Category: People (page 1 of 35)

December 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #2 – Medford

Session Summary:

We started off our second session by hearing from a current Eco-Ambassador, Rachel Brown, on the office sustainability projects that she has worked on over the years. Then we discussed water, including where Tufts’ water comes from, water conservation projects at the university, and ways you can conserve water in your offices. Carlos Robles from MassRIDES joined us to talk about transportation options and resources available to Tufts employees on the Boston and Medford campuses. We reviewed ways to “green” meetings and events and looked at green event resources on the OOS website. We went over energy use and infrastructure at Tufts, as well as upcoming energy projects and ways to conserve energy in our offices. To end the day, we sorted “Eco-labels” and talked about which are reliable and unreliable and reviewed some purchasing tips and resources.

Assignments for next week:

  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates
  • Meet with your supervisor/Eco-Ambassador team
  • Create a draft community-based social marketing plan using this worksheet. Email to Shoshana by Friday, January 12.

Next Steps:

  • Now that you have more familiarity with these topics, it could be a great time to finish the green office certification checklist that you started before, to get your office green office certified.

 Additional Resources

Water:

Transportation:

  • Tufts’ Commuter Benefits: Visit the Tufts Human Resources websitefor information about how you can get transit passes with pre-tax funds.
  • Transportation Incentives & Regional Programs: folks on all campuses can sign up for NuRide to find carpool partners and earn rewards for your “green” trips.  Employees on the Medford and Grafton campuses, can sign up for MassRIDES’ Emergency Ride HomeABC TMA provides incentives to employees on the Boston Campus, including the Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
  • Public Transportation: Visit the MBTA websitefor information on the rail, bus, subway, and commuter boat systems and access to helpful resources such as schedules & mapsreloading your CharlieCard online, and MBTA apps.
  • Tufts Shuttles: Find information about Tufts’ shuttles, including schedules and the live tracker, here.
  • BikingMassBikeoffers a wide range of bicycle safety and maintenance courses as well as extensive online resources about bike laws, local bike clubs, guides for new bikers, and much more. Learn more about bike safety from the Tufts University Police Department. View the City of Somerville Bicycle Routes map here.
  • General Transportation Info: Visit the EPA’s websitefor information about transportation and climate change, regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and how to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • For guests traveling to campus: Provide information about how to travel to your campus via public transportation.  This page(and its subpages) have some good resources and language.
  • Transportation Brochures and Maps: Visit the Office of Sustainability’s Publications Libraryfor electronic versions of our various transportation-related handouts.

Meetings & Events:

Energy:

Purchasing:

Additional Topics of Interest:

  • The Environmental Studies program organizes weekly Lunch & Learns about environmental and sustainability topics that are open to all members of the Tufts community (free food is provided!) – learn more and see a schedule of upcoming speakers here.
  • There are CSA farm shares that deliver directly to the Medford and Boston campuses.  This is a great way to get fresh produce delivered conveniently to Tufts.  Click here for more information.
  • Meet other Eco-Ambassadors at Tufts – click here for a list(you will be added shortly!).

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Rachel Brown

Eco-Ambassador

Rachel.Brown@tufts.edu

(617)627-7957

Carlos Robles

MassRIDES

Carlos.Robeles@state.ma.us

Commute.com

 

November 2017 Eco-Ambassador Session #1 – Medford

Session Summary:

During our first meeting, we discussed the history of the Eco-Ambassador program and the role of Eco-Ambassadors, as well as the definition and meaning of “sustainability.” We also went through an overview of sustainability at Tufts and the goals for water, waste, and energy and emissions set forth in the Campus Sustainability Council Report. We then discussed waste and recycling at Tufts.  To round out the day, we talked about behavior change and the steps to creating a Community-Based Social Marketing plan, followed by an overview of climate change, its impacts, and how it will specifically impact the Boston area.

Assignments for next week:

  • Do your personal behavior change challenge! We will report back to each other about how it went.
  • Introduce yourself as an Eco-Ambassador to your officemates, your department, etc. This can be informal in person, or maybe you want to do a cute email?
  • Check that you have the proper Landfill and Mixed Recycling labels on your waste bins and that you have a blue lid on the recycling lid. Also, assess if you want a wall sign sticker to go above your waste bins. Please bring a list of what you need to next week’s session.
  • Start brainstorming behavior change ideas for your office (some of you have some ideas already!)

Additional Resources

Sustainability at Tufts:

Behavior Change:

Climate Change:

Waste & Recycling:

Contacts

Shoshana Blank

Education & Outreach Program Administrator

Shoshana.Blank@tufts.edu

(617)627-2973

Gretchen Carey

Recycling and Organics Coordinator

RepublicServicesGCarey@republicservices.com

(781)560-1412

 

Recycle (General)

Recycle@tufts.edu

Go.tufts.edu/recycle

 

Meet the New Eco-Reps!

Our new Eco-Reps are here! We now officially have Eco-Reps for every dorm on campus and for the first time we have a SMFA Eco-Rep! So far the Eco-Reps have helped freshman move-in sustainably, composted over 200 gallons of food waste, volunteered at the Community Harvest Project in Grafton, and helped out at the Blue and Brown Pass Down Sale. It has been quite a busy few weeks!

For the rest of the semester, the Eco-Reps will serve as resources for residents in the dorms to help create sustainable living habits.  Be sure to ask them any and all of your sustainability questions! Not sure what mixed recycling is? Ask an Eco-Rep! Don’t know where your dorm’s compost is? Ask an Eco-Rep! Have questions about how to reduce your waste while living on campus? Ask an Eco-Rep!

Not only can Eco-Reps answer all of your sustainability questions, but they also host sustainability-themed events throughout the semester. Some exciting events planned for this semester include tye dying, herb planting, compost decorating, and pumpkin carving! To stay up to date on all of the Eco-Rep events throughout the semester follow the facebook page! You can also find the Eco-Reps in Dewick on Mondays for Meatless Mondays! There you can pledge to reduce your meat consumption, even if it’s just for one meal a week (every little bit helps)!

Don’t the Eco-Reps sound amazing?  We sure think so! You can learn more about your Eco-Rep here!

Sharing Sustainability: The Green Labs Reception

On Friday, July 14th, Tufts administrators and lab representatives met in the historic Coolidge Room of Ballou Hall, to celebrate and share their ongoing sustainability efforts. The event marked the culmination of the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge, an international energy-saving initiative sponsored by My Green Lab and I2SL. Several Tufts labs had participated in this challenge and taken major steps over the prior months to reduce their energy use. The Freezer Challenge was just one component of the overarching Tufts Green Labs Initiative, aimed at reducing the overall environmental footprint of lab spaces.

The event opened with the introduction of Dr. Meydani, the Vice Provost for Research.

 

Tina Woolston, Director of the Office of Sustainability, presented certificates to the Tufts labs that participated in the Freezer Challenge: the Nair Lab, the Van Deventer Lab, and the biology labs at 200 Boston Ave.

Next, Michael Doire, the biology department manager, gave an informative presentation on the details of the freezer challenge and discussed the extent of lab energy use. A single ultra-low-temperature freezer demands as much power as a typical home, and for some universities, lab spaces require as much energy as all other operations combined! Therefore, implementing efficient technologies and practices not only increases sustainability, bus also greatly reduces operating costs for the university.

 

The following three student presentations reinforced the idea that lab sustainability makes sense economically, as well as environmentally. Emma Cusack, an undergraduate student studying mechanical engineering, presented her work on a “Shut the Sash” initiative. Chemical fume hoods, which operate continually to remove dangerous fumes from lab spaces, are some of the most energy-intensive devices at Tufts: a single fume hood draws more energy than three average homes. Emma discussed how shutting the protective sash on these hoods has the potential to greatly reduce energy costs, since less air is drawn through the system – by the end of the 2017-18 academic year, her proposed campaign aims to reduce the average height that fume hoods are left open by 25%. By implementing a campaign to educate students and faculty about these benefits, Tufts could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy bills each year, while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Next, Patrick Milne, an undergraduate chemistry student, presented his research on energy use for heating and cooling in the Pearson building. He described how improvements to the building’s heat recovery system would result in significant energy savings. He also proposed removing specific fume hoods that get very little use, but are still running continuously.

 

Finally, Jonathan Ng, another undergraduate chemistry student, presented his research on solvent use at Tufts. Solvents are hazardous chemicals often used in lab settings, and they present significant financial and environmental costs. Safely disposing of solvents can cost two to four times as much as their initial purchase cost; Jonathan described a single Tufts lab that spends tens of thousands of dollars each year on solvent disposal alone. He discussed how flash chromatography, a tedious and chemically intensive process, can be replaced by a machine that minimizes solvent use and saves time for researchers. Although the machine is costly, it would pay for itself in one to two years, and would save an enormous amount of money in the long term.

 

After the presentations, guests were invited to mingle and view posters with information on the Freezer Challenge and other green labs initiatives.

The official Freezer Challenge has come to a close, but now is a great time to try it on your own! As Tina Woolston pointed out in her closing speech, “Actions taken by students and employees help contribute to a lasting culture of sustainability.” If you are involved in lab work at Tufts, please consider taking steps to make your lab more sustainable.   You can read about best practices for freezers, or visit our website to learn about other Green Labs initiatives at Tufts. For an overview of the Shut the Sash campaign, check out the video below. If you have already successfully implemented sustainable practices in your lab, please share them in the comments!

 

 

 

 

The Green Labs Initiative: An Overview

 

We can all have a positive impact by incorporating sustainable behaviors into our daily lives, but not all impacts are equal. At universities, laboratory settings have especially high resource and energy demand, making them important targets for sustainability initiatives. Duke University estimates that lab spaces can require five times the energy of other campus buildings. For this reason, Tufts began work on the Green Labs initiative, which aimed to increase the overall sustainability of these spaces through a variety of means.

Across all three Tufts campuses, ten labs signed up to participate in the Green Labs initiative. Emily Edwards, who coordinates chemical and bioengineering labs in the SciTech building, has long been committed to increasing the sustainability of these spaces. Her department currently runs 14 labs, researching topics from solar panel development to filtration membranes to bioengineering with mammalian cells. When she first joined the department, Edwards wanted to reduce plastic waste in her labs, which use high volumes of disposable items like pipette tips, weigh boats, gloves, and vials. However, she found this to be nearly impossible because these materials are necessary for routine lab work, and are difficult to clean for reuse. In light of this, Edwards feels that energy conservation is the most practical way to reduce the environmental footprint of her labs. She worked to address this challenge through her participation in the Green Labs initiative.

Another major participant in the initiative was Sanjukta Ghosh, a lab coordinator in the biology department. Ghosh oversees nine labs at 200 Boston Ave, researching topics like molecular biology, genetics, and bioinformatics. Her building is LEED certified, and features sustainable technologies including daylight-sensitive lighting systems and open floor plans that facilitate equipment sharing. Ghosh has an academic background in green chemistry philosophy, and has applied these sustainability concepts to her work at Tufts. She also acknowledges the environmental difficulties of lab work, which inherently creates a large plastic footprint. Ghosh has recently worked with vendors to purchase more recyclable materials including pipette tip boxes. Her labs also participate in vendor take-back programs, in which equipment manufacturers collect used items and donate or safely recycle them.

 

Fume Hoods

The single largest energy demand in lab buildings comes from chemical fume hoods, which are a staple of lab work. Fume hoods are used to protect researchers from dangerous materials or vapors by drawing contaminated air through a ventilation system. For safety reasons, these systems must run continuously 24 hours a day, whether or not they are actively being used. One energy-saving element of Variable Air Volume (VAV) fume hoods is their adjustable sash, which can be lowered or shut completely when they are not in use. This drastically reduces the energy demand of the ventilation system by slowing the fan. Many universities have designed “Shut the Sash” campaigns to educate lab personnel about the environmental benefits of this simple action.

Unfortunately for sustainability at Tufts, the vast majority of the SciTech building’s 50 VAV fume hoods have broken fan regulators, and are so old that replacement parts cannot be obtained. This means that shutting the sash on these machines does not reduce their energy demand. According to Edwards, it would be necessary to entirely replace many of the fume hoods to fix this issue, but funding is lacking. In contrast, the fume hoods in Ghosh’s labs are all equipped with automatic sashes, which use proximity sensors to open only when researchers approach. Ironically, this safety feature fails to save energy because the fume hoods at 200 Boston are not VAV, and therefore draw a constant amount of power regardless of their sash position. According to Ghosh, replacing these fume hoods with more efficient ones would cost millions of dollars.

 

Freezer Challenge

Another major energy draw for labs is refrigeration and cooling, as certain biomaterials must be stored in specialized freezers. “Ultra-low” freezers cool samples to -80 degrees Celsius (-112OF). The SciTech building has roughly eight of these ultra-low freezers in use, and Ghosh’s labs at 200 Boston have six.

Edwards and Ghosh both participated in the Freezer Challenge, a component of the Green Labs project, which set out to reduce the energy use of lab freezers. In order to operate each freezer more efficiently, a clear inventory of its contents was created, minimizing the time that the door needs to be open when searching for an item. The freezers also had to be regularly de-iced so that their doors could seal properly, keeping the heat out. Finally, it was important to remove unused items and consolidate partially full freezers, taking extra units offline when possible. At 200 Boston, old freezers have been gradually replaced with new, high-efficiency units, which use only one quarter of the power.

 

Other Initiatives

While optimizing the use of freezers and fume hoods may be the most direct way to increase efficiency, Edwards and Ghosh promote sustainability in other ways as well. Although recycling certain lab materials can be difficult, Edwards collects packing materials like Styrofoam and bubble wrap for reuse. SciTech has a dedicated recycling bin for electronics, which is used heavily when old workspaces are cleaned out. Ghosh also recycles all worn-out lab equipment, and donates functional equipment to other institutions, so virtually none of it ends up in the trash. In addition, Tufts sometimes receives donations from biotech companies, which is more sustainable and cost-effective than purchasing new equipment.

Tufts labs are making progress working towards their sustainability goals, but much work can still be done. Lab faculty, students, and administration must all collaborate to continue addressing the environmental impact of Tufts labs, thereby working towards a greener campus.

 

 

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