Category: Sustainability News (page 1 of 37)

Boston Campus Waste Station Checklist

Recently, you may have noticed some big changes in recycling on the Boston campus: all recycling is now mixed, meaning there are now only types two bins at waste stations across campus: trash and recycling! 

Research shows that an effective way to capture more recyclables is to pair trash containers with recycling containers. Your waste station should have BOTH types of bin listed below:  

Gray trash bin with white “landfill” label 

Gray recycling bin with: 

  • Blue “mixed recycling” label 
  • Light blue bag 
  • Blue UFO-shaped lid 
Complete waste station

Now, that’s a good looking waste station!

If the waste station in your dorm, office, or classroom doesn’t look like the photo above, please submit a work order that will go to Facilities Services.

During the transition to mixed recycling, Tufts strategically reduced the number of waste stations in each building. This helps with efficiency (regarding the time to empty bins) and sustainability (reducing the number of plastic liners we use reduces our overall impact!). Your original central waste station may have been moved to another area on your floor or removed entirely during the transition, however, please do not move any waste receptacles. If you feel that an error has been made with your waste station please submit a work order and contact with specific questions.  


ATO Environmental Challenge

This semester, ATO of Massachusetts GreEco-Reps Grace Aro, A17, and Matt Stewart, A19, initiated the chapter’s first semester-long environmental challenge. Members are encouraged to incorporate environmentally friendly habits into their daily routine, and are awarded a certain number of points for each eco-friendly act they perform.

Points are tabulated by Aro and Stewart, who keep track of the sustainable acts through Snapchats from members. At the end of the semester, the member with the most points wins a prize of their choosing. Each member receives one point and a “Green Greeks” sticker for their first green act, and then one point for each act thereafter. For example, requesting and using a compost bin for your apartment, dorm, etc. is ten points. Compost bins are worth the most points because one of the GreEco Rep goals for this year has been to get all the houses with GreEco Reps to compost. Additionally, having a compost bin is more work than most other sustainable tasks, and Aro wanted that level of commitment to be recognized.

This semester, the GreEco Reps are encouraging their communities to try small actions that can be done every day. However, Aro finds that for some, doing these things feels inconvenient or difficult to remember. To combat this, Aro was inspired to start a competition. She realized that members would be more likely to be convinced to make small, positive changes to their daily routines if they could win prizes. According to Aro, the competition is popular so far, with 18 active participants and 5 new composters, although members need the occasional reminder at weekly chapter meetings. Since Aro and Stewart brought the idea forward, Delta Tau Delta and Chi Omega have started their own green competitions.

Ganei Bentown: Boston Jewish Food Conference

As we in the U.S. have shifted into a further mechanized world and moved into urban and suburban areas, we have separated ourselves from our food web and the impacts it has on our communities. On March 26th, Ganei Beantown: Beantown Jewish Gardens will be hosting the Boston Jewish Food Conference—Community Networks: Exploring our local food web. This day-long event will facilitate discussion of “food sourcing, distribution, and consumption, as well as the role of culture, institutions, and our homes” through several workshops and a Community Celebration. Our own Education and Outreach Program Administrator, Shoshana Blank, will be speaking on a panel about the individual actions and organizational changes within Tufts University to reduce food waste.

This conference is a wonderful opportunity to explore the ways we and our local communities are involved in our larger food and agriculture systems. Nourishing ourselves from within these systems impacts the ecosystem of many parts of our country and is a large source of greenhouse gases and fossil fuel emissions. We are a part of this system, and as a community, can work to create positive, sustainable change.


We’re Hiring Eco-Reps!

Eco-Reps serve all 16 halls that have RAs, including Blakeley Hall at the Fletcher School. A parallel GreECO Rep program serves the Greek Life Community.

What can I expect?

Eco-Reps participate in a week-long training during new student orientation, come to 1.25 hour weekly meetings throughout the academic year (on Wednesdays during open block from noon-1:15pm), and work 3-5 hours per week in their dorm. Eco-Reps are paid $11/hour, and area leaders paid $11.25/hour.

At the weekly meetings, the Eco-Reps learn about environmental issues, how Tufts and other entities try to combat these issues, general event planning techniques, community-based social marketing strategies, and other topics of interest.

Eco-Reps run events individually and together, plan and lead behavior change campaigns in the dorms, maintain compost bins and bulletin boards in their dorms, collaborate with RAs and student groups, write weekly blog updates, participate in personal challenges, go on field trips, learn about sustainability and environmental issues, put up posters and signs, go to hall snacks, meet with duty teams, send out e-newsletters, make friends and generally have a lot of fun!

We encourage all interested students to talk to the Eco-Rep in your dorm to get an idea of what is involved. Your Eco-Rep can also provide a recommendation for you. If your dorm does not have an Eco-Rep, contact the Eco-Rep Coordinators for next year at  or talk to any of the current or past Eco-Reps listed on our website. You may also view the job description here.

How are Eco-Reps selected?

Eco-Rep selections are made at the end of the Spring semester for the following year and are based on a written application and an interview. Recommendations are occasionally requested. Additional Eco-Reps may be hired during the last month of the Fall semester to replace Eco-Reps who will not be returning for the Spring semester.

Applicants are evaluated on their:

  • Level of enthusiasm for the program
  • Dorm of residence
  • Ability to communicate effectively and get along with others
  • Past history of taking initiative
  • Creativity
  • Amount of time they are able to commit to the program
  • Environmental knowledge (not required, but a plus!)
  • Charisma

Applicants who are self-starters, outgoing, eager to learn, comfortable teaching others and not over committed in other areas of their lives do well in the Eco-Reps program and can make a big difference in their dorms’ culture.

Dorms that currently have Eco-Reps are Blakeley, Bush, Carmichael (2), Carpenter House, Haskell, Hill, Hodgdon, Houston, Lewis (2), Metcalf, Miller, Richardson, South (2), Tilton, West, Wilson, and Wren.  In addition, there are two Greek Life Advisors.

Eco-Reps are not required to live in the dorm that they work in, but it is strongly preferred.

Returning Eco-Reps may live off campus, but first-year Eco-Reps must live in on-campus housing. Every effort is made to assign Eco-Reps a dorm that is close to their own residence.

Preference is given to students who will be on campus for the entire year, but individuals going abroad for one semester are also encouraged to apply.

Students from all majors, interests, and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. You do not need to be an Environmental Studies major.

Why should I become an Eco-Rep?

As an individual in the Eco-Rep program, you will grow as a leader and as an environmental citizen.

With each week in the program, you will develop your communication skills as well as your knowledge and understanding of your own impact on the environment and how you can train yourself, as well as those around them, to change their behaviors.

This fulfilling and engaging job enables you to promote a sustainable future and will equip you with many of the leadership and practical skills necessary to become a sought after job candidate in the future.

If you are passionate about the environment, the Tufts community, creating change, and working with a great group of new friends you can make a difference as an Eco-Rep!

Apply now

A Peek Inside the SEC

On Friday, February 24th, Tufts Energy Group organized a tour of the new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) that is expected to be completed this summer and earn LEED Gold certification. Robinson, Anderson, and the rest of the complex are now connected by an atrium. The new building will be home to Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, and part of the Department of Mathematics. This complex will also host a number of engineering and science courses and several collaborative, multidisciplinary research labs. Some space in the west wing of the building will be reserved for future department growth.

Image of multidisciplinary lab spaces. Labs inside the glass rooms and the outer shared work space is on the right side.

The project planning was also constructed around the creation of an innovative, livable, open space that demonstrates “science on display.” A key feature of this goal is the building’s atrium.

A view of the SEC atrium feature.

All central spaces face into the atrium to provide light—thereby saving on some energy costs—and create a more livable space with views. And there are bridges between buildings that will be outfitted with tables as a casual workspace.

The SEC bridges will be furnished with tables and chairs.

People from inside the atrium can look up and see others at work in conference rooms, classrooms, and labs while they grab the coffee at a new café—similar to Brown and Brew—on the Dearborn side of the building. This café space has a blank wall—the backside of Robinson Hall—for temporary art installations from the SMFA program; the project manager said he is considering projecting the art installations onto the wall to allow for more Tufts community artists to show their work.

There are more student gathering spaces and rooms on each floor of the building to facilitate collaboration. Outside of the building, facing Dearborn Road, there is new landscaping that aids water permeation with 600 holes drilled under the concrete slabs and provides outdoor seating.

The new landscaping outside the building is a great place to sit and breath and helps water percolate into the soil!

This building will encourage more sustainable behaviors by providing more accessibility to students, faculty, and staff who bike. There are showers in the basement for commuters such as cyclists to use. Also housed in the basement will be a campus-wide Makerspace! This will further the community building and interdisciplinary work provided by the space of the complex.

Another project goal is to keep energy use low. Achieving this level of efficiency, estimated to be 100 KBTUs (British Thermal Units), is a feat of ingenuity and complex systems to reduce energy usage. The building’s Konvekta system circulates heated or cooled air throughout the spaces and recovers all possible exhaust heat to reduce energy inputs without risking exhaust air leaks into supplied air.

The efficiency of the building can largely be attributed to the heat recovery system called Konvekta!

The air quality is constantly monitored, especially in lab spaces, through a system called Aircuity that samples outside and inside using a powerful vacuum for carbon, dust, hydrocarbons, and humidity. This information helps the Konvekta system regulate air circulation as well.

The Aircuity system helps to test the air quality throughout the building.

All lighting has been converted to LED, the windows are triple-glazed to let light in and better insulate the building, and there is interior shading to block the sun.

The SEC is currently undergoing the process of commissioning to check that all its 625-odd moving parts are working as planned, and will continue to be testing its functions throughout the next 12 months; however, the east wing of the building will be occupied by this summer and in use in the coming academic year.



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