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Tufts University Opens First “Green” Dorm

Tufts University Opens First “Green” DormTechnology pioneer Bernard Gordon funded Tufts’ new "green" residence hall, which opened Sept. 3 and includes state-of-the art environmentally-friendly features.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.05.06] Members of the local media were on-hand on Sept. 3 when students moved into the new Sophia Gordon Hall, Tufts' first “green” building with single bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchens and bathrooms and a host of environmentally-friendly features such as hot water heated by solar panels on the roof. The new 126-bed dormitory, which houses fourth-year students, was funded through a $10 million gift from Tufts trustee and technology pioneer Bernard Gordon and named in honor of his wife.

SophiaGordonStudents living in Sophia Gordon Hall have "a unique opportunity [to live and learn] about the environment," Sarah Hammond Creighton, director of the Tufts Climate Initiative, told the Somerville Journal. The dorm, which features a display wall near the entrance with information about energy use and avoided pollution, is "an opportunity for us to focus on energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas," she added.

The 62,000-square-foot residence hall is expected to use 30 percent less energy and 30 percent less water than would a conventionally designed building. The bathrooms include motion sensors that will turn lights off when not in use and a dual-flush toilet.

BernardGordon"It was only natural (once we found out we needed a new dorm) to make sure it's going to be a model," Anja Kollmuss, outreach coordinator for the Tufts Climate Initiative, told WBZ-TV, the local CBS affiliate. In an interview that also ran on CBS affiliate stations in New York and Texas, she noted that the dorm's windows are "especially energy efficient" and equipped with "double panel coating [which] cuts down on heat that goes out."

Most corner windows include louvered glass to reflect heat away from the walls in the summer months and reflect heat indoors during the winter. Suite living rooms—and a multi-purpose room that will be used for academic and residential life activities—include many windows to reduce the need for electronic lights during the day. Rooftop solar thermal and photovoltaic arrays, funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative with matching funds from Tufts, help heat water and generate supplemental power for the building.

The majority of the building’s flooring is made from recycled material or renewable resources, including the hallway and suite carpeting, the rubber flooring in stairwells and the bamboo wood floor in the multi-purpose room. In addition, the steel used to build the residence hall is more than 85 percent recycled.

"I think it's really great that Tufts is using money to invest in green energy and making a green building," senior Becky Hayes, a Sophia Gordon resident, said while moving into the dorm on Sept. 3. "I love it. I think it's beautiful."

Tufts University was among the first universities to make sustainability a high priority in its teaching, planning and operations. Tufts is committed to meeting or exceeding the Kyoto Protocol for reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and is a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange. In 2005, Tufts and the Tufts Climate Initiative won the Environmental Protection Agency Climate Protection Award.

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