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At roundtable, sustainability groups discuss plan for waste reduction

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 07:11


Kyra Sturgill / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts Sustainability Collective hosted a roundtable to discuss green initiatives on campus.


The Tufts Sustainability Collective (TSC) on Friday hosted a roundtable event for a variety of green-minded groups and individuals to discuss ways in which the campus could further act on its commitment to sustainability.

Members of the university-wide Campus Sustainability Council, including representatives from Facilities Services, Dining Services and teaching faculty, among others, presented the progress made by the Council’s three working groups on improving campus sustainability through energy efficiency, water conservation and recycling. 

Members of the council’s Energy and Emissions Working Group (EEWG) discussed specific steps the university is taking to improve energy efficiency and to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

“We made a pledge to meet the emissions reductions [for 2020] associated with the Kyoto Protocol, and we met that,” Ann Rappaport, co-chair of the EEWG and a lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department said during the roundtable. 

She added that the university still has much to do before it can meet its goals for 2050, which include a 75-percent reduction in emissions levels from 2001.

Director of Facilities Technical Services and EEWG co-chair Betsy Isenstein cautioned that while the university is reducing its emissions, new construction plans could stand in the way of its long-term emissions goals.  

“The fact that we are growing clearly is important, but it’s even more important to recognize how we are growing,” she said. “Our plans add really energy intensive buildings, including lab buildings, and this poses an enormous challenge to us moving forward.”

Isenstein said the university plans to keep energy efficiency in mind as it pursues new construction projects. 

“We are working on a different process for thinking about new construction and renovation that involves setting aggressive energy goals for the buildings in advance,” she said.

In existing facilities, the Council is working to reduce water usage and to increase trash diversion on the university’s campuses. 

Director of Facilities Services Bob Burns, who co-chairs the Water Working Group, said a new method of collecting condensation from equipment in Pearson Chemical Lab will conserve more water.

“Taking condensation from equipment, we were able to develop a system ... where we were able to capture the condensation and reuse it,” he said. “The Boston campus has a significant opportunity to do the same thing.”

According to Scott Horsley, co-chair of the Water Working Group and lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department, the university is trying to lessen its impact on the local environment by installing permeable pavement and creating a rain garden to filter rainwater between Hodgdon and Lewis Halls.

“Instead of storm water going down the streets, we are going to try to retain some of it onsite and integrate it into the landscape,” Horsley said. “I’m working with a group of students and we are applying for a grant from the EPA which would provide a modest amount of funding to help implement this plan.”

Associate Director of Dining Operations Ralph Perrotto said at the roundtable that Dining Services will continue a long history of acting as a campus leader in recycling and composting, citing reusable chinaware in the Mugar Café and a Dining Services plan to reuse cardboard sleeves for coffee cups. 

Student attendees at the event also provided their own suggestions for improving awareness about campus sustainability measures, including the introduction of new educational initiatives and the creation of an environmental house.

Freshman Natalie Kobsa-Mark proposed that the university improve sustainability education for incoming students through orientation activities or online quizzes.

“Similar to the online alcohol and drug education we had to complete over summer, we should have a required environmental one so that we can get everyone on the same level,” she said.

TSC Co-Director Steph Krantz said she is optimistic about the university’s commitment to increased sustainability. 

“I thought it was nice for students to be able to hear the university’s plans for the future of sustainability,” Krantz, a junior, said after the roundtable. “It’s nice to know that the administration supports these things and going forward we have a lot of allies.”

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