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
  • electricity
  • waste
  • transportation
  • biodiversity

Exciting development

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.

5-5:30Quad &STEM foyerArrive, visit displays and craft table. Activities for young children begin.
5:30Smith HallDoor prize drawing  Introductory presentation #1 (DA leaders and Green Places representatives)
6:00All rooms onlower levelCountdown 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!
6:45Smith HallDoor prize drawing Introductory presentation #2 by DA leaders and Green Places representatives
7:15All roomsNew arrivals choose topics, join exploration of them.
7:45Smith HallWildlife Presentation (Merritt Schulz)
8:00Smith HallDoor prize drawing Introductory presentation #3 (DA leaders and Green Places representatives)
8:30All roomsNew 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.

10:00Smith HallPizza!
10:00-6:00Room 4127Room 4120Continue work on proposals as energy allows.Environmental films running continuously.
11:00-6:00VariousOptional activities:Night observation walkTwisterYogaCraftsPhotobooth
12:00-6:00Smith HallQuiet room open for those who want to sleep 
6:00Smith HallBiscuits & honey, orange juice, optional morning stretches
6:20Smith HallClosing remarks and thank yous
6:30All roomsCleanup
7:00Proposals 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!

Graphic invitation

Event details:

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

Upper School students present about sustainability at the December meeting of the 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.  It was wonderful to hear about activities in all divisions including

  • 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 rRefrigerant labeleport 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

circular diagramEverything 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

parked cars

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

Be There or Be Square: Sustainability Edition

By Frankie Stover and Tina Bessias

NOTE LOCATION CHANGE: This event will take place in Kenan Auditorium at the Upper School.

After months of data gathering and analysis, Green Places and the Environmental Sustainability in Action class are going to reveal Durham Academy’s carbon footprint and set our sights on reducing it. This is the culmination of an effort that began in 2019 as Operation Shoe Size under the leadership of Brandon Caveney, Durham Academy’s first elected Student Government Sustainability Committee leader.

Come December 19 to get the facts directly from the professionals and get interpretation from the students who have been studying this topic all semester. This presentation is the culminating event of our course, and we have a vision to share with the community. All are welcome!

“We Aren’t Doing This Alone”: Duke Energy Conference Field Trip

By Kiersten Hackman and CJ Nwafor

Last Wednesday, November 9th, 2022, was a Community Day for underclassmen and a mental health day for juniors and seniors, but to many in the Environmental Sustainability in Action class, it was an unprecedented opportunity to learn and engage with the greatest issue of our era: climate change.

What: 14th annual Duke Energy Conference
When: 9 am-3 pm
Where: Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

Continue reading