renewable energy generation. Through the Prize, GRC aims to inspire local large-scale energy consumers to implement renewable energy strategies.

The participants who did not receive the prize intend to move forward with their projects, extending the ripples of the competition. GRC hopes that renewable energy in Massachusetts will receive a boost from all the new projects. Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

The Prize is funded by the Barr Foundation, which has made climate one of its core concentrations. The Green Ribbon Commission is a group of business, institutional, and civic leaders supporting the implementation of Boston’s Climate Action Plan.

(Pictured above: The team from Tufts, PowerOptions, and Endicott College was recognized at a GRC meeting in May. Photo via the Barr Foundation.)

Tufts, PowerOptions, and Partners Healthcare are currently in negotiations to bring the proposal to fruition.

The Green Ribbon Commission has also released a case study analysis of the contest and its entries for greater insight and improvement for next year.



Recycling Interns Launch Apartment Composting Program

Tufts students on the Medford campus have been composting in their dorms for several years through the Eco-Reps program. But until last year, unstaffed dorms – that is, dorms without Residential Assistants (RAs) and Eco-Reps – were left to organize the disposal of their organic waste on their own.

The Recycling and Waste Management office run by Facilities Services office set out to rectify that situation in early 2016 by launching a composting program for on-campus apartments, including Hillsides, Latin Way, and Sophia Gordon.

The program aimed to divert food waste from the trash. On-campus apartments have full kitchens, meaning students living in those spaces are more likely to be cooking regularly – and therefore producing more food waste – than students in some of the other dorms.

22 apartments received bins during the first pilot round of the program and several more joined during the spring semester.

Students who signed up for the program received a bin at the beginning of the spring semester, along with instructions about maintaining their compost and locations around campus where the bins could be emptied. Recycling interns also sent out a weekly email with tips and reminders.

Recycling is currently working to improve the program and investigating the potential of having off-campus apartments participate.

(Pictured above: Savannah Christiansen, ‘16, Recycling intern, coordinated the program’s launch in the spring of 2016.)




Energy and Sustainability Intern, City of Cambridge (MA)

The City of Cambridge DPW is seeking a motivated, well-rounded individual with an eye for detail to provide analytic and program support for energy efficiency and sustainability projects in City facilities.


Learn more.

DEADLINE: Wednesday, September 7th

Eco-Ambassador Grant Launches Reusable Cups Initiative, Diverts Significant Waste

Participants in the Eco-Ambassador program are eligible to receive a sustainability grant of $200 towards a sustainability initiative or project in their office or department.

Last year, Lynne Ramsey, an Eco-Ambassador in the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO), noticed that participants in the Center’s summer workshops for children were using up to 5 disposable cups a day during snack breaks. So for this summer’s sessions, Lynne used her grant to purchase CEEO-branded reusable plastic cups from a local producer. All workshop attendees, instructors, and CEEO’s undergraduate student workers received a cup. Lynne estimates that the initiative eliminates the waste of over 5,000 disposable cups.


The cups not only replaced single-use paper cups during the event but also display information about the waste and deforestation created by paper cups every year. In this way Lynne’s initiative fulfilled a key principle of sustainable events: to extend sustainable behavior and awareness beyond the single event and into the future.


Lynne and CEEO hope to continue the initiative into the future, incorporating reusables into all of their summer workshops.

For more information about sustainable event principles as well as checklists to guide you through hosting your own events, review or download our Green Event Resources ebook.

Learn more about the Eco-Ambassador program and consider applying to become a sustainability leader in your office.

GUEST POST: University of Rochester Team Discovers a More Efficient Way to Convert Alternative Fuel

Written by Darya Nicol, University of Rochester ’16

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 10.00.35 AM

Like ethanol, butanol can be used as a fuel additive to gasoline as a way to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. In just six months, Professor William Jones’ University of Rochester research team developed an efficient route to n-butanol, making it look more like gasoline, thus enabling butanol to be a better alternative to ethanol.

Jones’ team of five researchers accomplished this by modifying the Guerbet reaction. Named after Frenchman Marcel Guerbet, the organic chemical reaction converts ethanol to butanol plus water. Before the team’s discovery, the Guerbet reaction produced the co-product acetaldehyde which can react with butanol to produce unwanted molecules. Jones’ team modified the reaction to produce only one product and 25 percent more butanol than with the previous process.

Switching from ethanol to butanol prevents engine corrosion. To streamline the modified Guerbet process for the fuel industry, Jones states that “this process would be attached to an ethanol production facility.” The facility would update the process to produce both ethanol and butanol.

Butanol is not currently used in mass because the fermentation process producing it does not build up a large enough concentration, although advances are being made in this process. The typical length of butanol production with the newly developed system is one day. Ideally, for the process to perform at maximum productivity, Jones states, “we need a less expensive catalyst and a longer living catalyst.”

Iridium is used as the initial catalyst for the reaction. However, iridium is quite expensive. According to Jones, “it’s gold expensive.” The financial support of the National Science Foundation and the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, an NSF Center for Chemical Innovation program, was needed to conduct their research.

Once efficiency is maximized, consumers ultimately won’t be the ones making behavioral changes. Jones states, “they’ll get the benefits of it without even knowing it.” Changes must be made by companies. According to Jones, “for a company to buy into it, it has to replace a more expensive alternative, not just for a financial benefit, but for an improvement in performance.” As of now, modifying the Guerbet reaction is one improvement in the right direction.

This article is a guest post via The Green Dandelion, the sustainability blog of the University of Rochester. 

Photo Source.

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