Tufts Gets Green

Office of Sustainability's Blog

Category: People (page 2 of 40)

Eco Rep Update: Travel Green!

By Danielle Mulligan

Welcome back! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their week off and feels rejuvenated for part two of the spring semester. Some may have stayed on campus while others may have travelled back home or to warmer places in search of actual spring-like weather.   I personally love to travel when possible but struggle to balance that passion with my knowledge of the hugely negative environmental impacts of travelling. Starting from the ride to the airport and then the plane ride, I’m already leaving a huge carbon footprint!  How can we become more environmentally conscious travelers?

Since we’re back at school, it may be good time to just take a pause and think about our past week. Whether we stayed in our dorms, were home or were lying on the beaches of Cancun-what are ways in which we could have made our vacation time a little more eco-friendly?

Here are some tips from my own travel experiences and from the travel section in “The Green Book”-a book filled with different tips on how to change habits in all areas of our lives.

  1. If you are traveling to a place where tap water is not safe to drink, purchase a plaster water bottle with a filter.  It may seem a bit more expensive at first, but buying plastic bottles at every stop adds up and the environmental impact is huge!
  2. Look for alternative forms of transportation! Take a train instead of a plane. Walk instead of taking a taxi or renting a car-you are in a new place, and if it’s walkable why not take that extra time to be outside and explore a little?
  3. Bring a reusable bag for any of your shopping trips to the markets stalls or stores wherever you are visiting.
  4. Try adventure travel or eco-tourism –not only does eco-tourism generally have a much smaller negative impact on the environment, it also frequently channels money to positive environmental initiatives.
  5. Pack your own shampoo, soap and toothpaste and leave the hotels mini-bottles untouched.  To give some perspective, a 300-room hotel in Las Vegas uses more than 150,000 plastic bottles  of shampoo a year!

-Danielle

Unwrapping Building 574- Part 3: Adaptation

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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.

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Eco Rep Update: Recyclemania!

The weather this past weekend was just GORGEOUS and we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

We have some exciting news to share… the first round of Recyclemania grades have been released! Woo!

Here are the results…

Screenshot 2014-03-10 13.01.07

Blakely Hall: C

Bush Hall: B

Carmichael Hall: C+

Haskell Hall: C-

Hill Hall: B-

Hodgdon Hall: B-

Houston Hall: C-

Lewis Hall: C

Metcalf: B

Miller Hall: C+

South Hall: C

Stratton Hall: B-

Tilton Hall: B-

West Hall: B-

Wren Hall: B+

The official report can be also be seen here.

It looks as though Wren Hall is in the lead! But have no fear  – If your dorm received a less-than-satisfactory grade, there is another round of grading just around the corner. The winner will be announced at this year’s Earthfest on April 11th! Speaking of which, keep an eye out for a clothes donation box in your dorm where you can drop off any gently used/unwanted clothing. What you may consider a former fashion faux pas may totally brighten someone else’s day. We appreciate very much your donations as we gear up for Earthfest!


Jamie Cordova
EcoRep, Miller Hall

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.

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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!

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