Duke University

Duke University offers 441 Sustainability-related courses through its undergraduate and graduate school programs. Through the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke offers a Master in Environmental Management, a Master of Forestry degree and six PhD programs. The Nicholas School is home to over 150 faculty, 360 graduate and 180 PhD students, and includes the Center for Tropical Conservation, the River Center, the Wetland Center, the Superfund Research Center, the Marine Lab and Duke’s FSC Certified 7,000-acre learning forest. In 2015, the Sanford School of Public Policy established the Global Food Policy Institute, to tackle food issues abroad, on campus and in Duke’s local community.

The Bass Connections program brings together undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students from interdisciplinary backgrounds, for two semesters, to solve the big issues of today. This past year, eight Energy related projects teams tackled relevant local topics such as the best approach to institutionalize an internal carbon price at Duke University and a review of global animal-waste management practices resulting in an online resource for livestock farmers that will go live this Fall.

Over 10,000 students, faculty and staff have engaged in Duke’s sustainability certifications training program to improve resource use practices within classrooms, labs, dorms, workplaces, and at events.
In 2015, Duke began offering an experiential certification in Sustainability Engagement for undergraduate students to connect with local efforts towards sustainability. The Trillium Project, which began in 2011, has guided 141 faculty from 12 institutions through day-long seminars to incorporate sustainability within their curriculum.

Climate Innovation

The Duke Carbon Offset Initiative (DCOI) is dedicated to developing carbon offset projects to achieve carbon neutrality and unlocking scalable solutions for the academic community at large. Working closely with peer institutions, DCOI helped update Second Nature’s guidance materials for purchasing credits and developing carbon offset projects internally. This update includes an alternative pathway for schools to pursue verification for carbon offset projects via a peer institution. DCOI is leading a Peer Review Committee, a group of 15-20 institutions, to create this project pathway. Peer Verification will empower academia to advance innovative offset projects and reduce the cost of verification, a current barrier for many schools.

In 2015, DCOI created an Urban Forestry Protocol for carbon offset generation. The protocol is designed for use by Institutions interested in tree planting projects and simplifies documentation requirements to better fit the scale of these projects. Working with project partners, DCOI has pioneered 5 urban forestry pilot projects throughout North Carolina and Arizona, and the protocol will result in over 5,000 trees planted by the end of 2017. The current matching program encourages other universities to plant trees in their surrounding communities by offering to match project funds.

Duke’s Loyd Ray Farms swine-waste-to-energy project continues to generate carbon offset credits, destroying the methane to generate electricity for use by the swine farm. In collaboration with Duke professors, this active research site informs best practices for anaerobic digesters’ maintenance and operations. Duke is now working to scale biogas production across NC.

Creating Opportunity

• Duke University’s overall emissions down 23% from 2007 baseline, despite 1.7 million square feet of buildings added to campus since 2008

• Reduced single-occupant commuting from 85% of staff in 2004 to 73% in 2016
•       Implemented carpool programs, incentivized bike-commuting, and subsidized bus passes
• New EV charging stations at transit nodes

• 41 LEED Certified buildings, 4 additional buildings registered for certification – representing 28% of the University’s square footage
• Building standards adopted to exceed LEED requirements, setting energy efficiency goals at 30% better than comparable structures

• Potable water usage on campus decreased by 40% since 2006
• In 2016 Duke completed building a stormwater Reclamation Pond saving 90 million gallons of water in its first year of operation

• In 2016 the “Marketplace” a dining hall on East Campus became Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified
• FY16 Duke Campus Farm increased production by 30%, supplied campus dining facilities with 4,000 lbs. of produce

Campus Operations:
• Revamped the online purchasing system to identify environmentally preferable products (EPP) with participation from 45% of vendors in 2016
• FY16 landfill waste per person reduced by 13% from 2012 baseline

Beyond Duke’s ownership boundaries, DCOI has piloted programs that provide education and incentives to Duke’s employees to encourage home energy efficiency and solar installations. The energy efficiency program features a 3-hour course that provides a “user manual” and strategy building sessions to improve efficiency. DCOI partnered with Home Energy North Carolina to administer this training at Duke and expand to employers throughout the state.