Sustainability at Tufts

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Lunch and Learn Recap: Alicia Hunt

This week’s Lunch and Learn, an initiative of the Environmental Studies Department, featured Alicia Hunt, director of Energy and the Environment for the city of Medford.  Ms. Hunt spoke to a packed room of students, professors, community members, representatives of the Tufts Institute for the Environment and the Office of Sustainability, and President Monaco himself!

aliciahuntMs. Hunt began with an overview of city demographics and background. Medford was actually the fourth English settlement in North America! Today, the city is home to 56,000 residents, but it is also 1/3 green space, including The Fells.

Medford has also long been a trendsetter in environmental and sustainability innovation. Its Go Green Medford initiative has placed the city at the vanguard nationally. In 2002, Medford switched all its traffic lights over to LED – revolutionary at the time, but now the standard of efficiency. In 2004, its city hall was the first in Massachusetts to receive the Energy Star Plaque, and in 2009 Medford built the first municipal-scale wind turbine at a school in Massachusetts. “We love to be first” with everything green, said Hunt.

In fact, Medford has gotten so good at setting the standard for sustainability that when the Department of Energy launched its Better Buildings Challenge, they specifically recruited Medford to participate,  knowing the prestige and expertise which Medford would bring to the program.

Hunt was also quick to point out how helpful the state’s grants and other incentives are in driving sustainability.

Just last year, Medford developed a local energy action plan, an updated version of its 2001 climate action plan. Other recent initiatives and accomplishments include an Idle-Free Medford education outreach campaign and participation in SolarizeMass. Tufts’s planned installation of solar panels on the roof of Dowling Hall will be part of Medford’s Solarize Medford initiative. Hunt emphasized that the work that the city had done in vetting potential solar companies and determining which would work best in the community made the process and decision immeasurably easier for residents looking into solar installations.

In addition, while Medford has long had a focus on residential sustainability, Hunt said they are adding a focus on encouraging green business practices.

Of course, we were glad to hear that Hunt and her department are always looking for Tufts students and faculty to contribute to the efforts, whether through work-study, volunteering, internships, stenciling by storm drains, investigating the feasibility of a compost program, etc. Tufts is so fortunate to be situated in such a sustainable city!

The Candidates and the Climate

While no candidate is perfect on climate change (and indeed, they all seem to be woefully inadequate), there are some differences:
 
PRESIDENT
Mitt Romney: despite his surprisingly good record on climate change while he was governor, Romney’s energy plan focuses almost entirely on pumping more fossil fuels into the atmosphere, a situation that would almost certainly ensure the world’s inability to reign in climate change (Rolling Stone has a pretty fierce write up of it, but you can read it yourself and see). Just one example: in his quotes about N. American energy independence, he uses a Manhattan Institute report that says, “In collaboration with Canada and Mexico, the United States could—and should—forge a broad pro-development, pro-export policy to realize the benefits of our hydrocarbon resources. Such a policy could lead to North America becoming the largest supplier of fuel to the world by 2030.” (what no-one seems to have told him, however, is that oil and gas companies that drill in N. America aren’t restricted to selling that fuel only to Canada, Mexico and the US – they’ll sell it to whomever gives the best price – as any good, non-government-run institution would do).
 
But anyhow, Obama’s no great climate champion these days either but at least he doesn’t blatantly ignore climate change or pledge to dig up and sell all the fossil fuels in North America. As an aside, Romney attacks Obama for ‘targeting old coal power plants’ – when, really, we wish he were targeting them, since those plants are some of the worst carbon emissions offenders.
 
Here is a summary of what the 2 candidates have said about energy and climate on the campaign trail.
 
US SENATE
Elizabeth Warren seems to support action on climate change – at least in words – but I doubt it’ll be a priority for her. Scott Brown, however, in June 2012 voted to ‘disapprove’ the EPAs endangerment findings on greenhouse gases and in March 2012 voted against ending tax deductions for major oil companies and extending incentives for energy efficient homes, plug-in vehicles and alternative fuels. They are considered one of 4 senate races with noticably different opinions on climate.
 
US HOUSE 
Jon Golnik doesn’t list ‘environment’ as an issue on his website, but under ‘energy’ he indicates he supports the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and drilling in ANWR. OK, I guess that says it all. Climate doesn’t seem to be a priority for Niki Tsongas, but she states that she help[ed] to pass tougher fuel efficiency standards and incentives for renewable energy, so there’s hope there.
 
Don’t forget to vote!

Oct 22: Public Perceptions of Wind Energy Projects in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has plans for increasing its cumulative wind energy supply to 2,000 MW by 2020; currently it is at 61 MW (10/11/2012). To be able to achieve this goal, it is important to have a coherent understanding of the factors that make wind energy projects accepted at the local level.

Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) is conducting a study of the factors that lead to community acceptance of wind energy projects. The leader of this study, CIERP postdoctoral research fellow Maria Petrova, recently conducted a survey  and will  present her  results.   From  April  to June, 2012, surveys were mailed to randomly selected residents from the towns of Hull, Kingston, and Falmouth in Massachusetts, where wind projects have been sited with various levels of success. The differences in responses will be analyzed, and the factors that influence public acceptance and lead to the adoption of wind projects at the local level will be discussed.

 

Dr. Petrova came to CIERP from Oregon State University, where she completed her PhD in Environmental Science in 2010. Her doctoral dissertation focused on public acceptability of wave energy technology in Oregon. Her main interests are in public opinion and acceptability of renewable energy technologies (RETs), as well as the policies that need to be in place to advance RET development and deployment. She is also interested in comparative RET policy studies, mainly between the U.S. and countries in the EU.

 

Event will be held on Monday, October 22, 2012 from 12:30-1:45
(a light lunch will be served – no RSVP, first-come first-served)
Cabot 702, The Fletcher School
160 Packard Avenue, Medford

Oct 10: Webinar Green Ribbon Schools Award Program

This school year, Massachusetts is participating for the first time in the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award program, which recognizes K-12 schools that excel at reducing environmental impact and costs, improving health and wellness, and providing effective environmental and sustainability education.

Find out how your school(s) can apply to be among those nominated by the Commonwealth for this national recognition by registering for this webinar.

Wednesday, October 10. 1 – 2pm

Presented by Lisa Capone, DOER Green Communities Division
Lauren Greene, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jessica Hing, Clean, Green and Healthy Schools Coordinator for US EPA Region 1

Register Now

Aug 04: 350 Massachusetts Day of Action

On August 4th communities across Massachusetts will engage in a day of action to call for an end to taxpayer support of deadly energy like coal, natural gas, and oil that wreak havoc on our health, environment, and climate. Subsidies that impede community based solutions at the time when we need them most. How could ending fossil fuel subsidies support your local work? Join us in taking action on August 4th to demonstrate how ending subsidies to deadly energy will improve our communities. Whether it’s shutting down coal plants, installing solar panels, fighting corruption, or weatherizing a house, we will voice our opposition to funding the richest companies at the expense of our health and wellbeing. Learn more, or Sign up to host or participate in an event in your community.

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