Developing Departmental Energy Reports and a Carbon Pricing Program for Duke University (2016-2017)


Duke has occupied a leadership role among universities addressing climate change, through its significant role in creating ideas, engaging key stakeholders to advance those ideas and training a new generation of environmental leaders and scholars. At the same time, the Duke community has asked whether we ourselves should be doing more operationally. Starting in 2007 with the Duke carbon neutrality pledge, and following with the decision to replace the university’s aging coal plant with natural gas, the university has taken action. But students and community leaders have asked if we can do more.

Project Description

Duke has the opportunity to continue leading by example by taking additional steps to address the largest sources of carbon emissions at the university – energy use and transportation. The goal of the project is to find ways to measure and influence both individual and institutional change to reduce Duke’s carbon footprint in pursuit of the university’s 2024 climate neutrality goal.

This project mimics the objectives of the Yale Carbon Charge Task Force—which designed and implemented an internal carbon charge program—here at Duke. Namely, how do we encourage departments to decrease carbon emissions? What information do departments need to take action? Is an internal carbon charge at Duke a good idea? If so, how might it be designed? How else might departments at Duke be encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint?

Anticipated Outcomes

The project team will collect and analyze carbon accounting data on energy and transportation. Then, building on this information, the team will develop energy reports that educate departments on their current carbon emissions and actions they can take to reduce emissions. Finally, the team will research different types of carbon pricing programs to recommend a carbon pricing pilot program for Duke. The project team will visit Yale University during the fall semester to learn about its current pilot carbon charge program.


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Students are required to attend two weekly meetings. For Fall 2016, one meeting is scheduled with the team leaders for Mondays, 2:00-4:00 p.m., with the other meeting time determined by the students. Spring 2016 meeting times will be determined at the end of the fall semester. The team will take a trip to Yale during the fall semester, which will require two days away from campus. Students are expected to work on the project for five to eight hours a week outside of team meetings.


Independent study credit available for fall and spring semesters


The End (for Now) (Shengjie Yao)

Seeking Inspiring, Ambitious Solutions That Are Also Pragmatic (Dipro Bhowmik)

The Endless Pursuit of Equity (Samuel Corwin)

Boosting Bass Connections Projects with Behavioral Economics (Jasmine Tan)

Building a Team, a Clay Structure and a Carbon Pricing Program (Aashna Aggarwal)

This Team in the News

Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative 2016 Annual Report

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Charles Adair, Duke Sustainability Program*
Kyle Bradbury, Duke University Energy Initiative
Nicolette Cagle, Nicholas School - Environmental Sciences & Policy*
Tavey Capps, Duke Sustainability Program*
Charlotte Clark, Nicholas School - Environmental Sciences & Policy
Casey Collins, Duke Facilities Management
Timothy Johnson, Nicholas School - Earth & Ocean Sciences
Richard Larrick, Fuqua School of Business*
Jonas Monast, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Brian Murray, Nicholas School of the Environment
William Pizer, Sanford School of Public Policy*
Timothy Profeta, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions*
Eric Smith, Duke Libraries & Informational Technology
Jack Soll, Fuqua School of Business
Rebecca Vidra, Nicholas School - Environmental Sciences & Policy
Jonathan Wiener, Law School

Graduate Team Members

Yan Cheng, Nicholas School, Master of Environmental Management
Chunhui Yang, Nicholas School, Master of Environmental Mgmt.

Undergraduate Team Members

Aashna Aggarwal, Economics (BS), Environmental Sciences (BS2)
Dipro Bhowmik, Economics (AB), Environmental Sci/Policy (AB2)
Samuel Corwin, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB), Asian & Mid East Studies (AB2)
Tianlin Duan, Statistical Science (AB)
Jasmine Oon Mei Tan, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
Shengjie Yao, Economics (AB), Psychology (AB2)

* denotes team leader