As an institution of higher education, Tufts provides transformative experiences for students and faculty to generate bold ideas, innovate in the face of complex challenges, and distinguish themselves as active citizens of the world, which includes creating a just and sustainable future for all. The Tufts Sustainability Council, made up of faculty, students, and staff with in-depth experience and expertise in climate change and sustainability, helps Tufts select effective, impactful goals and strategies leading to a sustainable university that serves current and future students and employees equally while supporting the health and wellbeing of all of humanity and our home planet.
In 2021, the third iteration of the Tufts Sustainability Council was created and tasked with updating the university's approach to sustainability and climate change.
The current Sustainability Council strives to:
Facilitate collaboration through:
Exploring the more impactful and attainable ways to integrate sustainability into school, division, and university priorities.
Using its leadership position to look across the university and link the disparate sustainability efforts together into a cohesive whole.
Shape the vision, key principles, focus areas, and, ultimately, plan for sustainability and climate action at Tufts, including reaffirming existing or developing new principles for decision making.
Hold an understanding of what Tufts is doing university wide regarding sustainability, enabling a unified message about the breadth and depth of Tufts actions in this area.
Fall 2021 to Spring 2022: The Sustainability Council met monthly to draft a plan for sustainability at Tufts including a vision, key principles, and high level goals.
Visual representation of the Sustainability Council's planning process with each meeting building upon the work done in previous sessions.
October 2021 Meeting: Reviewed the current state and context of sustainability at Tufts
November 2021 Meeting: Drafted a vision for the future of Tufts Sustainability
December 2021 Meeting: Drafted high level goals and principles
January 2022 Meeting: Refined goals and started identifying strategies and groups to engage with in the next phase of planning
February 2022 Meeting: Discussed final revisions to draft 1 and stakeholder engagement strategies
April 2022 Meeting: Finalized draft 1 of goals and planned steps for community engagement
Summer and Fall 2022: The Office of Sustainability reached out to direct stakeholders and responsible parties of the drafted goals and strategies. They solicited input on the implementation and refinement of these action strategies, which were subsequently used to revise the drafted plan.
Spring 2023: After careful review, it was determined that the drafted plan didn't reflect the necessary depth of background research and development needed for a plan of its specificity. The plan was then revised into a framework that better illustrated our intended outcomes while providing a guide that can be used by the entire university community.
Fall 2023: The Sustainability Council and Office of Sustainability is engaging with the entire Tufts Community to educate them about the new sustainability framework and gather feedback. If you are a Tufts student, faculty, or staff that wants to participate in reimagining Tufts role in the fight for climate justice, please reach out.
Sustainability Council History
The First Council
In January 2012, President Tony Monaco convened the first Campus Sustainability Council. The group focused on advancing work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, energy and water use. The Council established goals and monitored achievements in these areas via several working groups, and released a report in 2013 to share their findings.
The Second Council: Council for the Sustainability of Campus Operations
In February 2017, President Monaco convened a second council, called the Council for the Sustainability of Campus Operations, to plan for meeting the ambitious goals of the Second Nature Climate Commitment, including reaching carbon neutrality. The council provided leadership and oversight for developing and executing a plan for Tufts to reach carbon neutrality, which included university-wide reductions in energy use and recommendations for capital projects and operational approaches that minimize the use of fossil fuels. Examples of these strategies included metering individual buildings, power generation, energy procurement, and expanding a revolving fund to support these efforts.
Sustainability Council Achievements Since the Second Nature Commitment Was Signed
Carbon Neutrality date determined to be 2050
3 sustainable financing mechanisms were formalized: $40K annual Green Fund for community proposals, Energy Revolving Fund, and debt funding
Resilience assessments were completed on the Medford/Somerville campus and the Boston campuses
Consultants created a plan to achieve carbon neutrality for Tufts largest source of emissions: the Medford/Somerville heating and cooling load