GREENgineering News - Duke Engineering Commits to Sustainability

From the Dean

Last fall, I challenged our community to find high-impact ways in which Duke Engineering could become greener and more environmentally sustainable.

I felt strongly that we could use our own expertise to improve our local environment. There were already many examples of this, from the LEED-registered designs of the Smart Home, Fitzpatrick Center and the New Engineering Building, to the Duke LED lighting initiative, which began as a pilot project created by a Pratt student team.

A core team of volunteers quickly met with partners across Duke Engineering and across Duke, identified a first set of projects, and recruited Pratt faculty, staff and students to champion these efforts. Many thanks in part to Lee Ferguson and Kelly Rockwell for facilitating this exciting and important effort.

We’re calling this community-wide initiative GREENgineering.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, we look forward to celebrating the launch of GREENgineering and letting the world know about our commitment to sustainability here at Pratt.

Read below about what GREENgineering has accomplished, what is being planned and how you can get involved.

I also encourage you to bookmark and visit our new website,, to learn the latest updates and to find—and suggest—ways that each of us can make an impact.

Thank you for your partnership and ideas we work to live out our commitment to reducing waste and embracing sustainability! Please join the GREENgineering team and make a difference.

Prof. Rav. V. Bellamkonda
Vinik Dean of Engineering 

Community and Donor Support 

In an amazing show of support for the GREENgineering vision, the university and a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous have provided funding for our sustainability efforts:

  • $24,000 from an anonymous donor
  • $1,000 from the Duke Office of Sustainability
  • Cooperation with Duke Facilities Maintenance to install bottle-filling water fountains

The GREENgineering core group of faculty, staff and students will decide collaboratively on the best ways to deploy these resources to advance our community goal of a more sustainable Duke Engineering.

Faculty Research Labs: Green Certification Challenge 

With our campus partner the Duke Office of Sustainability, we are working toward the ambitious goal of achieving 100 percent Duke Green Certification for our laboratories by the time the fall semester begins.

GREENgineering groups are also working to increase the number of green-certified workspaces, courses, and events.

At present, 11 of Duke Engineering’s 77 laboratories have qualified for a Green Lab status from the Office of Sustainability. Green-certified labs have processes and procedures that reduce energy use and waste.

CEE Ph.D. students Trisha Dupnock (who just received a 2019 Duke Sustainability Award!) and Jake Ulrich are heading the effort. The team organized a free Sustainable Labs workshop on April 15.

Energy-Efficiency Rebate for Ultra-Low Freezers

On average, laboratories are five times more energy intensive than other campus spaces. 

To incentivize faculty research labs to purchase energy efficient lab equipment, faculty research labs are eligible for energy rebates to help offset the cost of purchasing energy efficient, ultra-low freezers.

Rebates range from $3,286 to $5,000, depending on the model purchased. 

Find out more, including energy and cost breakdowns

Completed Projects

Ongoing Projects

  • Increasing the number of bottle-filling water fountains in engineering buildings. Installation is underway
  • Improved signage and communication to promote recycling of plastic film, Styrofoam, printer cartridges and batteries. Currently being designed.
  • Investigation of composting, with Duke campus partners
  • Identifying GREENgineering projects that can be assigned to student design teams, for credit. Discussions have begun with First-Year Design Program and Smart Home Club
  • Developing systems to measure and report savings of energy and other resources

What You Can Do