Global Institute of Sustainability News

International Authority on Sustainable Engineering

April 30, 2010

Q&A with Christopher Boone

Dr. Boone demonstrates the rapid expansion of urbanized areas in Phoenix and the resulting land use changes.

Carefully managed urban vegetation in the Phoenix area can increase water quality and reduce wastewater treatment costs.

This Baltimore-area urban tree canopy provides ecosystem services that can improve quality of life for vulnerable populations.

Dr. Boone is associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and in the School of Sustainability, where he is also graduate chair. His extensive work in urban sustainability explores the relationships between cities and the natural environment to find ways that urban ecosystems can be strategically focused to reduce the negative effects of world poverty.

What triggered your focus on sustainability?

As a new graduate student in 1987, I read the United Nations report Our Common Future and recognized its ideas as a radical departure from the usual compromises between human development and the environment. Then, in the late 1990s, I had the opportunity to join the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a large integrated project with a team of 50 scientists working to understand how a metropolitan area functions as an ecosystem. Through this work, we began to find ways to translate our science into actions that would ensure a prosperous, healthy, and meaningful future for all residents of the Chesapeake. My participation in the Central Arizona—Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project continues that work.

What are your most important sustainability-related research projects?

I am working on two related projects that examine how ecosystem services (the benefits of our natural environment such as clean water and air) are distributed in metropolitan areas. The first project looks at the environmental benefits and costs of planting and maintaining tree canopies in five U.S. cities: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Baltimore, and Miami. The second, a book project, surveys the uneven consequences of global environmental change on urban residents around the world. For both projects, the primary concern is assessing the environmental justice of ecosystem services — who gains most from the ecosystem services we develop and nurture in metropolitan areas and how these services could be more equitably distributed.

How will your sustainability-related research affect policy decisions in the “real world”?

Strategically provided ecosystem services can improve health and quality of life, make cities more livable, attract investment, and reduce operating costs to individuals and municipalities. Our research on urban tree canopies will provide decision-makers with information on best practices for managing ecosystem services, including benefit and cost trade-offs and how to reach the most vulnerable populations.

What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you the most?

Grinding poverty undermines long-term environmental stewardship and the basic principles of justice that are fundamental to sustainability. We cannot achieve global sustainability while substantial numbers of people around the world try to subsist on less than a dollar a day.

April 30, 2010



Tempe's A Mountain Undergoes Restoration

April 26, 2010

A popular preserve in the middle of downtown Tempe was treated to a makeover on Saturday as part of Earth Day events.

About 100 volunteers participated in a path restoration project on the Hayden Butte Preserve, more popularly known as A Mountain. In addition to redefining its hiking trails, they painted trash cans and benches, planted cacti to define paths and removed debris so water can flow under pathways.

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ASU among the first green class according to The Princeton Review

April 26, 2010

Arizona State University is one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review. The nationally-known education services company selected ASU for inclusion in a unique resource it has created for college applicants – The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 286 Green Colleges.”

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Earth Day 2050

April 22, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an opinion-editorial article and the concluding piece to the ASUNews’ Earth Week 2010 series that pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

By Jonathan Fink

Last fall I went to the 40th reunion of a high school class in St. Louis that I was a part of through freshman year. I had not seen any of the 75 other attendees in four and a half decades. It felt like a “Twilight Zone” episode, meeting these graying, accomplished retirees, with which my last conversations were about the latest Beatles single or whether their moms could drive them to my house to play. While most of these 59-year-olds were still in good physical and mental shape, the sobering reality was that by our next decadal reunion, many would be in serious decline.

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City of Phoenix Receives $25 Million Grant to Create "Energize Phoenix" in Partnership with Arizona State University and Arizona Public Service

Institute Press Releases

April 21, 2010

New program will reduce electricity consumption, generate thousands of green jobs and create a more sustainable city in the desert

TEMPE, Ariz. – The City of Phoenix was awarded a $25-million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to launch, in partnership with Arizona State University and Arizona Public Service, “Energize Phoenix,” a project that will save energy, create jobs and transform neighborhoods.

The grant will be used as seed funding to establish a fiscally viable, permanent program that will eventually be expanded throughout the city. Locally, the funds will be leveraged by at least $190 million of additional funding from a combination of banks, local businesses and public partners.

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Q & A: Everyday Sustainability

April 20, 2010

What we do each day makes a difference. A team of ASU staff members from university sustainability practices recently discussed at a Sunday luncheon how we can make our daily lives – at home and at work – more ecological.

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Phosphorus, Food and Our Future

April 15, 2010

The mineral phosphorus (P) is critical to the creation of bones, teeth and DNA. “P” is also a key component of the fertilizers used to produce our food, as critical to agriculture as water. But is P, like oil, peaking? Natural and social scientists in Europe, Australia, the United States and elsewhere see growing evidence that the answer is yes. But when? That is the question.

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Collaborative Workshop on Sustainable Future Wins Honor

April 14, 2010

Sustainability embodies the idea of transformative change and social-environmental stewardship. It compels us to think beyond linear projections of the past into systemically exploring and constructing alternative futures that foster the goals of intra- and inter-generational equity.

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Sustainability Consortium Welcomes First Restaurant Company, Darden

April 13, 2010

Darden Restaurants has joined the Sustainability Consortium, an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. The consortium is jointly administered by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University.

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Challenges and Options for Food Waste Reduction

April 13, 2010

by Bonny Bentzin, Director – University Sustainability Practices, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University (This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

In today’s sustainability conscious world, there has been much discussion about food waste reduction options. At Arizona State University (ASU), in conjunction with our Carbon Neutrality goal, we have established a goal for Zero Waste (solid waste and water waste). Our food waste reduction strategy includes harvesting food from our landscaping, diverting food waste through appropriate donations, implementing trayless dining programs, monitoring consumption patterns and tracking orders, and the exploration of composting programs. Some of these options are proving more complex than others.

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Driving sustainability in consumer products

March 31, 2010

Q&A with Kevin Dooley

Dr. Dooley at the Sustainability Consortium’s research facility

Research staff and students at the Sustainability Consortium help develop energy standards for assessing consumer products

The port at Long Beach, Calif., cuts air pollution by plugging ships and trucks into electric power to reduce engine idling

Dr. Dooley is a professor of Supply Chain Management and Dean’s Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar in the W. P. Carey School of Business, and an affiliated faculty member of the School of Sustainability. He is a world-known expert in applying complexity science to help organizations improve and has consulted with numerous global companies, including Motorola, Raytheon, Citibank, and Toyota. As senior advisor at the Sustainability Consortium, he is responsible for leading sustainability research initiatives in electronic products, home and personal care products, life cycle analysis, and consumer science.

How did “sustainability” become part of your research focus?

Two years ago, several colleagues asked me to help them in a study about green purchasing. At the same time the School of Business needed someone to interact with the Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability. During my ensuing crash course to learn about sustainability I became convinced that I not only could, but should, make a professional commitment to address sustainability. One of my first projects involved studying the environmental impacts of seaports — collecting data to see if port efficiency and environmental excellence can co-exist.

What is your most important sustainability-related research project?

At the Sustainability Consortium we are developing the standards and systems needed to assess consumer product sustainability across the entire supply chain and product life cycle. This work will drive innovation for improving global consumer product sustainability. Our project started with a major gift from Walmart and we have added more than 40 additional retailers and manufacturers as members in less than a year, including Best Buy, General Mills, Cargill, and Waste Management.

How will your research affect policy or other “real world” decisions?

The Sustainability Consortium provides a natural platform to diffuse product research directly into companies and government agencies. Companies such as Intel or Dial-Henkel can use the research to improve their operations, while government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.K. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs can use it set policy.

What world sustainability challenge concerns you most?

As a sustainability-aware person, I know Earth’s systems are in big trouble. As a business school professor, I know we’ll be hard-pressed to shed the habits of our current consumer economy. I am working to find the common ground that will make sustainability work.

March 31, 2010



BASF First Chemical Company to be Founding Member of The Sustainability Consortium

Institute Press Releases

March 18, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – BASF today announced that it is the first chemical company to become a member of The Sustainability Consortium, an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. The company joins other retailers and consumer product manufacturers that have become members of the Consortium and its product “life cycle” mission, including social and environmental considerations.

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ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability Joins Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce

Institute Press Releases

March 11, 2010

PHOENIX, AZ  – The Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce (PGCC) announces today that Arizona State University’s prestigious Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) has joined the Chamber. The School of Sustainability is part of GIOS and also will be a participant in the Chamber.

The Green Chamber promotes sustainable business practices, including recycling, energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, and the use of energy-efficient facilities and equipment. It provides education forums on topical issues in sustainability, and business opportunities among members.

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School of Sustainability Graduate Students Launch Sustainability Journal

Institute Press Releases

March 11, 2010

TEMPE, Ariz. – As graduate students in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, Maren Mahoney and Zach Hughes had seen plenty of academic journals related to sustainability. But nowhere could they find a publication that made the complex concept of sustainability accessible to the everyday reader.

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Safeway Becomes First Grocer to be Founding Member of The Sustainability Consortium

Institute Press Releases

March 1, 2010

PLEASANTON, Calif. – March 1, 2010 – Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) has become the first U.S.-based retail grocery chain and manufacturer for private label merchandise to join The Sustainability Consortium in support of the organization’s science-based work toward a more sustainable global supply chain. The company joins other retailers and consumer product manufacturers that have become members of the Consortium and its product “life cycle” mission including social and environmental considerations.

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Building capacity for urban sustainability

February 26, 2010

Q&A with Arnim Wiek

Dr. Wiek and graduate students discussing sustainable anticipatory governance

Participants in a stakeholder workshop helping to develop a sustainable vision for the city of Phoenix

Dr. Wiek exploring a sustainable wine production system in Sonoma County, CA

Dr. Wiek is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainability. Over the last 10 years, he has conducted sustainability research in Europe, Canada, Sri Lanka, and the U.S. addressing topics such as emerging technologies, urban and regional development, land use conflicts, resource governance, and climate change. His research is carried out in collaboration with partners from government, business, and civil society. He is currently directing research in conjunction with ASU’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Decision Center for a Desert City, and Central Arizona—Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project.

What event triggered your focus on sustainability?

As a graduate student in philosophy at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, I attended an event that featured a replay of 12-year-old Severn Suzuki’s courageous speech to the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In that speech she said, “I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.” Right then I decided it was time to get involved in addressing the challenges of sustainability, and since that time I have devoted my career to sustainability research and education.

What is your most important sustainability-related research project?

I am co-leading a long-term project to craft coordinated strategies for urban sustainability in Phoenix from the city to the neighborhood level. To reach this goal, we are developing “sustainable anticipatory governance,” a new concept that applies visioning, complex system analysis, and future scenario construction to create adaptive governance strategies that will lead to transformative change.

Our project team works interactively with the Phoenix Planning Department, as well as with stakeholders from government, administration, business, and civil society across the city. The research engages numerous faculty and student collaborators from diverse academic fields and includes running a studio-like workshop course for ASU students from public affairs, urban planning, sustainability, and other programs.

How does your research affect decisions in the “real world”?

My research engages decision-makers in high levels of interactivity when it comes to conducting research, challenging basic assumptions, and analyzing claims and value positions. We have been able to clearly demonstrate that such interactive research on sustainability issues improves institutional and civil capacity and decision-making for sustainability.

What world sustainability challenge concerns you most?

We must address the “triangle of collective failure”: complexity, capacity, and change. The gap is widening between the increasing complexity of our society and our limited cognitive, emotional, and organizational capacity. To bridge this gap, we need to fundamentally change our ways of consumption, production, trade, mobility, education, and cooperation and become the responsible leaders, engaged citizens, and change agents we promise to future generations.

February 26, 2010



ASU Alumni Association honors Grimm and other world-changing innovators

February 18, 2010

Feb. 17, 2010/Tempe, Ariz.- The Arizona State University Alumni Association will honor faculty members and alumni involved in solving challenges with world-changing consequences.

School of Sustainability affiliated faculty member Nancy Grimm, who is principal investigator and co-director of the multi-million dollar Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project (CAP LTER), will receive a Faculty Achievement Award for Research.

The Founders’ Day Awards Dinner is set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix. The award ceremony has been a signature event for the university for decades, and it honors individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, ASU’s predecessor institution, who received their charter from the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1885.

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Smithsonian Institution & ASU Form Sustainability Research & Education Partnership

February 18, 2010

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. has joined Arizona State University in an innovative education and science partnership aimed at sustaining a biodiverse planet. Today, Secretary Wayne Clough, head of the Smithsonian, and ASU President Michael M. Crow launched a global classroom – with one foot in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and the other in the tropical landscapes of Panama.

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Designing transformational solar cells

January 30, 2010

Q&A with Christiana Honsberg and Stuart Bowden

Honsberg and Bowden in the the Solar Power Lab’s clean room

A newly designed solar cell ready for testing

Bowden with members of the Solar Power Lab research team

Professors Christiana Honsberg and Stuart Bowden are the leaders of ASU’s Solar Power Lab. Honsberg is chief scientist of the lab and is considered a pioneer in photovoltaics. Bowden heads the industrial collaboration section of the lab and is credited with improving the efficiency of silicon and crystalline silicon solar cells and the cell manufacturing process.

At what point did “sustainability” become part of your research focus?

When we became involved in photovoltaic research in the mid-1980s, the quest for solar energy had already been driven up by the 1970s oil crises and then redirected toward space applications as oil prices returned to low levels. Nevertheless, we always expected that when the technology became cheap enough, solar power would provide electricity in underdeveloped countries. The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 became a turning point for us because it highlighted world sustainability issues and prompted many highly developed nations to deploy photovoltaic systems. This has led to increased research focus over the past decade on photovoltaic materials and their impacts.

What are your most important sustainability-related research projects?

In one project, we are working to overcome current barriers to the production of very thin, high efficiency solar cells. Such a breakthrough will stimulate rapid improvements in existing commercial solar cell technology, reduce solar cell costs, and increase their use. Our goal is to put solar cells on a track analogous to what Moore’s Law describes for computers — geometric growth in power over time but at the same cost.

In a second project, we are developing ultra-high efficiency solar cells that will exceed existing efficiency limits of about 30 percent for non-concentrated sunlight and 45 percent for concentrated. Because we are using new approaches, such as exploiting the efficiencies of so-called “intermediate band material,” we expect to dramatically reduce the cost of materials and production while increasing power output. These new cells can literally transform our energy system by opening practical new applications for solar power that range from hydrogen fuel production to “smart windows” — glass that controls the amount of heat transfer in response to conditions.

How will your research affect future policy decisions?

Both of our projects make solar cells better and more affordable, which should increase the ability of policymakers to meet greenhouse gas emission targets. Our ultra-high efficiency solar cells, however, will take us even farther than that. We envision a future in which we no longer plug most of our devices into distant power-generating sources, but instead let them generate and store their own power from available sunlight.

What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you most?

We are most concerned about the world’s growing need for affordable, sustainable energy. This is a matter of environmental, economic, and social concern for both rich and poor countries.

January 30, 2010



Insect wranglers invade the Garden at Southwestern science EXPO

January 22, 2010

Raymond Mendez, the “original insect wrangler” who tamed 25,000 roaches, and trained moths to attack on command for the movie “Silence of the Lambs,” headlines the Southwest’s first Social Insect Science EXPO on Feb. 20 at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Designed for inquiring minds and families, the EXPO brings together some of the top scientists from Arizona State University, their favorite critters and the public. Attendees will be able to peer inside bee colonies and rub elbows-to-antennae with leaf-cutter, harvester and trap-jaw ants. Mendez, founder of Work as Play, which develops exhibits for zoos and museums, will bring his live ant and naked mole-rat colonies to share, in addition to speaking about his work in science, film and television, design and advertising.

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