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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. View the list of Current Council Members or Past Council Members (2012).

In 2021, the third iteration of the Tufts Sustainability Council was tasked with updating the university's approach to sustainability and climate change.

The council strives to:

  1. Facilitate collaboration through:
    1. Exploring the more impactful and attainable ways to integrate sustainability into school, division, and university priorities.
    2. Using its leadership position to look across the university and link the disparate sustainability efforts together into a cohesive whole.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Sustainability Planning Process 2021-2022

Fall 2021 to Spring 2022: The Sustainability Council met monthly to draft a vision, key principles, and high level goals for sustainability at Tufts.

A graphic showing a staircase with each step representing a meeting of the sustainability council that builds upon the last one

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 SMART 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 goals and planned steps for community engagement

Summer 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.

Fall 2022: The Sustainability Council and Office of Sustainability will engage the entire Tufts Community to educate them about the drafted plan and listen to feedback. We will host community workshops, focus groups, and surveys for community members to participate in reimagining Tufts role in the fight for climate justice. Details on the community engagement process will be released in Oct. 2022.

Timeline with three boxes describing the planning, feedback, and implementation process of the sustainability council

Sustainability Council History

In January 2012, President Tony Monaco first convened the 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.

Second Nature Climate Commitment

Acknowledging deep concerns about the potential impact of climate change on our institution and community, President Monaco signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment in April 2016, making Tufts one of 93 charter signatories. The commitment requires higher education institutions to set targets, report on progress publicly, and collaborate with their surrounding community, while integrating sustainability across the curriculum.

Council for the Sustainability of Campus Operations

In February 2017, President Monaco convened a second Council for the Sustainability of Campus Operations to help meet the ambitious demands of this commitment.  The council provides leadership and oversight for developing and executing a plan for Tufts to reach carbon neutrality. The council will prescribe strategies to engage the full Tufts community in actions to conserve energy use, and recommend development of capital projects and operational approaches that minimize the use of fossil fuels. These strategies include metering individual buildings, power generation, energy procurement and expanding a revolving greenfund to support these efforts.

Sustainability Council Achievements Since the Second Nature Commitment Was Signed

  • The Council was educated on sustainability efforts at Tufts including the Medford central energy plant (CEP)
  • 3 Financing mechanisms were formalized ($40K annual Green Fund for community proposals (new), Energy Revolving Fund (new revenue recovery model created to ensure it is maintained and grows), and debt funding (no change))
  • Carbon Neutrality date determined to be 2050
  • Resilience assessments were completed on the Medford/Somerville campus and the Boston campus(es)
  • Consultants were engaged to create a plan to achieve carbon neutrality for Tufts largest source of emissions: the Medford/Somerville heating and cooling load. This plan was completed in July of 2020.
  • Discussions around sustainability in the curriculum

Meeting 1: March 6, 2017

    • Presentation on Status of Tufts’ Use of Energy and Emissions

Meeting 2: April 26, 2017

      • Presentation on Financing Options

Meeting 3: Oct 11, 2017

    • Presentations on green labs projects in Prof. Kenny’s lab, Jaharis Project and the Central Energy Plant (CEP)

Meeting 4: Jan 10, 2018

    • Presentation on Facilities sustainability efforts, Request for Proposal (RFP) for Carbon neutrality consultant, Green Fund update, community engagement discussion

Meeting 5: May 30, 2018

    • Presentations on Boston Cogen, return on investment protocol for sustainability projects
    • Updates on Green Fund, campus resiliency workshop, RFP for carbon neutrality plan and CEP

Meeting 6: Oct 12, 2018

    • Updates on Green Fund and carbon neutrality plan
    • Presentation on energy related projects in Operations, CEP data, and balancing carbon reduction and thermal comfort/HVAC
    • Student letter/presentation on need for Tufts to obtain 100% clean, renewable energy

Meeting 7: Mar 14, 2019 (report)

    • Introduction of student representative on Council
    • Discussion on sustainability across the curriculum
    • Update on carbon neutrality planning
    • Update from Operations
    • Update on Green Fund
    • Sustainability Progress Report
    • Resiliency Assessment discussion
    • EV Charging Station update

~ Change of Leadership ~

Meeting 8: Nov 21, 2019

    • Sustainability across the curriculum - CELT update
    • Carbon Neutrality planning update
    • Green Fund update
    • Boston Community Resilience building workshop planned for January 2020

Spring 2020 meeting cancelled due to COVID-19

Meeting 9: Nov 18, 2020

    • Peer Review results

Meeting 10: Feb 22, 2021

    • Updates
      • Board of Trustees Buildings and Grounds committee presentation
      • RIAG
    • Next steps for council, based on Peer Review results

Meeting 11: May 3, 2021 (notes & slides)

    • Decarbonization plan for M/S campus
    • Wrap-up of this iteration of the council