problem of global climate change is a problem of unprecedented
urgency and magnitude with international and intergenerational
implications. In April 1999, Tufts Universitys president
pledged that the university would meet or beat the goals of the
Kyoto Protocol in university operations, reducing carbon emissions
7% below 1990 levels by 2012. This goal was recently reaffirmed
in March by Tufts new president, Larry Bacow. This commitment
is consistent with our leadership position in addressing environmental
issues and creates enormous learning opportunities for our community.
Still, putting ones own house in order and converting good
rhetoric into reality is a significant challenge.
Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI) was created to help the university
meet our emissions reduction goal. In three short years, TCI has
worked closely with Tufts Division of Operations to better understand
the goal, identify strategies to make progress towards the goal,
and to implement programs that slow the universitys carbon
emissions. The TCI staff includes two faculty members (a few hours/month),
a part-time project manager, a part-time outreach coordinator,
and one graduate student research assistant. As a catalyst and
resource, we introduce new initiatives and provide additional
resources to existing and ongoing climate change-related efforts
around the university. Our approach is one of cooperation and
partnership rather than criticism and opposition. TCIs activities
are focused in three major areas: 1) reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions; 2) research into possible technologies and approaches
and monitoring of past projects; and 3) education and outreach
both inside the university (students, staff, faculty, and administrators)
and outside the university. This article highlights our activities
around measuring our emissions and beginning to reduce them.
an Emissions Inventory and Gauging Attitudes: A Starting Point
As one of our initial projects, TCI undertook an inventory of
the major greenhouse gas emission sources at each of Tufts
three campuses and then calculated the resulting emissions. The
results of our inventory are shown in Chart 1 and the full report
is available on the TCI website at www.tufts.edu/tci.
Given the universitys projected growth rate, a 23% emissions
reduction by the year 2012 is needed in order for Tufts to meet
our Kyoto target. The inventory process yielded several other
important insights including: 1) the universitys emissions
are rapidly increasing; 2) campus growth and the increasing prevalence
and use of electronic equipment, particularly computers, is largely
responsible for this increase; 3) the carbon resulting from heating
is going down on a per square foot and per student basis (our
buildings are getting more efficient) but increasing in total
(we have more buildings); 4) our carbon from electricity use,
however, is increasing in total, per student (up 16% between 1990
and 1998), and per square foot; and 5) our actual electricity
use is increasing even faster, but the result is not evident in
the carbon inventory since our electric utility has decreased
its carbon/kWh over the same time largely through increased
use of nuclear power for generation.
from our inventory are what the World Resources Institute calls
Scope 3 emissions, which are defined as indirect greenhouse gas
emissions that are a consequence of an institutions activities,
but are produced from sources owned and controlled by another.
Certainly these indirect sources of emissions are important and
can be influenced by the universitys vast purchasing power.
Initial results indicated that one of the largest single contributors
to Scope 3 emissions at Tufts is air travel for university business.
is our intention to broaden the scope of our inventory and we
are currently in the early stages of identifying other greenhouse
gases, some with large warming potential, that are prevalent in
university operations. In particular, we hope to quantify our
emissions and the global warming potential of two potent greenhouse
gases: 1) hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), used commonly as refrigerants,
and 2) nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, used in our
School of Dental Medicine. By better understanding the scope of
the use and impact of these greenhouse gases, we hope to develop
best management practices to reduce or eliminate their release.
emissions inventory is a useful step in beginning a dialogue about
climate change on campus. It is important that it be done carefully,
but it is equally important that the inventory be considered a
learning process rather than a definitive result. Thus, other
institutions looking to undertake a similar inventory (instructions
are on our web site) should be cautioned not to spend more time
than is necessary for planning future commitment and action on
Carbon Emissions: A Strategy for Action
TCI used the emissions inventory to determine that meeting the
goals of the Kyoto Protocol is reasonable and achievable through
a variety of scenarios. A combination of strategies could meet
the goals: for example, increasing electrical efficiency, increasing
heating efficiency, purchasing a portion of our power from green
sources, fuel switching from oil to natural gas in a portion of
our boilers, and leveling demand for fuels. Other scenarios include
implementing co-generation or large-scale renewable energy systems.
the universitys carbon emissions continue to rise, we estimate
that through our direct involvement, TCI has slowed the growth
of these emissions. Our focus includes attention to new and existing
buildings, alternative fuels, and personal action. Highlights
for these initiatives are described below.
Efficiency in New Buildings: In addition to small and large
renovation projects, Tufts is constructing new buildings. We are
beginning to recognize the important potential in avoided emissions
that new buildings provide by doing it right the first time
and creating high performance buildings that are super
efficient, durable, and healthy.
worked cooperatively with the design team for the Wildlife Clinic
at the School of Veterinary Medicine on the Grafton Campus. TCI
supported a third party design review, evaluation of the alternative
design schemes, and a portion of the cost of the resulting energy
improvements. As a result of TCIs participation and support,
the building includes heat recovery and sophisticated controls,
a simplified roofline for lower construction and material costs,
and a long lasting siding material. In addition, TCI supported
the installation of an energy-efficient front-loading washing
machine at the clinic. By modifying plans for the Wildlife Clinic,
we estimate that we reduced energy consumption by 50% and reduced
carbon dioxide by about 150 tons/year (about 30% of the impact
of all of the recycling at the universitys main campus in
is currently working closely with the construction department
to implement significant energy savings in a dormitory which will
be built in the next two years.
Efficiency in Existing Buildings: New buildings, regardless
of how green, add carbon emissions to a campus profile, albeit
less carbon than would have resulted without intervention. In
comparison, one can realize real reductions immediately by working
on existing buildings. At Tufts, we own buildings that are over
a hundred years old and have undergone dozens of changes in use.
Our challenge is determining how to operate those buildings and
their systems efficiently. We are meeting this challenge on many
graduate students in our department of Urban and Environmental
Policy, Tufts assessed the reductions in carbon dioxide emissions
that could be realized when renovations were undertaken in Schmalz
House. Students and facilities staff worked collaboratively
to implement recommendations in this residence that houses twelve
undergraduates. A few of the new features include solar hot water,
sophisticated lighting controls, and energy efficient appliances.
Our goal was not only to reduce emissions, but also to demonstrate
technologies new to Tufts. Students continue to monitor and assess
this project, and it is projected that these improvements will
pay for themselves within five years.
addition, each summer Tufts University undertakes projects designed
to address deferred maintenance concerns including fire and life
safety, aesthetics, heating control and comfort, lighting, etc.
In its first year, TCI partnered with the Facilities Department
to identify properties that were already scheduled for summer
maintenance and therefore already had funds appropriated to them.
TCI and the Facilities department were able to identify four additional
projects at the School of Nutrition offices, the Dining Department
offices, and two residence wood-frame houses. TCIs participation
resulted in energy engineering prior to regularly scheduled maintenance.
The results included the installation of new windows, lighting
and insulation; a new boiler; and the replacement of two oil-fired
boilers with a single natural gas fired boiler.
2001, Tufts installed 695 occupancy sensors in academic buildings
to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms in order to save over 700,000
kWh/year and reduce our annual emissions of CO2 by 468 tons. The
result is dramatic as you walk through campus at night and observe
dark academic buildings, previously lit and unoccupied. Efforts
to install more sensors and other lighting improvements are ongoing.
other efficiency improvements are constantly being implemented
and/or evaluated. These include the installation of premium efficient
motors, shutting off unneeded ventilation in kitchens and laboratories,
heating and air conditioner efficiency improvements, and building
Fuels and Fuel Switching: In cooperation with the Medford
Solar Project, TCI installed two solar panels on one of Tufts
wood-frame homes, the Fairmont House, in June 1999. The two solar
panels cost Tufts $3,000 and produce over 700 kWh of electricity
annually. They generate enough energy to power approximately 10%
of the annual electricity usage of an average household as well
as prevent the release of 1,200 lbs. of carbon dioxide annually.
Tufts, transportation (university vehicles and commuters) is the
third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissionsbehind
electricity and heatingaccounting for 6% of the universitys
total emissions. TCI researched, tested, and in April 2001, bought
a Toyota Prius, an electric-gas hybrid vehicle, for the Building
and Grounds department, replacing a Crown Victoria which gets
17-24 mpg. The Prius is the first mass-production hybrid gasoline/electric
vehicle, and it gets 42-55 mpg, reduces CO2 emissions by 50%,
and carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and NOX by 90%. In addition,
the grounds manager loves the car and is always happy to show
A significant source of CO2 emissions, to say nothing of cost,
is the demand for electricity across campus. Since 1990, the universitys
electricity use has grown by about 18%, despite aggressive conservation
efforts in lighting and mechanical equipment. A student survey
conducted two years ago revealed that 80% of students leave their
computers on all day, whether or not they are in their rooms.
This costs the university at least $50,000 per year and produces
490 tons of carbon dioxide. Faculty and staff also use increasing
numbers of powerful computers, left on much of the day, and dormitory
rooms now look like electronics shops. TCIs personal
action initiatives focus on two of the largest individually
controlled energy uses: computers and lights.
Tufts University owns about 4,300 personal computers. Much of
the increase in electricity consumption at Tufts over the last
few years can be attributed to the large increase in technology
usage. In addition to the university-owned computers, there are
about 3,000 student-owned computers. The majority of Tufts
staff shut down their computers at night, but very few shut off
their monitors during the day when they are not using their computers.
Most people use screensavers, which, contrary to what their name
implies, do not save any energy. TCI has developed a computer
brochure and distributed it to faculty, staff, and students. The
brochure gives energy use information and explains how they can
reduce the energy consumption of their computers. In addition,
TCIs website offers recommendations on how to lower electricity
consumption of computers, advice on power management for computers,
and information about energy consumption and climate change.
Between July 2000 and September 2001 TCI replaced approximately
1,100 bulbs, primarily on the Medford campus. Old bulbs, ranging
from 40 to 150 watts, were replaced by efficient compact fluorescent
lightbulbs (CFLs) ranging from 15 to 26 Watts. The original target
audience for the task light (desk and floor lamps in work spaces,
offices, and common areas) replacement program was faculty and
staff. Since most campus work areas are lit with overhead lights,
a smaller overall numbers of bulbs were replacedapproximately
200. This audience was also a focus of education outreach and
TCI distributed brochures and behavioral change information about
the benefits of using lights more efficiently.
and Policy Development
In order to move from a project-by-project approach to a more
comprehensive program involving university decision-makers, TCI
encouraged the Tufts Administrative Council to form the Energy
Affairs Council (EAC) in May 2001. The EAC is composed of representatives
from throughout the university and its mission is to address energy
costs, reliability, and environmental impacts.
policy discussions have led the EAC to recommend the development
and implementation of a university-wide temperature policy that
includes temperature targets, off-hour and weekend setbacks, and
mechanisms for exceptions. The policy should also address management
of air-conditioned spaces and purchasing of space heaters and
window air conditioners. The EAC also made it a priority to provide
mechanisms for funding energy conservation measures and is considering
creating an independent Energy Fund as well as undertaking a comprehensive
survey of energy conservation opportunities.
the short run, the EAC has helped to increase university investment
in additional efficiency measures, raise awareness about energy
efficiency, and begin detailed discussions at all levels about
specific ways to meet Tufts goals. More information about
the EAC is available at www.tufts.edu/energyaffairs.
TCI has accomplished a great deal in three years, and we have
learned a great deal about technology, budgets, contracting, and
follow-through. Several important lessons have emerged repeatedly:
effective climate change action must involve a strong partnership
with the university operations division. Tufts efforts to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions are undertaken largely by the
people who work in this division, which operates the physical
plant, constructs new buildings, runs dining services, and manages
the grounds. To be sure, TCI has played the role of advocate,
researcher, and assistant in action, but the real implementation
almost always involves close work with our energy manager, director
of facilities, campus directors, mechanics, dining managers, and
in most cases the technology exists to curb energy use, improve
efficiency, generate electricity without greenhouse gas emissions,
etc. The problem most often lies in successfully and pragmatically
implementing the solution given the range of competing priorities,
financial constraints, timing considerations (the academic calendar
can pose huge constraints), lack of familiarity with the technology,
and existing problems that the status quo already solves. Furthermore,
while the technology may exist, selecting the most qualified person
(e.g., consultants or engineers or contractors) to design and
implement a solution in the unique campus context can be more
challenging. In short, the process can be as important as the
money and time are always in short supply. While an advocate such
as TCI can develop creative strategies to keep projects on track
or find funding, nearly every university seeks additional resources.
These financial considerations can emphasize lower initial cost
rather than life cycle cost decision making, simply as a matter
of immediate pragmatism. We know that even while Tufts has made
investments in energy efficiency and alternative fuels, the tendency
to do business as usual will persist.
successful advocacy for action requires persistence, follow through,
and perhaps most importantly, a willingness to admit mistakes.
This is not to disparage the hard-working members of the university
community who are making progress, but rather to acknowledge that
they are busy, have other priorities, or may lack experience with
many new technologies. We have learned that it is entirely insufficient
to simply identify a problem without working for a solution. Furthermore,
we can no longer say, lets just do it because
we have learned that doing it in most cases is complicated,
and that unless we address the details, the result will be certain
failure. It is critical to focus on the logistical details and
address questions such as who installs it, who maintains it, what
happens if there are problems, and who will pay for repairs.
Tufts commitment to climate change is bold, comprehensive
and action-oriented. Certainly our ultimate success will be seen
in the future accounting of our greenhouse gas emissions. We will
also be successful if through our efforts all members of the Tufts
community begin to look at their surroundings differently and
take greater responsibility for their actions.
Hammond Creighton is Project Manager for the Tufts Climate Initiative.
You may contact her at Tufts Institute of the Environment, MillerHall,
Medford, MA 02155; (617) 627-5517; firstname.lastname@example.org.
number of schools around the world are voluntarily stepping
up to the challenge set by the Kyoto Protocol - to reduce
their greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. Oberlin College
aims to be climate-neutral by 2020. The University of New
South Wales has undertaken a Greenhouse Challenge Program.
GreenHouse Network's College Climate Response program was
started to encourage all US colleges and universities to
achieve compliance, as was the Student Environmental Action
Coalition's Kyoto Now! Campaign. More information on these
programs can be found through ULSF's Resources Database.
College 2020 Project: www.oberlin.edu/~envs/2020proj/
of New South Wales Greenhouse Challenge Program: www.emp.unsw.edu.au/GHC/
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