Tag Archives: emissions

Environmental Analyst Intern

NESCAUM is seeking an extremely bright and motivated intern to support two of our current projects: the Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Initiative and the Climate Change Science Clearing House. NESCAUM is a nonprofit association of the state environmental agencies in the six New England states, New York and New Jersey. The Association provides technical and policy assistance to its members on air pollution, climate, and energy issues of regional concern.

Learn more/apply!

REDD+ Internship, United Nations (Indonesia)

The United Nations Organziation for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID) is looking for interns for 3 – 6 months in Jakarta, Indonesia! UNORCID is interested in receiving applications from prospective Fletcher candidates interested in internships. Learn more at their website.  

Policy Associate, National Association of Clean Air Agencies (Washington D.C.)

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) – a non-profit organization of state and local air pollution control agencies – seeks a senior-level policy associate to join our small, fast-paced Capitol Hill office. The Senior Staff Associate will staff the association’s committees dealing with important and timely issues under the Clean Air Act, including the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, state and local climate action, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, state and local air enforcement programs, agricultural air quality issues and training of state and local air officials. Learn more/apply.

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.

Emissions to decrease as Central Heating Plant switches to natural gas

On a quiet Friday last month when the campus was mostly deserted for Veterans Day, Tufts Facilities shut down the Central Heating Plant located between Dowling and East Halls to have the chimney cleaned. No, it was not to help Santa stay soot- free this Christmas – it was the final step in getting the gas turned on for the winter.

New (yellow) gas lines were installed at the Central Heating Plant this past fall

The plant began using natural gas as its main fuel on November 30 and significantly lightened Tufts’ carbon footprint in Medford. CO2 emissions in FY 2012 in the Medford campus are estimated to decrease by 8% from FY 2011 levels despite a projected increase in energy consumption by 7.8%.

According to Tufts’ Director of Facilities Technical Services Betsy Isenstein, the transition is the result of “a fortunate confluence of events”.

Unbeknownst to most people who live and work on the Tufts Medford campus, the central heating plant was forced to switch fuels in the middle of last winter from burning No. 6 to No. 2 fuel oil because of a shipment of substandard No. 6 fuel that could not be used. No. 6 fuel oil (also known “bunker C” or residual fuel oil) is the heaviest, thickest, cheapest, and – not surprisingly – the dirtiest of six available grades of fuel oil in the US.

One of two updated boilers

Shortly afterwards, a routine inspection led to the discovery of issues with two of the fuel tanks outside the central heating plant and prompted the university to move up scheduled upgrades for two boilers that were installed in the 80s. The upgraded boilers are not only more efficient, but they have the ability to burn both natural gas and No. 2 fuel oil.

With the price of natural gas at a historic low, the fuel switch made economic as well as environmental sense. National Grid installed a new gas line from Boston Avenue up to Central Heating Plant and upgraded 1,100 feet of gas main along Boston Avenue last summer in order to bring the amount of natural gas needed up the hill to supply the central heating plant.

The new yellow gas lines look very sharp next to old fuel piping which will be replaced in the near future. #2 fuel will be maintained as a backup.

Natural gas is the cleanest of fuels commonly used for residential and commercial space heating. Switching from No. 6 fuel oil to No. 2 last winter already reduced CO2 emissions by about 7%,  switching from No. 6 to natural gas reduces CO2 emissions by about 30%,  sulfur dioxide (SO2) by over 99%, nitrous oxides (NOx) by about 75% and particulate matter (PM2.5) by about 96%.[1]

In contrast, No. 6 fuel oil comes from the “bottom of the barrel”. It is the sludge that remains after removal of distillates such as gasoline so it has a higher concentration of metals than other oil. Burning No. 6 fuel oil produces darker smoke and higher CO2 emissions than other types of fuel, and “sludge-burning” boilers have been identified as contributors to increased air pollution and consequently, a higher incidence of respiratory problems.

The retrofitted system provides state-of-the-art boiler controls.

The transition has been smooth so far, according to Isenstein. Next spring, fuel storage will be replaced to better handle No. 2 fuel, which will only be used as a backup in case the gas supply fails. A third fuel tank installed in the late ‘50s will no longer be needed, so it will be removed next year and possibly replaced. The central plant heats almost every Tufts building on the hill between Professors Row and part of Boston Avenue. Three smaller plants and a number of stand alone boilers heat the rest of the Medford campus.

The fuel switch at the Central Heating Plant was a big win in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a single initiative, but given recent reports that 2010 was a record year for C02 emissions, there is still plenty of work to be done. Do your part by living sustainably and remember that all journeys begin with small steps. You can download the Green Guide to Living and Working at Tufts or visit the Office of Sustainability website to see how you can get involved in making the world a greener place.


[1] The Bottom of the Barrel: How the dirtiest heating oil pollutes our air and harms our health. M.J. Bradley & Associates LLC and the Urban Green Council for EDF, Dec 2009.

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