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Wrigley Sustainability Institute News

ASU student develops water purifier, named College Entrepreneur of the Year

August 14, 2013

ASU chemical engineering graduate student Jared Schoepf, co-founder of SafeSIPP, a student-led startup in ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, has been named a top five finalist in the “College Entrepreneur of the Year” competition run by Entrepreneur Magazine.

SafeSIPP was founded by Schoepf and his fellow ASU chemical engineering classmates Lindsay Fleming and Taylor Barker, to solve three critical problems facing rural communities in the developing world: transportation, purification and storage of drinking water.

“The statistics are staggering,” says Schoepf. “More than 3,000 children die each day in developing countries because they don’t have access to clean, safe-to-consume water. When the SafeSIPP team set out to create our water system, we knew we had to address this issue as well as the transportation issue. So we invented a purification unit that attaches within the system so that, as the barrel is being transported, the water is simultaneously being purified as it moves.”

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Green Living Magazine: Film director Peter Byck teaches Sustainability Storytelling

August 13, 2013

In the August issue of Green Living Magazine, newly appointed professor of practice and documentarist Peter Byck shares his expectations for his new fall course, Sustainability Storytelling. In a teaching position jointly shared between ASU’s School of Sustainability and ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Byck will show students how to film their own short documentary on solar power in Arizona.

“The first place that we’re going to delve into is all the solar work that’s going on in Gila Bend,” he says. “The class starts in August and we’ll start shooting in September.”

Byck is also working on his most recent documentary, a follow-up to his 2010 film, Carbon Nation called Carbon Nation 2.0, under a partnership with ASU.

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Pacific Standard: Sustainability scientist explores why your yard looks like your neighbor’s

August 13, 2013

In a Pacific Standard article, reporter Cameron Walker explores how yards across America are starting to look the same. He compares the nation’s yards to a checkerboard, especially when you look from up above in an airplane. Why is this happening?

Several of the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) location researchers, including those from ASU’s Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, are finding that increasingly urban cities are planting species similar to other urban areas instead of local flora.

Sustainability Scientist and investigator Kelli Larson surveyed Phoenix homeowners who said homeowner associations specified what plants could grow in their lawns, sometimes preferring exotic species. Fortunately, many Phoenicians are happy to adopt the natural, water-saving xeriscaping method.

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GreenBiz.com: How ASU aims to create sustainability leaders in business

August 12, 2013

apm_asu_30_2In an article by GreenBiz.com producer Joel Makower, Arizona State University’s recently developed Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program is said “to fill a critical gap in sustainability education in business.” Meant for those already in the business world, but looking to advance their education and background, the new program takes only a year to complete and is based around four curriculum themes: leadership, strategy, communication, and global context.

“One of the things we’ve found is that there’s a real yearning for organizations to understand what sustainability is and [how] it can add value to organizations,” says Christopher Boone, professor and interim dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability. “Ultimately, [sustainability is] about finding solutions. When we’re thinking about solutions, we need to think about not just how things work in theory, but how we can apply that theory to find solutions to complex problems.”

The first cohort begins in January. On Aug. 20, Joel Makower will host a one-hour webcast, The Secrets of Sustainable Leadership in Business, sponsored by the ASU Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program. Register here.

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ASU continues to “LEED” in sustainable construction

August 8, 2013

The 2012 edition of “Higher Education Sustainability Review,” a publication of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights some of Arizona State University’s sustainable construction achievements.

Additionally, the U.S. Green Building Council, developer of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, has recognized ASU as having the most LEED-certified structures in the state of Arizona and the most LEED gold-certified new buildings.

Since 2009, ASU instated a Sustainable Design Policy for new construction and renovation projects on all campuses.

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School of Sustainability alum now environmental program manager for City of Avondale

August 7, 2013

Culotta,DanielDaniel Culotta, who graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability last spring, is now the Environmental Program Manager for the City of Avondale. He is responsible for assisting companies, facilities, and organizations in achieving environmental regulation compliance, but also for creating the city’s first-ever municipal sustainability plan.

“We’re creating the sustainability plan using an up-to-date, participatory, and evidence-based approach,” Culotta says. “This plan will serve as the foundation for action going forward.”

Culotta attributes his career success to the organizational and solution-focused experiences he had while at the School of Sustainability. He hopes that his new position will show people that sustainability is a fact of life.

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A rare sight: ASU researcher records endangered Russian snow leopard spotting

August 6, 2013

Mimi Kessler, a doctoral candidate in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, visited the Russian Altai Mountains as a linguistic and cultural liaison for the Wild Altai expedition when she spotted two little ears on top of a ridge during a hike.

“Once I was certain of what I was seeing, I told the rest, ‘You are not going to believe this, but there is a snow leopard on that ridge,’” Kessler says. “My companions grabbed their binoculars, took a look and started yelling with joy. The cat continued to look at us for a few moments, then slowly walked further up the ridge and out of sight.”

The Russian snow leopard is listed as threatened due to illegal poaching and predator-prey conflicts. There are only a reported 90 leopards in Russia. The Altai Project, the expedition’s organizer, aims to balance sustainable community development in the growing region and conservation of endangered species like the snow leopard.

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ASU partners with renewable energy organization for solar education in Pacific Islands

August 6, 2013

Arizona State University and the International Renewable Energy Agency are joining forces to bring solar power education to Pacific Island technicians and engineers. The partnership will bring a new solar training workshop led by ASU College of Technology and Innovation’s Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) and certification programs.

Solar power is especially important in island communities that greatly depend on hard-to-get fossil fuel imports. Solar power can also lead to more economic independence in the Pacific region.

“We are excited to partner with IRENA and for their support in advancing the future of sustainable energy and entrepreneurship in the Pacific Islands,” says Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation. “This is only the beginning of a collaborative partnership between ASU and IRENA, and we look forward to growing the relationship between the two like-minded institutions.”

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Heliae raises $28.4 million for Gilbert expansion

August 6, 2013

In 2008, Arizona State University algae research turned into a real-life company with the establishment of Heliae. Existing and new investors recently gifted Heliae $28.4 million to expand its headquarters in Gilbert. The funds will go towards building Heliae’s first commercial algae manufacturing plant for personal care and nutrition supplement markets.

“The sustained support of existing investors, as well as the addition of new investors, demonstrates our momentum and continued success in scale-up,”  says Dan Simon, president and CEO of Heliae.

Funding came from the Mars family, conglomerate Salim Group via Agri Investments Pte Ltd., Thomas J. Edelman, and others. Heliae is partnered with Arizona State University, Science Foundation Arizona, Algal Biomass Organization, and Wageningen University.

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Act on Climate PHX: Day of information, inspiration, and action

Institute Press Releases

August 2, 2013

PHOENIX, Ariz. – July 31, 2013 – Local elected officials, business owners and advocates held a press conference today to highlight the impacts of climate change – including extreme heat, drought and air and water quality – on Arizona’s environment, economy and public health.

“The issue of climate change is big and daunting, it’s true,” said State Senator Katie Hobbs.

“But working together, we can create the change necessary to protect our home. It begins with simply caring for each other. When we care for each other, as fellow human beings, caring for our planet becomes a natural progression. I urge you to act with me today to move toward a healthier and brighter future.”

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All ASU campuses are now tobacco-free

August 1, 2013

As part of Arizona State University’s health and wellness initiative, all university campuses are now officially tobacco-free. ASU joins about 800 national universities with the policy. Effective today, the new policy prohibits all manners of smoking, including smokeless tobacco products indoors and outdoors. The policy was initiated by students and is supported by the University Staff Council and the faculty Academic Senate.

In addition to making ASU a healthier, happier, more productive place to work and learn, the tobacco-free policy will reduce litter and maintenance expenses.

“Tobacco use is a documented public health hazard and the university is dedicated to providing a healthy, comfortable, and educationally productive learning environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors,” says Kevin Salcido, associate vice president of Human Resources and a member of the tobacco-free working group.

Enforce a tobacco-free university »

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Book addresses issues of the urban century

July 26, 2013

School of Sustainability Interim Dean Christopher Boone, together with Michail Fragkias, visiting professor at Boise State University and former executive director of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change program based in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, edited a volume, Urbanization and sustainability: Linking urban ecology, environmental justice and global environmental change. The book was published in 2013.

Boone and Fragkias contributed a chapter to the volume examining the connection between environmental justice and sustainability. They suggest that vulnerability science could be a bridge between studies of local environmental justice and long-term, global sustainability studies.

Another chapter authored by a team of Arizona State University scholars – Bob Bolin, Juan Declet Barreto, Michelle Hegmon, Lisa Meierotto, and Abigail York – builds on previous CAP LTER research and examines shifting vulnerabilities, hazards, and risks in the Phoenix area.

Through case studies, analysis, and theory, the book brings together a range of scholars from urban ecology, environmental justice, and global environmental change research. In doing so, the editors have linked ideas, frameworks, and theories from the three fields to provide new, integrated insights on the pathways toward urban sustainability.

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Climate Action: Who Will Lead?

Thought Leader Series

July 24, 2013

A Thought Leader Series Piece

CS-Headshot-CROPPEDBy Chris Spence

Note: Chris Spence is the director of the Institute at the Golden Gate, a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service that advances environmental stewardship and well-being through parks and public lands.

Do you ever feel like the news on climate change is stuck on repeat? Day after day and year after year, we seem to hear the same dire predictions from climate scientists and activists, the same calls to “act now before it’s too late!”

I first started working on climate policy in 1993, which coincidentally is the year the movie “Groundhog Day” first screened. It’s about a selfish television weatherman doomed to repeat the same day time and again until he finally learns to change his ways.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve sometimes felt like I’m stuck in “Groundhog Day.” While the science is stronger than ever, working on climate policy can feel like being trapped in a time warp of inaction and paralysis. We all know the problem is real and growing, but serious action on a large scale sometimes seems beyond our grasp.

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Essential nutrient is examined in book, “Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future”

July 23, 2013

If you want to eat and drink clean water, then you should care about an element called phosphorus. We use it to fertilize our food, but sometimes too much of it ends up in our water supplies, causing pollution and fish kills. Researchers, including Distinguished Sustainability Scientist James Elser, are more concerned than ever because our global phosphorus supplies are non-renewable, and we are gobbling them up.

“There are big challenges, such as how to keep the phosphorus where it belongs and how to make sure we have enough phosphorus for the long term,” says Elser.

Elser co-edited the book “Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future” to provide a comprehensive examination of the entire phosphorus issue for scientists, government officials, and stakeholders like farmers, miners, and wastewater engineers.

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Urban heat island phenomenon explained

July 23, 2013

Senior Sustainability Scientist Matei Georgescu spoke from Phoenix to Beijing viewers of China Central TV-America about urban heat island effects on a July 17th broadcast. The urban heat island effect—when temperatures soar in metropolitan areas due to development—is no stranger to cities like Phoenix and Beijing.

“In essence, urban areas are heat sinks—they absorb incoming solar radiation differently than the natural landscape would,” explained Georgescu, also an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “In cities, incoming solar radiation is trapped in the built environment during the day, and is not released as efficiently in the evening as it would be, had the megapolitan environment not been present.”

Georgescu’s research investigates the effects of the urban heat island, which include human and animal health issues and increased energy consumption.

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Past director for Purchasing and Business Services is new ASU Sustainability Operations Officer

July 20, 2013

John Riley, former executive director of Purchasing and Business Services and university chief procurement officer for Arizona State University, is now the associate vice president of University Business Services and the university sustainability operations officer. Riley replaces Ray Jensen, who retired in March.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of dedicated professionals,” Riley says. “Together, we will deliver exciting sustainability initiatives, such as powering our Central Plant with biogas or generating electricity from biomass.”

Riley is now responsible for overseeing business operations like parking, licensing, materials procurement, and university stores in addition to advancing ASU’s sustainability initiatives.

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New Directions in Sustainability and Society: First seminar focuses on traditional ecological knowledge

July 19, 2013

green-rocky-desert_16031086cSchool of Sustainability Interim Dean Christopher Boone, together with Norman Yoffee of the Amerind Foundation, are co-editors of a book series to be published by Cambridge University Press.

The books will be based upon a series of events, where experts from various domains in the field of sustainability will explore selected facets of sustainability—ecology, politics, philosophy, art, justice, vulnerability, and long-term perspectives.

The first of these events was held in April, and papers submitted by the invited experts are now being compiled a book, which Boone hopes will set the tone for the rest of the book series.

The April seminar focused on traditional ecological knowledge and asked, “What can indigenous cultures teach us that adds to our body of sustainability knowledge, and how can we translate that knowledge, appropriately, to action?”

An ASU News article, Old becomes new: Traditional knowledge shapes sustainability thinking, helps put this complex topic into a context a lay audience might understand.

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Students: New School of Sustainability courses

July 18, 2013

In 2012, the United Nations Environment Programme published a report stating that within the next two decades, the world could see up to 60 million new jobs within the sustainability sector. To help students prepare for this change, the School of Sustainability is introducing new courses this fall that cover the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability.

New courses include:

SOS 394: Energy Policy
SOS 394: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
SOS 494: Sustainability and Social and Family Welfare
SOS 498: Sustainability Short-Form Documentary

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Green Living Magazine: Learning about LightWorks

July 17, 2013

In the July issue of Green Living magazine, contributor Cheryl Hurd talks with Gary Dirks, the new director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and of ASU’s LightWorks. So-called “light-inspired” research takes place at LightWorks, including solar power, clean fuel, and photosynthesis.

“When we talk about solar in the context of LightWorks, we don’t just mean solar panels,” says Dirks. “There are a range of technologies, some for generating electrons and some for generating fuel. LightWorks is very much about solar-based energy but not simply photovoltaics.”

Dirks also says Arizona has “fantastic solar energy” and LightWorks plans to implement more outreach and educational programs to promote solar use throughout the state.

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Slate: Why don’t farmers believe in climate change?

July 16, 2013

In a Future Tense article, David Biello explores the reasoning behind American farmers’ climate change disbelief. Most farmers in the U.S. are affected by the changing weather, however, they don’t view it as a by-product of climate change, rather something that has been happening since the dawn of time.

It’s too bad; farming is the second-largest contributor to climate change, with the increased use of fossil-fueled equipment and nitrous oxide-filled fertilizers. But there has been a shift to more fuel-efficient machinery and low-impact farming techniques not because of climate change, but because of money.

“It’s cheaper to farm that way, and you still get the same type of crop, if not a bit better,” says Oregon wheat farmer Kevin McCullough.

Future Tense is a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate.

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