Students, Employees Lay 'Smackdown' on Emissions

Green Devil Smackdown sustainability challenge nears mid-way point

Green Devil Smackdown participants are competing for the right to hoist this championship belt.
Green Devil Smackdown participants are competing for the right to hoist this championship belt.

After four full rounds of competition, Duke's sustainability-themed competition has 39 teams vying for the top spot and the wrestling-style championship belt that comes with it.

The top five teams in the Green Devil Smackdown are currently separated by 198 points, although that can change quickly as participants complete quiz questions, take sustainability challenges and go for bonus points like creating a video.

"The competition is fierce this year as students and employees change their behavior to become more sustainable," said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke. "With several rounds to go, teams still have a chance to battle for the championship."

Even though the competition started in October, students, faculty and staff can still sign up online. The competition runs through March.

At the end of the Smackdown, the team that earns the highest average points per participant will be crowned champion. In addition, a drawing will be held at the end of the competition to award an iPad to a Duke community member who completes at least seven challenges during the competition.

Jake Gordon, a lab technician in the Department of Biology, is hoping his efforts in leading 32 coworkers will pay off. He's team leader of the "Green Monkeys," a group of faculty and staff from the Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology departments. The team is currently second overall, despite having 23 more members than the first-place team, "EAxecutive Ballers," a team of Duke students.

"When we started, I was actually concerned about how big we were," said Gordon, who works in the Alberts Lab, which earned a Green Lab Certification prior to the start of the Smackdown. "We've got a good culture of sustainability and recycling among the biology labs. There are lots of little things you can do to promote good, green behavior without making life harder."

So far, Gordon and the Green Monkeys have scored big points by hosting a meatless potluck lunch in November and plan to shoot a video in the coming months. Gordon also oversees a listserv to keep teammates aware of who can score more points on quizzes and sustainable challenges.

Among other contestants, more than 250 participants took part in a November "Meatless Monday" potluck to share a vegetarian meal and about 30 students and employees volunteered at Duke Campus Farm workdays.  In December, 90 people caught a friend or coworker "Green Handed" and rewarded them for their sustainable behavior. 

For more information about the Green Devil Smackdown and to sign up, visit the Sustainable Duke website.