DegreeEnvironmental Science & Policy and Global Health ’20
“When not in use, what’s your excuse?”
A sticker printed with this pointed question lays directly above the sinks in many of the dorm bathrooms on Duke’s campus as a reminder to reduce water consumption. These stickers were deployed as an initiative by Duke’s Office of Sustainability to change environmentally unfriendly behaviors. Stickers with different, witty quotes can be found on faucets and under light switches. But students may ask: Is my contribution really making a difference? What’s the big deal if I forget to turn off my lights before I go to class?
This semester, my Bass Connections team is seeking to answer the question of what really makes a difference for members of the Duke community as we analyze the energy use of dorms across campus. Through our research, we had the chance to discuss how energy for dorms is financed and infrastructure decisions are made with Joe Gonzalez, the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Housing and Residence Life (HRL). He told us about the number of energy improvements HRL has made in the past, like LED lighting, motion sensor lights and low-flow shower heads, among other improvements. But as Duke looks to reach carbon neutrality by 2024, a combination of energy efficiency and behavior changes (such as turning off the faucets and lights) is required.
In the fall, our team created building energy reports for different academic buildings across Duke’s campus. These reports detailed and analyzed energy use data and provided recommendations for how a building’s energy efficiency could be improved.
This semester we are executing a similar project, but we’re adapting our report to the specific challenges presented by campus dorms. Ultimately, we hope this information will create awareness and bring a greater understanding of energy use to campus so we can inspire students and faculty to make behavioral changes, and so we can assist staff with recommendations for energy efficiency measures.