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In 2016, President Monaco committed Tufts to achieving carbon neutrality on the Medford/Somerville campus as soon as possible, but no later than 2050.  Since then, Tufts Sustainability Council has expanded this commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions on all of Tufts campuses as soon as possible, but no later than 2050.

This transformation will be complex and includes technology choices, capital investment decisions, and consideration of operational continuity and community learning.

Evaluation on Decarbonizing the Medford/Somerville Campus

The Medford/Somerville campus infrastructure is responsible for the largest share of Tufts emissions footprint and thus our initiatives have started there.

Transitioning heating, cooling and ventilation systems that run on fossil fuels to renewable, zero-carbon energy sources is a complex transformation that necessitates careful decision making on capital investment, technology, operational continuity, and community learning.

In the fall of 2018, Tufts hired the engineering firm, Ramboll Group, to examine energy use and distribution on the Medford/Somerville campus. Over the following year, Ramboll updated Tufts’ energy consumption and mapped out potential scenarios to decarbonize the energy systems on the M/S campus by 2050.  They also conducted three community engagement events with students, staff and faculty to gain a wide array of perspectives on their proposals. See our blogs posts about the second workshop and the third workshop and watch the second session's recording here. A climate action plan was developed to fulfill the requirements of the Second Nature Climate Commitment.

Ecosystem Energy Services were engaged the following year to create a pathway to decarbonize the energy system on the M/S campus that included short, medium, and long-term objectives. The plan prioritized reducing wasted energy, converting from steam to a hot water heating distribution system, electrifying the heating systems, and switching to alternative fuels for energy production. A long-term solution for the gas-consuming central energy plant (CEP) will need to be addressed with developing technologies.  To accelerate and incorporate these actions, the capital and maintenance project delivery method will shift from a method that seeks to minimize first-costs to a method that focuses on greenhouse gas reduction, life cycle cost analyses, and energy efficiency, leading to higher performing buildings that are less costly over time.

Tufts’ emissions from scope 2 and scope 3 still need to be addressed. For example, Tufts will need to source renewable electricity to offset the emissions within the New England grid.

Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources that are controlled or owned by an organization (e.g., emissions associated with fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, vehicles).

Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling.

Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain.

Next Steps

Tufts’ emissions from scope 2 and scope 3 still need to be addressed. For example,

Tufts will need to source renewable electricity to offset the emissions within the New England grid. We greatly value the input of community members and welcome comments, questions, and concerns as our campus continues to move in the direction of carbon neutrality. The Tufts Office of Sustainability is looking forward to supporting this crucial work and is excited to help maintain this campus-wide commitment.

For more information, please contact:

Data Dashboard

The Operations Division created the energy and water data dashboard below which compiles data across all four Tufts campuses. Play around with the interactive dashboard to discover common greenhouse gas emitters at Tufts and how emissions levels have changed over the years. Scroll to the bottom right hand corner to expand the dashboard.