Category: Sustainability News (page 1 of 51)

Grafton Campus Zero Waste Picnic

Today, we headed over to the Grafton campus for the final President’s Picnic of the year! The beautiful scenery surrounding the campus was a great setting for promoting sustainability.

 

 

As with the other picnics, the event was a zero-waste affair. In addition to having our zero waste stations, we were also able to reduce waste emitted from our event by serving condiments in bulk rather than in small individually wrapped packages, and by promoting the use of reusable place settings instead of the dishware provided at the event.

Our staff setting up the zero waste stations

As has become tradition, we handed out free door prizes – “I saved a tree at the president’s picnic” stickers and a reusable sandwich bag – to everyone who came to the picnic with a complete reusable place setting. We define a “complete” place setting as being a plate, utensils, and something to drink out of (a reusable bottle, cup, or mug).

Our sticker and sandwich bag prizes

Those who brought their own place settings were also encouraged to enter our raffle. We raffled off our final lunchbox, and had Dr. Joyce Knoll, the interim dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary medicine, draw the winner. Dr. Maureen Murray of the Tufts Wildlife Clinic was our lucky winner!

The lucky winner of our final lunchbox – Dr. Maureen Murray from the Wildlife Clinic!

We have really enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm the Tufts community has for sustainability. Some attendees proudly showed us their OOS swag they got from previous president’s picnics, such as the reusable personal hand towels from last year and the reusable lunch boxes from two years ago!

She brought the lunchbox she got from us two years ago!

Thanks so much to everyone who attended the picnics this year and brought their own place settings. Catered events often have a lot of waste associated with them, so we are so glad that you all have helped us make Tufts events more sustainable. We can’t wait to see you all again next year, and don’t forget to tell your friends — we always bring prizes!

Boston Campus Zero Waste Picnic

Another president’s picnic, this time on the Boston campus! Although it was forecast to rain, we luckily didn’t feel a single drop throughout the duration of the event.

As with all of our zero waste events, all of the trash bins normally available in the green space next to the Jaharis Building for Biomedical and Nutrition Sciences on the Boston campus were covered so that attendees would not be able to use them.

Something that was different about this particular zero waste event was that everything given to the attendees including cups, plates, utensils, and napkins were all completely compostable. While we usually have both recycling and composting toters at our zero waste events, at this event we simply needed to direct people to place all their used items and leftover food into the compost.

Michelle with the free reusable sandwich bag she got for bringing her own place setting!

As has become tradition, we handed out free sandwich bags to the lucky first 50 people who came to the Office of Sustainability’s table with their own reusable place settings from home (or from their office!).

President Monaco picking the raffle winner!

 

Additionally, everyone who brought a component of a reusable place setting was invited to enter our raffle. President Monaco picked the lucky winner, Dorothy Vannah, the director of the Simulation Learning Center at Tufts School of Dental Medicine.

The lucky winner with her new lunchbox!

In addition to handing out flyers about commuting benefits and becoming an Eco-Ambassador, we also had Michelle Lee-Bravatti, a second-year graduate student at the Friedman School help spread the word about the new composting program at the Boston campus that she initiated this past spring. Not only are there composting bins in several locations throughout the Boston campus, individual offices can also inquire about getting an office composting bin. Be sure to contact michelle.lee_bravatti@tufts.edu for more information.

Next week, we’ll be in Grafton for the final President’s Picnic of the year!

Tufts Community Resilience Building Workshop

In 2016, Tufts University’s President Anthony Monaco signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment on behalf of the university. The Commitment integrates two critical components of climate leadership: carbon neutrality and climate resilience. One stipulation of the Commitment is for the university to complete a campus-community resilience assessment.

While climate change mitigation strategies aimed to reduce carbon emissions are often emphasized, it is equally important to consider how communities can plan for the predicted impacts of climate change.  In addition, due to recent events such as Tropical Storm Irene and Sandy, there is a heightened sense of urgency within our local and regional communities to increase resilience and adapt to extreme weather events.

In order to advance the Climate Commitment goals and address concerns that the Tufts community has regarding natural and climate-related hazards, Tufts University hosted a Community Resilience Building Workshop for the Medford/Somerville campus. The workshop took place on May 3rd, and was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy.

Picture from the resilience building workshop, attendees listening to speaker

Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC

Community Resilience Building workshops help municipalities and institutions create an opportunity for their community to to gather and plan proactively for potential emergencies. This is an important step towards climate adaptation and community capacity-building to deal with a changing climate.

The Tufts University Core Team that helped prepare for and organize this workshop included Tina Woolston from the Office of Sustainability, Geoff Bartlett and Matt Hart from the Department of Public and Environmental Safety Emergency Management Unit, as well as two Tufts students, Emma Conroy and Sophie Lehrenbaum.

Around 60 Tufts and surrounding community members attended the workshop, including representatives from various Tufts groups such as Facilities, Finance, Health Services, Construction, Public and Environmental Health and Safety, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, representatives from the City of Medford’s Office of Energy and Environment and Office of Public Health, the City of Somerville’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency were also present.

The full day event started with an overview of climate change impacts in the Northeast, the top 4 potential climate related hazards as identified during a recent Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment undertaken by the Department of Public and Environmental Health and Safety, and an introduction to the resources that would be discussed during the next portion of the event. These resources included maps of the campus, the existing hazard mitigation plan, information on the number of days over 90 degrees and flooding, as well as maps depicting natural disasters that have affected the area.

Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC

Attendees were then broken up into five groups, and through a facilitated process, discussed the existing vulnerabilities and strengths of the campus, and prioritized concrete actions that could be taken. As a part of this process, each group illustrated where they thought vulnerable areas and potential hazards were located on top of a base map of the university.

One group’s illustration of hazards on the Medford/Somerville campus (Source: Adam Whelchel/TNC)

While all groups recognized that Tufts, along with its host cities, already has many strengths and assets that will help in emergency situations, many recommendations were made on how Tufts could better prepare for such events through longer term, comprehensive planning.

Some of the top priorities for action by the Medford/Somerville campus community that came out of the workshop were:

  1. Human Welfare – supporting students and employees during an emergency
  2. Infrastructure – utilities, stormwater, and continuity planning and upgrades
  3. Food – food supply, distribution, and storage during an emergency

Community-based actions towards adapting to the predicted impacts of climate change can lead to planning and preparation that meets the specific needs of the community and the local landscape. In addition, it helps empower community members to take charge and prepare for some of the climate-related challenges we currently face as a society that may not be within our individual control to avoid.

Adam Whelchel, the lead facilitator of the workshop, commented, “the Nature Conservancy is proud to have played a part in helping Tufts University take a significant step towards enhanced resilience via the Community Resilience Building process. Tufts now joins an elite group of universities around the globe that have proactively embraced resilience as an opportunity to find a more vibrant future for their faculty, staff, students, and the surrounding community.”

Similar Community Resilience Building Workshops will be coming to the Boston and Grafton campuses soon, stay tuned!

 

Announcing: Spring 2018 Green Fund Recipients

The Green Fund is a new program at Tufts that provides funding for the implementation of sustainability-related projects proposed by the Tufts community. Managed by a committee made up of students, faculty, and staff from all four Tufts campuses, the Green Fund will help realize innovative and inspired projects that strive to make the campus a more sustainable place.

The funds for the Green Fund come from the Sustainable Investment Fund‘s endowment payout which refreshes every year. This means that even projects that are not designed to have financial payback to the school are eligible. For this soft launch of the program, a total of $10,000 was available for funding.

Without further ado, here are this year’s three winning proposals that will be funded by the Green Fund:

Hodgdon Solar Charging Stations – $6500
Current rendering of the proposed solar charging system on Hodgdon Hall's south facing wall

Current rendering of the proposed solar charging system on Hodgdon Hall’s south facing wall (Source: Tufts Energy Group)

The Tufts Energy Group (TEG), a student-led group that focuses on engaging and educating the Tufts community about energy issues, has been working for the past two years on making solar power more accessible to Tufts students and faculty.

TEG secured a $10,000  grant from SunBug, a local solar energy company that has already installed solar panels at the Somerville/Medford campus on top of Dowling Hall, to help realize a solar panel installment that will be more visible and accessible to the Tufts community. However, more funding is necessary to cover additional necessary construction and consulting costs, as well as the publication of educational materials and signage.

The new solar panels will be visible on the south side wall of Hodgdon Hall, and the energy produced will be available for use by students to charge their electronic devices on the patio and in the common room during the months that the patio is not in use.

With this project, TEG hopes to increase renewable energy usage and awareness on the Somerville/Medford campus and promote energy education and learning for students.

Construction is tentatively set for early this summer. For more information on this project, email ryan.biette@tufts.edu.

Dental School Water Bottle Filling Station – $3000

Water bottle filling stations similar to this one will be installed on several floors of the Tufts Dental building

The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine has several ongoing “green” goals, one of which is to greatly reduce and eventually eliminate the use of plastic water bottles at all events and meetings held on their campus.

The school had stopped providing water bottles at senior administrative, departmental, and committee meetings, and guests have been asked to bring in their own reusable water bottles. Pitchers of water were made available during these meetings for attendees to refill their bottles.

In order to further increase the usage of reusable water bottles, Mary-Ellen Marks, Jini McClelland, and Talita Turnier from the Dental School’s administration proposed to retrofit existing water fountains in the school with Rapid Water Bottle Filling Stations.

While one of these Filling Stations is already located on the 7th floor of the dental building, the additional funding will allow the school to install one more Filling Station on a different floor of the building.

Composting on the Health Sciences Campus – $500

Michelle Lee-Bravatti of the Friedman School sorting through compost (Source: Erin Child)

Michelle Lee Bravatti, a second-year Nutrition Epidemiology and MPH student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, set out earlier this year to bring composting to Tufts’ Boston Health Sciences Campus.

In coordination with the Office of Sustainability, the Tufts Boston Campus Facility Services,  and the Friedman Student Council, Michele helped launch a pilot composting program at the Boston Campus.  Previously, composting was not available in any of the Boston Campus buildings.

Through this effort, four composting bins were established throughout the campus in three different locations. In order to help expand the program to more locations and to ensure that the program will continue, Michelle applied for funding through the Green Fund.

These additional funds will help recruit and compensate a student program manager and two student volunteer workers to monitor and empty compost bins as well as spread awareness about the program, purchase biodegradable liners for the compost bins, and place additional bins in the Friedman and Sackler School buildings.

Future opportunities:

For the next round of proposals this year, a total of $30,000 will be available to fund 1 or more projects. Moving forward, the program will be able to fund any number of projects with budgets adding up to $40,000. Proposal deadlines for future rounds will be posted as soon as they are determined.

Through Brighter World, the university-wide funding campaign, it is now also possible for members of the Tufts community to make a gift that goes directly to the Green Fund. Find out more on the campaign website.

2018 Eco-Ambassador Grant Winners

Through participation in either two condensed half-day or monthly 2-hour educational sessions, Tufts’ faculty and staff Eco-Ambassadors are eligible to apply for a $100 grant to help realize a project that will further sustainability efforts on campus.

This year, there were 3 grant recipients: Chris Bishal from the Office of Student Affairs at Tufts School of Medicine, Misha D’Andrea and Brianna Florio from the Office of Admissions at SMFA, and Dan Birdsall from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Fletcher School.

Read on to find out what the grants were used for this year!

Reusable Place Settings at the Tufts School of Medicine

Chris Bishal from the Tufts School of Medicine at the Boston campus proposed to purchase reusable small plates, bowls, cups, and silverware for the Office of Student Affairs conference room. These are now used for meetings and gatherings as well as for every day use by staff.

Previously in this space, light snacks, pastries, and coffee provided for various staff, Dean, and committee meetings as well as meetings between faculty advisors and student advisees were served on paper plates and consumed with plastic utensils. The new dishes purchased with the grant greatly reduce the amount of waste produced by these meetings.

A Greener Accepted Students Day at the SMFA

Admissions Assistant Misha d’Andrea and  Admissions Counselor Brianna Florio from the SMFA Office of Admissions are the first to receive Eco-Ambassador training at the SMFA campus. On April 20th, the SMFA hosted accepted students at their annual Jumbo Day, and they felt that this would be the “perfect opportunity to spread sustainable practices as well as have an eco-friendly lunch enjoyed by all.”

In order to make this year’s Jumbo day “as green as possible”, Misha and Brianna used the grant to purchase compostable plates, cups, utensils, and stirring sticks. As these items are more costly than paper and plastic items, it would have been difficult to budget for them without the grant.  By having attendees compost all their food waste in addition to their place settings, they were able to make the event zero-waste.

SMFA Eco Rep Maria tabling at Jumbo Day and getting future Jumbos excited about sustainability!

Not only did Misha and Brianna help minimize the waste produced by this year’s SMFA Jumbo Day, they were also able to get the future generation of Tufts students “excited about sustainability and composting at this campus” in coordination with Maria, the SMFA’s student Eco-Rep who tabled at the event.

New Compost Bin in the Fletcher School’s Hall of Flags

Molly and Dan with the new compost bin in the Hall of Flags at Fletcher.

Dan Birdsall, the associate director of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Fletcher School, along with Molly Haragan, a 2nd year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy candidate, proposed to purchase a new compost bin for the Hall of Flags. The Hall of Flags is the Fletcher School’s highest-traffic area and main gathering location for students, staff, and faculty.

While there was already a compost bin at Fletcher in the Mugar Café, Molly noticed that a significant amount of food is also consumed in the Hall of Flags, where frequent receptions and admissions events occur. Additionally, food leftover from student-organized events are often placed in the Hall of Flags, and many students also eat in this space as well as in the rest of the building.

Previously, much of the food waste from the Hall of Flags often ended up in the garbage can rather than being transported to the compost bin at the Mugar Café. As a result, an additional compost bin at this location has significantly helped reduce food waste that will go directly to landfills. “Composting is now the obvious and easy option there,” Dan explains. Molly has just graduated and identified a few returning students interested in sustainability that will help monitor and empty the bins next school year.

 

 

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