Climate champion

Tufts is first university to adopt greenhouse emissions goals

Tufts will be the first university in New England to adopt the climate change goals of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), an international partnership of states and provinces focused on the environment, economic development, energy and other issues.

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow announced the university's commitment at the conference "Climate Solutions for the Northeast," held May 12 in Hartford, Conn. The conference was sponsored by Clean Air-Cool Planet, a regional organization dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to global warming. The climate change goals, set by NEG/ECP in August 2001, require a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010—and ultimately an emissions reduction of 75 to 80 percent.

"Tufts has long understood the negative environmental impacts of climate change, and we believe it's important to take our environmental responsibilities seriously, while also looking for solutions," Bacow said. "At Tufts, we strive to couple our scholarship with active citizenship. This commitment is one way we are doing this."

In 1999, Tufts became the first university that pledged to meet or beat the goals of the Kyoto Protocol—an international agreement ratified by more than 180 countries to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions—by pledging to reduce the university's own greenhouse gas emissions. The NEG/ECP regional goals are consistent with Tufts' Kyoto pledge in the short term, but more aggressive in the long term.

Tufts already has taken a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the installation of energy-efficient lighting, room occupancy sensors, vending machine "energy misers," solar hot water systems and front-loading washing machines in existing buildings.

A new dormitory on the Medford/Somerville campus, Sophia Gordon Hall, on which construction will start this summer, will be the most energy-efficient building on campus. A key feature of the new dormitory will be rooftop solar panels, which will be capable of generating about a third of the energy the dormitory will use. Water will be heated via solar energy, and high performance windows are expected to reduce the need for air conditioning.

At the conference in Hartford, Tufts also was given a 2003 Northeast Climate Champion Award from Clean Air-Cool Planet. The award recognizes institutions of higher education, businesses and municipalities that have adopted the kinds of policies and actions that need to be universally accepted if the United States is to effectively address the problem of climate change.

"Tufts is an environmental role model to universities throughout New England and around the country," said Clean Air-Cool Planet Executive Director Adam Markham. "Tufts' groundbreaking leadership through the Tufts Climate Initiative, its outstanding environmental research and its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions make it a very worthy recipient of one of our inaugural Climate Champion Awards."