Duke Building Energy Use Report (2019-2020)


How much energy do we use across campus, and can we find ways to reduce our consumption? The initiative for this project stems from a 2018 Duke Leadership Academy team project to develop a visual energy use report for business units throughout Duke University. This report will be modeled after the highly successful My Home reports that are sent monthly to Duke Energy’s residential customers, sparking conversations about energy usage and inspiring ideas for conservation.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project will create a report that illustrates the energy used within Duke University business units over time, contrasting each unit to itself over time or with similar units. The report will also include relevant information for unit leadership to take action, such as individualized action tips and data insights.

The aim is to help leaders across Duke University understand their energy use and take simple steps to reduce energy consumption.

The project team will establish a distribution strategy and method for monthly reports to get to all deans, business unit managers and facility managers across campus. Team members will also determine how to incorporate energy-saving “tips and tricks” into these monthly reports.

The team will review ways that the report can go beyond simple energy consumption tracking to become a broader sustainability report, tracking each department’s carbon emissions based on business travel and other carbon-related expenditure data. Finally, the team will produce a highly visual product that can be easily refreshed each month.

Anticipated Outputs

Graphical visual product that can be easily maintained; distribution network

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will include 5 undergraduates and 5 graduate students.

Desired skills and background include marketing/branding, data visualization (Tableau or similar), data analysis, data blending and comparative analysis, executive communications, carbon emissions/energy conservation, statistics, project management and strategic planning.

A graduate student will serve as project manager and be responsible for dividing students into tracks or groups that align with interests and functional areas. The project manager will also convene monthly meetings with the whole team in person, supplemented by more frequent group check-ins.

A project leadership track of 1-2 students will work with the project manager to keep the overall direction of the project in focus and on task. A visualization track will work closely with data analysis. A communications and marketing track will help form the report, survey the product environment and develop a distribution strategy. A sustainable actions track will provide guidance to broadening the report into measuring sustainability behaviors.

All students will have the opportunity to develop both a visualized data product for executive leadership and make a positive impact on carbon emissions and overall sustainable corporate practices.

A related Data+ project will take place in Summer 2019. Participation on the Data+ project team is not required for participation on the year-long Bass Connections project team. Students interested in participating on both teams must complete applications for both the 2019-2020 Bass Connections project team and the Summer 2019 Data+ project team.


Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Fall 2019: Analyze and blend consumption and space utilization data; determine distribution targets; identify distribution channels and research listserv creation; finalize energy visualization and report structure
  • Spring 2020: Gradually expand participating business units; test additions of departmental travel/commute metrics to the report


Independent study credit available for fall and spring semesters

See related Data+ summer project, Duke Building Energy Use Report (2019).

Duke Building Use Report.

/faculty/staff Team Members

  • Tavey Capps, Duke Sustainability Program
  • Casey Collins, Duke Facilities Management
  • Jason Elliott, Duke Sustainability Program
  • Dina Helderman, Divinity School
  • Zachary Johnson, Sanford School of Public Policy*
  • Wayne Miller, Duke Law
  • William Pizer, Sanford School of Public Policy*
  • Brad Teague, Graduate School