Wrigley Sustainability Institute News

Artificial leaf jumps developmental hurdle

February 18, 2014

Photo by: Michael Hagelberg

Photo by: Michael Hagelberg

In a recent early online edition of Nature Chemistry, ASU scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, have reported advances toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf.

Designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the goals of BISfuel – the Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by the Department of Energy, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University.

Hydrogen is an important fuel in itself and serves as an indispensible reagent for the production of light hydrocarbon fuels from heavy petroleum feed stocks. Society requires a renewable source of fuel that is widely distributed, abundant, inexpensive and environmentally clean.

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Solar energy leaders come together for 4th Arizona Solar Summit

February 17, 2014

azsolarsummitiv_feb20The Arizona Solar Summit brings together people and organizations to advance the solar industry on both the regional and national levels, creating a network to propel Arizona to national prominence in the industry.

The fourth annual Arizona Solar Summit, part of the 2014 Sustainability Solutions Festival, will focus on introducing innovative policies, programs and technologies that are critical to reshaping Arizona’s energy markets.

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What ecosystem greeted the first settlers of the northern Caribbean?

February 13, 2014

Photo by: Nancy Albury

Photo by: Nancy Albury

Assembling a picture of past environments always involves detective work. The reward is a clearer understanding of how natural and human forces have changed environments in the past, giving insights to how modern-day environmental changes take place.

Working with especially elusive evidence, Janet Franklin, ASU professor of geography, is participating in an effort to understand the profound changes in plant and animal life that occurred on the oceanic islands of the West Indies since the end of the last ice age.

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ASU releases 2013 report on sustainability initiatives

February 12, 2014

Photo by: CFO Visual Communications

Photo by: CFO Visual Communications

The recently released 2013 Sustainability Initiatives Revolving Fund (SIRF) annual report chronicles $5.6 million in investments that support Arizona State University.

The investments included seven energy conservation projects and six student and campus-oriented projects at ASU. From lighting retrofits, to specialized recycling bins, to an urban garden at the Downtown Phoenix campus, SIRF funds thrive in some surprising places.

In addition to project details and descriptions of all SIRF projects financed in 2013, the report includes three Q-and-A interviews with ASU SIRF fund recipients who have put their sustainability ideas into action.

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ASU Health Services Building awarded LEED platinum

February 11, 2014

Photo by: Bill Timmerman

Photo by: Bill Timmerman

The Health Services Building on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus has earned a LEED platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Health Services is the second ASU building to receive a platinum certification, which is the highest USGBC green building ranking under its LEED (Leadership in Excellence in Environmental Design) program. The Health Services Building is also the 38th ASU building to be LEED certified.

The Health Services Building underwent a major renovation and expansion that was completed in March 2012 by ASU’s Facilities Development and Management unit.

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Research reveals effectiveness of urban heat-reducing technologies

February 10, 2014

heatbubble.still002Life in a warming world is going to require human ingenuity to adapt to the new realities of Earth. Greenhouse-gas-induced warming and megapolitan expansion are both significant drivers of our warming planet. Researchers are now assessing adaptation technologies that could help us acclimate to these changing realities.

But how well these adaptation technologies – such as cool roofs, green roofs and hybrids of the two – perform year-round, and how this performance varies with place remain uncertain.

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ASU engineers to lead national solar energy technology projects

February 10, 2014

goodnick-holmanArizona State University engineers will lead two multi-university/industry research teams in support of a new U.S. Department of Energy program to develop technologies that use the full spectrum of sunlight to produce inexpensive power during both day and night.

The department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced allocation of $30 million in funding for 12 projects selected to conduct research for its Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program.

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ASU hosts first GreenBiz U Forum

February 6, 2014

ASU community invited to learn current sustainability business trends

green-biz-u-simulcast-20140218For the first time, the annual GreenBiz Forum, a hallmark conference hosted by GreenBiz Group, is coming to Arizona State University as a shadow conference for students, faculty and staff, called GreenBiz U. Presentations at GreenBiz Forum, set to take place Feb. 18-20 in Scottsdale, will be simulcast for free on ASU’s Tempe campus during GreenBiz U.

GreenBiz Forum, which happens twice a year in various locations around the country, provides an in-depth look at today’s sustainable business challenges and opportunities.

“GreenBiz Forum brings together sustainability leaders from the world’s biggest corporations to discuss key trends and best practices,” says Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group. “We’re excited to bring this wealth of insight and inspiration to the larger ASU community, which includes tomorrow’s business leaders.”

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Bicycle Program Manager Joins Parking and Transit Services

February 6, 2014

New position created to encourage, facilitate cycling on and off campus

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Arizona State University Parking and Transit Services announces Donna Lewandowski has been hired to serve as Bicycle Program Manager. Lewandowski, who is the first to work in this newly created post, begins her job duties on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.

Lewandowski’s primary responsibilities will be to develop, implement and maintain programs and activities that encourage bicycle usage on and off campus. She will be the lead liaison in connecting bike commuters with services that can help them maintain their bikes and stay safe on the roads. Lewandowski will also assist cyclists with incorporating other modes of transportation that contribute to ASU sustainability goals into their daily commutes.

Lewandowski comes to ASU from Tucson Medical Center, where she served as a community outreach specialist since last March. She coordinated Safe Kids Pima County, a diverse community coalition for childhood injury prevention. Her duties included planning and executing community safety events aimed at children’s and women’s health, as well as developing grant application, fundraising and marketing materials for the Safe Kids coalition.

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ASU partners to bring algae technology into next generation

February 4, 2014

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Photo by: John McGowen

A newly announced partnership between Arizona State University, Heliae and SCHOTT North America is a big step forward on the path to accelerate algae technology.

The collaboration will bring Heliae’s algae production technology to ASU’s algae testbed facility. Through the partnership, SCHOTT financed a Helix photobioreactor built by Heliae and installed at ASU’s Department of Energy-funded algae testbed facility on the Polytechnic campus. Over the next several years, algae researchers at ASU will leverage the Helix photobioreactor to propel the understanding of algae production technology, including an investigation into the effect of glass tubing innovations on the yields and economics of algae production. The reactor will also deliver the production of high-quality algae cultures, which will support broader ASU algae operations.

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Presence of humans, urban landscapes increase illness in songbirds

February 4, 2014

housefinchesonfeeder_2Humans living in densely populated urban areas have a profound impact not only on their physical environment, but also on the health and fitness of native wildlife. For the first time, scientists have found a direct link between the degree of urbanization and the prevalence and severity of two distinct parasites in wild house finches.

The findings are published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University made the discovery while investigating intestinal parasites (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) found in house finches. The group also studied the effects of urbanization on the stress response system of the finches.

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ASU research helps guide transportation policy

January 29, 2014

Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Arizona State University’s robust and expanding range of transportation research and studies was reflected recently in the contributions of faculty members and students to one of the major international gatherings of transportation experts.

An ASU contingent of more than 30 faculty members and students presented their research in more than 40 workshops and sessions at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12-16. The event attracted about 12,000 professionals from academia, research institutions, industry and public and private policy groups from around the world.

The TRB is a major division of the private, nonprofit National Research Council, administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The council seeks to serve the public interest by providing expertise to government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities.

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Why higher ed, advanced energy systems will rescue global climate policy

January 29, 2014

higher-ed

Photo by: stock.xchng

With the European Union split on a new energy and climate strategy to 2030, and developing countries such as India and China unwilling to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, global climate policy has reached an impasse.

So, the question remains: How can policymakers, institutions of higher education and citizens from all over the world foster a conversation on global climate policy that sparks action? By demanding superior systems of energy use is one proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming panel organized by ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

The public panel discussion, “Rescuing Climate Policy,” is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., Feb. 5, inside Wrigley Hall, room 481, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The talk will blend American, European and Chinese perspectives on the development and adoption of advanced systems of energy use.

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Arizona, German students take Sustainable Cites course simultaneously

January 28, 2014

Photo by: Andy DeLisle

Photo by: Andy DeLisle

Classroom walls have come down throughout Arizona State University, as biology students discuss sustainability with classmates in Germany, art students share artworks with peers in Taiwan and a genetics class gets front-row seats in a laboratory across campus.

ASU has made a significant investment in classroom technology, adding computer technology and internet connectivity to all of the 483 classrooms on its four campuses. Most classrooms have screens or large video displays that allow guest speakers and other participants to appear live.

According to the EDUCAUSE campus computing survey in 2013, ASU is one of only 12 public universities of the 543 universities surveyed to have 100 percent classroom mediation.

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Students create innovative data stories with MapStory tool

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Julie Newberg

Photo by: Julie Newberg

MapStory is an innovative technological tool that allows people like Arizona State University student Jonathan Davis to create visual and spatial data stories. One of Davis’ recent projects, “American Indian Reservations 18th Century to the Present,” consists of recreating the establishment of American Indian reservations through the platform.

“MapStory creates maps that are played in succession through time,” said Davis, a geographic information systems graduate student who was raised in Chandler, Ariz. “I focus on historical MapStories where you can read about history and get a solid geographical framework where the event took place. You can actually see the topography and the geography, so it’s easy to read about it while seeing it. It kind of makes history come to life.”

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Student innovator gets help from ASU, CGI U on clean water venture

January 27, 2014

Photo by: Nisarg Patel

Photo by: Nisarg Patel

Innovation Challenge, Edson and CGI U stepping stones for student startup

When Arizona State University senior Nisarg Patel’s friend returned from a research expedition in Guatemala and expressed concern regarding children drinking contaminated water that could cause diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses, it got Patel thinking about a solution. He and his friends soon came up with the idea of soluble protein biosensors to indicate the presence of bacteria in drinking water.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 1.5 million children under the age of five in developing countries die each year due to diarrhea.

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America burning: the Yarnell Hill fire tragedy and the nation’s wildfire crisis

January 23, 2014

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Six months after 19 firefighters lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire near Prescott, Ariz., The Weather Channel investigated the larger problem of U.S. wildfires. In an article and original documentary titled “America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tradegy and the Nation’s Wildfire Crisis,” journalist Neil Katz, along with executive producer Greg Gilderman and producer Shawn Efran of Efran Films, interview surviving family members and the sole surviving firefighter.

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ASU professor wins ‘Digging Into Data’ challenge

January 23, 2014

c-michael-barton

ASU professor C. Michael Barton has been named a “Digging Into Data” challenge winner. He is among a cohort of research teams representing Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that were named by 10 international research agencies, including the National Science Foundation in the United States.

The Digging into Data program encourages research teams to develop new insights, tools and skills in innovative social science and humanities research using large-scale data analysis. Fourteen teams will receive grants to investigate how computational techniques can be applied to “big data” in social sciences and the humanities. Each team represents collaborations among scholars, scientists and information professionals from leading universities and libraries in Europe and North America.

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ASU School of Life Sciences, Phoenix Zoo team up for conservation research

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Sandra Leander

Photo by: Sandra Leander

Modern, professionally managed zoos frequently serve as global conservation agents – working to save species, educate the public about species loss and recovery, practice conservation breeding and reintroduce animals into the wild. These important efforts depend on understanding the scientific complexities of the animals and their habitats, as well as the history, ethics and policies that often deeply impact animal survival.

Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the Phoenix Zoo are launching a new program to strengthen animal conservation efforts by collaborating on new research and improving conservation communications and outreach to the public.

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Kao is first to graduate with Master’s in Sustainability Solutions

January 17, 2014

Photo by: Tim Trumble

After a very busy year and a half being a graduate student in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Karen Kao celebrated her achievements as the graduate speaker at the school’s fall convocation this past December. With a background in psychology, Kao is very interested in the behavioral change behind sustainability, which led her to the school’s master’s degree in sustainable solutions.

“The program is an applied degree, so anything that I learned in the academic field of psychology, I could learn how to translate into practice,” Kao says. “Graduating as the first student from the program, I feel well-equipped with the strategies and thought-processes that help build solution options, and I take with me a practical skillset that’s transferrable to almost any subject in sustainability.”

As a student, Kao served as a research assistant on projects implementing practical solutions to sustainability issues, ranging from economics to urban planning. As part of her capstone project, mandatory for the master’s degree in sustainable solutions, Kao conducted community engagement workshops in Phoenix to collect public opinions for Reinvent PHX. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Grant Program, aims to develop a new model of sustainable urban development, where public transit, housing, jobs and services improve the quality of life for all residents.

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