Archive for March, 2010

Managing Green

This will be the first post that steps away from the established format of this blog, that is, an archive of my published Chronicle columns. But, change is a wonderful thing, and it is my hope to use this blog to explore more issues relevant to the Duke Sustainability movement than I have time or space to cover in the column.

So first up, a recent article that was forwarded to me by a fellow Jumbo which summarizes data from a survey conducted by McKinsey & Co. The report, titled “How companies manage sustainability” can be read here.

There are several interesting conclusions that are drawn from the results, but what I find particularly interesting to marinate on, is the idea that “engaged” companies are far more successful at reaping benefit from their sustainability efforts in the form of improved reputation, cost savings and growth opportunities.

Perhaps this particular bout of fascination stems from the fact that I just navigated my browser away from Ben & Jerry’s corporate site. In the chronicling of the company’s history is an interwoven story of its Environmental Action commitment and accomplishments. Sure, they make great ice cream, but a strong commitment from the founders has meant employee involvement in internal committees and programs that have accomplished significant changes in operations and waste reduction from bulk ingredients packaging.

But what does an ice cream manufacturer have to do with Duke? Well Duke is also engaged, and no I’m not just referring to the service-learning program, Duke Engage. Starting with a commitment at the top, the University has established dedicated positions focused on organizing, motivating and enabling sustainable changes. In addition to a willing ear, there is funding available to anyone within the Duke community to start a sustainability project or program. If the McKinsey report is any indication, this commitment and established framework are the first steps to making realizable gains and improvements.

As I sit enjoying my recently purchased pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, I can only hope Duke will have it’s own scrapbook of accomplishments some day, just like Ben & Jerry’s.


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Green Accounting 101

By Liz Bloomhardt
Published Online March 25, 2010

The overarching goal of the Duke Climate Action Plan is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024.

On a fundamental level, the idea here is to make operations as efficient as possible. Loyal readers will recall from previous columns some of the mechanisms and policy changes outlined in the CAP that aim to reduce the University’s carbon footprint. Some of the changes, like the East Campus Steam Plant and temperature standards in campus buildings have been implemented. Others are under consideration.

Increasing efficiency however, will never get us to zero.

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By Liz Bloomhardt
Published Online March 5, 2010

The Duke Climate Action Plan sets out ambitions goals for future energy reductions. Using a wedge based approach to classify opportunities, the Energy Sub Committee of the University Campus Sustainability Committee, or CSC, has identified significant emissions reductions on campus over a projected 40-year time horizon.

The largest wedge in the energy analysis pie estimates Duke Energy will be responsible for 60% of emissions reductions in 2050, 40 years out. Tavey Capps, Duke’s sustainability coordinator, told me in an email that the CAP assumes these reductions based on information provided by Duke Energy, a publically traded company.

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Do it in the dark

By Liz Bloomhardt

Published March 4, 2010

“Do it in the dark, turn off the lights.”

I got a coaster with that slogan on it in college. Someone was a) clearly worried about the accumulation of condensation rings on the dorm furniture, b) making a statement about safe-sex or c) wanted students to turn the off the lights when not in use.

Being an engineer, I’ll skip the multiple choice and just get to the real question: Have we gotten more hip to energy use since I got that clever coaster? The answer points to no. And yes.

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