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.



The Supply Chain of Coffee

When I was very young my grandparents taught us to dip cookies in coffee instead of milk.  Since then I have become a huge fan of coffee, but I never take time to think about the supply chain of coffee.  Our trip to Costa Rica included a visit to Café Britt, which allowed me to learn so much about my daily drink of choice.

For more than 28 years Café Britt has sourced, roasted and shipped the finest gourmet coffees directly from Costa RicaPeru and Colombia, keeping a strong relationship with farmers and Fair Trade practices.  The slideshow below includes highlights from our visit:

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Duquesne MBA Students “Make laughter an epidemic” for critically ill children in Costa Rica

photo 2“I was thrilled to use my MBA skillset to help an organization that impacts so many families with so few resources,” said Nick Monzo, an MBA student from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after participating in a service project designed to bring joy to hospitalized children and their families in Costa Rica.

Monzo and his 28 classmates traveled to Central America as part of a required global economics course in Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability, a program ranked first in the United States and eighth in the world for integrating social, environmental and financial responsibility. On May 16, the students served as pro bono consultants to HospiSonrisas, a not-for-profit group affiliated with the National Children’s Hospital in San Jose, and presented a strategic plan to “Make Laughter an Epidemic” by launching a foundation to generate funding to entertain sick children and grant wishes to those with life-threatening illnesses.

“Never have I been more humbled by selflessness and compassion as I was by HospiSonrisas,” said Rebecca Bykoski, after watching volunteer clowns ease anxiety in the oncology and outpatient areas of the children’s hospital. “I’m so very grateful to leave a legacy that will bring joy to suffering children and their families throughout Costa Rica.”

“To find people who want to help to change the world and believe in someone’s dreams is incredible,” added Daniela Vides Cordoba, founder and president of HospiSonrisas.

Faculty trip leader was Diane Ramos, who also teaches the live consulting courses that anchor the MBA and engage students in solving complex real world problems. Accompanying her were Pavel Yakovlev, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and William O’Rourke, J.D., executive director of the Beard Institute at Duquesne University. “Our students delivered a viable plan for overall operation of a foundation — including governance, marketing, fund-raising and administration — while living our university’s service mission in Costa Rica,” said Ramos.

The Costa Rican segment of the study trip included interface with a range of multinational, not-for-profit, governmental and academic leaders and a behind-the-scenes investigation of the burgeoning eco-tourism and medical tourism industries. Students also traveled to Guatemala where they worked on a potable water field project and learned about Peace Corps initiatives with John Patrick Gibbons, an alumnus of the program and former Peace Corp Fellow at Duquesne, who works on impact investing in Central American in his current role as a finance officer at USAID.


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.  


Expanding the Classroom with PE International


By Stephen Sumpter

While in Germany we were provided to the opportunity to meet with leaders from PE International. This software company has developed two key software packages focused on improving sustainability measures. The first is the GaBi software that is used to conduct Life Cycle Assessments, which we were provided the opportunity to experience and work with first hand in Dr. Sroufe’sclass last semester. The second is SoFi, which assists companies in streamlining and improving reporting efforts for internal reports and larger programs such as the Carbon Disclosure Project.


Many students commented that it was nice to see the extent of the offerings from PE International and that what they had done for LCA was being applied to emissions reporting. Many students also expressed the interest in hands on experience using the SoFi reporting tool. Others were excited by the developments PE is working on with GaBi to make the inclusion of Environmental Product Declarations an easier and more accessible process.

Bayer AG

Personally, our visit to Bayer at the CHEMPARK in Leverkusen was one of the trip highlights. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to intern at Bayer’s US headquarter in Pittsburgh; therefore, visiting the headquarters in Germany is something that I will never forget. 

Our visit to Bayer included a tour of BayKomm and the CHEMPARK. BayKomm, also known as the Bayer Communication Center, is home to both a student laboratory as well as a exhibition rooms.  A guide took us through various exhibition rooms to allow our group to learn more about the three business units: Bayer CropScience, Bayer MaterialScience, and Bayer HealthCare.  CHEMPARK, an industrial park, is home to Bayer and a variety of other companies. CHEMPARK brings people andsectors together to exchange expertise, to look to the future or simply to do business.
The afternoon closed with a wonderful lunch at “The Casino”, Bayer’s on-campus restaurant. 

Deloitte Hosts “Master Class” on M&A for Duquesne MBA students

Each year about this time, Deloitte executives invite Duquesne MBA students to collaborate on solving a real-world client problem.  Brad Johnson, director of strategic client relationships for Pittsburgh’s Deloitte consulting practice, earned his MBA at Duquesne and remains actively involved as an advisor to students and our program.

This year, Brad was joined by Jeff Craft, a partner in Deloitte’s assurance practice, and our Deloitte master class on February 14 focused on issues surrounding acquisition of expertise and assets related to clean energy.  We received an offering memorandum, backgrounder and guidelines prior to the session and broke into small groups to discuss valuation and decision-making challenges related to buying and selling a company under the hands-on coaching of practices leaders who negotiate such deals for a living.  The morning with Deloitte was an exciting and challenging learning opportunity for MBA students to learn from a leading consulting firm.

No small advantage of studying in Pittsburgh is Duquesne’s location in the heart of a prosperous business district.  Another is the ongoing partnerships with alumni and client partners who help faculty tie theory to practice by offering insight to real word challenges and opportunities through classroom and extracurricular professional development.    Duquesne continues to leverage connections in the city to play professional development workshops like this event with Deloitte.

Leveraging Connections for Professional Development

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Dr. Robert Sroufe

Each semester Dr. Sroufe teaches a unique course that he developed in the MBA Sustainability program.  In the fall we had him for Sustainability Theories and Models, and currently he is teaching Sustainable Theories and Processes. The case involves a variety of case studies, sustainability plan writing, and my favorite part a variety of guest speakers.

January and February speakers included:

  • Apple White, Environmental Sustainability Manager at BNY Mellon
  • Dr. Patty DeMarco, energy and environmental policy analyst and educator
  • Mackenzie Crigger, Sustainability Coordinator from Chapman University and MBA Sustainability alumna

Dr. Sroufe and other professors leverage their professional networks to allow our students to learn from various business leaders locally and internationally.  The exposure to these business leaders as a professional development tool is one of many reasons I am thankful to be receiving my MBA at an urban campus.  Moving forward into the semester our class with Dr. Sroufe will include more speakers and a few site visits to places like Phipps Living Building.

Duquesne team places 2nd at international case competition

Four of my classmates —  Alison Etheridge, Jana DiSani, Laura Monahan, and Stephen Sumpter — had the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2014.

The team placed second in the “Business for a Better World” case competition. The MBA competition kicked off in October when 28 teams from around the world submitted solutions for Suncor, an energy company, to improve environmental, social, governance and financial performance.  To advance to the final round, our team then prepared a 25-page paper in just 17 days!  Duquesne was one of three finalist teams to earn an expense-paid trip to Switzerland to deliver a 10-minute presentation before judges, including the global managing director of McKinsey, the corporate sustainability leader of Ernst & Young and the managing director of the World Economic Forum.

Participating in a case competition is one of many extracurricular activities available to all students in the MBA Sustainability program.

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Spring Break Study Trip

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 11.12.35 AMLast week, Tom Nist spoke with our cohort regarding our spring break study trip.  We were very excited to find out that we will be traveling to Germany! Our cohort has students who have never left the United States, others that spent extended periods of time overseas, and others that were born and raised out of the US. We are lucky to have one student that spent a semester in Germany, and speaks German!   As we hear more information regarding our itinerary, I will be sure to share it with you.