FAQs about Sustainability at Tufts

  1. Does the University use renewable electricity through its utility providers?
  2. What percentage of our energy comes from renewable sources?
  3. How many buildings at Tufts have solar panels?
  4. What are the right metrics for measuring campus progress on these issues?
  5. Does Tufts have a policy to construct all buildings as LEED certified? Why aren’t there more solar panels on the campus?
  6. What is the difference between The Office of Sustainability (OOS), Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) and the Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI)?
  7. Why isn’t the Joey sustainable?
  8. Does Tufts use green cleaners? What kind are they?
  9. How do you start a sustainability program at a school?
  10. What are the best resources for people who are starting out?
  11. How do I start an Eco-Rep program?
  12. Does Tufts have a temperature policy?
  13. We’re considering using Vending Misers – how have they worked at Tufts?

1. Does the University use renewable electricity through its utility providers?
Yes. The University’s electricity averages 50% hydro electricity, which is supplied through TransCanada. The exact percentage of renewable electricity varies year by year.

2. What percentage of our energy comes from renewable sources?
Roughly 25% of the energy used at the University comes from hydro electricity.

3. How many buildings at Tufts have solar panels?
Three buildings at Tufts have solar panels. Sophia Gordon Hall has a 23.4 kW solar panel and a solar thermal system, Schmalz House has a solar thermal system and Fairmont House has a solar electric system (500 W). However, nearly all Tufts buildings have state-of-the-art high efficiency lighting and other energy efficiency equipment; these technologies are more cost-effective and provide significantly more carbon reductions than solar panels.

4. What are the right metrics for measuring campus progress on these issues?
The metrics that show concrete progress are the measurements of direct impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, water use and solid waste generation. A campus has made progress when these numbers decrease and therefore show the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives.

5. Does Tufts have a policy to construct all buildings as LEED certified? Why aren’t there more solar panels on the campus?
LEED Buildings and solar panels are strategies to implement greenhouse gas reductions but are not sufficient. Far less glamorous strategies often make deeper reductions such as: high-efficiency boilers and chillers, controls, steam system upgrades and high efficiency motors and lighting.

6. What is the difference between The Office of Sustainability (OOS), Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) and the Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI)?
The Office of Sustainability (OOS) works on reducing Tufts’ own environmental footprint. Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI) is a project of the Office of Sustainability that works specifically to reduce carbon emissions on campus. TCI began in 1999 as a demonstration that colleges and universities needed to take leadership on this issue. Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) is the interdisciplinary, university-wide education and research institute devoted to advancing and disseminating knowledge about the many ways human interactions affect the environment. TIE brings together existing environmental efforts at Tufts, and helps to catalyze new research, outreach, service and teaching initiatives.

7. Why isn’t the Joey sustainable?
The Joey is public transportation which is by definition better than single-occupancy vehicles. However, the Joey is not owned by Tufts and is a contract service with Joseph’s Limousine. Tufts’ focus is on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, a switch to biofuels (20% biodiesel) has very marginal, if any, benefit for greenhouse gas reduction because transportation is only 7% of our greenhouse gas emissions (this includes University owned vehicles and commuters.) Although this is not a significant source of emissions reductions, the use of biofuels is encouraged and the diesel members of our fleet are using B5 (5% biodiesel.)

8. Does Tufts use green cleaners? What kind are they?
ABM provides cleaning services for the University. ABM uses green cleaners as part of its Green Sweep Cleaning Program, including HEPA filter vacuums (used in computer labs and Sophia Gordon Hall), microfiber dusting cloths, flat mops and green cleaning chemical products. Specifically, Alpha HP Multi Surface Cleaner, a Green Seal certified product, has replaced numerous other non-sustainable cleaners and is used on all Tufts campuses. History of green cleaning at Tufts.

9. How do you start a sustainability program on the University level?
Starting a sustainability program on the University level involves an institutional commitment to environmental stewardship on all levels including administration, faculty, staff and students. Reducing waste is a key concept and will almost always figure into a sustainability initiative including recycling, composting, energy efficiency and pre- and post-consumer waste. Often, sustainability projects can result in financial savings for the University and pay back the cost of the project in a matter of years. Turning these concepts into action is the key to decreasing your campus emissions, water usage and solid waste. Most importantly, talk and listen to your community. Celebrate your existing successes and work to create a campus culture of environmental awareness.

10. What are the best resources for people who are starting out?
There are many resources available for your campus:

11. How do I start an Eco-Rep program?
There are a lot of great resources out there – you can look at what other schools are doing or design your own program from scratch. For information about the original Eco-Rep program at Tufts – go here. For information about the current Eco-Rep program click here.

12. Does Tufts have a temperature policy?
Why yes it does! You can see it here.

13. We’re considering using Vending Misers – how have they worked at Tufts?
After a slightly rough start, Vending Misers have performed well at Tufts. At this point, however, we are working on having the vending contract stipulate that vending machines must be Energy Star certified so that we no longer have to handle vending misers. For more information on the implementation of Vending Misers at tufts click here.