GOAL: ACHIEVE A 20% REDUCTION IN ENERGY USE IN BUILDINGS BUILT PRIOR TO DUKE'S 2009 CLIMATE ACTION PLAN BY 2030 WHILE MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND LOW CARBON, NEW CONSTRUCTION.
Duke University is like a small city with a variety of services being provided across campus. One of the major services is provision of reliable heating, cooling, and electricity for over 20 million square feet of building space. While the typical student or employee never sees the behind-the-scenes efforts, Duke’s Facilities Management Department is constantly working hard to improve the efficiency of these systems to help Duke reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Casey Collins, Director of Utility and Energy Services, said that “every little bit of efficiency we can wring out of our energy systems on campus is a step towards climate neutrality.” Below are some highlights from the past year based on his team’s work.
led lighting upgrades
Facilities completed its multi-phase LED lighting upgrade in over 60 campus buildings, representing nearly 5 million square feet of building space.
chilled water storage
A new 60-foot-tall thermal “battery” was completed in 2022 to store chilled water from Chiller Plant 3. This thermal storage tank is chilled overnight during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower, so it saves money and reduces energy use during peak times, while also making Duke’s utility systems more resilient.
Construction of us-1 steam plant and renovation of east steam plant
Steam and hot water are piped all across campus to help heat buildings. These plants are integral to Duke’s utility system and Facilities deployed a new steam plant and renovated an existing steam plant near East Campus. These major milestones put Duke one step closer to decommissioning a steam line between East and West Campuses that will save Duke millions of dollars over its lifetime.
Data System Upgrades
Data is central to a high-functioning utility system. Over the past year, Facilities has developed a variety of new systems aimed towards providing real-time data visualizations that will optimize how Duke’s utility plants are operated.
GOAL: Ensure all new construction and major renovations comply with Duke's High Performance Building Framework and meet campus goals for energy and water efficiency.
Over the past decade, Duke has constructed a number of new buildings constructed on campus with one of the most recent buildings being Pratt’s Wilkinson Building. However, the pandemic has helped Duke focus on the renovation and renewal of existing buildings to meet current and future needs, rather than new building construction. This approach allows Duke to optimize space utilization while improving energy efficiency, building envelope, and heating and cooling systems during the building renewal process
GOAL: ENSURE THAT BUILDINGS, LANDSCAPES, AND NATURAL AREAS ARE CREATED AND SUSTAINED TO CREATE A CAMPUS COMMUNITY THAT CONSERVES NATURAL RESOURCES, RESTORES ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, AND PROTECTS BIODIVERSITY.
Duke Forest was founded in 1931 and covers over 7,000 acres of Durham, Orange and Alamance counties. The Forest has exemplified the mission of Sustainable Duke’s Campus as Lab program by serving as an off-campus site for a large variety of teaching activities and research; hosting thousands of students to learn about forest management for land, wildlife, and natural resources; and acting as a working forest that sustainably manages its timber according to Forest Stewardship Council ® specifications[FSC® - C008350]. Additionally, the Office of the Duke Forest actively engages in regional partnerships to connect the wildlife habitats of its noncontiguous land base with other conserved lands across the region and provides access to recreation visitors on 30+ miles of its roads and trails. To learn more about Duke Forest and its work, please view the Duke Origins video.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a public garden that models horticultural practices, engages community, and inspires through nature. This past year, Duke Gardens worked to expand the native piedmont prairie habitat found on-site to new areas around campus. Piedmont prairies are important pollinator habitats that do not require mowing, which cuts down on fossil fuel use. You can find these new ‘pocket prairies’ behind Duke University Hospital and at the Duke Lemur Center. Beyond campus, Duke Gardens has collaborated with other organizations, including the City of Durham, to assist in establishing these prairies throughout the Triangle.
Duke Gardens is also reducing their fossil fuel consumption by beginning a transition from gas-powered equipment to battery-powered equipment, such as chainsaws, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers.
GOAL: FOCUS WATER-REDUCTION STRATEGIES ON THE TOP 20 WATER-CONSUMING BUILDINGS, WHICH ACCOUNT FOR 70% OF WATER USE.
Duke University uses nearly 500 million gallons of potable water each year. The majority of the potable water is used in on-campus utility plants followed by academic buildings, Duke Hospital, residence halls, and the School of Medicine's buildings. Since a historic drought in 2007, Duke has worked diligently to reduce dependence on the city water supply and implement sustained conservation measures across the university and health system. Efficiency measures include fixture and toilet upgrades, correcting single pass cooling systems, and modifying sterilizers at all health system facilities. Duke has also worked to increase use of non-potable water through installation of cisterns for irrigation, capturing condensate from campus buildings to use in the chilled water plant cooling towers and the recently completed Reclamation Pond that supplies over 100 million gallons of water annually to the main campus chilled water facility. All of these water saving efforts have reduced Duke's use of potable water by 23% per square foot over the past 15 years.