Tufts Earns Gold Rating for Sustainability

Sustainability report highlights measures of progress

Tufts is making university-wide progress toward its sustainability goals, as reflected by its first gold assessment by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

STARS, a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is a comprehensive, self-reporting system by which colleges and universities measure sustainability performance. Tufts participates in the program every three years and has received silver ratings since 2011.

“Moving from silver to gold rating is a testament to the people all over Tufts University integrating sustainability into our work,” said Dano Weisbord, AG01, the university’s inaugural executive director and chief sustainability officer. “Tufts is on a path to be an institution that produces replicable solutions for sustainable development and fosters creative learners who will tackle the challenges of the future.” 

Weisbord, who holds a master’s degree from the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, arrived last fall from Smith College and is leading the effort to link up Tufts’ institutional sustainability challenges with education and scholarship (hear more from Weisbord in a video on Showcasing Sustainability).

His appointment is one of many measures of progress included in the Sustainability at Tufts report just released by the Office of Sustainability. The report features data and accomplishments in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 that helped the university earn the gold rating.

Highlights include:

  • Research innovations are advancing the application of sustainable materials. Some 44% of faculty research involves sustainability. This includes work at the Silklab, inventing “living materials” made from silk that have recently been able to preserve food, identify pathogens, mimic leather, create underwater glue, and much more, and at the Kaplan Lab, a leader in the emerging field of producing lab-cultivated meat as a sustainable protein source.
  • The new multi-disciplinary academic building, Joyce Cummings Center, has the lowest energy intensity use for a building of its kind in Tufts’ history, as part of Tufts’ decarbonization strategy. In addition, Joyce Cummings Center also offers specialty recycling for plastic film, printer ink and toners, and small electronics.
  • Incorporating sustainability into the life of the university is embraced across the university by students and employees; nine projects were funded in the last two fiscal years by the Tufts Green Fund.
  • Tufts reports an 18% reduction in total energy consumption since 2005, even with an increase in building square footage.
  • Waste reduction efforts are making a significant difference, with a 54% drop in the average amount of waste generated per person on campus since 2005.
  • The Tufts Sustainability Council, guided by a recently revised strategic mission, is formulating a sustainability framework that focuses and accelerates Tufts’ commitment to sustainability.
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