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2019 Sustainability Champions Ceremony and Reception

On Thursday, July 11, the Tufts Office of Sustainability hosted the 2019 Sustainability Champions Ceremony and Reception. Guests gathered in the historic Coolidge Room of Ballou Hall to recognize newly trained Eco-Ambassadors and recently certified Green Offices. This year, two new awards were also presented: Sustainability Champion and Eco-Rep of the Year. 

Sustainability Program Director Tina Woolston speaks at the event.

Tina Woolston, Sustainability Program Director, opened the event by welcoming guests and introducing the new Executive Vice President, Mike Howard. He brings experience promoting sustainability at Smith College and MIT to his role at Tufts.  

Education and Outreach Program Administrator Shoshana Blank speaks before the awards are presented.

Shoshana Blank, the Education and Outreach Program Administrator, then explained the Green Office Certification and Eco-Ambassador programs. She spoke on the importance of individual efforts in creating an institutional culture of environmental responsibility. Faculty, staff, and student sustainability actions are vital alongside university policies.

President Tony Monaco speaks on sustainability efforts across the university in the last year.

President Monaco attended the ceremony to personally congratulate the Green Offices, Eco-Ambassadors, Sustainability Champions, and the Eco-Rep of the Year. He remarked on the many ways Tufts has demonstrated its commitment to the environment in the past year since the 2018 reception. 

Attendees check out posters featuring university Green Fund projects in 2018 and 2019. Learn more about the program on our website.

Notably, the Green Fund provided $40,000 to finance eight projects across all four campuses. Information about each Green Fund project was displayed on posters along the wall. Guests enjoyed learning about the projects, and were hopefully inspired to propose sustainability projects of their own.

The Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) receives a Platinum level Green Office certification.

The ceremony continued with the presentation of the awards. Twenty-three Green Offices received certificates in frames made of recycled circuit boards. Eight were certified at the Bronze Level, six at the Silver Level, seven at the Gold Level, and two at the Platinum Level. The 22 Eco-Ambassadors trained in June 2019 also received certificates. Each award recipient posed for a photo with President Monaco.

Inaugural Sustainability Champion Whitney Stiehler of the Tufts Wildlife Clinic receives her award from President Monaco.

Sustainability Champion awards were given to JP Beaulac of Tufts Dining, Whitney Stiehler of the Tufts Wildlife Clinic, Lynne Ramsey of the Center for Engineering Outreach and Education (CEEO), and the Tufts Technology Services Green Team, as a whole group. These individuals demonstrate an outstanding commitment to sustainability at Tufts.

Rising senior Elyssa Anneser speaks as Eco-Rep Coordinator for the upcoming 2019-20 academic year. She presented Carla Giannattasio, A20, with the inaugural Eco-Rep of the Year award.

Elyssa Anneser, A20 and Eco-Rep Coordinator for AY 2019-2020, awarded Carla Giannattasio, A20, Eco-Rep of the Year. The new awards were designed by summer Programs Intern Jennifer Frye and created by Communications Intern Michaela Morse. They made use of old records donated to the Office of Sustainability during Spring residence hall move-out and utilized the laser cutter in the Advanced Production Lab at the SMFA to cut plexiglass and circular plywood frames.

Over 80 people attended the event. It is open to the whole Tufts community.

After the awards ceremony, guests mingled and enjoyed finger foods and beverages. Discussions turned to various ways to improve university sustainability. Eco-Ambassadors encouraged coworkers to undergo training, and Green Office members promised to certify at a higher level. Guests left motivated to work towards even bigger sustainability goals. Their achievements will be celebrated at next year’s Sustainability Champions Ceremony and Reception.

To see all the photos from this year’s event, visit the Office of Sustainability’s Facebook page.

Below is a list of all the Green Offices, Eco-Ambassadors, and Sustainability Champions that were acknowledged at this year’s reception. 

Newly certified Green Offices, all of which all successfully participated in and completed the 2019 Green Office Certification Challenge–

Bronze Certified offices:

  • Tufts Technology Services – TAB 301
  • Department of Sociology
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering – 4 Colby Street
  • Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences Dean’s Office
  • Tufts Music Department
  • Tufts Hillel
  • Tufts Comparative Medicine Services
  • Tufts Technology Services –TAB Basement

Silver Certified offices:

  • Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching / Educational Technology Services
  • Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development & Tufts Dental IT
  • Tufts Technology Services –Information Security
  • Fletcher Global Master of Arts Program
  • Cummings School Dialysis Department
  • Department of Public Health and Community Medicine – The SUPPER Project

Gold Certified offices:

  • University Chaplaincy
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering – Black Lab
  • Human Resources
  • Tufts Technology Services -16 Dearborn Road
  • Fletcher Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Office of Institutional Research
  • Foster Hospital for Small Animals -The Client Service Team

Platinum Certified offices:

  • Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP)
  • Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO)

Newest members of the Tufts Eco-Ambassador program, who were trained in June 2019:

  • Liam Curry – Facilities/Engineering
  • Kristen Dabney – Student Accessibility Services
  • Jillian DeMair – CIERP, Fletcher
  • Kim Ellwood – Office of the Graduate Dean for the School of Engineering
  • Branden Etheridge – Facilities/Engineering
  • Austin Fuller – Strategy & Program Development
  • Caroline Harrison – International Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Peter Loeb – Hillel
  • Doris Pfaffinger – International Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Jaime McSkimming – Tisch Library 
  • Monica Morin – Biology
  • Katie Mulroy – Fletcher Student Affairs
  • Liza Reed – Fletcher, Communications & PR Specialist
  • Melissa Weikart – Music Department
  • Jenna Whitney – University Advancement Special Events
  • Janice Willson – Office of the President 
  • Rebekah Plotkin – Gordon Institute
  • Justin Cronin – Chemistry
  • Karin Wiedemann – Office of Career Services, Fletcher
  • Gina O’Connor – Film and Media Studies
  • Zara Konarski Rudenauer – Counseling & Mental Health
  • Bruce Johnson – Eliot-Pearson/Child Study & Human Development

Sustainability Champions, who are individuals that go above and beyond what the traditional person (who doesn’t have sustainability in their job title) might do to help make Tufts more sustainable–

Inaugural Sustainability Champions:

  • Lynne Ramsey – Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO)
  • Whitney Stiehler – Tufts Wildlife Clinic Coordinator
  • The Tufts Technology Services Sustainability Team
  • JP Beaulac – Associate Director of Residential Dining
  • Carla Giannattasio – Inaugural Eco-Rep of the Year Award

Where does Boston’s wastewater go?

This June, the Office of Sustainability organized a field trip to the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. Current and future Eco-Ambassadors spent a cloudy Friday morning touring the plant and learning about the life cycle of their wastewater, from the drain to Boston Harbor. The field trip encouraged mindfulness about water consumption and showed how wastewater treatment is engineered to maximize efficiency, providing wastewater management for decades to come.

In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Clean Water Act. The act, among other things, required cities to process wastewater with both primary and secondary treatment. In 1987, Massachusetts created the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) with the goal of updating Boston’s wastewater treatment to comply with the new EPA standards. In 2000, after a decade of planning and construction, the current Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant was completed.

Deer Island services 2.5 million people in the Metropolitan Boston area and processes an average of 370 million gallons of wastewater daily. How does wastewater “influent” make it to Deer Island? Gravity drives influent through conveyance tunnels underneath the city.  Massive pumps lift the influent 80 to 150 feet up into the plant. Deer Island has a wastewater capacity of 1.3 billion gallons per day, and on rainy days more pumps are brought online to accommodate increased influent. 

Process Control Project Manager Timothy Beaulieu explains primary treatment to the group

After arriving at Deer Island, influent undergoes primary treatment. Grit is removed and disposed of at landfills, then clarifiers remove pollutants. At this stage, about 60% of suspended solids and 50% of pathogens and toxic chemicals are removed. Gravity separates sludge and scum from the wastewater – scum sits on top of the water while sludge sinks to the bottom.

Once primary treatment is complete, wastewater continues to secondary treatment. Mixers, reactors, and clarifiers remove remaining solids through biological and gravitational processes. Deer Island manufactures oxygen to feed microorganisms which consume dissolved organic matter. After secondary treatment, 85% of pollution has been removed from the wastewater.

Effluent is disinfected and then dechlorinated before diffusing into Massachusetts Bay

The final step before wastewater “effluent” is discharged is disinfection. Effluent is treated with sodium hypochlorite to kill any remaining pathogens, then sodium bisulfite is added to dechlorinate the water. Effluent is released into the Massachusetts Bay through over 50 individual diffuser pipes, ensuring rapid and thorough mixing with ocean water. The effluent is monitored for appropriate chemical and oxygen levels to protect the local ecosystem.

Egg-shaped digestors use bacteria to break down sludge and scum to produce fertilizer

But what happens to the sludge and scum leftover from primary treatment? The solids are first thickened in centrifuges, then added to egg-shaped anaerobic digestors. The digestors are huge, 90 feet wide and 130 feet tall, and carefully maintain a pH and temperature that mimic the human body. Bacteria already present in the waste break down the sludge and scum into methane gas, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. The methane is captured and converted into 95% of Deer Island heating needs and 20% of electricity needs.

Digestion reduces sludge and scum quantities by 55%, and the remaining solids are pumped to the MWRA pelletizing facility in Quincy. The resulting organic nitrogen fertilizer, meeting strict EPA and MA Department of Environmental Protection requirements, is used in agriculture and forestry. Additionally, air from Deer Island is scrubbed of sulfur using filters and activated carbon to prevent sulfur dioxide emissions.

After visiting Deer Island, it’s clear that the plant is designed to operate in the most sustainable way possible. Every output – water, air, gas, solids – is either cleaned to meet environmental standards or repurposed as energy or fertilizer. Residents can rest assured that their wastewater is properly treated thanks to the care and effort of Deer Island planners, engineers, and operators. 

Striving for Zero Waste at the 2019 President’s Picnics

Many of our celebrated BYOP-ers are pictured above! Read the blog post below to learn what all of them are smiling about

This year’s President’s Picnics took the various Tufts campuses practically by storm, one happening right after the other at the end of May. A few weeks ahead of previous years, President Monaco kicked off the picnic season on the Medford/Somerville campus. It was a bright early summer day that drew staff and faculty out of their offices, labs, and studios, not to mention a few students that were still around as well. A shuttle was provided for people coming from the SMFA campus, with over 1,700 attendees counted in all.

Keeping in line with the zero waste efforts of years past, the Office of Sustainability coordinated with catering services to see that all of the disposable, single-use tableware provided at the picnic was compostable, including the plates, utensils, and cups (plus napkins too, of course). This also meant going over the menu in detail, recommending cookies over, say, a whipped dessert that might come in a plastic cup which could be too hard to clean of leftover food and ultimately have to be trashed. Condiments for the delicious main fare of burgers/veggie burgers were set out in bulk, to avoid any single serving packets and reduce the overall amount of food packaging. Out under the shade of the trees on the President’s lawn, several compost-only waste stations were set up and staffed by students to help people compost all their unfinished food along with the biodegradable tableware– meaning nothing should have been sent to the landfill on the attendees’ part. An Office of Sustainability intern who is well-versed in recycling and compost rules worked near where catering was set up, sorting the waste generated by food preparation and clean-up into the appropriate waste streams, greatly reducing what otherwise had the potential to be sent to the landfill.

Student worker standing next to Medford/Somerville picnic waste station

For those ready to take their sustainability to the next level, the Office of Sustainability offered a limited number of prizes to attendees that participated in the picnics’ BYOP initiative– Bring Your Own [Reusable] Place-setting. By visiting our table with a complete place-setting of their own– a plate/bowl, a utensil(s), and something to drink out of– each picnic attendee was eligible to take home this year’s prize: a bamboo straw with a cleaner and a carrying pouch to easily tote the set around with you. The bamboo for the straws was sustainably sourced in Indonesia and each one was laser engraved with the university-wide ‘Tufts – sustainability’ text lock-up. We ran out of straws at each picnic, with the Boston Health Sciences campus being the most enthusiastic and emptying our supply in less than half an hour that day.

Even if a picnic attendee didn’t have a complete place-setting, they were still awarded a President’s Picnic sticker printed by the Office of Sustainability and given the chance to enter our raffle drawing for this year’s grand prize of a set of three reusable produce bags. One prize was drawn on each campus, with 132 entries for Medford/Somerville, 96 at Boston Health Sciences, and 74 in Grafton. After moving the Grafton picnic to it’s rain date as a result of temperamental weather and still getting a rather brisk May picnic day, we were especially impressed with the attendees at that campus that kept their BYOP numbers on par with previous years.

A big thank you to everyone who brought a reusable of any type to one of the President’s Picnics this year. To all who earned a straw, we hope that they get put to good use representing the ever-growing culture of sustainability at Tufts, and inspire co-workers, students, and community members around you to carry their own reusable items with them to reduce the waste of single use products. We look forward to greeting everyone at next year’s picnics– and don’t forget to tell your friends to BYOP too!

Third Carbon Neutrality Community Workshop

By Michael Wilkinson, Office of Sustainability Intern

The Third Carbon Neutrality Community Workshop provided students, faculty, staff, and community members an opportunity to try their hand at creating a path to carbon neutrality at Tufts through a carbon reduction simulation. In this simulation, the carbon neutrality planning team and Tufts’ carbon neutrality consultant, Ramboll Group, provided information on potential scenarios to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Teams broke off into groups to see if they could arrive at full carbon reduction by 2050 within the temporal, social, environmental, and economic constraints of our University. Through critical thinking and teamwork, the groups were able to assemble a cohesive and functioning group of projects that both satisfied our carbon neutrality requirement while remaining conscientious of our constraints. Following this simulation, groups were given an opportunity to explain their choices.

Dan Kelley from Ramboll Group then provided relevant information to explain potential projects for the Medford/Somerville Campus. Throughout this presentation, event participants asked pertinent questions relating to each project and their larger implications for campus life. To conclude their presentation, Ramboll Group provided the current project choices, which include steam to hot water conversion, connection of the Upper and Lower Campus heating loops, a conversion of existing boilers to biofuel, and several more.  

This event allowed participants to learn and engage with the carbon neutrality planning process. Chockfull with complex technologies, on-campus interests, varied stakeholders, and peculiarities, this project requires the attention of our entire community.

Recycling in Tufts Apartment Style Dorms

Do you know how to properly recycle in Tufts residences such as Latin Way, Hillsides, SoGo, and Coho?

Test yourself:

Which of these can you recycle?

  • clear plastic cups
  • colored plastic cups
  • paper plastic cups

Can you dispose of your recycling in a plastic bag?

Where is the recycling dumpster for your dorm?

To learn more about recycling visit!

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