Duke Environment Hall Opens

April 1, 2014

There’s Still Time—and Several Ways—for Friends of the Nicholas School to Make Their Mark

by Laura Ertel

On April 10, the Duke University community is celebrating a major milestone: the grand opening of Duke Environment Hall, the new home for the Nicholas School of the Environment and the hub of environmental activity on campus.

To involve as many friends as possible in this historic event, we are asking our alumni, friends and the larger Duke community to participate in the creation of our new home—and to literally leave their mark on this extraordinary new facility, says Kevin McCarthy, Nicholas School associate dean of external affairs.

As one of the first programmatic buildings on campus to earn LEED Platinum certification, Environment Hall stands as a bold statement of Duke’s commitment to leadership in forging a sustainable future through research, education and practice. From the rooftop solar panels and innovative climate control and water systems, to special windows that moderate light and heat, to an organic orchard and sustainably designed landscaping— every feature has been selected to ensure that Environment Hall meets the highest standards for sustainable design and energy efficiency.

All of these features are “wired” into an advanced monitoring system that continuously senses and communicates environmental conditions and resource use within the facility, enabling students and faculty to experiment with new ways to align occupants’ behavior and environmental stewardship. As a result, Environment Hall is a living laboratory as well as a model for other facilities, at Duke and beyond, McCarthy says.

Environment Hall will, for the first time, bring together the Nicholas School’s interdisciplinary community of faculty and students under one roof. With space for classrooms, student study areas, computer labs, faculty and staff offices and meeting rooms, and an environmental arts gallery, it will be an inspirational venue to learn, interact and apply skills and knowledge.

Most importantly, Environment Hall will support and enhance Duke’s highly ranked educational programs that prepare future leaders of consequence in environmental science, policy and management, McCarthy says.

Opportunities for The Nicholas School community to support Environment Hall at many levels Because we want everyone to be a part of achieving this magnificent milestone, we’ve created opportunities to contribute at a variety of giving levels. With your contribution, you will have a chance to, quite literally, leave your mark on Environment Hall, McCarthy says.

  • Help build the building itself—and name a space as a lasting legacy. Many leadership giving opportunities are still available. For instance, with a gift of $100,000, you can underwrite the building operations display, sustainable landscape design, or the bridge to the hall’s entrance. For $50,000, you can underwrite the potting shed; for $25,000, one of our faculty offices; and for $10,000, one of the student common areas. In each case, the school will recognize your generosity though a plaque in that space. Pledges can be made over a three- to five-year period.
  • The Nicholas School community can make their mark while supporting the activities taking place inside Environment Hall. This building will require significant operational funding to keep it running day-to-day. Your gift at any level, when combined with others, can provide support to maintain and strengthen the features that make this living laboratory thrive, such as providing supplies for the rooftop garden; enhancing learning with innovative technology; maintaining the sustainable landscaping surrounding the building, and offering experiences that ready students for environmental leadership.

Laura Ertel is a freelance writer living in Durham, NC.