Watch: Videos from the 2018 Duke University Energy Conference

The 2018 Duke University Energy Conference during Energy Week at Duke featured industry luminaries delivering fresh takes on energy markets, trends, policies, and technologies. This great video playlist by Duke's Fuqua School of Business includes keynote addresses by Andy Haun of Schneider Electric and Gerard Anderson of DTE Energy, as well as full panel discussions on energy and transportation, innovation, microgrids, digital applications, finance, and more.

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Fueling the future: An impact report from the Duke University Energy Initiative (Dec. 2018)

Before the Energy Initiative was created, you could find Duke University students and faculty focused on energy in isolated pockets across campus. But they had few opportunities to learn from and work alongside one another. And no single Duke unit was dedicating attention and resources to cultivating the university's energy offerings.

Much has changed. Today, thanks to the Energy Initiative, energy faculty and students can take advantage of a plethora of programs, resources, and events that encourage multidisciplinary exchange and collaboration. The result? A lively, university-wide energy community. This multimedia report captures some recent highlights of energy at Duke: 

Fueling the Future

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Blog: Students from the U.N. Climate Change Negotiations Practicum are in Poland for COP 24

The U.N. Climate Change Negotiations Practicum is a Duke Bass Connections-affiliated course that explores the negotiations around global climate change. Stay up to date with the students' blog as they prep for, and then go to, the negotiations. 

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Rasiel appointed as Eads Professor of the Practice in Energy

The Duke University Energy Initiative and Fuqua School of Business have appointed Dr. Emma Rasiel as the Eads Professor of the Practice in Energy.

She is a Professor of the Practice in the Finance Area at Fuqua, Teaching Director of the Duke Financial Economics Center, Associate Chair and Professor of Economics at Duke, and Faculty Fellow of the Duke University Energy Initiative. 

As the Eads Professor of the Practice in Energy, Rasiel will further assume responsibility for teaching and advising students in energy finance. She will also help the Energy Initiative cultivate more internship opportunities for undergraduates in energy. 

 “Emma Rasiel is just the perfect person for the job,” says Brian Murray, Director of the Duke University Energy Initiative. “She has extensive expertise in finance as a practitioner and in the classroom. She has developed a first-rate internship program for undergraduates that we are thrilled will now include a greater emphasis on energy. I thank Emma for agreeing to join us and the Eads family for their generosity in supporting her professorship.”       

Rasiel regularly teaches Practical Financial Markets, Intermediate Finance, Equity Research, and Behavioral Finance (available to anyone as an online course via Coursera).

She has spearheaded a range of curricular and extra-curricular programs preparing Duke undergraduates for careers in business and finance. Among them are bank-sponsored case study competitions; an alumni-student mentoring program for 80 students each year; and January Networking Days, which annually connect more than 100 students with 40+ visiting alumni for mock interviews in investment banking.

Rasiel is also Director of Graduate Studies for the new MS in Quantitative Financial Economics Program.

Rasiel holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Oxford University (1986) and an MBA from the Wharton School (1990). In 1990, she joined Goldman Sachs, working in the New York office two years before spending five years trading European bond options in London. Promoted to Executive Director in 1994, she left Goldman in 1997 to pursue further graduate study. She earned her PhD in finance at the Fuqua School of Business in 2003.

The Eads Professor of the Practice in Energy is supported by a gift from Duke trustee Ralph Eads (T’81) and his wife Lisa to the Duke University Energy Initiative. Eads, who earned an undergraduate degree in economics at Duke, is vice chairman of Jefferies, LLC, where he leads the firm's global energy section.

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Student blog on trends in corporate sustainability: Lessons from the 2018 Nicholas School Net Impact Club’s corporate sustainability trek
By Shira Weintraub (MEM/MBA ’21)

By Shira Weintraub (MEM/MBA ’21)

This October, a group of 12 Duke students pursuing master’s degrees in environmental management at the Nicholas School of the Environment traveled to Philadelphia for the Nicholas Net Impact club’s corporate sustainability trek. Our goal? To visit and learn from seven companies leading the way in solving global challenges at the intersection of business and the environment.

The companies we visited included the Dow Chemical CompanySaint-GobainIKEACampbell’s Soup Company, the Philadelphia Navy YardAmtrak, and Comcast. We examined how each company approaches sustainability and how each is progressing against its goals. Along the way, we noticed a few trends:

Trend  # 1 – Several of the companies we visited are aligning their objectives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. IKEA and others are calculating Science Based Targets to help determine a pathway for reducing emissions in conjunction with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. IKEA launched its Science Based Targets in June 2018 with the ambition to become climate-positive by 2030.

Trend # 2 - As a company’s environmental sustainability practice matures, its focus expands. Rather than focusing solely on the organization’s direct footprint in terms of energy, waste, water, and materials, “sustainability” comes to include the company’s impacts on an industry, its customers, and the communities in which it operates.

Back in 1995, Dow Chemical formalized its first set of sustainability goals for 2005, which aimed to improve energy efficiency, reduce water use, and minimize safety incidents.

For its 2025 goals, Dow created a host of blueprint goals to define and implement actions that influence the entire chemical industry, both upstream and downstream. The company has identified ten water-stressed sites that are susceptible to water shortages in the future and is developing community water use boards and solutions to treat and reuse municipal wastewater at its facilities.

Many of the companies we visited also had programs to motivate their suppliers to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and ensure labor standards are being met, which were especially important as some products and raw materials are manufactured or sourced overseas.

For instance, Campbell’s Soup is currently pursuing responsible sourcing goals with a focus on farm-to-fork traceability, supplier diversity, and human rights. The company is addressing suppliers who provide 16 of their priority raw materials by administering social audits and requiring suppliers to disclose information on their policies, procedures, and operations through a standardized scorecard.

Trend #3 - Sustainability departments are increasingly acting as incubators. As we saw at Comcast, the sustainability team is determining a baseline of environmental performance, conducting research on how to reverse negative environmental impacts, and piloting solutions that are then transitioned to the business units if proven successful. It became clear that companies must strike a balance between centralizing their corporate sustainability functions and dispersing those responsibilities within traditional roles across business units.

Having the opportunity to visit these companies and interview employees in person helped us peel back the layers of each company’s sustainability function to get a better understanding of how the groups are formed and what mechanisms they leverage to engage stakeholders throughout the organization.

We’re grateful to the funders who helped make this experience possible, including the Duke University Energy Initiative, the Career and Professional Development Center at the Nicholas School, and the Tori Dauphinot and Ken W. Hubbard Fund for Environment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (allocated by Jesko von Windheim). 

Shira Weintraub (MEM/MBA ’21) is pursuing a dual degree at Duke University: a master of environmental management (MEM) at the Nicholas School of the Environment and a master of business administration degree (MBA) at the Fuqua School of Business.

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Student blog: Duke students tour NC’s lone utility-scale wind farm

North Carolina is home to a single utility-scale wind farm, the 208 MW Amazon Wind Farm East in Elizabeth City. Its 104 turbines situated in coastal conditions generate enough electricity each year to power 61,000 homes.

Last month, the Duke University Energy Initiative organized a Power Trip to the farm, journeying northeast with 28 students enrolled in degree programs across four different Duke schools. We met with Pasquotank County officials to discuss the legal and development process, the impact of this renewable energy on the county, and public opinion regarding the process.

Alexis Schuster (MEM’20) writes about the experience:

Power Trip

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