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Duke's Sustainable Celebration

Green Devil Smackdown winners, others honored at 'Sustainability Awards'

Members of the 'Green Monkeys' celebrate their Green Devil Smackdown victory with the sustainability program's championship belt. Photo by Duke Photography.
Members of the 'Green Monkeys' celebrate their Green Devil Smackdown victory with the sustainability program's championship belt. Photo by Duke Photography.

Duke held its inaugural Sustainability Awards on Monday, during which faculty and staff from the Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology departments was recognized as the winner of the Green Devil Smackdown.

The Green Monkeys team was honored with a presentation of the sustainability competition's wrestling style, championship belt.

"A lot of people on our team didn't expect to win at the beginning because we just wanted to participate in a good cause," said Jake Gordon, a lab technician in the Department of Biology and team leader for the Smackdown-winning Green Monkeys. "It's most important to know we were promoting awareness and increased our own sustainable behaviors."

During the Smackdown, which ran from October 2012 through the end of March, the Green Monkeys compiled an average of 3,062 points for sustainable actions and behaviors.

Along with the Smackdown winners, several Duke community members were recognized for "green" actions like teaching about sustainable food practices, planning sustainability-themed events, reducing waste and more. Two students as well as faculty and staff were presented with Leadership in Sustainability awards.

The award program takes the place of the Environmental Management Action Committee Awards program and is intended to recognize those on campus who go above and beyond to support the sustainability goals of our campus.

Among this year's winners was Carrie Gonnella, a graduate student earning dual degrees from the Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School for the Environment. She received the Outstanding Leadership in Waste Reduction Award.

Last year, Gonnella led an effort to increase the variety of materials able to be recycled at Fuqua as well as start a reusable clamshell and silverware program at the business school's food court. This year, she helped transition weekly Fuqua events away from using plastic cups to reusable ones.

"When I see something that can be made more efficient and sustainable, it's something I want to spend my time doing," Gonnella said. "Knowing there's going to be a significant reduction in waste being thrown into a landfill feels good. I get excited about having a positive role on the environment and here at Duke and Fuqua."

duke sustainability award winners
From left, this year's winners of "Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability" were: Michelle Nowlin, Mitchell Vann, Shajuti Hossain and Carrie Gonnella. Photo by Duke Photography.

Other winners include staff, faculty and a student for the Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability Award:

Mitchell Vann, director of facility operations in the School of Nursing, was given the award for his efforts to make double-sided printing uniform on machines in the building. He also offered guidelines to help the School of Nursing achieve silver certification as part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Vann has personally delivered the school's recycling to Facilities Management.

Michelle Nowlin, a senior lecturing fellow at the Duke School of Law, was acknowledged with the award for her emphasis on sustainable agriculture and food systems in her class "Food and Agricultural Policy and Law." Nowlin is also a participating member on the Duke Campus Farm Board of Advisors.

Shajuti Hossain, an undergraduate, received the award for work as part of the Students for Sustainable Living group, for which she's helped organize the Green Dining Awards. She also writes blog posts for the Food@Duke website, highlighting sustainable practices of Duke eateries and more.

In addition to individual awards, representatives from 42 offices and departments were also recognized for a Green Workplace or Lab certification earned in the past year.

"Duke will never reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2024 or other sustainability targets without the dedication and commitment of the campus community," said Tavey Capps, Duke's sustainability director. "This awards ceremony helps honor the exceptional members of our community and thank them for their sustainability efforts."