Sustainability Competition Halfway Through

Five points separate two top teams in Green Devil Smackdown

Members of last year's Smackdown winning team,
Members of last year's Smackdown winning team, "greengineering," display the championship belt. A new winning team will be determined this spring. Photo by Duke Photography

As Duke community members hit the halfway point of the Green Devil Smackdown, 1,123 participants are showing their sustainable mettle.

Just five points separate the top team, the student-led Green Monkeys, and the second place DUSON Green Team, made up of staff from the Duke School of Nursing. In all, contestants in the sustainability competition have taken on 2,083 challenges to make their behaviors more sustainable and answered 1,675 questions about Duke's commitment to sustainability and climate neutrality.

"The Smackdown is bringing together friends and coworkers around the shared goal of sustainability on campus," said Casey Roe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable Duke. "It shows that we're moving in the right direction to become carbon neutral by 2024."

The winner of the Green Devil Smackdown will be determined April 1. At the end of the competition, the team that earns the highest average points per participant will be crowned champion. The team will receive a custom-designed Green Devil championship belt to display their victory until the next competition.

The "DUSON Green Team" made this video as part of the Green Devil Smackdown competition.

Mitchell Vann, director of facility operations at the School of Nursing and captain of the DUSON Green Team, said his group of participants has performed well in the competition because they're motivated to make a difference at Duke by lowering their carbon footprints. All 11 members of the team have taken on challenges from the first four rounds of the Smackdown competition and the group also made a video to earn bonus points.

"By caring for our planet and our community, we are caring for ourselves, our families and our futures," Vann said. "Besides that, we really want the belt. We know we are winners and champions. On top of it all, we're having a lot of fun."

The challenge for competitors in February and March is to earn a Green Workplace Certification. The distinction highlights offices or departments that take on sustainable actions like collecting recyclables, using energy-saving settings on computers and printing on both sides of paper.

Across Duke, 37 offices or departments have earned a certification.

"The Green Workplace Certification is an easy to way help make Duke more sustainable," Roe said. "Our checklist is full of small steps that can add up to one big change."