Goal: Create a model food campus that is health-promoting, ecologically minded, resilient, diverse, fair, economically balanced and transparent.

Duke Dining

Amidst the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Duke Dining’s residential dining program continued to prioritize the purchase of more responsibly produced foods, such as products raised without antibiotics, humanely raised products, locally grown and raised products, and responsibly fished products. In addition to its ongoing partnerships with Ran Lew Dairy, Phantom Farms, Brooks Farm, and Larry’s Coffee, Duke Dining notably maintained its partnerships with the local woman-owned food hub, Firsthand Foods, and the local philanthropic food hub, Farmer Foodshare.

Duke Dining continued its Climate Conscious Dining Campaign, which aims to teach students about the connection between food, climate change and health. At dining locations across campus, Duke Dining featured menu items with lower carbon impacts and noted the health benefits of choosing those options.

Duke Dining is also committed to helping address food insecurity among students. Through a partnership with the Graduate and Professional Student Government’s Community Pantry, Duke Dining donated more than 2,000 prepared meals over the course of the last academic year.

Duke Dining graphic
Duke Dining's Residential Dining Program has continued to make progress on its Deliberate Dining goals including 100% of coffee purchases were fair trade, 19% of food purchases came from local producers, 26% of seafood was Marine Stewardship Council Certified, and 7% of food purchases were organic. 

Duke Campus Farm

The Duke Campus Farm rose to the challenge over the past couple years and yielded literal tons of success through production and educational programming. Recent highlights:

  • Donated over 5,000 pounds of produce in 2020 to Root Causes, a Duke Medical Student-led organization working to address the social determinants of health in Durham.
  • Harvested over 15,000 pounds of produce in 2021, which provided food to over 100 households as a part of its community supported agriculture (CSA) program. 
  • Developed new programming including Decompress at DCF, Land & Listen, and the Co-Learning Lab on food justice issues, which were guided by DCF’s first Americorp member.
  • Hosted hundreds of students and faculty through a variety of classes, including a Story+ project entitled “What This Land has Seen: The Past and Future of the Duke Campus Farm.”

To learn more about the recent work of the Duke Campus Farm, please view the 2021 Annual Report.



Goal: Explore and implement opportunities to reduce barriers to alternative transportation modes and reduce the campus drive-alone rate.

Between 2007 and 2019, emissions associated with employee commuting, air travel and Duke-owned fleet grew by nearly 40%. This was driven primarily by a 20% increase in the employee population that are on-average living 6 miles further away from campus than they were in 2007. However, the past two years have required adaptations to a new normal as it relates to commuting and air travel. 

Employee Commuting

Since March 2020, Duke has shifted a large proportion of its staff to primarily working from home (i.e. telecommuting) resulting in a 85% reduction in employee commuting emissions between fiscal year 2019 and 2021. As Duke returns to on-campus classes and work, there have been multiple efforts to expand flexibility for remote work which will help keep employee commuting emissions lower in the future. 

Air Travel

Similar to employee commuting, Duke-sponsored air travel has dropped dramatically over the past two years. Between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, emissions associated with air travel have dropped 98%. Going forward, Duke anticipates some rebound in air travel as faculty and staff return to more normal activities. However, with the widespread use of teleconferencing, it is hoped that the University will be able to maintain some progress in this reduction in air travel. 

Duke-owned Fleet

Duke owns and operates a fleet of nearly 800 vehicles, including buses, trucks, utility vans and cars that help move students, staff, and faculty around campus. Since 2019, the University has reduced its fleet emissions by 16% as fewer students and employees were on campus and Duke began its transition to electric buses, starting with the arrival of two, fully electric buses in January 2021, with many more on the way to replacing aging diesel-powered buses. 

photo of Duke's plan to transition to electric buses
Duke Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) plans to transition its bus fleet to electric buses. Each year, PTS plans to add 2 new electric buses starting in fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2027.  

Waste and Recycling

Goal: Create meaningful targets for waste diversion and reduce the overall campus waste stream.

Overall campus waste reduction efforts have been significantly impacted by the global pandemic. Waste from single-use items has increased due to safety concerns and recycling numbers are down due to remote work and pandemic staffing levels. However, Duke remains committed - emerging from the last couple of years - to find new ways to reduce overall waste and increase opportunities for diversion.

Despite these disruptions, there were some waste reduction initiatives that were able to continue during the pandemic, including the Devil’s Thrifthouse, which was developed by Sustainable Duke in 2019. In partnership with Duke Recycles and the University Center for Activities and Events, donations from the Duke community filled three truck loads and were redistributed to 400 Duke students. From professional clothing for interviews, cell phone chargers, kitchen supplies, and a wide variety of other items, only a few small boxes of items were left over at the end of the event, which were donated to the Scrap Exchange.