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Sustainability council discusses environmental policies at Tufts

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 03:02

Campus Sustainability Council

Caroline geiling / Tufts Daily

Members of the Campus Sustainability Council are working to promote the school’s leadership in environmental responsibility.

The Campus Sustainability Council held its first meeting on Jan. 30 to discuss its plans to promote the school's leadership in sustainability.

Council members, led by University President Anthony Monaco and Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell,  planned to establish new, practical goals that will improve the university's sustainability, Campbell said.

The Council represents all of the university's campuses and includes nine faculty members, four staff members, a representative from the Board of Trustees and two students, Campbell said.

"It's time to refresh our goals and reinvigorate our commitment to the environment," she said. "We want to engage faculty, administrators and students to see if we can be more efficient and intelligent in terms of conserving resources."

The members of the committee were selected based on recommendations from academic deans for faculty and an application process for students, she added.

"The attempt was to keep it a smaller group," she said.

During the meeting, Council administrators briefed committee members about the history of sustainability at Tufts and talked about what green goals the university had already achieved. The group also discussed how Tufts' environmental policies compare to other universities,' Campbell said.

Tufts has already met the criteria originally established for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol, an international covenant in which the United States initially agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012, Program Director for the Office of Sustainability (OSS) Tina Woolston, a council member, said.

"People were pleased to learn some of the things that we've accomplished," Campbell said. "The fact that we've exceeded our goal relative to the Kyoto Protocol was pretty inspiring to them."

Council members at the end of the meeting brainstormed green initiatives they would like to undertake in the future, Ann Rappaport, a council member and lecturer in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department, said.

"We spent some time thinking about the most important things people should be looking at as it relates to sustainability," Campbell said. "It was a very engaged conversation."

While the Council will only convene every two to three months during the academic year, the three subcommittees — focusing on waste, water and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions — will meet more often to propose projects and revise goals, Woolston said.

Each subcommittee, ranging from 12 to 18 members, is composed of faculty, staff and students from both within and outside of the larger council, Woolston explained.

"We bring in experts," Woolston said. "For example, in the water subcommittee there are professors that work on water. It definitely expands the number of people involved in the whole thing."

Campbell said she anticipates that the Council will be ready to articulate specific goals by the 2013 spring semester.

"We'd like the Council to then play the role of monitoring achievement against those goals over a period of time," she said.

Campbell said she hopes that the Council will impact the behavior of students and faculty by renewing the campus's dedication to sustainability.   

"Everyone at Tufts can behave in sustainable ways by being conscious of the waste they produce and the resources they use," she said.

While members of the Tufts community have frequently addressed the campus' sustainability, Rappaport said she believes that the Council is a significant step forward because it will bring green initiatives from across the university together.

"To have President Monaco say that sustainability is one of his top two priorities is really exciting for us," she said. "I think it's very important that he is committed to getting the larger Tufts community involved."

In an email to the Tufts community yesterday, Monaco praised the Council as an example of Tufts' longstanding commitment to sustainability and encouraged students to contribute ideas for the Council to consider.

"In an earlier message to the Tufts community, I noted that we need to bring passion and our best ideas to bear on sustainability — and other priorities — if we are to effect change," Monaco wrote in the email. "I invite you to bring your passion and ideas to the Council's work by contacting one of the members."

Anyone can submit ideas, comments and suggestions to the Council through a survey form located on the Office of Sustainability website, Woolston said.

"A lot people here do care about the environment and what we're doing to it," said sophomore Stephanie Krantz, a student representative on the Council and co-president of the Tufts Sustainability Collective.

"I think we're really going to make a big impact because of the power of the people on the Council," she added.

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