Approximately 100 people attended the Sustain-In on February 23 and spent the evening–or the whole night–talking sustainability at Durham Academy. There was attention to nature, thanks to a presentation by Merritt Schulz ‘25 and a night walk led by science teacher Andrea Caruso. There was discussion of the role sustainability plays in the school’s culture and mission. And there was an element of competition. Thanks to an anonymous donor, $10,000 of seed money was available to speed implementation of proposals.Continue reading
DA Delegation to Youth Climate Summit
On Monday, February 20, seven members of the Sustainability Committee attended the Youth Climate Summit at the Museum of Life and Science. It was wonderful to hear from peers throughout our community about their passion for sustainability. We heard professional presentations about climate justice and a citizen science program to identify heat islands and create an equitable tree cover. We participated in workshops about lobbying elected representatives and designing a sustainable city. The event left us with a broader appreciation for the work of environmental scientists, lobbyists, and activists in our community. Change is happening in our area, and every student and adult can propel us into a future of stopping climate change!
At the end of the Summit, student delegations were challenged to create a Climate Action Plan for our own schools. We discussed how we can advocate for carpooling throughout all three campuses of DA to decrease our carbon footprint. Students brought in different perspectives on how this could be implemented, brainstorming ideas about how to motivate parents, develop carpooling competitions, or even create quiet spaces that make students want to stay on campus. We’re excited to continue developing these ideas at the Sustain-In on Thursday!
Sustain-In Schedule and an Exciting Development
Community members arrive between 5-8 pm Feb 23, depart by 10 pm
US students may choose to participate in an overnight Lock-in
Location: Upper School STEM & Humanities Building
Come to the Sustain-In to deepen your knowledge of sustainability, learn about DA’s carbon emissions, and have fun!
Who is invited? All members of the DA community: students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, Trustees
What will happen? Presentations, door prizes, snacks, games, conversation, and inspiration for making DA more sustainable! You might collaborate with others in an Innovation Room led by a Sustainability Committee member. Those rooms will focus on developing specific proposals about
- culture and norms
An anonymous donor has given $10,000 to help us get started right away on implementing the best strategies. A team of judges led by Green Places will evaluate all proposals submitted by 7 am on February 24. Seed money will be allocated to the winning proposals.
Want to know more? Here’s the schedule.
|5-5:30||Quad &STEM foyer||Arrive, visit displays and craft table. Activities for young children begin.|
|5:30||Smith Hall||Door prize drawing Introductory presentation #1 (DA leaders and Green Places representatives)|
|6:00||All rooms onlower level||Countdown timer begins.Light snacks available.Participants choose topics to explore under leadership of Sustainability Committee members. Dabble in different topics or stick with one all evening!|
|6:45||Smith Hall||Door prize drawing Introductory presentation #2 by DA leaders and Green Places representatives|
|7:15||All rooms||New arrivals choose topics, join exploration of them.|
|7:45||Smith Hall||Wildlife Presentation (Merritt Schulz)|
|8:00||Smith Hall||Door prize drawing Introductory presentation #3 (DA leaders and Green Places representatives)|
|8:30||All rooms||New arrivals choose topics, join exploration of them.|
|10:00||Departure for all except Upper School students & chaperones staying overnight depart.|
Lock-In Schedule for Upper School Participants
10 PM on 2/23 – & 7 AM on 2/24
Upper Schoolers interested in fun, fellowship, and continuing to develop proposal ideas may stay overnight on campus. Student participants must sign up in advance, submit a permission form, and arrive by 8 PM to participate in evening workshops.
|10:00-6:00||Room 4127Room 4120||Continue work on proposals as energy allows.Environmental films running continuously.|
|11:00-6:00||Various||Optional activities:Night observation walkTwisterYogaCraftsPhotobooth|
|12:00-6:00||Smith Hall||Quiet room open for those who want to sleep|
|6:00||Smith Hall||Biscuits & honey, orange juice, optional morning stretches|
|6:20||Smith Hall||Closing remarks and thank yous|
|7:00||Proposals due, event ends|
Join Us for the Sustain-In!
February 23rd at the Upper School STEM and Humanities Building
Rolling start between 5 and 8 pm. Stay for an hour or all evening long!
The whole DA community is invited to an evening of innovation. We will work together to imagine an environmentally sustainable school and develop strategies for bringing it about. The Green Places report, published at the end of 2022, provides us with quantitative data on emissions sources by sector (e.g., Transportation, Services, Electricity, Waste). With this information, we can now target and scale up efforts to reduce our environmental footprint.
This first-time event is open to students of all ages, parents, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni. There will be an introduction to key concepts of sustainability and the sources of DA’s carbon emissions; it will be repeated at several different times so that you can get oriented at whatever time you arrive. Then participants may explore any and all ideas, get creative, and propose plans for source-based emissions reductions. You can focus on renewable energy infrastructure updates, behavioral changes, curricular measures, and other kinds of potential solutions. Or you can just learn about sustainability. All perspectives and experience levels are welcome, and so are questions and feedback (see Comments button below).
We hope you will join us for a fun, inspiring, productive evening. Bring a friend or family members! Get involved in topic-focused conversations in themed workshops. Enjoy sustainable crafts. Stick around for a nature-themed film or environmental documentary. We can’t wait to see you there!
5 PM- 10 PM – family-friendly events in the STEM building.
- Introduction to carbon emissions report compiled by Green Places in the fall of 2022.
- Join in on a variety of activities, including topical workshops*, crafts, games, environmental-themed movies, and presentations.
10 PM – 7 AM – Lock In for Upper Schoolers willing to go the distance in generating ideas into the wee hours in an overnight adventure! US student participants and faculty chaperones will continue to work on developing their solution proposals, and compiling reports to be reviewed by judges the next day. The winning report will be implemented, and the creators will be at the forefront of innovation at DA!
Please tell us you’re coming:
*Themes include Transportation, Culture and Behavioral Norms, Electricity, Biodiversity, Food & Solid Waste
Sustainability initiatives in all DA divisions
Carbon Footprint Revealed! What’s next?
Total emissions and approaches to reducing them
We have the report from Green Places, and it shows that DA generated 3,532 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2021-22. It’s the answer to a big, important question, yet it generates so many new questions! Some of them were addressed in a presentation on December 19 by Alyssa Walker, the Sustainability Manager for Green Places, and the students in DA’s Environmental Sustainability in Action course. See what the audience of students, teachers, administrators, trustees, and parents saw that day! (The program is copied below).
The Back Story
How did students arrive at the content they shared December 19?Continue reading
Students Present to Parents
What is sustainability and why does it matter?
By Rasna Prakash, President, DA Parents Association
The DA Parents Association was fortunate to hear from the Upper School sustainability students at our December meeting. Thomas Pollard ’24, Cana Yao ’26, Miller Roessler ’24 and Amelia Fay ’25 provided information to parents and caregivers about the opportunities for education in the sustainability arena. We were especially excited to hear about the cross divisional efforts with Upper School students visiting the lower and preschool to provide presentations about sustainability to our youngest students.
- composting efforts in the Preschool and Lower School
- community gardening
- an almost zero waste to landfill Unity Day in the Lower school
- waste management initiatives and the rain garden in the Middle School
- Upper School students working with Green Places (a Raleigh carbon accounting firm)
- a student study of the impact of idling engines on air quality
Ann Leininger, DAPA’s Sustainability Chair and liaison, has been instrumental in bringing information and guidance provided by the students to our group. She made us aware that we were all invited to a December 19 “big reveal” of DA’s carbon footprint and student presentations that would point the way to reducing it. Several of us accepted that invitation and attended the presentation (more info about it can be found in this post). DAPA is committed to and excited about supporting DA’s effort to “go greener”!
How Far We Went: On the Roads and in the Classroom
Durham Academy is measuring its carbon footprint with the help of Green Places, a Raleigh-based carbon monitoring company. This partnership is supported by the SustainABLE DA Innovation Grant that began July 1. The commitment by the Administrative Team inspired us, the students working on sustainability.
We knew we needed all hands on deck to get a complete measurement of our carbon footprint. “Complete” in this case means including scopes 1, 2, and 3. Scopes 1 and 2 include combustion sources DA owns directly, like HVAC systems and buses, plus electricity and natural gas. Scope 3 includes everything else: business travel, products we purchased, solid waste, and about a dozen other categories contained in the massive spreadsheet that Green Places shared with us in September.
The Environmental Sustainability in Action class set a goal of completing the collection by November 1 so that we could get a report before the end of the semester. At first we were very daunted, but we jumped right in. Continue reading
Uncovering Hidden Carbon Emissions: Life Cycle Analysis
By Owen Brent-Levenstein and Cana Yao
Everything you interact with on a daily basis has a carbon footprint. While you might think of a carbon footprint as a direct product of environmental costs. For example, even just buying a bag of chips can lead to a lot of questions: how were the ingredients sourced? How was the plastic bag made? How and where were the chips cooked and packaged? What did the transportation process look like? Where will the bag end up after the chips are eaten? Continue reading
The Environmental Cost of Getting to School
If you wanted to tally all of the carbon emitted while Durham Academy’s drivers were behind the wheel, how would you go about doing that? That was the question asked of my classmates and me earlier this school year. Well, getting all of that information ourselves was a task far too complex and large, so we decided to let the data come to us. We decided Google forms should do the trick! We asked all Upper School students and teachers to fill out a survey during advisory.Continue reading
Biodiversity and Undeveloped Land
By Paul Wang and Merritt Schulz
Why does Biodiversity matter? What is it?
Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our local environment. Biodiversity matters to us.
We are all interconnected. A single species interacts with many other species in specific ways that produce benefits to us, like clean air, clean water, and healthy soils for efficient food production. If one piece goes missing, another piece starts to go missing too, losing the important functions species provide.
Native plants are incredibly important because they are the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem. Invasive plants disturb the balance often causing a negative shift with local biodiversity. Because of this, we found it important to look at the biodiversity of our own campus.
What does biodiversity look like on our Campus?Continue reading