Duquesne Places Third in the Green Workplace Challenge

By: Matt Lepri

GWC photoOver the past nine months, I had the great opportunity to oversee Duquesne University’s MBA Sustainability program’s involvement in this years Green Workplace Challenge (GWC). The Pittsburgh GWC is a year-long competition for organizations, such as Duquesne, to save money and gain recognition through the implementation of green initiatives.

As part of my fellowship duties for the MBA Sustainability program, I tracked, measured, and implemented sustainability initiatives over a wide range of categories which include: energy, water, waste, transportation, policy, and engagement.​ In the University division, Duquesne placed in 3rd place and earned a total of 107 green action points. The competition-wide sustainable initiatives reaped incredible savings, as participants in total saved 37,300,000 kWh of energy, valued at over $3 million, 5,421,000 gallons of water, and 4821 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions​.

LEED-ing Rockwell Towards Sustainable Design

photo 2Students, Lixuan He, Peter Kassouf, Nicholas Monzo, and Laura Monahan, placed first in Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability LEED Commercial Interiors design project. Two students in our class, architect Dan Sutton and Carnegie Mellon University architecture student Rohini Srivistava consulted the student teams throughout the semester-long project.

“Being a consultant for the LEED CI project was very enjoyable because it allowed me to share my background experience and education with my classmates,” shared student and architect Dan Sutton.  “It was rewarding to see how each groups project developed over time and it was great to see how teams would take my advice and make it their own to create their new vision for Rockwell Hall.”

All of the student teams went outside their comfort zone to envision a plan for Rockwell Hall that accounted for triple bottom line benefits.  The students were instructed to create a design within a $2M budget that considers and educates stakeholders, while demonstrating the highest possible LEED CI point rating.

“The LEED CI project was an exciting opportunity to take sustainability concepts and get creative by applying them to a project that’s very close to our program, since it involves renovating the building that we use every day,” shared Nick Monzo, member of the winning team. “I’ve always enjoyed construction projects with my dad, and I loved having the chance to plan a large-scale project with a strategic sustainability vision in mind.”

photoEach year, Dr. Sroufe’s spring course, Sustainability Tools and Processes, includes a LEED CI project that focuses on different parts of Duquesne University.  Throughout the spring semester, Dr. Sroufe arranged visits and guest lecturers to educate the cohort on sustainable building design that assisted with our projects.  This year’s challenge forced the cohort to envision a new design for the concourse and basement levels of Rockwell Hall.  A panel of judges including architects, professors, alumni, and members of the business community judged teams in this competition.


A Glimpse into the Energy Innovation Center

Throughout the past week, all six consulting groups in the cohort had the opportunity to meet with their respective clients for the summer semester.  I am lucky to work with Pittsburgh Green Innovators (PGI) this semester!  I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with such an innovative and impactful non-profit organization.  PGI is a non-profit organization committed to growing a vibrant green economy and community by collaboratively leveraging regional strengths through innovation, education, workforce development, and cultivation of sustainable business opportunities.

PGI has been an involved in planning process for the new Energy Innovation Center, and they will be a tenant in just a few months! The mission of the Energy Innovation Center is to contribute to socially responsible workforce development, foster energy and sustainable technology advancement, and assist in job creation through a commitment to diversity, innovation and comprehensive education.  Our first meeting with PGI included a tour of the new Energy Innovation Center, and their space within the larger building.

Enjoy the pictures from our visit!

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Harvard Business School Professor Provides Insights to Summer Consulting Projects

chrismarquisToday, Harvard Business School’s Dr. Chris Marquis visited Duquesne University, his father’s alma mater, to speak to our MBA Sustainability cohort, professors, and Pittsburgh-area business partners.

Dr. Marquis is an Associate Professor in the Organizational Behavior unit at the Harvard Business School and is affiliated with the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative and Harvard University Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations.  He teaches the MBA elective Social Entrepreneurship in the Business Sector and a doctoral course on Organizational Theory.

Duquesne professors met Dr. Marquis at the Aspen Institute’s Faculty Pioneers award ceremony in the fall. Dr. Marquis, along with our very own Dr. Sroufe, were both recognized as finalist for the Aspen Institute’s Faculty Pioneer award, dubbed the “Oscars of the business school world” by the Financial Times.

Dr. Marquis’s visit included an open forum discussion regarding the topics of “Social Entrepreneurship and Creating System Level Change”.  The discussion included topics like one-for-one models, benefit corporations, and impact investing, and system-level change as a social movement.

The discussion regarding B Corps is especially relevant to those in the cohort working with B Labs for their summer consulting project.  Interestingly, there are over 1,000 B Corps nationally, and five in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh B Corps include Evolve EA, SEEDS, The Big Idea Bookstore, ReWork, and Thread.  We are thankful for the relevant and interesting conversation with Dr. Marquis today!

Igniting Change with Summer Consulting Projects

Each semester, our cohort has the opportunity to consult with various organizations. This year’s consulting partners have included PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Braskem, General Electric, Alcoa, and PPG. This summer’s consulting projects include B Lab, Blue Tree Angels, City of Pittsburgh, Idea Foundry Intersector, Because, Pittsburgh Green Innovators, and PittMoss Growers Association are joining the list! This semester students will have the opportunity to ignite change with these innovative organizations.

Net Impact at Duquesne: Enhancing the Duquesne experience

By: Blair Schoenborn

Net Impact Mission Statement: to mobilize a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in their workplace and the world.

The sMBA cohort makes up the membership of duquesne university’s graduate chapter of net impact. Membership with Net Impact provides a number of great resources that benefit students and working professionals alike. The primary perk is access to an expansive network of like-minded, passionate individuals (many of whom are looking to hire Net Impact members specifically) committed to driving change in their schools and careers. Net Impact also hosts a jobs board that keeps members informed of job postings in fields directly or indirectly related to sustainability. Finally, it provides a forum to keep the conversation flowing through webinars, discussion boards, and annual events announcements.

The graduate chapter here on campus is proud to announce that they achieved silver status​ during the 2013-2014 academic year. To receive silver status, chapters have to earn points by remaining active in the broader Net Impact community, maintaining active membership, and hosting a number of events during the school year. Net Impact events fall into three main categories: professional development, campus and community greening initiatives, and volunteering. The chapter hosted and participated in 14 events during the school year, highlights include:
  • Net Impact Annual Conference: While at the conference, the leadership team had opportunities to hear from corporate executives facing real-life sustainability challenges, network with professionals and students, and exchange chapter management strategies with other chapter leadership teams.
  • Sustainability Symposium with Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium: Chapter members shared in an evening of networking and intentional conversation at an event hosted at the zoo to kick off their One Million Actions for Planet Earth campaign. Members were asked to speak at the event to showcase accomplishments of the chapter as well as the whole sMBA program.
  • IDEO Amplify Workshop: members of both the graduate and undergraduate chapters of Net. impact combined forces to tackle a brainstorming challenge posed through IDEO. The challenge asked groups to consider ways to make urban areas safer for women in impoverished areas. The team submitted an idea to the campaign question “How might we make urban areas safer and more empowering for women and girls?”
  • Summer 2014 Expected Events: book drive for graduate students in Ghana; “MAP Your Career” job search booster sessions; and “the Science of Sustainability” with University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s “Quest 2014: Finding Your Future” camp for high school students interested in sustainability-oriented careers.

Though events make up a majority of the chapter’s focus, the chapter also guided the initiation of three other chapters in Pittsburgh. Chatham University and University of Pittsburgh are both in the final stages of chapter formation and Duquesne’s undergraduate chapter has been revived thanks to our Undergraduate Chapter Liason, Kyle Gryta.

Net Impact is a community of 50,000+ students and professionals who are motivated to create positive change in schools, workplaces, and communities. Visit netimpact.org for more information.
Questions about the graduate chapter can be directed to Blair Schoenborn, chapter president, at schoenbornb@duq.edu. Contact Kyle Gryta at grytak@duq.edu for information or questions regarding the undergraduate chapter.

Visit to Universidad Veritas and a Costa Rican Entrepreneur


By Lindsey VanArsdale

Today we kicked the day off by visiting the Universidad Veritas. The school building was open air and had tons of natural light and a nice breeze. We listened to a very interesting lecture by Professor Joaquin Lizano about Costa Rican history and it’s effect on the economy. It was interesting to see how the CR colon went from 6.60 =$1US in the 1970s to today’s situation of 548=$1. Basically it is very hard for small and medium businesses to thrive when they are taxed and hit with fees so excessively. The interest rate on business loans is around 10%. In CR, a blue collar/minimum wage type person can expect to make about $360US/month while an educated professional makes about $2,000US/month. They are faced with a shrinking middle class.

They are also a very risk averse society and it is very visible as you drive around. Every possible opening to a house is barred up. After the lecture, we were able to have lunch at the school. I had a delicious lunch of frijoles, arroz, y pescado for 2700 colons. After lunch, I decided to try and find a convenience store with some other people so we could purchase some botellas de agua as the universidad had run out. While we were walking, a local man was out with his cocker spaniel and said hello to us. We tried to ask for directions to the super mercado, but he didn’t speak English. He put his dog back in his house and walked us to the super market. He was very nice and friendly and asked us questions about ourselves as best as he could. His name is Sergio. We said goodbye at the supermarket after we got our water bottles and hustled back to the bus. It was cool to interact with a local and that he was so nice to us.

After a couple hours at the hotel, we boarded the bus again to check out our Smart Tool, which is our Esteban’s machine shop. Esteban, our contact, was hosted by Duquesne’s Small Business Development Center to learn from entrepreneurs in the United States. During his time in Pittsburgh, he met with us to share knowledge of what to expect in Costa Rica.  His small company is a supplier for Samtec.


He is looking to expand operations to Costa Rica. His shop was in a gated area with a few houses and his horses. Honestly my favorite part of the shop tour was his horses. I petted them and let them lip at my hand. The albino one was so hungry he kept checking me for food and bit my foot while he was snuffling around for grass!

Making a Mark with Spring Consulting Projects


This semester we completed seven real-world consulting assignments with four major companies – BraskemGEAlcoa, and PPG Industries.  In January each client tasked their respective student team with a real-world challenge .  After semester-long research, meetings, and prototyping the final client presentations wrapped up last week.  Each team is extremely proud of their final deliverables, and one client shared that they were left “speechless” by the group’s work.  Having the ability to sit at the table with business executives and discuss pressing issues within their industry is an educational experience that not all programs have the ability to offer.  


A Class with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse

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Yesterday, Erika Johnson, executive director of the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, visited our Organizational Behavior to shed light on group dynamics.  Erika brought a variety of different items from yarn to building blocks, and allowed each of us to select one item to “play” with for a few minutes.  I don’t think many of us find the time to sit down and simply play.  Without speaking we followed a variety of directions.  In the end, each student consulting team took the items in their group to create something.  Some teams created art work, while others created games.  The exercise allowed us to get outside our usual element to see our group dynamics, as well as individual strengths and weaknesses, while having a lot of fun!  Creative Reuse will be back in class for our final wrap up for the semester, and we are excited for what the next visit will bring!



Spring Sustainability Symposium



Written By: Catherine Papp

Students, members of faculty, and representatives from local businesses such as PNC, Alcoa, and the Pittsburgh Zoo, pleasantly mingled early Friday morning over breakfast during the Sustainability Symposium in anticipation of the feature event – James Balog’s Chasing Ice documentary. A self-taught photographer with a science background, Balog was and is passionate about capturing the interactions between humans and nature. From this passion, in the wake of global warming controversies, the ice project was born. Balog assembled a team to document first-hand the depletion of the ice caps, tracking the changes to the landscapes of Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Montana overtime.

What they found was astounding. Balog, who was once a climate change skeptic, could no longer deny that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of the Earth. Although off to a rough start due to technical problems with circuitry, Balrog’s photographs corroborate evidence of retreating glaciers due to changes in global temperature. His most alarming capture is the recession of the Ilulissat Glacier in Greenland; in just 75 minutes, 1.8 cubic miles, equivalent to 3000 Capital Buildings, broke off in chunks of ice 600 feet tall. The rate at which glaciers are receding is unprecedented in history, and Balog wants to use his photography as a message – that despite what anyone thinks, they are touched in some way by atmospheric changes. This is already evident due to the increased weather-related disasters in the US since 1980. Taxpayers will notice the effects when they are forced to increase funding for military defense to ensure safety from uprisings related to resource scarcity around the world.

The symposium concluded with awards given to companies striving to make a difference in the fight against climate change. The first, the Green to Gold Award, was given to American Express and accepted by Tim McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation and Vice President of Social Corporate Responsibility. Burns and Scalo was awarded the Pennsylvania Sustainable Small Business Award. Concluding remarks were given by our very own Dr. Robert Sroufe, Murrin Chair of Global Competitiveness.