Category Archives: Ideas - Get RSS Feed

Unwrapping Building 574- Part 3: Adaptation

IMG_3643

Not even the interior and exterior details were ignored on the 574 project. The appliances and plumbing will feature energy and water efficient features, and the exterior will feature colored metal paneling for a contemporary look. Carpet, concrete, wood, and a large quantity of supply materials will be recycled goods. All of these elements make for a unique designed, energy aware building.

When I asked about the difficulties of creating such a project, both Santangelo and Kadish were unfazed. “Certainly in such a building, you’re going to have particular issues you don’t know until you work on the building. For instance, we found a 150 by 16 foot storage tank that we had to deal with under a slab, and we don’t know where it came from.” The age of the building though, they assured, was what made the design unique. “Usually we work on the envelope, core, and exterior separately,” Santangelo said “With this building however, the projects have to blend together to address the concerns of the project and incorporate such new parts. This allows us to adapt though, and we even have the ability to include new efficiency concepts rather than go back afterwards and replace something.”

The building, which both assuredly believe will be impressive upon completion, is a great entrance marker for the Tufts campus. With its new design and features, its hopes to showcase the sustainable initiative inherent in the university, and play a new role in the campus’ prestigious legacy.

IMG_3648

Unwrapping Building 574, Part 2: Stormwater

I asked Ray Santangelo and David Kadish if stormwater drainage was a factor in the design of building 574. “It was actually required,” Kadish said. “The age of the building resulted in a system that sent the storm water to the sewer lines, which is no longer allowed by the city’s code. This resulted in the installation of filtration tanks to mitigate the amount of water being sent to the city’s infrastructure.” Stormwater infiltration systems are used to collect, treat, and recharge stormwater runoff generated from impervious areas of developments, such as roofs, sidewalks, and parking lots.  They improve stormwater runoff quality and quantity and help to recharge underground aquifer water supplies, reduce the total volume and peak rate of runoff discharged from a site, and reduce the amount of water directed to City stormwater collection systems.IMG_3645

The conversation also included stormwater recharge systems. Kadish explained these in great detail. “For the 574 Boston Avenue project, there are a few different types of stormwater recharge systems, including pervious pavers, a drywell, and two pipe and stone systems. Pervious pavers allow runoff to infiltrate by providing enough space between each individual paver for water to pass into the underlying soils. A drywell is a concrete chamber with small holes in the concrete walls that drain the chamber. Pipe and stone systems are a mix of perforated pipe surrounded by crushed stone.” Crushed stone is a useful material for infiltration systems because of its high void properties. The more void space a soil has, the more stormwater it can ultimately store and infiltrate. All three types of systems use the same process, which is to collect runoff from impervious surfaces, store it within the system, and slowly let the runoff infiltrate into the underlying soil.

One of the challenges of the 574 Boston Avenue project was to reduce the total amount of runoff offsite. “The Harvard Avenue stormwater system was already overloaded and floods during large storm events,” the men explain. “The City required that we reduce the amount of runoff sent to the Harvard Street stormwater system by implementing infiltration systems to reduce runoff from the 574 site. The infiltration system on the Harvard Avenue side of the project was designed to store a 10-year storm, or 4.6-inches of rain in a 24-hour period.”

IMG_3650This also has ramifications for the building’s LEED rating system, the environmental rating that assesses the green design of a project. Stormwater Quantity ratings require that a site infiltrate at least 25% of the runoff generated by a site. Using the techniques described above, the 574 Boston Avenue project will reduce the runoff sent to the City stormwater systems by almost 60%, a true representation of the design team’s dedication to sustainability.

Unwrapping Building 574- History and Redesign

My meeting with Ray Santangelo and David Kadish occurred on a Friday afternoon at the Tufts University Facility Services Department in Medford. As an intern for the Office of Sustainability, I had agreed to meet to talk with them about the sustainability initiatives and design of building 574, an old building that Tufts had owned for the last twenty years and was converting into an office, study, and dining space.  When I asked the gentlemen what the name was of the building (my office gave it the unoriginal moniker “Building five seventy-four”), they both smiled. “We pretty much call it 5-7-4.”
Apparently, in both name and appearance, the building is fairly unremarkable. It sits on the corner of Boston and Harvard, a multistoried construction site hidden away from the eye by a giant tarp. In its most recent past, the building was leased to local artists by the university as a studio space. The current condition of the building however, is a poor standard of evaluation. The future of 574 coupled with the complexities of its storied past makes the building so exciting that Santangelo, the project manager, and Kadish, an architect from his team, took the time to talk about their work with me.

“It’s unique for a building of that vintage. I can’t imagine there’s any other similar place around with this design,” Santangelo said. When I asked them how old the building was, Kadish informs me that it’s dated in the early 1900s. This is astonishing; the two men reg

ale me with stories they’ve heard of the building’s long history. “It’s been a furniture factory, cardboard factory, mattress seller. I’ve even heard it was a slaughterhouse at one point.

IMG_3644

We found some images of a train derailing in the 50s that crashed into the corner of the building.” Kadish acknowledged that it was in bad shape. “It’ll be completely different once it’s unwrapped”, he said.

Now under the control of Tufts again, the building is getting ready for new use. Both the design and appearance are receiving a complete overhaul, with the key components of efficiency and sustainability in mind.  The interior (core), barrier between the outside and inside (envelope), and the exterior are all being redesigned. During the construction process, the team is guided by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification ratings. These standards are allotted on a point system, by which a building earns points for each objective met. These include a variety of features, from the design of the core and envelope and local material supply utilization to the energy use of the building. Even spaces for car sharing services count. Currently tracking silver, the building is aiming for a gold certification upon completion.

A fundamental concept of the building is its use of natural light. “One of the goals in general for the design is to have as much natural light in a work space as possible and entering the building as deeply possible,” Kadish informed me. “Likewise, you want interior spaces to be able to have a view of the outside, and this in itself is a potential LEED credit.” In addition to this, the design team is looking at lighting systems that will adapt to the level of natural light entering the interior, allowing for efficient energy use. This utilization of natural light represents Tufts’ dedication to implementing contemporary sustainability on campus.IMG_3634 In addition to lighting, the building will focus on efficient design for heating and cooling. 574 will lack any use of perimeter radiation heating, focusing on an air fed system that will reduce the presence of piping near the windows and in the hallways, also reducing maintenance costs. Exterior insulation will be increased beyond typical construction standards and the windows will be triple glazed, meaning glass treating and multiple paneling procedures that reduce heat loss by a third. These improved components allow for better thermal insulation during the wintertime.

To be continued!

Tufts Eco-Ambassadors Take on Styrofoam Mountain

Styrofoam seems to be a perpetual nightmare for environmentalists. A petroleum-based plastic foam consisting mostly of air, it can’t be composted or thrown in with most municipal recycling programs, but for many uses it remains the only practical product.

For example, when departments at Tufts order biomaterials, gel packs or dry ice, styrofoam is the only feasible shipping option, as it keeps the materials cool. Enter Emily Edwards, a staff member in the Chemical and Bioengineering Department, and Abbey Licht, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, both of whom became Eco-Ambassadors in 2011 at the Science and Technology Center on our Medford campus. They grew curious when they noticed those unmistakable white shipping containers piling up outside labs and classrooms in their hallway: Could they redirect styrofoam away from landfills?

To assess how much actual need existed, Edwards and Licht began collecting the boxes from the SciTech building in a storage room. After just a month, sixty boxes had accumulated.

Hoping that a solution might already exist on campus, they first talked to Dawn Quirk, the Waste Reduction Program Manager in the Facilities Services Department, about recycling the styrofoam shipping containers. Unfortunately, while the Tufts Recycles program accepts a wide variety of glass, plastic, and metal items, styrofoam can’t go into our green bins.

Above: a month of styrofoam.

Edwards and Licht knew of a local company that would recycle the styrofoam. ReFoamIt, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, compacts the styrofoam into logs at a plant in Rhode Island, then ships it away to be turned into toys and other consumer products.  But Edwards and Licht were also aware that the boxes they were storing were at least 89% air. Could they somehow reduce the volume of the styrofoam to make for easier storage and more efficient transportation? If they handled the styrofoam themselves, would the environmental impact be lower than that of ReFoamIt’s trips to Rhode Island?

Both admit that they are first and foremost engineers, not chemists. Still, like students tackling a science class project, Edwards and Licht dove right in. They first experimented with physical change, recruiting volunteers to smash the styrofoam. They employed mallets and even had the volunteers jumping up and down on top of the boxes – but despite how light and airy styrofoam may seem, Edwards says, it’s a much harder material than one would think, and after hours of work there was little significant volume reduction. The exhausted volunteers placed the styrofoam chunks into bags to be picked up by ReFoamIt.

Not to be discouraged, Edwards and Licht next sought to turn the styrofoam back into a hard, dense plastic. Their first method was chemical: they placed pieces of the styrofoam in cups of acetone, which reduced the plastic to a goopy slime that hardened once the acetone evaporated. While the process resulted in a significant volume reduction, one bag of smashed styrofoam boxes required a whole gallon of acetone, which then evaporated into the air, so significant ventilation was required during the experiment. Moreover, the bottom of a tray of the hardening plastic took months to dry.

Above: a bag of styrofoam boxes, and the equivalent amount of hardened plastic after melting in acetone. The ratio of the volumes was about 50 to 1.

Next, Edwards and Licht melted styrofoam in a large oven at 464 degrees Fahrenheit. This experiment also successfully reduced the volume, but the process produced powerful fumes which filled the lab and the connected hallway. Moreover, only a certain amount of styrofoam could fit into the oven at a given time, so Edwards and Licht needed to open the oven periodically to add more foam, losing heat in the process.

Above: the result of melting styrofoam in an oven. The volume reduction was about the same as in the acetone experiment.

Finally, Edwards and Licht investigated alternatives to styrofoam. After hearing a story on NPR, Edwards ordered an Ecovative box made out of a mix of mushrooms and straw grown into a mold. The box’s weight is similar to that of styrofoam, but Edwards notes that the box has a slight smell and an unusual texture that might not appeal to the general public. So while the mushroom box was an interesting innovation, Edwards couldn’t see a widespread application for them at Tufts.

Above: the mushroom boxes from Ecovative.

 

Ultimately, Edwards and Licht determined that the most efficient, affordable and safe way to dispose of the accumulated styrofoam would be to set up a partnership with Save That Stuff, another local recycling company with which Tufts already has a relationship. Quirk organized a monthly pick-up arrangement, and it has been running smoothly ever since.

Above: sacks of styrofoam waiting for Save That Stuff.

Even though they weren’t able to find an effective way to minimize the styrofoam before sending it away, Licht and Edwards seem satisfied with the results. Licht mentions that until they started collecting the boxes in one room, she had never really thought about how much styrofoam the building used or where it all went. (Prior to their initiatives, it all went into the trash.) They seem eager to find where else this model can be applied at Tufts – there are bound to be other sites of potential improvement that go under the radar, undetected until someone dares to ask whether there might be another way.

Moving forward, Edwards and Licht and Tufts Recycles! are hoping to expand the use of the system they have established at SciTech to collect the styrofoam from labs at the Gordon Institute (200 Boston Avenue) and from the biology department.

Program Manager, Greening Forward (various locations)

Greening Forward is a youth-driven, youth-imagined environmental network of 1,500 young changemakers. Our collective impact engages 10,000 community members in campaigns that recycle 60 tons of waste, plant over 200 trees, and save over 155,000 gallons of water. Our Program Manager supports the indirect and direct needs of our program team.

 

There is no deadline to apply, but applicants are encouraged to do so as soon as possible!

 

Learn more/apply.

Sierra Student Coalition Leadership Training (Various Locations)

The Sierra Student Coalition is taking applications for Sprog, its award winning grassroots leadership training
led by and for young organizers. For over 20 years, Sprog has ushered new energy into the environmental movement by creating a safe and fun atmosphere for young people to learn how to run real campaigns that win.
 
The SSC is offering six Sprog trainings this summer:
·         Northwest Sprog (6/23-30 – Girl Scout Camp Evergreen, Longview WA)
·         Mid-Atlantic Sprog (7/10-14 – Baltimore, MD) *note* this Sprog is the only Sprog happening in a city
·         Midwest Sprog (7/14-21 – Bradford Woods, Martinsville, IN)
·         Puerto Rico Sprog (7/22-29 – Campamento Maria Emilia, Añasco PR)  *this Sprog is held entirely in Spanish.
·         Southeast/Gulf-Coast Sprog (7/28 – 8/4 – Girl Scout Camp Wahi, Brandon MS)
·         Southwest/California Sprog (8/11-18 – Foster Lodge, Mount Laguna CA)
 
Applicants may apply directly at the above links. Teachers and mentors may also nominate them to attend here.
Applicants interested in a tuition or travel scholarship may apply for one here.
Got more questions? Check out our FAQ’s or email the SSC’s Training and Leadership Development Director: tim.harlan-marks@sierraclub.org.

Real Food Challenge GIM 2/27

REAL FOOD CHALLENGE GIM

Are you interested in sustainability,

social justice, or just eating good food?

Do you care about how or where your food was grown,

who grew it, or what it tastes like?

Does “real food” mean anything to you?

 

Whether “real food” already means a lot to you, or you just want to learn more about what it is and how we can bring more of it to Tufts, come to our GIM!

 

When: Wednesday, February 26th, 7pm

Where: Eaton 202

Who: A group of enthusiastic, committed food-lovers who want to work to be in control of what we eat in the dining halls while also acting as catalysts to transform the way our food system works on a larger scale.

What: A GIM to learn more about the Real Food Challenge, its platform, and how we as students can work with this organization to initiate change within the food system on campus.

 

Additional Info: http://db.realfoodchallenge.org/schools/150

Feb 07:Can You Shuck it? Eat Oysters and Learn about Oyster Restoration in Boston

CAN YOU SHUCK IT?  EAT OYSTERS AND LEARN ABOUT OYSTER RESTORATION IN BOSTON

Thursday, February 7, 2013, 6:00 – 7:00pm
Cabot 206

Join Fletcher Green & the Fletcher Neptunes for a talk with Andrew Jay, founder of the Massachusetts Oyster Project.

Oysters used to thrive in Boston estuaries, serving as a food source and lucrative fishery, filtering wastewater, and creating a habitat for more than 100 other marine species. Come learn about the Massachusetts Oyster Project http://massoyster.org‘s current restoration project, the challenges of shaping fisheries policy, and the politics of conservation and non-profits.

National Climate Seminar – Bard CEP

Join the Bard Center for Environmental Policy the first and third Wednesday of each month at noon eastern to hear climate and clean energy specialists talk about the latest climate change issues.

Climate Seminar calls are held via conference call (Call-in number: 1-712-432-3100; Conference Code: 253385) and professors can assign the half-hour calls to their students for a chance to hear top scientists, analysts, and political leaders discuss climate and clean energy solutions. Have questions for the speakers? Email them beforehand or during the call to climate@bard.edu. All calls are available as podcasts, 24 hours after the event.

In case you haven’t seen it, a new World Bank study confirms that we are on track for 750 ppm by 2100– or sooner– and a 4° C hotter world. Next Wednesday, February 6, at noon eastern, NRDC’s Daniel Lashof will talk about how to address the issue, focusing in particular on “Using the Clean Air act to Sharply Reduce Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants”. One of Dan’s key messages is that this won’t happen without pressure from climate activists.

Other speakers this semester will include Mike Tidwell on Cutting Carbon at Power Plants, Brenda Ekwurzel on After Sandy, What Next?, Mark Reynolds on Lobbyists for Climate Action, Katharine Wilkinson on Between God and Green, Bill McKibben on Corruption, Democracy, Climate, and Manuel Pastor and James Boyce on Co-benefits and Climate Justice.

For more information, click here.

Tufts Energy Competition 2013 (Deadline: Feb 1st)

Do you have a great energy idea? perhaps even a final project related to energy? Win up to $3,000 to jump-start your energy idea! Apply to the Tufts Energy Competition! 

Working on an innovative project on energy or sustainability that can be leveraged into a winning proposal? The Tufts Energy Competition is looking for your ideas! This competition is a celebration of innovative student-driven solutions to energy challenges. The goal of the Tufts Energy Competition is to support students implementing projects that explore solutions to key energy issues. The winning team will receive up to $3000 to implement their project, and the runner-up will receive $2000.

Every Tufts student is eligible to apply, including engineering students, undergraduates, Tufts medical students, international studies students, and more. The application is due February 1 and can be found onhttp://www.tuftsenergyconference2013.com/energy-competition/.

Need some inspiration? Previous finalists and winners include:

  • A Split Junction Solar Concentrator for More Efficient Electricity Generation
  • Giving Students the Chance to Choose Their Energy
  • Efficient Hygiene Initiatives: Bringing Ecological Sanitation to Thottiypatti
  • Solar Powered Uninterruptible Power Systems
  • Ocean-Based Algae Energy
  • Wind Turbines and Solar Cookers in Zimbabwe
  • High Voltage Lithium Ion Battery Management System

The 2013 Energy Competition hopes to continue this success with your great ideas!

For more information on the 2013 Tufts Energy Competition please visit: http://www.tuftsenergyconference2013.com/energy-competition/

For any further questions or comments on the 2013 Tufts Energy Competition please email tuftsenergycompetition2013@gmail.com or nolan.katherine@gmail.com

Switch to our mobile site