The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke Athletics upholding pledge of sustainability

As its teams aim to reach a high level of efficiency in games, Duke Athletics is doing its part to lower energy consumption and waste, administrators said.

As part of a University-wide effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024 as stated in Duke’s climate action plan, the athletic department has taken some action to reduce its carbon footprint and spread on-campus awareness. In recent years, athletic facilities have met the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, like all other new and recently renovated facilities at Duke since 2003. Duke Athletics has also responded to the high volume of garbage at sports games by partnering with Duke Recycles to increase recycling efforts during these events.

In 2009, Duke Athletics adapted one particular measure for energy efficiency—a temperature scheduling program that tailors heating and cooling to the daily climate, Vice President of Facilities John Noonan said in an email Feb. 6.

“Duke Athletics was one of the first three units to volunteer for the new temperature and scheduling policy implementation,” Noonan said. “The building set points were changed and schedules were modified to either heat less or cool less, thus saving consumption of energy.”

Under the scheduling policy, now in practice across campus, University buildings are set to approximately 68 degrees in the winter and 76 degrees in the summer. During off hours, temperatures are set as low as 60 degrees and up to 80 degrees, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator Casey Roe noted.

Duke Recycles partnered with both the athletic department and Crazies Who Care—an organization that raises money for causes in the Durham community—to increase recycling in Wallace Wade Stadium and Cameron Indoor Stadium and at field hockey, baseball and soccer games, said Arwen Buchholz, recycling and waste reduction coordinator. Last year, Duke Recycles collected a total of 207,560 pounds of beverage containers across campus, Buchholz added. Buchholz did not have specific numbers for the breakdown of how much of this came from athletic facilities and games, but she did note that the amount collected from athletics was significant.

“We service nearly 1,600 recycling bins and collect 17 different materials,” Buchholz said, noting that through the recycling efforts they we were able to donate around $900 to Duke Children’s Hospital. “We have a great relationship with athletics on campus,” Buchholz said. “If students, faculty and staff have ideas, we want to hear it.”

The recent buildings constructed for Duke Athletics all met LEED standards, which emphasize environmentally efficient construction and building use, and there are solar, water and energy projects currently in development, Noonan added.

This is significant because Duke’s LEED buildings perform about 15 percent better than the average campus facility in terms of energy saving, added Sustainable Duke Outreach Coordinator Casey Roe.

Sustainability back on campus also relies on student participation. As part of an event called Focus the Nation in 2009, Sustainable Duke partnered with athletics for the Green Game, which garnered national media coverage on ESPN, Roe said.

“It was one of the biggest things that our office has partnered with athletics on,” she said. “All the Cameron Crazies wore our ‘Bleed Blue, Live Green’ T-shirts while waiting in line and during the game—the point was to draw attention to climate change to the students.”

Despite the recent actions for sustainability practices, there is still room for improvement, Roe said. Duke, as a member of the Ivy Plus Sustainability group, attended a summit focused on athletics that raised several additional ideas like opportunities for water and energy savings in athletics facilities, Roe noted.

“Duke has installed low flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets, and we are continuing to look for strategic ways to conserve water,” Roe said, noting that these functions are campus wide and include the athletic facilities.

Duke Athletics has frequent carbon emissions from athletic air and land travel necessary for away games. Michael Cragg, senior associate director of athletics, said he did not know the total carbon output attributable to athletics and was also not aware of any efforts to purchase carbon offsets to compensate for the emissions from athletic travel.

According to a 2011 inventory, carbon emissions on campus are down 11 percent, based on a 2007 baseline, Roe said, adding that she is optimistic that Duke will meet its 2024 neutrality goal.

“We are definitely on track,” she said.


Share and discuss “Duke Athletics upholding pledge of sustainability” on social media.