Tag: campus sustainability (page 1 of 3)

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!

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Lid! Campus recycling is now mixed!

Have you noticed anything different about your favorite campus waste station?

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 9.45.33 PM

Recycling at the Medford/Somerville campus is now mixed! Boston will be transitioned in March 2017 and Grafton will make the switch in Summer 2017.

Recycling on the Medford/Somerville campus is now MIXED! Mixed recycling means all the materials that you currently recycle will remain the same but will not need to be separated. All paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, and metal can be mixed together in any blue bins with new UFO-shaped lids! We will keep this blog updated regularly with new information about mixed recycling. You can subscribe to regular mixed recycling email updates here.

Please remember the following when recycling:

  1. Dump out liquids.
  2. Wipe out messy food containers.

If you’re on the SMFA campus, you can expect to see this same type of waste station starting next week.  If you’re on the Boston campus, you will be transitioned in March 2017. The Grafton campus recycling system will be updated during the summer months.

mixedlid

The new UFO-shaped mixed recycling lids allow you to dispose of items in a variety of shapes (e.g. bottles and cardboard).

Change is hard, but there is no need to panic! Mixed recycling is simple and easy. New mixed recycling stations provide the campus community with two primary options: recycle or landfill (along with existing composting for food waste in many locations). Trash bins are labeled with a white “Landfill” label to help remind the campus community that the trash we discard ultimately ends up in a landfill somewhere. The blue “Mixed Recycling” label indicates that all recyclables can be mixed in one bin: paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, and metal. When in doubt, please recycle!

Making the move to mixed recycling supports Tufts’ larger plan to improve solid waste and recycling efforts in line with the President’s Campus Sustainability Council’s goal of reducing total waste by 3% per year. Every Tufts community member is asked and expected to help the university meet its waste goals by educating themselves about their campus’s move to mixed recycling. Read more about the President’s Sustainability Council goals to reduce waste here.

Frequently Asked Questions about the mixed recycling transition:

  1. What happened to the waste station next to my office?
    Waste stations have been transitioned to mixed recycling, meaning there are now only two bins at the waste station: trash and recycling. Your original central waste station may have been moved to another area on your floor during the transition, however, please do not move any waste stations. As long as you use your desk-side trash buddy, you will be able to bring your trash and recycling to a central waste station located on your floor of the building. If you have concerns, please contact recycle@tufts.edu.
  2. What does “Landfill” mean?A landfill is a facility where solid waste is taken after you throw it into the trash bin. Landfills are engineered to comply with federal regulations and keep waste dry and away from groundwater sources. Landfills are designed to bury trash — they do not help it break down at a faster rate. This means that items you send to a landfill can stay there for hundreds of years, depending on the materials. As stated in the 2013 Campus Sustainability Council Report, Tufts’ overall vision for waste is a cradle-to-cradle economy, meaning that the campus community will consider the lifecycle cost of products before purchasing them. By labeling bins with the word “Landfill” we hope to remind people about where their waste goes after it is thrown away.
  3. What goes in the “Mixed Recycling” bin? What goes in the “Landfill” bin?
    When you take the time to consider what goes in recycling versus trash, you find that most of your waste really can be recycled! For a list of accepted items, please visit the Facilities Services – Recycling & Waste Management website. We also recommend watching the video below, which explains how to recycle under the new system.

Still have questions? Please contact Facilities Services at recycle@tufts.edu.

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Recycling at Tufts is about to get easier…

Today is America Recycles Day!

To celebrate, Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability are excited to announce the introduction of mixed recycling (single stream recycling) at the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus starting in the spring 2017 semester. The glass/metal/plastic and paper/cardboard bins on the Medford/Somerville campus will be replaced with mixed recycling bins that can be identified by their UFO-shaped lids, blue bags, and mixed recycling labels. The SMFA can look forward to seeing an increase in this style of bin in January as well.

The Cummings School and the Boston Health Sciences campus will be switched to mixed recycling in the summer of 2017.

A dual stream waste station at Tufts which includes a bin for glass/metal/plastic and a bin for paper/cardboard.

Tufts currently uses a dual stream system, which requires separating glass, metal and plastic containers from paper and cardboard items. Starting in January 2017 all these items will now be collected in one bin.

What is Mixed Recycling?

“Mixed recycling” means that the items you normally sort into the blue and green-capped recycling bins (paper/cardboard and glass/metal/plastic) can be disposed of together. Recycling materials collected will remain the same but will not need to be separated.

Mixed Recycling Station

A mixed recycling station set up for testing.

Mixed Recycling Lid

The UFO-shaped mixed recycling lids will allow people to dispose of items in a variety of shapes (e.g. bottles and cardboard).

 

Why is Tufts Moving to Mixed Recycling?

  1. It’s easier for you!

The ability to put paper/cardboard and glass/metal/plastic recycling in one bin will make recycling simple and easy, providing the campus community with two primary options for disposing of waste: “Mixed Recycling” or “Landfill” (along with composting for food waste in some locations).

  1. Our waste stream is changing

The switch to mixed recycling is a direct reaction to the changing needs of the recycling industry: with increased demand for more efficient packaging and changes in personal habits, the makeup of the nation’s waste stream is changing. At one time, paper made up to 70 percent of the weight flowing through recycling programs, but now it accounts for less than 40 percent in many cities. More complex, lightweight materials have begun to replace paper; Tufts’ mixed recycling program will accommodate the disposal of these changing materials more efficiently.

  1. Mixed recycling will support Tufts’ waste reduction goals

Transitioning to mixed recycling supports Tufts’ larger plan to improve solid waste and recycling efforts in line with the President’s Campus Sustainability Council’s goal of reducing total waste by 3% per year. Every Tufts community member is asked and expected to help the university meet its waste goals by educating themselves about their campus’s move to mixed recycling.

2016 Sustainable Communities and Campuses Conference, (Pioneer Valley, MA)

The annual Sustainable Communities and Campuses Conference connects stakeholders from municipalities, college campuses, government, businesses and nonprofits. Everyone learning about best practices, current trends, and resources will find this conference timely, practical and valuable.

In 2016 the two conferences are held two days: April 15 at Hampshire College, and April 16 in Northampton, MA.

Registration Deadline: March 11, 2016
See more information or Register online

Student Housing Sustainability & Conservation Coordinator, Stanford University, (Palo Alto, CA)

Sustainability is a core value on campus and within R&DE Student Housing. The R&DE Student Housing Sustainability Programs Office collaborates with students and staff to foster behavior change, reduce energy and water consumption and waste production in our residences, and to integrate long-term sustainable thinking into how we operate. The Coordinator will support the Office’s goals and report directly to the Sustainability and Utilities Program Manager.

 

Apply Online
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