Sustainability Village: Fresh Ideas Promote a Sustainable Campus

Near the edge of campus a garden is taking root. It’s a community garden designed to bring new life to the Northwest Corridor neighborhoods. Nearby, a greenhouse stands with another type of garden. This one is for fish and plants. This aquaponic system provides a sustainable food source as fish and plants grow symbiotically in the same water tanks.

Both gardens are part of Sustainability Village, which is designed to produce food for thought as students learn while living in a sustainable environment. Funded by The Duke Endowment and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina as part of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the village’s centerpiece will be a model home built to accommodate four students. It will serve as an affordable prototype that could be replicated in communities impacted by natural disasters such as in the earthquake-devasted areas in Haiti.

Students presented the village project during an exhibition held at the Clinton Global Initiative in April 2013. 

These and other innovative projects on campus were the focal point of a Sustainability Summit in April 2011, sponsored by The Duke Endowment, which has provided financial and technical assistance and a learning network to make many of these projects possible.

Representatives from Duke University, Furman University and Davidson College joined JCSU and The Duke Endowment at the two-day summit to share ideas and explore ways to work collaboratively on all aspects of sustainability — from energy efficiency and water conservation to health and wellness.

In the months leading up to the summit, JCSU engaged graduate students from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment to develop the framework for JCSU’s own sustainability plan. Several projects are already impacting energy usage reductions on campus and in the community. New lighting and sensor switches, for example, are designed to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent.

In the community, sustainability took the form of a housing rehabilitation project and a seminar on green business practices for women entrepreneurs. Both programs were spearheaded by University’s Center for Applied Leadership and Community Development to help revitalize the Northwest Corridor.