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Join the 'Green Devil Smackdown' sustainability challenge

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Participants in the Green Devil Smackdown can earn points for sustainable activities, like joining Duke's WeCar car-sharing program. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Durham, NC - In February, students, faculty and staff can participate in the first "Green Devil Smackdown," an eight-week team competition to encourage sustainable behaviors on campus.

Teams of Duke community members earn points for "green" actions, such as taking the bus, carpooling or completing the Duke Carbon Calculator. At the end of the competition, the team that earns the highest average points per participant will be crowned champion and receive a custom-designed Green Devil championship belt similar to belts presented to boxing or professional wrestling champions. Duke will also purchase offsets for individuals on the winning team to neutralize their carbon emissions at Duke.

Tavey Capps, sustainability director at Duke, said the competition should raise visibility and increase support for Duke's Climate Action Plan and efforts to be carbon neutral by 2024.

"We need support from the campus community because behavior change is one of the most important aspects to meet our sustainability goals," Capps said. "Hopefully this competition will be a fun way to encourage students, faculty and staff to take action."

Beginning in early February, Duke community members can join the competition by visiting and registering with a NetID at the "My Profile" page to get started. Participants are encouraged to join or form teams by department, by building/residence hall or by organizational group or club of between 10 to 100 members.

The competition runs from Feb. 27 to April 20. Points will be awarded on a sliding scale based on difficulty. For example, a competitor receives 25 points for "liking" Sustainable Duke on Facebook. A one-time amount of 625 points is given for obtaining an alternative transportation permit to bike or carpool to campus instead of driving alone. Participants can also earn points by taking special Green Devil Challenges that encourage individuals to make small changes in their daily lives to help reduce carbon emissions at Duke. Green Devil Challenges will take place each week during the competition.

Sophomore Jessye Waxman is excited to sign up for the Smackdown, which she likened to the Eco-Olympics, an annual energy, waste and water reduction competition between residence halls on East Campus.

"The Green Devil Smackdown, like Eco-Olympics, will bring sustainability to the public eye and make environmental consciousness a fun and engaging experience by means of friendly competition," Waxman said. "I'm excited to see how this raises awareness both about Duke's sustainability efforts and about how anyone on campus can live more eco-friendly."

During the competition, online leaderboards on the Smackdown website will display results for top-performing teams. Leaderboards will also show results for individuals, affiliation (students, faculty, staff), school and class year for students.

"We're excited to see how this competition encourages and rewards sustainable behavior in a way we haven't really attempted on a campus-wide basis," Capps said. "It's amazing what a little competition can produce and how these small changes can add up to big results."

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