June 20, 2013
Bruce Rittman, a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and the director of ASU’s Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, is a 2013 Water Environment Federation Fellow. He joins 15 other recipients who have made impactful contributions to the water industry and water quality research.
“WEF is very pleased to recognize these truly outstanding water quality professionals,” said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. “The 2013 Fellows are among the worlds finest in service to water quality, the environment and public health.”
Dr. Rittman is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is well known as developing biofilms used to clean contaminated drinking water. He is a leader in the Membrane Biofilm Reactor project that uses bacteria to get rid of water pollution. As director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Rittman leads teams investigating renewable bioenergy, biofuels, and human health.
June 18, 2013
This summer, two PowerParasol solar systems will be installed near the Memorial Union and on the Gammage Parkway medians. The PowerParasol systems are designed by Strategic Solar Energy, the same company who developed the PowerParasol structure over Sun Devil Stadium’s parking lot. There will be some pedestrian restrictions near the Memorial Union and at Gammage Parkway, but both projects aim to be completed by November.
“These projects are the first deployment of the PowerParasols over pedestrian space,” said David Brixen, associate vice president for ASU Facilities Development and Management. “They are designed to create the most dramatic pedestrian experience of any campus solar array.”
In all, the projects will consist of 3,096 panels to generate an estimated 1,477,611 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.
June 17, 2013
George Basile, a senior sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and a professor in the School of Sustainability, recently commented on a study on 1,305 national small businesses that shows a positive correlation between sustainability and profit.
“Businesses are finding that consumers want businesses that are about building a better future,” Basile says. “Businesses that have strong sustainability plans tend to do better.”
The study found that those businesses who strongly added sustainable practices had higher sales than those who only incorporated some sustainable methods. “Green businesses” are those that are aware of the impact of their decisions and find the environment and local economy very important.
June 17, 2013
Osvaldo Sala, Arizona State University’s Julie A. Wrigley Professor of Life Sciences and Sustainability and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, joins 17 scientists as an Ecological Society of America 2013 Fellow. The Society’s fellows program aims to recognize and support scientists who conduct research in a wide variety of sciences and who serve our society.
“I was surprised and honored when I learned that I had been elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America,” Sala says. “This is the largest ecological society of the world and an organization that groups the brightest and most influential ecologists.”
Sala is the third Sustainability Scientist and School of Life Sciences professor elected as a fellow, following Nancy Grimm and Stuart G. Fisher. Sala’s research spans ecosystem ecology, biofuels, biodiversity scenarios, and natural resource management.
June 17, 2013
Bob Litterman, member of The Board of Directors for Sustainability at ASU, investigates pricing carbon emissions in the current edition of “Regulation,” an expertise-based magazine published by the Cato Institute.
Litterman explores the idiosyncrasies and probabilities of an unknown future that will face huge impacts of today’s energy choices. As a solution, many scientists and economists suggest pricing carbon outputs; essentially, the more carbon you put in the atmosphere, the more you get charged.
However, with the uncertainties surrounding climate change and its impacts shrouding proper tax pricing, no one can really predict how much we should spend today to insure tomorrow’s future.
“I believe that given that uncertainty, a cautious approach that weighs the cost of catastrophic outcomes above the potential benefits of hedging future economic growth is justified,” Litterman writes. “It would be best to get started immediately by pricing carbon emissions no lower, and perhaps well above, a reasonable estimate of the present value of expected future damages, and allow the price to respond appropriately to new information as it becomes known.”
June 17, 2013
Arizona State University scientists and policymakers share their ideas and opinions regarding Arizona’s largest city’s water conservation and consumption in a recent New York Times article. The article, written by Fernanda Santos, tells a positive story about how a metropolitan region can survive, in fact flourish, in a desert landscape that only gets an average of eight inches of rain per year.
The fact that golf courses are irrigated with graywater, treated wastewater is used in power plants and urban wetlands, and efficient, water-saving technologies used in buildings may be helping Phoenix consume less water than large cities like Los Angeles.
“We’re often maligned as being an unsustainable place simply for existing in an arid climate,” said Colin Tetreault, senior policy adviser for sustainability for Mayor Greg Stanton and an ASU School of Sustainability alum. “But that’s just myopic.”
June 14, 2013
Clean Air Cab, a local sustainable taxi cab company, has awarded two School of Sustainability students with scholarships to fund their education in the upcoming year. Incoming freshman Maria Eller plans to study diversity and sustainability while senior Sean Martin plans to explore sustainable consulting.
“We designed our scholarships to reward individuals who share our same values in conserving our ecology and creating sustainability within their thinking as it pertains to their actions, community projects, and future business structures,” says Steve Lopez, founder and owner of Clean Air Cab.
Both Eller and Martin say the scholarship will take some pressure off and allow them to focus more on their studies.
June 12, 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. and PHOENIX, Ariz. – June 12, 2013 – GreenBiz Group, The Sustainability Consortium, and the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, will be coming together for the Sustainability Solutions Festival, a unique and powerful partnership among three leadership institutions.
The three entities have agreed to align interests and audiences as part of the weeklong series of events to be held in Phoenix, February 15-22, 2014. The week will include the 2014 GreenBiz Forum, sustainability-focused innovation fairs, a green “Un-gala” and meetings and workshops for the board and network of The Sustainability Consortium and other events.
June 11, 2013
The AZ Water Association recently awarded Sustainability Scientist and Professor Peter Fox the Nathan Burbank Environmental Educator Award for teaching and mentoring students on the water industry in AZ. Fox is a professor of environmental engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
“Both his work mentoring students and his research on drinking water have greatly benefited the state of Arizona,” says Edd Gibson, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “He is a great colleague and contributor to our school and the community.”
Fox’s research interests lie in sustainable water systems, water reuse, and desalination.
June 11, 2013
Members from the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders will visit the rural area, Bondo Rarieda, Kenya to provide assistance on a defective dam as part of the Kenya Water Project. The dam has been breached several times due to the rainy season, not allowing the communities to capture and store the excess water for use.
“Our plan is to design this system, teach [local residents] how to build it properly and explain to them why it makes a difference,” says Danielle Worger, an industrial engineering graduate student and the co-program manager for the project.
The project aims to equip the locals with the knowledge and training needed to upkeep neighboring dams in order to provide long-term, sustainable solutions.
June 6, 2013
This summer, Senior Sustainability Scientist and School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy assistant professor Mary Laura Lind will begin her research as part of a $400,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded earlier this year. Under her direction, engineering graduate and undergraduate students will investigate transport properties of membranes at the nanoscale.
This research will help inspire better water filtration and waste water technologies while also finding a way to use the filtered materials as sources for biofuel. Lind and her team hope to find more energy-efficient methods of transporting and filtering water.
“Her work on membranes for liquid phase applications, especially water purification and treatment, is an important part of ASU’s overall research thrust in energy and sustainability,” says ASU chemical engineering Regents’ Professor Jerry Lin.
June 4, 2013
ASU School of Art student Phillip Carrier will spend two summer semesters as an artist-in-residence at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) creating a piece of work that combines science, technology, and art. Under the College of Technology and Innovation and the LightWorks initiative, AzCATI is a national testbed for algae research and development for biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other biomass.
“Great minds, from scientists and researchers to philosophers and poets, must work together to create a cultural shift toward a sustainable existence,” says Gary Dirks, director of LightWorks and the Global Institute of Sustainability. “Artists like Philip tell stories that instruct us or stimulate us into thinking about what that future is going to look like.”
Carrier will find inspiration at the many algae test beds on the Polytechnic campus. His completed artwork will be on display on the Polytechnic campus’s Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 3.
June 4, 2013
Bradley Baker graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012. Now, he works as a hazardous waste compliance officer at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Waste Programs Division. He learned at a young age that our resources are finite, and taking care of them takes personal and group responsibility.
In his position, Baker inspects local businesses and facilities to make sure they are following hazardous waste regulations. Baker says his real-world experience from internships helped him gain his position.
“Find an internship, whether it is paid or unpaid,” he tells fellow students. “I have well over a year’s worth of experience doing unpaid internships, and I would not have been able to apply for the jobs I did without them.”
May 29, 2013
Note: Mick Dalrymple is a LEED-accredited professional and co-founder of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. He is the ASU project manager of Energize Phoenix, an initiative that aims to save energy, create jobs, and improve local neighborhoods along a 10-mile stretch of Phoenix’s light rail. Recently, Dalrymple has been promoting the Global Institute of Sustainability’s 2013 Energy Efficiency Idea Guide for Arizona.
Imagine what would happen if an array of stakeholders made a concerted effort to cool the overnight low temperature of downtown Phoenix by one degree. For starters, more people would spend their evenings outdoors, increased economic activity would boost local businesses and tourism dollars, and roughly 21 million kilowatt hours (nearly $2.1 million) of energy would be saved per year.
But most importantly, Phoenix would become a real example to the world that we all can work together to positively change our climate.
Such is the power of One Degree, a simple concept that describes a tremendously complex and ambitious (but doable) challenge to create concerted change that improves community sustainability.
May 24, 2013
To assist ASU’s 2015 zero waste goal, the ASU Materials Management team has organized a collection service for used and unwanted office supplies. Since it first started, the collection service has rounded up more than 400 pounds of CDs, DVDs, plastic jewel cases and more than 150 cell phones in addition to 17,200 toner cartridges and 2,500 writing utensils.
“It’s the little things that add up,” says Maureen King, manager of Materials Management. ”Each act does not have much impact by itself, but collectively all this work leads to the larger goal of creating a sustainable future.”
Mail Services reuses the rubber bands, while ink and toner cartridges and utensils are sent out for recycling.
May 24, 2013
In this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, two ASU scientists published their study on the Panama Canal watershed, an area under review for reforestation in order to compensate for increased cargo ship use and more channels. Charles Perrings, a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability, is the co-author alongside Silvio Simonit from ASU’s Ecoservices Group.
The duo’s paper examines the interactions and outcomes of multiple ecosystem services provided by reforestation including water flows, carbon sequestration, and timber production.
“Our research provides an insight into the importance of understanding the spatial distribution of the costs and benefits of jointly produced services,” says Simonit.
May 23, 2013
Arizona State University is awarded a $4,000 Think Green Grant from Waste Management, Inc. and Keep America Beautiful. ASU proposes to expand its Green Bin program by having ASU Facilities Development Management Recycling program staff collaborating with the ASU School of Sustainability in a capstone class. The students will develop ideas to divert ASU’s waste from the landfill.
“This gives us the opportunity to connect academics with operations by asking School of Sustainability students to innovate solutions to Green Bin organics collection expansion,” said Alana Levine, ASU Recycling Program Manager. “Students will actually see their ideas realized at ASU and establish a collection model for other communities to use.”
ASU is aiming to be a zero waste university by 2015.
May 23, 2013
Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability hosted its year-end open house and project showcase on April 24 where students and faculty got to show off their innovative course assignments and partnerships. For example, students in Professor David Manuel-Navarrete’s Sustainability Leadership and Social Change course introduced their video highlighting ASU’s transformation towards university-wide sustainability.
“Since the School was first established, we have put value on diverse learning and teaching strategies that simulate professional team settings, address real-world sustainability issues and involve community members as project partners,” says Katja Brundiers, the School’s university-community liaison and the event’s organizer.
The event created new collaborations as part of the School’s Project-and Problem-Based Learning. Students and faculty interacted together one-on-one as well as with members of the public. The event was part poster session, part mixer, part lecture, and part discussion.
May 23, 2013
The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has announced its list of top 10 new species discovered during 2012. More than 140 species were nominated and the international committee chose according to appropriate nomenclature and official 2012 naming.
“Sustainable biodiversity means assuring the survival of as many and as diverse species as possible so that ecosystems are resilient to whatever stresses they face in the future. Scientists will need access to as much evidence of evolutionary history as possible,” said Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU and a sustainability scientist at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.
The top species include a carnivorous sponge, a glow-in-the-dark cockroach, flowering bushes, a false coral snake, and a new monkey.
May 23, 2013
Last week, carbon dioxide amounts in the Earth’s atmosphere reached past 400 parts per million, according to Mauna Loa Observatory. This is the highest its been since humanity’s beginning. ASU’s Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss says mitigating climate change will need more than reducing emissions; we need to extract carbon that’s already in the atmosphere.
Krauss writes in a Slate Magazine Future Tense article:
“Though there could be huge advantages to directly extracting carbon dioxide from our atmosphere instead of from its source, there has been almost no R&D funding to explore making it a reality. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been put into subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production.”