New Office of Climate and Sustainability to Advance Duke Climate Commitment
Steelman to lead office to expand and coordinate climate and sustainability efforts
Duke’s Climate Commitment is bringing added resources to several of Duke’s climate, energy and environmental assets and binding them together under the new Office of Climate and Sustainability.
The office, led by vice president and vice provost for climate and sustainability Toddi Steelman, will now encompass the Duke Forest, the Campus Farm, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Sustainable Duke and the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability.
“This new organization and the added resources it will bring are going to help us think and behave more comprehensively about how we achieve our climate and sustainability goals,” said Steelman, who was formerly Dean of the Nicholas School. “We’re doing something exciting, and these added resources will give us additional capacity to meet Duke’s climate commitments,” Steelman said.
Sustainable Duke, which focuses on operations and campus engagement, has already added an assistant director of applied learning to support the Climate Commitment’s focus on education. The Duke Forest is currently recruiting an assistant director for teaching and research to expand its portfolio.
“Over the past two decades, I have seen how Duke can lead by example with our climate and sustainability efforts operationally and through connecting student passion to real-world sustainability challenges on and around Duke’s campus,” said Tavey Capps, executive director of climate and sustainability. ”I am excited to see how the newly formed office and the growth of my team will allow this work to expand and intensify.”
“The Duke Forest is a core, longstanding asset in Duke’s commitment to the environment,” said Executive Director Sara Childs. “Formally connecting it to other departments already working in ways that advance the mission of the new Office of Climate and Sustainability is essential and strategic.”
“The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability is very well-positioned to advance the mission of the Duke Climate Commitment,” said Institute Director Brian Murray.
“Our team of experts extends the reach of Duke in all core areas of the Climate Commitment – energy transformation, climate resilience, climate justice and data-driven solutions,” Murray said. “We build bridges between Duke and the policy, business, and civil society communities through sustained engagement with decisionmakers in the field. And we build bridges within Duke by providing a platform for our researchers to have broader societal impact and for our students to learn through immersion in real world projects that matter.”
“We’re excited to bring the full breadth of the work that we do at the Duke Campus Farm into this broader purview,” said Saskia Cornes, Program Director at the Campus Farm, a one-acre working farm seven miles due west of campus. “Through the Office of Climate and Sustainability, we hope to bring new attention to the vital connections between food systems, sociocultural systems, and climate at Duke and beyond.”
Serving the Duke and Durham communities for more than 80 years, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in the heart of west campus is one of the largest tourist attractions in the state with more than 600,000 visitors per year.
“Working with the Office of Climate and Sustainability will help amplify our ongoing efforts to operate more sustainably, demonstrate best practices, and build climate consciousness and resilience in our community through our interpretation and public programs,” said Executive Director Bill LeFevre.
The Duke Climate Commitment’s first annual progress report, to be released later this semester, will highlight key measurable impacts and quantitative data to guide the future work of the newly created office.