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Tufts Releases Progress Report on Campus Sustainability

2014 Tufts Sustainability Progress Report

2014 Tufts Sustainability Progress Report

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Tufts University has released its 2014 Campus Sustainability Progress Report, a year after the Campus Sustainability Council issued a report presenting recommendations for the university in the areas of waste, water, and energy use and emissions. The council, established by Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco in 2012, includes students, faculty and staff from across Tufts’ three Massachusetts campuses.

The 2014 progress report highlights sustainability-related developments and achievements made over the past year, including the creation of an energy master plan for the Medford/Somerville campus, establishment of a solid waste minimization program, and improvements in the capital planning process to integrate sustainable design principles in planning construction projects.

“Universities play a vital role in helping the world address challenging environmental issues such as climate change and resource depletion, and sustainability is a strategic priority for me and for Tufts,” said Monaco. “The Campus Sustainability Progress Report shows how our university community has worked together to make significant strides toward achieving many of the recommendations put forth by the Campus Sustainability Council in 2013. We want to build on that momentum and continue to be a leader in the area of sustainability in higher education.”

The report highlights a wide range of current and upcoming sustainability initiatives across the university, among them:

  • The installation of water- and energy-conservation features like Tufts’ first rain garden, an electric vehicle charging station, and solar arrays planned on in both the Medford/Somerville and Grafton campuses;
  • A transportation working group focused on reducing the impact of Tufts-related travel and improving access to multiple modes of transportation to the community;
  • LEED™ certification of two more spaces at Tufts – the Biology Collaborative Cluster at 200 Boston Avenue in Medford and the Sackler building in Boston; certification is also planned for two upcoming projects: renovation of a warehouse at 574 Boston Avenue, Medford, into an classrooms and teaching labs, and proposed construction of a Science and Engineering  Complex near the School of Engineering
  • Enhanced recycling programs which handle laboratory-specific material like Styrofoam™.

Despite 38% growth in Tufts’ built environment since 1990, the university’s greenhouse gas emissions per square foot have decreased 27%. Tufts formally adopted goals in the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan in 2003; these goals call for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, a goal Tufts has achieved; reducing them to at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 75-85% below 2001 levels by 2050. The Campus Sustainability Council reaffirmed these goals by committing to the Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas reduction goals, which include a target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Tufts is also working to reduce and reuse waste and cut water consumption. The university’s current recycling and composting programs mean Tufts already complies  with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s waste bans.  Water consumption across all campuses decreased in 2013, while the stormwater regulation features of our ongoing construction projects are designed to exceed federal and state requirements.

“While the university has made great progress, there is still much to do,” said Tina Woolston, Tufts’ Sustainability Program director.  “In addition to highlighting our achievements, our annual report talks about important next steps for Tufts. Examples include performing waste audits on the Grafton campus,  installing a heat recovery system on the Boston campus, and opening more freecycle stations so that students on the Medford/Somerville campus can exchange reusable items this summer.”

To read the progress report and learn more about Tufts’ sustainability programs, visit the Tufts Office of Sustainability website at sustainability.tufts.edu.

Campus Sustainability Council Fall 2012 Update

During the summer, the Tufts Sustainability Council’s various working groups met to discuss goals for Tufts in the areas of water, waste and energy/emissions reductions.

The Water Working Group envisioned Tufts having an integrated water management approach that reduces consumption, promotes reuse, and minimizes impacts on the environment enabling Tufts to become a leader in campus water management in higher education.

To reach this goal, the Water Working Group recommends that Tufts meets and exceeds federal, state and local regulations regarding runoff, sanitation, and sewer systems; implements LEED standards for water use and quality; and ensures that Tufts students, faculty, and staff are knowledgeable of how their actions impact water use and quality and know how to mitigate negative impacts on their watersheds.

The Waste Working Group’s primary goal as discussed during their Summer meetings is an overall reduction of waste at Tufts by 3% a year through source reduction, improved waste management strategies, and a general culture change on campus with regards to waste.

Part of the Waste Working Group’s proposed strategies involves improved purchasing practices to ensure that an increased percentage of environmentally responsible products are purchased by the university.

The Energy and Emissions Working Group discussed ways for Tufts to demonstrate leadership in responsible climate action through energy efficiency, emissions reduction and adaptation. Under the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action plan, the Energy and Emissions group is committed to seeing Tufts reduce emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and reducing emissions to 75-85% below the 2001 levels by 2050.

To do this, the Energy and Emissions group is developing a laundry list of energy efficiency measures and is committed to supporting a transition away from fossil fuels and teaching the Tufts community about the importance of energy efficiency, reduced energy consumption, and reduced emissions.

The groups stressed a need for reporting, feedback, and community outreach to ensure that all of Tufts sustainability efforts and goals can be reached.

Over the remainder of the semester, the Water, Waste, and Energy/Emissions groups will be meeting to discuss progress towards these goals, ongoing sustainability efforts, and additional strategies the university could use to meet their goals. A draft report will be available on February 1st, 2013 for comments. The comment period will end on March 1st and a final report will be prepared for the end of the academic year.

- by Robert R. Lynch, Campus Sustainability Council Administrative Intern

Campus Sustainability Council update: Waste Working Group

Since the beginning of March, the three Working Groups of the Campus Sustainability Council have been meeting to discuss the current state of energy/emissions, water, and waste policies and practices at Tufts, and to create new policy measures in these areas.

The Waste Working Group met for the first time on March 12th and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include collaborating to create university-wide solid waste reduction/avoidance goals, presenting goals to the main Council for feedback and approval, and creating strategies to meet the goals, including implementation planning.

The group reviewed how Tufts manages its waste as well as consumption data. They learned that causes of waste output variations are usually hard to determine but that waste increases noticeably during a strong economy and times of high consumption, and that reduced consumption and reusing materials could impact waste output considerably. The group reviewed the waste breakdown for the past several years on the Boston and Medford campuses. Finally, the group looked into strategies for waste reduction. The waste management hierarchy follows, from most preferred to least preferred:

  • Source reduction and reuse
  • Recycling/composting
  • Energy recovery
  • Treatment and disposal

In the second meeting, the Waste Working Group decided to break down into smaller sub-groups, and the third meeting was spent working within those groups. The groups, along with their objectives, are:

  • Waste Management
    • To identify gaps and weaknesses in current waste management and address gaps, and to achieve uniformity in waste management practices wherever possible
    • Group will cover practices and metrics
  • Source Reduction
    • Group will impact waste reduction and responsible choices through purchasing contracts and client interface
  • Labs and Hospitals
    • Group will focus on laboratory and hospital waste management including animal facilities
  • Marketing and Education
    • Group will raise the level of awareness for waste reduction across all Tufts communities through behavior change

The working group members are now in the process of brainstorming goals and areas of policy change within their subgroups. Once this process is complete, the sub-groups will discuss their findings and the Waste Working Group will make a report to the Sustainability Council. The working group is co-chaired by Gretchen Kaufman, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Medicine in the Department of Environmental and Population Health and Director of the Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and Dawn Quirk, Waste Reduction Program Manager in Tufts Facilities Services.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

Campus Sustainability Council update: Energy/Emissions Working Group

Since the beginning of March, the three Working Groups of the Campus Sustainability Council have been meeting bi-weekly to discuss the current state of energy/emissions, water, and waste policies and practices at Tufts, and to create new policy measures in these areas.

The Energy/Emissions Working Group met for the first time on March 15th and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include reviewing current energy usage and emissions, existing initiatives and goals, as well as creating recommendations for goals and implementation plans to present to the Campus Sustainability Council.

The group reviewed Tufts’ institutional commitments to energy and emissions reduction including the 1990 Talloires Declaration and Tufts Environmental Policy, the 1999 Climate Change Commitment to follow the Kyoto Protocol and reduce carbon dioxide levels to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012, and the 2003 New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan with the goal to be 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75-85% below 2001 levels by 2050. The members also learned that many energy-saving initiatives at Tufts are already underway, including:

  • Occupancy sensors in most rooms on campus
  • Daylight sensing/dimming, lighting & controls
  • Ongoing technology updates include LED lighting
  • Equipment efficiency
  • State of the art boiler controls and boiler upgrades
  • Retro-commissioning of buildings
  • Heat-recovery programs
  • Energy Star vending machines & vending misers
  • Free CFL bulb exchange
  • IT upgrades (LCD screens, laptops)
  • Solar panels on Sophia Gordon Hall, Schmaltz House, Fairmount House
  • Management- Residence Hall winter break shut-down
  • Behavior modification
  • LEED Certification
  • Fuel Switching from oil to gas
  • Renewable energy such as solar and geothermal

The working group members discussed the differences between Tufts’ campuses energy use and emissions, life-cycle costing, ways to evaluate proposed solutions and appropriate metrics for evaluation. The group is in the final stages of assessing the current state of energy and emissions at Tufts and will soon move on to metrics and goal setting. The working group is co-chaired by Ann Rappaport, Lecturer at Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Betsy Isenstein, Director of Facilities Technical Services.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

April showers and that resource called water

April showers have definitely arrived and our thoughts turn to that most valuable resource: water. Don’t let that rain outside fool you! Water is still in high demand and any efforts on our part to limit water waste make a world of difference.In fact, the Water, Systems and Society (WSSS) program is holding its 3rd annual symposium on April 27 and the theme is “The Glass Half Full: Valuing Water in the 21st Century“, exploring the various complex and interlinking factors of valuing water throughout developed and developing nations.

Here at Tufts, the Campus Sustainability Council’s Water Working Group has begun reviewing current usage and existing initiatives related to water, such as the installation of rain barrels to capture roof run-off for landscape irrigation and low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets as part of bathroom upgrades in residence halls. The group is working towards preparing specific “SMART” goals for the university over the coming months. Feel free to submit your suggestions for any of the Council’s working groups (the other two focus on Waste and Energy/Emissions) – the Office of Sustainability will collect and summarize the suggestions on behalf the Council.

On a related note, the 24oz light blue Nalgene with a water bottle-stomping elephant on it has become a familiar sight around the Tufts Medford campus. You may recall that beginning last fall, the sale of single-serving beverages was eliminated from Hodgdon Good-to-Go, thanks to a campaign by student action group Tufts Against Plastic (TAP). Tufts Dining supported the initiative and even helped promote it by giving away the clear “Choose to Reuse” water bottle for free with the sale a fountain drink during the first two weeks of the semester. (Dining has since made the Nalgene bottles available for sale wherever plastic bottles of water are still sold and they offer a beverage discount for those who bring reusable bottles to Hodgdon Good-to-Go, Tower Café, Mugar Café, and The Commons.)

A full semester after the initial change took place, Patti Klos, Director of Dining and Business Services, estimated a reduction of over 133,000 disposable bottles per semester! That’s 73% fewer bottles from the previous school year when single-serving beverage bottles were still sold in Hodgdon. Read more about this story.

In the meantime, let’s continue to work on keeping our personal water usage to a minimum – from shortening our showers to turning off the faucet when we brush our teeth. See our Green Guide to Living and Working at Tufts for more tips on how to conserve water.

- Anne Elise Stratton
Communications Intern, Office of Sustainability

Campus Sustainability Council update: Water Working Group kicks off


Since the official announcement from President Tony Monaco last February, members of the Campus Sustainability Council have been getting busy as each of the three working groups (focusing on Water, Energy/Emissions and Waste) began holding their regular meetings.

The Water Working Group met for the first time on March 2nd and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include reviewing current usage, existing initiatives and goals, as well as creating recommendations for goals and implementation plans to present to the Campus Sustainability Council.

The group found that very few institutions of higher education have any public water-related goals.  In fact, Johns Hopkins is one of a rare few that have a specific goal (to decrease university wide potable water consumption by 3%). The members also learned that many water-saving initiatives at Tufts are already underway, including:

  • Efforts to use ground water for irrigation
  • Low-flow shower heads in all Medford and Boston residence halls
  • Bathroom upgrades in Medford residence halls which include dual flush or low flush toilets
  • On‐going Medford campus condensate loss reduction efforts
  • Front Load washing machines requiring less water, energy and detergent installed in most residence hall laundry rooms
  • Rain barrels installed at 520 Boston Avenue to capture roof run‐off for landscape irrigation

The working group members discussed the differences between Tufts’ campuses, regulatory and compliance issues, the environmental impact of wastewater, ways to evaluate proposed solutions and appropriate metrics for evaluation.

Scott Horsley, a lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department, and Bob Burns, Director of Tufts Facilities Services, are the co-chairs of the water working group and will be working to guide the group towards specific “SMART” goals for the university over the coming months. Sustainability standards will be incorporated into all proposals for new construction and renovation projects.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

President Monaco to chair Sustainability Council

Tufts’ new president is off to a great start and he is making sustainability a priority.

In a letter to the Tufts community last Monday, President Tony Monaco announced plans to launch and personally chair two university-wide councils in the next few weeks: one for sustainability and one for diversity.

“The new Presidential council on sustainability will assess strategic directions to ensure that our campus operations reflect the commitment to the environment that informs our extraordinary academic work in this arena,” he wrote. “While taking a broad view, the council will look particularly closely at carbon management, waste and water.”

This exciting news fulfills early indications that our new leader is personally engaged in issues of sustainability. Back in June, he asked on Twitter, “Alright Jumbos, in my listening tour so far it seems that sustainability and the green agenda on #Tufts campus are essential. Thoughts?”

In an article on Earth Week last April, Monaco was also quoted as having “a longstanding interest and involvement in sustainability issues”. As Oxford’s pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources, Monaco had been chosen to lead the university’s Sustainability Steering Group in 2008.

On recent news that Tufts earned a Silver rating in STARS, Monaco noted that “the rating provides strong recognition of our institutional achievements in sustainability” and added that “this is a priority for me personally… in light of the clear support across the university for intensifying our commitment, I am certain that we will accomplish even more in the years ahead.”

(Photo: President Monaco received an orchid on his first day at work from John DiBaggio, who was president of Tufts in 1999 when the university made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels. Source: Kelvin Ma/Tufts University)