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Wrigley Sustainability Institute News

Is Arizona Poised to Take the Solar Lead? Az SMART Project Will Help Homeowners, Businesses, Leaders

Institute Press Releases

July 13, 2010

TEMPE, Ariz. (July 13, 2010) — Is Arizona prepared to take the lead in the shift to renewable energy, using its greatest natural resource – the sun? A major research effort led by Arizona State University and initially funded through a grant from Science Foundation Arizona is trying to answer that question by analyzing how best to use solar and other sustainable energy throughout the state.

A top official from the U.S. Department of Energy, Undersecretary Kristina Johnson, recently visited the project, and other VIPs are coming soon. The hope is that the Az SMART project will provide an example for other states to follow in President Obama’s plan to reduce emissions, reduce foreign oil dependence and create jobs in a clean technology economy. The project includes tools to benefit homeowners, businesses and the leaders who need to make informed decisions about which power-generation methods to use and where to locate new facilities, such as solar fields.

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Organizing Teaching and Research to Address the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Development

July 6, 2010

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July/August 2010, Vol. 60, No. 7
Posted online on July 7, 2010

Organizing Teaching and Research to Address the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Development
Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University

ASU awarded $6 million for biofuel research

July 6, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Arizona State University a $6 million grant as part of a program focused on algae-based biofuels.

The program supports the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector – a goal of DOE’s continued effort to spur the creation of a domestic bio-industry while creating jobs. This round of DOE funding totals $24 million for three research groups to tackle key hurdles in the commercialization of algae-based biofuels.

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Optimizing renewable energy for sustainable cities

May 28, 2010

Q&A with Jin Jo

Dr. Jo (left) working in the NCE Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technologies lab.

Dr. Jo measuring sunlight reflectivity of a Phoenix-area rooftop.

Visual comparison of a cool roof treatment (left) with a standard commercial rooftop (right).

Dr. Jo graduated from the School of Sustainability in May 2010 as the nation’s first Ph.D. in sustainability. His doctoral studies, chaired by School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Jay Golden, focused on the use of sustainable building strategies and renewable energy to reduce negative impacts of urbanization. This fall he will join the faculty of Illinois State University.

What inspired your interest in sustainability as an academic and research focus?

While pursuing a master’s in urban planning at Columbia University, I had the chance to study with Jeffrey Sachs and other faculty in the fields of environmental planning and sustainable development. Outside the classroom, I worked with local community groups such as Sustainable South Bronx. Both experiences stimulated my interest in creating mitigation strategies to reduce energy and material intensity, water consumption, and environmental impacts in cities. Faculty in the School of Sustainability furthered that interest by providing opportunities to work alongside local utility companies and city governments to develop and implement my ideas.

What are the most important sustainability-related projects you’ve been involved with at ASU?

In one project, I partnered with Arizona Public Service to model the electricity savings and environmental benefits from a cool roof system, using data I collected on the utility’s solar-reflective roof. For a project with the city of Chandler, I helped assess the feasibility of a photovoltaic system for the new city hall building by modeling several different available options and assessing the costs and energy production of each. On a follow-up project, I analyzed over 900 primarily commercial buildings in Chandler to assess the impacts of urban-scale photovoltaic installations. Finally, I developed a model that individually optimizes for each building the costs and benefits of cool roofs and renewable energy systems over entire life cycles.

How will your career work affect sustainability in the “real world”?

As a new faculty member in Illinois State University’s Renewable Energy Program and coordinator for the Center for Renewable Energy, I will enjoy unique opportunities to work with governments and industries to assess the impacts of urban-scale renewable energy applications. Results from this work will inform the decisions of utility companies and policymakers at many levels.

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

I believe the biggest sustainability challenge is to understand complex urban systems, particularly at the regional level. Major cities currently produce a significant impact on global and regional climate change due to their rapid population growth and physical expansion, but little is known about the regional effects of mitigation strategies. It is critical that we give city planners the knowledge and tools they need for assessing how different strategies can help them address energy consumption, water use, and environmental impacts.

May 28, 2010

Ecological research network wins national award

May 25, 2010

Recognizing 30 years of research by thousands of scientists, the American Institute of Biological Sciences at a May 18, 2010, ceremony honored the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network with its 2010 Distinguished Scientist Award. The award is presented annually for significant scientific contributions to the biological sciences.

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Evidence of climate change underscores need for action

May 24, 2010

As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) issued three reports emphasizing why the United States should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

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ASU gathers experts for international urban sustainability workshop

May 21, 2010

Guided by the principle that today’s cities are laboratories and their leaders are researchers in the new science of urban sustainability, Arizona State University’s (ASU) Jonathan Fink, along with two British colleagues, will lead Comparative Urban Genetics: Towards a Common Methodology for Pragmatic Analysis of Cities. The workshop event takes place this weekend, May 21-23, at University College London (UCL) in London, England.

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High School Student Earns Place in ASU Lab

May 20, 2010

It’s considered an exceptional achievement when college undergraduates earn opportunities to conduct research under the guidance of top professors.

That makes Rahul Mitra especially exceptional.

He’s only a junior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, and already he’s working with an engineering research group at Arizona State University.

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Global Institute of Sustainability Leadership Directorate created

May 4, 2010

Shangraw appointed Director; van der Leeuw appointed Dean; Melnick continues as chief operating officer and executive dean

ASU President Michael M. Crow today announced R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. has been appointed director of the Global Institute of Sustainability, a key all-university research initiative. Shangraw also serves as ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Simultaneously, ASU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth D. Capaldi announced the appointment of Sander van der Leeuw as dean of the School of Sustainability. He will also continue as director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative.

Rob Melnick continues as GIOS chief operating officer and executive dean. He, along with Shangraw and van der Leeuw, form the institute’s new directorate providing overall leadership to GIOS and its School of Sustainability.

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Graduate Combines Passion for Trolleys and Sustainability

May 3, 2010

When Margaret Dunn decided to return to ASU two years ago, she was fulfilling a 25-year-old promise. What she found was a life’s passion.

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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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