Category: Ideas (page 1 of 22)

Less is More…or so we’ve heard

     Why does this popular adage seem to be the linchpin of all sustainability efforts? Let’s begin by defining “sustainability”, a buzzword we all love to use but might not always know how to articulate. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development:

     Sustainable development should “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

     Nowhere in this definition is “buy less” or “use less” explicitly stated, yet there seems to be a general understanding that we just might need to cut back on something if we are to sustain healthy and equitable societies.

us-climate-talksImage source

     The desire to consider how our lifestyles impact other humans, animals, and resources should spark excitement and collaboration amongst those of us eager to preserve the people’s and planet’s prosperity. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see the distressing statistics indicating an inevitable climate apocalypse and resort to crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

     It’s true. A zero carbon footprint is virtually unattainable and arguably, not too desirable. (We’re all for a plastic-free lifestyle, but aren’t quite sure we’re ready to go shower-free juuust yet.)

Continue reading

Know Tomorrow Boston (Friday, October 2nd)

When: Friday, October 2nd
Where: Ritz-Carlton Grand Ballroom, Boston, MA
Time: 2:00-6:30 PM
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/486754288152817/

Climate change stops here. This is our planet, and our only chance. Students are a social and political force to be reckoned with when their voice is energized and heard – so let’s make some noise!

You’re invited to the first-ever “KNOW TOMORROW Day of Action”—a major national movement taking place on Friday, October 2nd that will unite thousands of college students, activists, politicians, corporations and celebrities to take action on climate change.

Throughout the Day of Action, students at more than 50 universities in America will host large-scale events on campus, ranging from concerts and performances to speakers, road races and activity fairs.

Boston students – representing 12 colleges and universities in the area – are leading the charge, gathering at the Ritz Carlton on the Boston Common for an afternoon of music and speakers. From 2pm-6pm, students from BC, BU, Tufts, Harvard, Northeastern, Wellesley, and many more, will get loud for climate action with the help of Honorary Co-Host and Massachusetts Senator, Ed Markey (who will also be speaking at the event around 5:45pm), musicians such as Outasight and Speedy Ortiz and several climate change activists and organizations.

With the support of partners like Ben and Jerry’s and Goldman Sachs to The Climate Reality Project, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation and Shepard Fairey, the Day of Action is poised to be a momentous day for climate action.

This is your call to action, and your chance to make a difference. You can help secure our tomorrow. Know tomorrow.

#TrickedOutTrashBuddy

TrashBudy

Trick out your trash buddy & win prizes:

Because it is the responsibility of all employees to use and empty their own trash buddies, make your trash buddy your own! Decorate your trash buddy, photograph it, and tweet your photo to @GreenTufts using the hashtag #TrickedOutTrashBuddy, or email your photo to sustainabilityoffice@tufts.edu with the subject line “Tricked Out Trash Buddy.”

As the program is rolled out across the University, sustainability-themed prizes will be awarded to the most creatively decorated trash buddies (with preference given to those that us recycled materials).

Institutional Research & Evaluation Trash Buddies

Tricked Out Trash Buddies from the Office of Institutional Research & Evaluation

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.

Older posts