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Office of Sustainability

What is the difference between The Office of Sustainability (OOS) and Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE)?

The Office of Sustainability (OOS) works on reducing Tufts’ own environmental footprint across all four campuses. 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.

Sustainability at Tufts

Who is in charge of sustainability at Tufts?

Sustainability is everyone's responsibility! But Tufts Office of Sustainability is here to help! We act as a resource, catalyst, and advocate for environmental sustainability at Tufts. Learn more about us here.

What has Tufts committed to?

To view Tufts’ Commitments click here.

Is Tufts doing research on climate change?

Yes. Info on the faculty and staff researchers at Tufts that are engaged in sustainability research can be found here. For specific department research check out our Plug Into Sustainability Research at Tufts page. Every year the Tufts Institute of Environment (TIE) offers the TIE Environmental Research Fellowship that funds interdisciplinary environmental research projects. Past projects can be found here

 

Does Tufts have a sustainability degree program?

Yes, Tufts offers a multiple graduate degrees in sustainability and environmental studies some of these include:

What classes include climate change or sustainability content?

A full list of classes that include climate change or sustainability can be found here.

Does Tufts provide funding for campus sustainability projects?

Tufts has a Green Fund that funds campus sustainability projects every year. Learn more here.

Recycling and Waste at Tufts

How do I recycle?

You can recycle many things at Tufts, please refer to our Recycling & Waste website to learn how to recycle and what can be recycled at Tufts.

How do I compost?

Please refer to our Recycling & Waste website to learn how to compost and what can be composted at Tufts.

Energy at Tufts

Does the University use renewable electricity through its utility providers?

Yes, some. The university gets most of its electricity from the grid, purchasing the energy from Direct Energy. Approximately 13.9% of Tufts electricity purchases are from renewable energy sources. More information on Tufts STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System) renewable energy credit.

How many buildings at Tufts have solar panels?

Tufts has seven buildings with solar arrays on the Medford/Somerville campus and a whole field of solar panels on the Grafton campus. These solar arrays help make the power grid greener. They also help Tufts save money: the university spends about 60 percent less for solar-generated power than it does to purchase electricity from National Grid. Read about these projects here.

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. Additionally, Tufts reports every 3 years to AASHE STARS, covering all aspects of sustainability (e.g. academics, education and outreach, energy, buildings, water use, diversity and equity, etc.). Check out the Tufts 2019 STARS report.

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.

Where can I get Tufts energy data by building?

Energy data will be available via an Operations Division Energy Dashboard (coming soon). Until the dashboard is ready, please email Thao Hoang (Thao.Hoang@tufts.edu) in Operations and she can provide you with the data. Due to our interconnected energy infrastructure, some buildings at Tufts do not have separate metering.

Does Tufts have a temperature policy?

Why yes it does! You can see it here.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Can Tufts divest from fossil fuels?

Yes, Tufts can divest from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel divestment refers to selling financial holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Institutions have divested from fossil fuels for a number of reasons, including ethical or political reasons, to reduce risk, to avoid being complicit, or to make a statement, among others. Many educational institutions, faith-based organizations, pension funds, NGOs, and even entire cities and countries have already divested from fossil fuels. For a list of institutions that have divested from fossil fuels, click here.

Fossil fuel divestment has been the subject of significant student activism at Tufts, primarily led by Tufts Climate Action. This activism has recently culminated in the activation of the Responsible Investment Advisory Group (RIAG), a committee of trustees, students, faculty members, and administrators who will be tasked with making a recommendation on divestment to the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee. The Investment Committee is expected to make a decision on fossil fuel divestment as soon as the Fall of 2020.

Does Tufts calculate the greenhouse gas emissions from food?

At this time, Tufts does not yet calculate GHG emissions from food at the university. This is something some colleges and universities have begun to do, but it requires a lot of staff time and data collection from Dining. It is something we are interested in doing in the future, and would be happy to support a student piloting this as a class project. Luckily, Tufts Dining does work on sustainability initiatives, such as reducing meat and increasing vegetarian and vegan options, which reduces the carbon footprint of food.

Eco-Reps

What do the Eco-Reps do?

The Tufts Eco-Reps are a group of students who live and work in the dorms to raise awareness about ecological issues and encourage environmentally responsible behavior in their hall mates and peers by maintaining an active presence in their dorm and planning related events and activities. Responsibilities include: running campaigns that target a specific behavior change within dorms, managing the compost and recycling in an effort to decrease waste, and planning educational events that increase awareness on sustainable living in the dorms. Eco-Reps must also attend weekly meetings during which they learn about campus and global sustainability, while working together with other Eco-Reps to plan events and collectively promote sustainability at Tufts.

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 Eco-Rep program at Tufts visit their webpage.

Do the Eco-Reps actually make a difference?

As an Eco-Rep program our goal is to change student behavior. When students come to college they are living on their own for the first time and we are here to encourage students to adopt sustainable behaviors that they will carry with past university. These actions that we are encouraging may seem small at first, but they are an attainable entryway for students into a sustainable lifestyle.

Transportation

I ordered my discounted student MBTA pass and have not received it yet. What should I do?

You should contact Edenred customer service. If you do not get a response from them, further contact information is here on our website and depends on your primary campus. 

Why are student MBTA passes not discounted during the summer?

Tufts has an 11% discounted MBTA student pass through the MBTA’s Semester Pass Program. This program does not cover the summer months. 

University Dining and Cleaning Services

Does Tufts use green cleaners? What kind are they?

C&W services provides cleaning services for the University. C&W uses green cleaners as part of its Green Cleaning Program. 89% of their purchases on cleaning products and janitorial paper products meet LEED certification, and 55% of these purchases are third-party verified.

What percentage of food and beverage served by Tufts Dining is locally-sourced?

According to Tufts Dining’s most recent calculation, 14% of food and beverage served by Tufts is locally sourced.

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. After using vending misers in the past, Tufts has recently (as of 2009) replaced their old machines with new ENERGY STAR qualified machines which use 50 percent less energy than conventional units, saving on average $150 per machine per year. ENERGY STAR machines achieve these savings-about 1,700 kWh/year-by installing more efficient compressors, fan motors, and lighting systems as well as software that kicks the machines into low-power mode much like the Vending Misers.