The Office of Sustainability (OOS) last week introduced the Tufts EcoTour, a self-guided tour of the Medford/Somerville campus that encourages community members to learn about sustainability initiatives at Tufts.
The tour is made up of signs on buildings across campus with Quick Response (QR) odes, which anyone can scan with a smartphone to get information on university initiatives and milestones related to sustainability at each tour stop.
There are currently 10 Ecotour QR Codes posted around campus, five of which are uphill and five of which are downhill, according to Fannie Koa, communications and outreach specialist of the OOS. The codes lead to informational Web pages on the OOS website and provide directions to the next destination of the tour.
“It starts from the [Mayer Campus Center], and if you scan any of the posters or postcards or promotional items that we have up, it’s the QR Code for the Campus Center,” Koa said. “I’m hoping people will just scan it, and even if they’re not exactly [at the Campus Center], they can pick it up from there.”
The tour does not have to be completed all at once, and the OOS offers a prize to those who reach the final stop.
Koa explained that inspiration for the project came from her disappointment that campus tours do not highlight Tufts’ commitment to sustainability.
She noted that Tufts is a leader in the sustainability movement and had a key role in the creation of the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan for increased environmental literacy established in 1990 by university presidents from Tufts and other colleges.
Koa and the OOS decided that Tufts’ history in the sustainability movement should be promoted for prospective and current students who are interested in getting involved with environmental groups on campus.
“This is kind of the pilot phase, so we want to see how people use them, if the locations are actually attracting any traffic, and also we wanted to tweak the content a little bit,” she said.
Koa plans to add additional interactive content such as video and audio clips to the web pages that the QR Codes open.
“In terms of making it permanent, we’ll see how this pilot phase goes, but if it’s well received and people actually like it, I would love to have this become a permanent installation by the fall and then have this up during the summer,” she said.
The QR Codes are placed on dormitories, academic buildings and other destinations on campus.
The Web page linked to the QR Code on Sophia Gordon Hall, the second stop on the tour, discusses the residence hall’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification and numerous sustainable attributes, including its photovoltaic, solar-thermal rooftop arrays and its underground storm-water retention system.
Other locations supply information about successful student sustainability projects or programs run by the OOS that students can get involved in, according to Koa.
Koa said that in the future she hopes to add more tour stops and to incorporate the tour onto the Boston and Grafton campuses.
She added that it would be important to expand to Boston, especially given the Tufts School of Dental Medicine’s renovation project, which received LEED gold certification earlier this year.
Koa explained that she would like to raise awareness about sustainability projects at Tufts and motivate people to undertake similar ventures.
“So many people are surprised by how much we’ve already accomplished, and they’re not aware of it,” she said.
“The second thing is just to … show people that your actions can go a very long way if you decide to make a change,” Koa said. “Look at what happened at Hodgdon Hall. It was just a group of students who circulated a petition and all of a sudden [there was] this very dramatic change. Taking out bottled water from the [Hodgdon Good-to-Go] location is huge.”