Blair Lanier

Lanier
Like the best Bass Connections projects, this experience has presented the team with convoluted questions, competing interests, ambiguous findings, and imperfect processes.

Degree

Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration '17

Project Team

 

The team spent the first semester analyzing the landscape of internal carbon policies, the specific challenges facing universities, and Yale University’s internal carbon pricing program in preparation for a November trip to New Haven. We began investigating energy use, management, and billing at Duke through interviews with staff across departments. The spring semester began with a re-prioritization of work for the spring, with added emphasis on regular revision of class deliverables as well as project management practices and tools. Additional interviews and access to building-level energy data have put the team in a position to begin drafting recommendations to the Campus Sustainability Committee to be delivered before the end of the year.

The team has learned a remarkable amount about how energy is managed at Duke University. We have focused particularly on two main questions: 1) how could the cost of carbon be integrated into capital investment decisions, whether for new construction or building retrofits, and 2) how can the university best influence the behavior of end users? The team is also evaluating how energy reports could be designed to effectively inform and influence decision-makers. Each of these questions involves both particular questions about how decisions are made at Duke, as well as broader questions of how we can influence behavior, policy, and priorities in organizations/institutions of any size.

Like the best Bass Connections projects, this experience has presented the team with convoluted questions, competing interests, ambiguous findings, and imperfect processes. Team members have made significant progress in defining the scope of the project and moving towards concrete recommendations while improving their own project management skills. As the team moves to synthesize and record their substantial findings, we are all realizing how much we’ve learned!