Sustainable Design Centers Consulting Projects this Semester

duq-main-logo2.gifDesigning an urban oasis in cooperation with Phipps Conservatory, developing an innovative restaurant concept in conjunction with Eat’N Park, and identifying best practices in financing sustainable building construction and renovation with the Green Building Alliance are the three consulting projects our cohort is working on this semester!

Each of these endeavors comes with a unique set of challenges, and our cohort is eager to utilize the many frameworks, theories, and ideas that we have learned throughout our time in the MBA Sustainability program in real-world applications. We believe that these three ventures are ideal for implementing sustainable principles throughout the city of Pittsburgh.

We are thankful and excited for the opportunity to work with real world companies, and make a positive change in multiple industries!

Six Thinking Hats & The Hedgehog Concept

In the first topic seminar of this semester, two of the sMBA students, tackled two intriguing issues. The first of which, the Six Thinking Hats concept, introduced the idea of creating a balanced group by infusing different personality types to ensure every angle of an idea is covered. Our discussion led us down multiple scenarios and displayed how each type of hat would comprehend each situation. The presentation devised different pathways of thinking about a problem than we normally would have comprehended.


The next topic we covered was the hedgehog concept. This stemmed from an ancient Greek parable about a fox who was trying to attack a hedgehog, but never succeeded. The hedgehog only did one thing great; defend himself. The idea was based on having a business do one thing, but do that one thing greatly. By combining what your passionate about, what you do best in the world, and what drives your economic engine you can create your hedgehog concept.

We are all striving to be able to think agilely and discover our great callings. I believe these two concepts are the first of many discussion that will only aid in our endeavor to make the change we want to see in the world.

Net Impact Mixer at the Science Center

12512828_10153231241192204_8071218061155347040_nMembers from across campuses in the Net Impact community met to explore the wonderment and knowledge inside the Carnegie Science Center. The 12507582_10153231241122204_8672163904666736950_n21+ Night was the stage for a meeting of minds, and some fun, as members of Duquesne, Chatham, and Carnegie Mellon Net Impact chapters came together to network. The night included exciting conversations, interesting exhibits, and enjoyable times in the interactive kid’s area. It was a great evening of meeting new people who had the same drive and motivation to make the change that they want to see in the world.

Game On! This is How our Generation will Create Positive Impact

“Be the change you want to see in the world” is a quote from Ghandi, and represents the essence of the 2015 Net Impact conference in Seattle. The Net Impact chapter officers of Duquesne were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend this national meeting of the minds. This conference brought together multiple universities, businesses, and NGOs to discuss how the millennial generation has the capability to generate a positive change in the world today.

This conference was teeming with dozens of speakers and presentations that all had a focus on innovation and sustainable business practices. One of the most inspiring guest speakers included the CEO of REI, Jerry Stritzke, who spoke as one of the keynote speakers about REI’s mission to get their consumers to “Opt Outside.” He also mentioned the stance they are taking on one of the busiest retail business days of the year. REI did not open on Black Friday this year, and gave their employees the day to spend quality time with their loved ones. What a game changer!

The Net Impact officers held an information session for fellow students and faculty after they returned from the conference. One takeaway was actually not from the conference itself, but from the city of Seattle. Seattle has a citywide ordinance that requires comprehensive recycling and composting. Our Net Impact chapter was amazed by the support and efficiency that the city has developed to implement this program. This concept fit in perfectly with our Fall Consulting project of turning Waste to Energy. A few of our own students are now looking into the feasibility of implementing such a program here in Pittsburgh. Keep checking in on our blog to see their progress!

IDEO Design Thinking Workshop

It was incredible how much knowledge we gained about breakthrough innovation!

Our MBA Sustainability Cohort participated and competed a training session on Design Thinking from IDEO. For those of you who don’t know, Design Thinking is a structured and proven approach to speeding up breakthrough innovations.

Our instructors helped our teams navigate the different stages of Design Thinking along the 4-hour simulation. Each group came up with dozens of ideas during our “Ideation” phase that focused on helping a town in California find new uses for stuff the residents no longer needed. Furthermore, we created storyboards to help visually represent the actions we developed to promote sustainable lifestyles in this town.

By following the key principles of Design Thinking, particularly being observant and testing out hypothesis in a quick, iterative fashion, we developed extremely imaginative, but feasible ideas swiftly. Stay turned to see how we apply these tools during our consulting projects.

Duquesne MBAs Intend to Power Pittsburgh like Doc Powered the DeLorean: W2E!

In “Back to the Future II” (1989), Doc raids Marty’s garbage and turns it into fuel for his DeLorean.  No longer science fiction, converting waste to energy (W2E) is the absolute cutting edge of renewable fuel in the United States, and it could be coming to Pittsburgh soon.

For our first consulting project, we are collaborating with quasar energy group to explore feasibility and public-private partnerships for turning bio-waste into energy.  On a rainy day in late October, our MBA Sustainability class, accompanied by several professors and graduate students from Duquesne’s environmental science program, took a trip to Wooster, Ohio.  Why Wooster, you ask? Wooster is home to quasar’s partner, Ohio State’s agricultural institute, and their flagship anaerobic digester facilities that turn bio-waste into energy.

Anaerobic digestion technology provides clean, renewable energy for our homes and cars. The process takes organic waste and breaks it down in the absence of oxygen to harvest the energy insides.  When forty percent of food produced in America ends up in a landfill, this technology aims to provide an alternative.[1] The opportunity is huge:  In just the 2nd quarter of 2015, Allegheny County sent almost 407,000 tons of waste to the landfill![2]

We are ecstatic to be tackling such a massive problem. As one student named Mark said, “Coming from the energy field, I am really looking forward to working with anaerobic digestion technology to help find renewable solutions to our country’s energy issues.”

“Doc needs fuel” clip:

[1] NRDC Issue Paper – Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.
[2] “Municipal Waste Disposal Information.” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Waste Management. 11 Aug, 2015. Web. 30 Oct, 2015.

The Corporate Cup

On Saturday July 18, 2015, a group of students were sponsored by their client to participate in the first annual Huntington Bank Corporate Cup to help raise money for Pelotonia Cancer Research. The group was able to rock some Duke pride with team t-shirts, represent Duquesne, and be sponsored by Tom Nist of Huntington Bank to go toe-to-toe with 9 other corporations to fight for the number one spot. The team was able to work and play along side various ranking managers and employees of these other corporations and Huntington Banks itself. They participated in events such as 5 vs 5 basketball, 6 vs 6 volleyball, Tug-of-War, Cornhole, and even an obstacle course. It was an excellent opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in the community and rub elbows with their client and other young professionals, while working hands-on in their practicum course.  And they even got to have a little fun while doing so!

Duquesne TeamPictured from left to right: Brandon Martin, Sarah Jilbert, Meng Dong, Derek Craig, Katie Greer, and Dave Sexauer