Sustainability at Tufts

Category: People (page 3 of 29)

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.


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!

Eco-Reps Update: Green Campus!

-by Angie Bell

If you’ve mastered composting and are looking for more ways to show your sustainability spirit, now is a great time to start! There are some really awesome events coming up soon that are sure to get you pumped to go green.

As you may already know, RecycleMania is in full swing! Keep up that meticulous recycling because trash is still being graded until the end of March. Preliminary grading put Tilton, Carpenter House and Wilson House in the lead with A minuses, but it’s not too late for your dorm to take the lead! If you have any questions about what is recyclable in your dorm, your Eco-rep is here to help! Also, keep in mind that the whole of the Tufts Meford campus will get a collective grade and then be compared to other schools. This is a great chance to show that environmental responsibility is a priority here at Tufts!  Results will be out the first week of April, and the winning dorm gets to bounce around in one of these babies:

If that doesn’t spark your competitive spirit, I don’t know what will!

If you are interested in energy usage (we know we are!), the Tufts Energy Conference is another event coming up on March 8-9. The theme of this year’s conference is “Shifting Dynamics in Emerging Markets” and it will feature several experts and professionals as keynote speakers, an energy showcase of innovative projects and technologies, interactive small-group discussions, and an exciting competition where student innovators can pitch projects to win seed funding.  Whether you’re already an expert or you just want to get your toes wet, this is a great opportunity to learn from the pros!  If you want to learn more about the conference or register to attend, visit the conference website. And while you’re at it, reduce your energy usage in the dorm by:

  • Unplugging electronics
  • Turning of your power strip
  • Turning off your laptop overnight
  • Turning off the lights when you’re not around
  • Choosing the woolens setting on the washing machines (they do the same job with less energy!)

As always, if you have any questions regarding these events or sustainability in the dorms, contact your friendly neighborhood Eco-rep for answers! Hope you all have a wonderful (and environmentally-friendly) week!

–Angie (Eco-rep for Carm)

Eco-Rep Update: Living a Green Life

by Arshiya Goel

This week the Eco-reps had Dr. Jack Barbash as a guest speaker. A research chemist for the U.S. Geological Survey, he spoke to us about his job and his views on the green movement. I was especially inspired by his dedication to living sustainably. When he visited Boston from California, he took the train (a three day journey) instead of flying! We were all impressed by the amount of patience this takes and what a big difference it makes. Airplanes are the worst gas-guzzlers and have humongous carbon footprints, while trains use only a small percentage of that energy for the same distance travelled.

It’s not easy to forgo the ease of flying for long train journeys in order to reduce your carbon footprint, but the key to sustainable living is baby steps towards those big commitments! Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and live green during college!

  • Recycle! Tufts recycles everything from paper, cardboard, hard plastics to aluminum foil and metals. Just look at the front of the bins on your floors.
  • Use CFL or LED bulbs. They use less energy and last for decades. Take your old bulbs to the Office of Sustainability (on the back of Miller Hall) to trade them in for a CFL!
  • Use cold wash when doing laundry. This is better for your clothes and uses a lot less energy.  To do this in the dorm laundry machines choose “woolens” or “bright colors”.
  • Plug your electronics into a power strip and remember to turn it off when you leave your room. This stops them from leaking “vampire energy”.
  • Compost your food scraps! Our dorm composts can compost nearly everything (but no meat, dairy or eggs, please).
  • Try to cut down on your shower time or just turn the faucet off while shampooing.
  • You can recycle batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and even electronic chargers. Look for the white boxes in your dorms and in some other buildings on campus!
  • REDUCE! Think about the packaged things you are buying and make choices that decrease the waste you produce.

For more information and tips you can ask any Eco-rep for a Green Guide. These are just small steps towards creating a sustainable lifestyle. Every decision you make can make a difference. With every step we take, we aim to collectively reduce our negative impact on the climate as a species. It’s not always easy and it’s rarely comfortable, but it is essential for our future on this planet. And maybe next time you need to travel from Boston to New York or Seattle to Portland you can consider taking a train and enjoying the beautiful scenery from ground level!


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