Duke - The Fuqua School of Business

News Release

The Gold Standard of Green Meeting Space

Fuqua’s Thomas Center embraces sustainability

The Thomas Center
The Thomas Center

Fuqua's conference center embraces sustainability.

February 28, 2008

DURHAM, NC –- Kermit the Frog, one of the last century’s most sublime philosophers, once noted it’s not easy being green. Deep thinkers can ponder whether or not it’s easy, but we do know that today, being green is essential. 

The R. David Thomas Center, opened in 1989 and named in honor of the late Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain, is taking a comprehensive approach to Duke’s sustainability efforts by offering "green meetings."

The Thomas Center, part of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, has adopted a wide range of steps to ensure proper stewardship of the environment. Some of the reduce-reuse-recycle policies include donating unused food to the Durham Rescue Mission and the Interfaith Shelter and planting a seasonal herb garden on-site. All fryer oil used in cooking is recycled for biodiesel, with biodiesel transportation available for all groups visiting the Thomas Center.

The facility’s 113 guestrooms’ incandescent light bulbs have been replaced by energy-saving bulbs and compact fluorescent lighting. Visitors utilizing the 15,000 square feet of meeting space can enjoy organic menu items for lunch and dinner or sample some fair-trade, shade-grown coffee. The Thomas Center adheres to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch guidelines, which advise restaurants on offering environmentally friendly seafood selections. 

The list of items that are gathered for recycling is lengthy: paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard, printer cartridges, phone directories, name tags, and mixed paper. Disposable plates and napkins are made from 100% post-consumer product, and even the drinking cups are corn-based.

The R. David Thomas Center’s commitment to sustainable practices extends even to the gorgeous landscaping of the grounds. Drought-tolerant plants have been incorporated into the design, creating an environment in which even Kermit the Frog himself would feel at home.