Category: Sustainability News (page 2 of 59)

Director, New Boston University Sustainability Research Institute Focused on Energy and the Environment

Boston University is embarking on a bold initiative to bring together over 100 faculty in nearly all of its 17 Schools and Colleges to enhance BU’s ability to contribute pioneering research and leadership at the intersection of energy and the environment — one of the greatest interdisciplinary challenges of our time.

Boston University is now seeking to create an overarching structure which will build on the success of the BU Institute for Sustainable Energy, as well as the work of many other departments, projects, and existing programs at Boston University. 

Learn more and apply here

Analyst in Environmental Policy, U.S. Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)

The analyst will conduct analyses that inform congressional deliberations on environmental policy and/or science issues related to climate change.  This includes the ability to utilize analytical methods and techniques to analyze policy issues for the U.S. Congress.

The analyst will cover environmental policy and/or science issues related to climate change.  This includes knowledge of the history, trends, and current status of climate policy, federal programs, and interrelationships with other key disciplines, such as physical sciences, international relations, economics and/or policy decision making and demonstrated ability to develop expertise in new areas. 

Deadline to apply is May 7, 2020

Learn more and apply here.

A More Sustainable Barnum Hall

The Jumbo statue in front of Barnum Hall. (Jake Belcher/Tufts University)

Barnum Hall has recently undergone major renovations, making the building one of the most up-to-date on the Tufts’ Campus. Not to mention, the holy trinity of environmentally-focused departments are located within Barnum’s newly upgraded corridors: The Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), the Office of Sustainability (OOS) and the Environmental Studies department. The improved Barnum also houses Tisch College, which focuses on civic and political engagements, and has many programs related to the social aspects and impacts of sustainability. 

Before the renovation, Barnum was a less than environmentally preferable academic building. In April 1975, the tragic Barnum fire took place, burning the former natural history museum to a crisp. Tufts hurriedly rebuilt it in 1976 with little funds. These quick fixes led to problems in the future. The 2018-19 Barnum revamping resolved many of the faulty features. 

According to Trina Jerich, the project manager of the Barnum renovations, her team “Took everything that was amazing about [Barnum’s] history and melded it with modern feels.”  

Here are some of the sustainability features and overall improvements now found in Barnum:  

  • An Energy Recovery Unit (ERU) 
    • This new state-of-the art heating and cooling system is perched atop the building. This unit takes the heat from the air that is leaving the building and transfers it to the air that is entering the building. This maintains Barnum’s heating or cooling, while bringing in fresh air to be circulated throughout the building. This ventilation system is a sustainable way to reduce energy consumption and improve indoor air quality. 
  • Double-paned Windows 
    • The 1976 windows were single-paned and drafty, which made temperature control a nightmare. The new windows are double-paned, trapping a layer of air in between the two panes of glass. This provides insulation, prevents drafts, and keeps the building at the desired temperature.  
  • Occupancy Sensors: Lighting + Heating and Cooling 
    • Barnum’s new lighting and heating and cooling systems are controlled by occupancy sensors. These sensors detect the presence of people in a room. For example, if a room is occupied, heating or cooling is activated and the lights switch on. If that same room is vacant, both systems shut off. This saves energy since neither lights nor heating or cooling are left on. Light occupancy sensors extend the lifecycle of the bulbs, subsequently reducing waste.  
  • Low-flow Faucet Aerators and Metered Faucets 
    • Low-flow faucet aerators dilute water flow with air, which reduces the amount of water coming from the faucet. Metered faucets automatically stop water flow. This saves a significant amount of water, by simply using less!  

Other sustainable features include: low-impact recycled rubber flooring, water bottle-filling stations at every water fountain, and the reuse of the exterior of the existing building, which is made entirely from locally-sourced stone from the Everett-Revere area quarries.  

The Barnum renovators programmed sustainability right into the building, making it easier for every Barnum occupant to reduce their ecological footprints. The project manager, Trina, not only wanted to leave us with a more energy efficient Barnum, but with this: “We have to learn to live in a sustainable world.” In the end, it’s not only the responsibility of project managers to reduce our footprint in the built environment, but also up to the building users to learn to responsibly use resources.  

Move Out Donations, Recycling, and Waste

The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the FIRST Center and Tufts Food Rescue, is collecting donations of select items to divert from the landfill during Move Out and provide them to Tufts students who need them.* 

There will be two donation stations:  

  1. Downhill (Haskell Hall on Latin Way) 
  2. Uphill (Carmichael Hall Parking Lot)  

Donation stations will be located next to the UPS storage/shipping spots and will have the same hours:  

  • Thursday, March 12 from 2 P.M. – 8 P.M. 
  • Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15 from 10 A.M. – 6 P.M. (each day) 
  • Monday, March 16 from 9 A.M. – 2 P.M. 

*If someone needs to donate at night when there is no one staffing the donation stations, there will be a U-Box at both stations to place the items in.

Here is a list of items we plan to collect as donations at these stations (please don’t donate anything if sick):  

  • Clothing (winter only) 
  • Sheets 
  • Large hard plastics, including storage containers and fans 
  • Lamps 
  • Mirrors 
  • Dining hall dishes 
  • Books/school supplies 
  • Vacuums 
  • Crutches
  • Unopened food (for Tufts Food Rescue)
  • Misc: laundry detergent, unopened bottles, cleaning supplies, good quality kitchen items, feminine hygiene products 

We will have additional collection bins at these stations for recycling the following:  

  • Plastic film, including grocery bags, air pillows, bubble wrap, and produce bags 
  • Small electronics 
  • Compost 

Students will be allowed to leave two types of donations in their residence hall rooms. Aside from these items, everything else must be removed from the residence halls:   

  • Clothing donations (including belts, shoes, rags), located inside provided blue bags 
  • Personal mini-fridges, labeled as donations 

There will be large open top trash dumpsters placed at the following locations: SoGo, Harleston, Latin Way, Miller, Carm, Hillside, and Bush.  

Black, blue, and clear trash bags will be available to students in the lobbies:  

  • Use the black bags for trash and take them out to the open top dumpsters that have been placed near the dorms.  
  • If needed, use clear bags for recycling and take them out to the adjacent recycling dumpsters (please empty recyclables into recycling dumpsters and put the empty clear bag into the trash) 
  • Use blue bags for clothing donations (excluding winter clothes and sheets), to be left in room 

*NOTE: This plan as well as the list of items we are accepting is subject to change dependent upon the labor and infrastructure that we are able to organize last-second. We will keep students updated with any changes.  

Tufts Boston Campus Community Resilience Building Workshop

By Hanna Carr

In 2016, Tufts University’s president Anthony Monaco signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment, which commited the University to act to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Aside from pledging Tufts to be carbon neutral by 2050, the Commitment includes a stipulation that Tufts lead and complete a “campus-community resilience assessment.” While it is important to reduce emissions in order to mitigate climate change and prevent its worst impacts, it is vital that institutions such as Tufts also develop a plan to adapt to the effects that are already present and are likely to be felt in the near future. These impacts include more frequent and severe hurricanes and nor’easters, higher temperatures, flooding due to sea level rise and precipitation, and an increase in the occurrence of infectious disease, among others.

As a first step in this resilience assessment, Tufts held a Medford/Somerville campus Community Resilience Building (CRB) workshop in May 2018, which helped identify the infrastructural, societal, and environmental strengths and weaknesses of the Medford/Somerville campus, as well as opportunities to strengthen its capacity for resilience. Some top priorities for actions that were identified at that workshop were human welfare (supporting students and employees during an emergency), infrastructure (utilities, stormwater, and continuity planning and upgrades), and food (food supply, distribution, and storage during an emergency). Read more about the Medford/Somerville Community Resilience Building workshop here.

On January 31st, 2020, around 50 participants convened on the Tufts Health Sciences campus to engage in a Boston Campus CRB workshop. There was a diverse group of participants, coming from across Tufts; including Facilities, Sustainability, Capital Programs, Human Resources, Tufts Technology Services, the Friedman School, the Medical School, the Dental School, the SMFA, Tufts Medical Center, HNRCA, Tufts Shared Services, and more. Representatives from Climate Ready Boston, the City of Boston Office of Emergency Management,the Commonwealth of MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the Boston Public Health Commission were also in attendance.

Peyton Jones from Climate Ready Boston addresses CRB Workshop participants on the Tufts Health Sciences campus on January 31st, 2020.

The Core Team that helped organize and lead this workshop included Tina Woolston and Hanna Carr from the Tufts Office of Sustainability, Rich Perito from the Tufts Office of Emergency Management, and Adam Whelchel from the Nature Conservancy, who is the creator of the Community Resilience Building workshop model.

The full-day workshop began with a presentation introducing the participants to the topic of climate resilience and preparing them for the rest of the day’s events. Tufts’ Executive Vice President, Mike Howard, kicked off the workshop by delivering a few words about the importance of accounting for the impacts of climate change in planning for Tufts’ long term success. Rich Perito presented on Tufts’ hazard identification process, and Peyton Jones from Climate Ready Boston spoke about Boston’s approach to climate resilience. Adam Whelchel and Hanna Carr introduced the workshop purpose, structure, and resources, including maps showing the extent of flooding and hurricane inundation on the Health Sciences and SMFA campuses.

Julie Wormser from the Mystic River Watershed Association facilitates a small group discussion.

The participants were then broken up into four small workshop groups, facilitated by experienced volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, Second Nature, and the Mystic River Watershed Association. In these groups, participants labeled maps of the Health Sciences and SMFA campuses and identified features of the campuses that may present strengths and vulnerabilities in the face of four climate-change-related hazards: hurricanes and nor’easters, flooding, extreme temperatures, and infectious disease. The participants also brainstormed actions that Tufts could take to mitigate the vulnerabilities and build on the strengths. After lunch, the participants shared out their respective groups’ top 3 action items. Post-workshop, the Tufts Offices of Sustainability and Emergency Management will work to develop a report based on the findings of the workshop and follow up with the relevant individuals to execute the top action items.

Some common themes among action items for the Boston campus included building a cogeneration plant to increase Tufts’ energy independence; strengthening communication channels among the Tufts community and between Tufts and the City of Boston; working with public transportation entities to support improved public transportation; and coordinating with local communities such as the Chinatown and Fenway neighborhoods to create a people-centered approach to hazard mitigation and resilience.

Participants were encouraged to label base maps in their small groups to indicate key features of the Health Sciences and SMFA campuses that may be vulnerabilities and strengths in a climate change-related hazard event.

Community-based actions towards adapting to the predicted impacts of climate change, such as the CRB workshop model, encourage people-centric planning that meets the specific needs of the community, and its local landscape and infrastructure. In addition, it empowers community members to advocate for and actualize projects to mitigate the severity of the impacts of climate change and improve their community’s ability to withstand a climate change-driven emergency situation. This workshop will help Tufts incorporate climate resilience into its long term capital planning.

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