Improving Energy and Water Efficiency in Duke Lab Buildings
The Duke Occupational and Environmental Safety Office (OESO) supports the university-wide efforts to manage safety and environmental programs in education, healthcare delivery, medical teaching and research. While the organization focuses on health and safety issues, it also extends its reach to those projects that will further the institutionalization of sustainability at Duke University. This Masters project is a collaborative effort between OESO and the Nicholas School of the Environment to frame and study the challenges of reducing environmental impacts and further improving environmental performance at Duke University. The team focused on two metrics: electric power generation and water conservation in scientific research laboratories. This research paper (1) investigated whether it is environmentally and financially viable to participate in the Demand Response program with a local utility provider; (2) strategized ways to promote appropriate waste disposal, and (3) suggested potential opportunities to enhance water efficiency in laboratories. By conducting an electric generator pilot study and interviews with key stakeholders, the results of the study concluded that all eligible emergency generators at Duke University should participate in the Demand Response program, which would lead to significant cost savings and potential carbon dioxide reductions. Interviews with the staff in ten laboratories identified promising opportunities to strengthen environmental performance such as reusing water locally and identifying behavioral best practices. These recommendations could be rolled out to additional laboratories at Duke University and other academic institutions to promote environmental sustainability within the American higher education sector.