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Pratt Team Wins First 'Green Devil Smackdown'

Nearly 1,200 participate in sustainability competition

Part of the Sustainable Duke Series

After eight weeks of competition, 13 staff members and a graduate student from the Pratt School of Engineering are basking in the green glow of victory.

As Duke's first Green Devil Smackdown concluded last week, "greengineering" was crowned as the winning team of the sustainability-themed competition. The Pratt School's "greengineering" team garnered an average of 1,226 points per team member, led by James Gaston and August Burns, who finished tied for first place among all individual participants with 2,380 points each.

About 1,200 students, faculty and staff competed in the "Smackdown," earning points for "green" actions, such as taking the bus, answering weekly quiz questions about Duke's sustainability efforts or completing the Duke Carbon Calculator. During the competition, the members of the 63 teams completed a total of 2,746 challenges or quizzes.

"We've got some seriously hardcore 'greenies' at Pratt," said Kathy Kay, director of special events at Pratt and captain of the "greengineering" team. "The competition was a lot of fun and got us motivated to try new things."

During the competition, Kay and three other team members accepted a Smackdown challenge to volunteer during a workday at the Duke Campus Farm. Kay said her inaugural experience at the farm was fun because she got to do "something good for Duke and the environment." Kay said she also became initiated with Duke's transit system, taking the East-West Campus bus route for the first time.

"It only took 10 minutes to get to a meeting," Kay said. "It's so easy and convenient that I'll probably do it more often."

Kay wasn't the only one. During the Green Devil Smackdown Duke community members flocked to sustainable programs and activities across campus:

"It was impressive how the Smackdown competition brought out such enthusiasm for sustainability," said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke. "Team leaders inspired their friends and coworkers to take action each week, leading to real environmental benefits like keeping reusable items out of the landfill and establishing new carpooling partnerships."

Roe said she was very impressed with several team efforts, including a team of 39 from the Sanford School of Public Policy that organized a cleanup of K-Ville the morning after the Duke-UNC basketball game, "R3," a team from Facilities Management that recruited 66 members and shared weekly emails encouraging participation and the "DUSON Green Team," a team from the School of Nursing that produced humorous videos to inspire others.

Inspiration was something easily found for senior Cameron Blake, who participated in the Green Devil Smackdown with Alpha Phi Omega, a student-led service organization. Blake said she was rarely involved in campus sustainable activities and programs prior to the Smackdown but saw changes during the competition. She rode the Bull City Connector for the first time and focused on eating locally-grown food at Duke's dining halls.

"I liked the competitive nature of it, but I realized how easy it was to be sustainable and how convenient it could be," she said. "It was fun to see how my habits could change for the better."

 Employees from Duke's School of Nursing discover they'ved lowered their carbon footprint after participating in the "Green Devil Smackdown," an eight-week team competition to encourage sustainable behaviors on campus.