“From solar panel installations to LEED certified buildings, Tufts has made it an institutional commitment to continually improve on the sustainability of all of Tufts' campuses.” This quote from the Tufts website was one of the main reasons I chose to attend this school. I’ve always valued sustainability, so I wanted to go to a college where sustainable practices were incorporated in infrastructure and decision-making.
Of course, Tufts has had a history of investing in the fossil fuel industry. However, recently it started a plan to review the possibility of divesting from its direct and indirect holdings in such an industry. Despite that, I’ve noticed that sustainability is a big deal at Tufts. To prove my point, I’ve compiled a list of sustainable practices that Tufts leadership, faculty, and student-body have implemented in the last 10 years.
If we’re talking sustainability at Tufts, we have to start with the Institute of the Environment (TIE). TIE is “a university-wide, interdisciplinary institute, leading environmental education, research, and outreach toward a sustainable future” (Tufts website). My favorite memory from TIE is definitely when I was selected to receive a Travel Grant. I had just been accepted to present my project SobreViver in a prestigious research and leadership symposium in Australia: The Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference, sponsored by Bayer Crop Science. I had received partial funds from Nuffield, but would still need money to pay for transportation and VISA costs. I wanted to pay for a carbon offsetting plan, but it was too expensive. When TIE provided me with the funds I needed to purchase such a plan, I came to understand that TIE exists to provide opportunities for students and faculty to discover, invent, and lead sustainable practices.
Additionally, we can’t forget the Tufts composting and recycling initiatives on campus. The most famous initiative is perhaps the Eco-reps program. This is a group of Tufts students who help raise awareness about ecological issues, encourage environmentally responsible behavior among their peers, and plan related events and activities. They take care of composting bins in student dorms and oversee events and targeted campaigns. Other popular programs are the Green fund, a 40K award to support sustainable projects by Tufts students, and the Tufts Energy Conference, a regional event about green energy sources.
Last but not least, I have to mention Tufts’ infrastructural efforts to be a sustainable institution. Our Sciences & Engineering Complex (SEC) was created to be a reference in energy and water use. The building has received LEED Gold certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary green building rating system that recognizes high-performance, energy efficient and sustainable buildings. Due to infrastructural efforts like this, Tufts has also been recognized as the first bee-friendly campus in the New England region for its projects to bolster pollinator health and promote community awareness.
If you’re like me and you care about sustainability, Tufts might be just the right place to put your interests in action.