Skip to Content

News

ASU, Conservation International team up to protect biodiversity

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 22, 2017

Group photo of President Crow with CBO staff and Professors of PracticeAs a key program within the Knowledge Partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International, ASU welcomed seven Professors of Practice last week.

These scientists will devote time to teaching, mentoring and service initiatives at the university, all aligned toward advancing the three goals of the partnership: protecting biodiversity; promoting sustainable development, particularly in food production and fisheries; and training the next generation of conservation biologists.

“Right now we’re in a race, a race that will not be easily won,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The forces of nature and the negative force of our impact on nature are accelerating. The acceleration of those forces are such that they will contribute to our need to have something we don’t have, which are better theories, better ideas, better tools, better solutions, better implementation, better translation – none of which comes naturally.”

As the New American University, ASU supports local and global partnerships to ignite innovative solutions to pressing biodiversity conservation issues around the world.

Source

Cultivating a space to learn and grow

ASU Sustainability News

March 10, 2017

A woman directs a student's attention to something in the garden, where there a numerous plants, squares of hay and a wheelbarrow.Available to faculty, staff and students, the community garden at ASU’s Polytechnic campus helps the community understand food systems and water conservation in the desert. That's part of the reason why it is regularly used for capstone projects and outdoor class lessons.

According to Susan Norton, program manager of sustainability practices, “[The garden] opens the minds of students to what it means to eat local, what it tastes like, and why it is important.”

Much of what the garden grows is donated to food banks – about 370 pounds so far. Those who lease space through Norton’s program maintain it, and the waiting list is growing. That's why Norton wants to expand the garden, moving it to a more central and accessible location.

Source

Phoenix gets a guide to greener procurement from ASU

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 3, 2017

Nicole Darnall in front of a projector screen that reads "Top 5 Barriers"Wanting to lessen its impact on the environment, the City of Phoenix decided to explore ways to make more eco-friendly purchasing decisions. Sustainability experts Nicole Darnall and Lily Hsueh were among the half-dozen ASU faculty to help them.

The ASU team assessed opportunities for purchasing improvements by conducting focus group interviews with city procurement specialists. After identifying complex organizational barriers and trade-offs, the team provided eight recommendations that will help Phoenix advance its 2050 environmental sustainability goals.

“By engaging city officials, our team was able to address one of the city's concerns — how it can further integrate environmental considerations into its purchasing processes,” said Darnall, the principal investigator. “At the same time, we developed a better understanding about sustainable procurement, advanced our research ideas, and engaged teams of graduate students in project-based learning. This project created wins for everyone.”

Source

Sustainability scientist recognized as positive disrupter

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 27, 2017

Manfred wearing a brown jacket and standing in front of a chalkboard full of writingDistinguished Sustainability Scientist Manfred D. Laubichler, a theoretical biologist known as a positive “disrupter” who identifies trends years in advance, is being honored with the Faculty Service Achievement Award at Founders’ Day 2017.

Laubichler is regarded for his work on Complex Adaptive Systems, focusing on complexity as a unifying principle in the social and life sciences. One of his most significant contributions was to the launch of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute's Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, which prepares scientists and policymakers for questions that arise as cities become megacities.

Another project that Laubichler was instrumental in is the ASU-Leuphana Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation. The center – created in 2015 in conjunction with Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany – builds on the universities' shared focus on global sustainability and transdisciplinary research. Its creation included the first dual master’s degree in global sustainability sciences, which enables students to attend and receive degrees from both universities.

Source

Sustainability students pave a profitable path toward zero waste

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

February 20, 2017

School of Sustainability student Eric presents his project Circle BlueThree School of Sustainability students have come up with a way to guide small organizations painlessly toward zero waste. And they’ll make money doing it.

Eric Johnson, Sean Murray and Daniel Velez – all students in the Master of Sustainability Solutions program – make up the consulting firm Circle Blue. The firm will partner with schools, nonprofits and small businesses to find and eliminate waste, saving money and reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills.

And now they have a financial boost in achieving that aim. The Circle Blue team won a $20,000 grant from the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, defeating two other teams in the pitch competition in February 2017. The event, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, sought the team with the strongest potential to solve a social challenge.

Source

ASU awarded for commitment to climate leadership

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

February 14, 2017

At the 2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, ASU Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO Morgan Olsen accepted the 2016 Climate Leadership Award on behalf of the university.

The award, announced in September 2016 and presented at a luncheon hosted by Second Nature, recognized ASU's innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience among four-year institutions.

In 2007, ASU President Michael Crow was a founding signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. ASU continues to pursue sustainability solutions across its campuses, including a January 2017 power purchase agreement that more than doubles the university’s solar generating capacity.

Source

'Slow life' in the big city

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 14, 2017

Colorful balconies of a high-rise apartment complexBig cities are generally associated with fast-paced life, but an ASU study shows that one psychological effect of population density is the adoption of a “slow life strategy.”

The ASU team – including sustainability scientists Steven Neuberg and Douglas Kenrick – collected data from all 50 states and nations around the world. Then, through a series of experiments, they found that perceptions of crowdedness cause people to delay gratification in favor of slower behaviors. These included long-term romantic relationships, having fewer children and investing more in education.

“With the world’s population growing,” Neuberg says, “it seems more important than ever to understand the psychological effects of overcrowding and how living in crowded environments might influence people’s behaviors. Applying a new perspective to an old question is allowing us to reexamine the effects of living in crowded environments.”

Source

Chinese scholars learn to think sustainably at ASU

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Professional Training and Custom Sustainability Education

February 10, 2017

Visiting Chinese students gather around an outdoor algae bed A two-week workshop at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability brought students from China a new way of systems thinking to analyze complex sustainability problems.

Marty Anderies, professor and senior sustainability scientist, introduced the students to the key sustainability challenge areas of food, water, energy and urbanization – both locally and globally. His sustainability class was a combination of learning activities: documentaries and dialogue, interactive role-playing games, field trips and lectures.

The 16 students came from Beijing's Beihang University, an elite research university known for launching the first light passenger aircraft in China in 1950s. They chose ASU because the university is well-known in Chinese academia for its leading research and heavy focus in sustainability.

Source

How collecting human waste supports planetary sustainability

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 8, 2017

A little-known fact about ASU – it is home to the National Sewage Sludge Repository, the largest archive of its kind in the country. Samples in the repository come from 200 wastewater treatment plants and represent 10 percent of the U.S. population.

Senior Sustainability Scientist Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security, explains that this collection serves as a window into public health and habits. For example, if wastewater sludge shows high concentrations of opioids, researchers could alert authorities to a previously undetected drug problem.

This potential to point out public health concerns becomes increasingly relevant. As the world's population continues to move to cities, the ability to diagnose human activities, consumption and health in urban centers will be key to understanding and managing human health and planetary sustainability.

Source

ASU campaign to enhance discovery, success, community

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 2, 2017

Fireworks light up the sky over a band onstage at a baseball parkOn Jan. 26, 2017,  Arizona State University officially launched Campaign ASU 2020,  the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in the nearly fifteen-year tenure of President Michael Crow. This transformational $1.5 billion campaign will engage alumni and friends in expanding the access and excellence for which ASU has become known.

The campaign coincides with the 2020 strategic vision of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability to scale sustainability solutions with like-minded partners around the world. The ASU Wrigley Institute addresses humanity's most pressing challenges in social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Source

The benefits of bringing the outdoors in

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 2, 2017

Sonja talks with lecture attendeesBringing nature back into the classroom and other inside spaces is the objective of ASU adjunct faculty members Joe Zazzera and Sonja Bochart. During a February 2017 lecture on biophilia – or love of nature – they expanded on the numerous benefits of interacting with nature, including enhanced productivity, reduced stress and improved well-being.

Bochart explained that the effects of nature can be measured on a physical level; blood pressure drops and parasympathetic healing activates – benefits that our predominately-indoor lifestyles prevent. By including environmental features like natural materials, water, and “living walls” or hanging plants in our homes, classrooms and workplaces, we can increase our overall well-being.

The lecture was an installment in the ASU Wrigley Institute's Sustainability Series, where speakers discuss a range of environmental, social and economic topics.

Source

Sharing desert lessons with a drying world

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 25, 2017

Drawing of people looking through windows at a desert landscapeThe U.N. anticipates that almost half of Earth's population will be living in “areas of high water stress” by 2030 as a result of climate change. Experts estimate that, without intervention, as many as 700 million people may find themselves displaced.

To build resilience to this scenario, ASU has partnered with Scottsdale’s future Desert Discovery Center – an expansive research center that teaches “a global audience to value, thrive in and conserve desert environments.”  The center's public face will feature a series of exhibits that address "what I can see, what I can’t see and what it all means."

“There are things going on in the desert that are deep in the crust, and they’re teeming with life,” says Senior Sustainability Scientist Duke Reiter. “But without this research and a sophisticated guide, at both a macro and micro scale, it would be impossible to see.”

The ASU Wrigley Institute is currently exploring opportunities for educational outreach services, particularly those that engage K-12 audiences, through the new center.

Source

Bringing clean water to communities in the Middle East

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 12, 2017

Two ASU sustainability experts talk with a local utility expertParticularly with the growing influx of refugees from neighboring countries, communities across the Middle East are facing severe water shortages. Some communities rely on limited and variable water supplies without the infrastructure to adequately treat and transport the water. Energy sources needed to purify water can be inaccessible, expensive or unreliable.

That's why an ASU-led global consortium will implement a two-year, $1.95 million USAID project to develop and test affordable, portable clean water solutions in the region. The project – established in accordance with community-specific legal and cultural frameworks – will be implemented in 18 communities throughout Jordan and Lebanon, benefiting more than 36,000 people.

Leading the consortium are Richard Rushforth – a project manager for the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives – and sustainability scientists Rhett Larson and Nathan Johnson. Together, their expertise spans sustainability, law and engineering, and they are joined in the consortium by public and private partners from across the globe.

Source

How a 16-year-old is aiding in the effort against climate change

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 11, 2017

Georgescu and another researcher pose in front of climate models with 16-year-old computer whiz Gupta Senior Sustainability Scientist Matei Georgescu uses a lot of data in his research, studying how a changing landscape can affect local climate and resources. He achieves this by running simulations that make long-term projections with the goal of finding a more sustainable future. That's a lot of work.

Thankfully, through an innovative solution from ASU, Georgescu was paired with a gifted community member who could help. 16-year-old Vishesh Gupta was looking for a way to apply his knack for computer programming, and now assists Georgescu by using supercomputers to crunch data and make sense of disparate measurements.

The projects the pair are working on include the Urban Water Innovation Network, as well as a partnership with Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan that focuses on improving emergency preparedness during extreme-heat events.

Source

Visiting author points out leaks in common water myths

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

January 10, 2017

Receding water reveals the decay on the lake bed of Lake MeadIn his January 2017 lecture "How Much Water Does Arizona Need?," author and journalist John Fleck drew from over two decades of reporting on western water issues to offer a surprising perspective on challenges unique to the region.

Fleck, who serves as director of the water resources program at the University of New Mexico, explained how cooperation and innovation have enabled the Southwest to grow and prosper in the face of diminished water supplies – not conflict, as some believe. That rich communities take water from poor communities was another notion Fleck labeled as a myth, saying that ideas like these make it difficult to establish collaborative relationships.

The lecture, co-sponsored by Decision Center for a Desert City, was part of an ongoing ASU conversation the examines water from a range of disciplines – from science and conservation to law and policy.

Source

Studying sustainability through a top online bachelor's program

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 10, 2017

Hands type at a laptop, with a notebook and highlighter in the foregroundAfter working on issues of environmental responsibility as Girl Scout leader, Jessica Ohrt was inspired to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sustainability through ASU Online.

“I looked for a local college that had a sustainability program that would be comparable, and there wasn’t one. It was such a distinctive program and set of classes that I decided to stick with it,” said Ohrt, who lives in Marietta, Georgia.

The School of Sustainability's programs are among more than 60 undergraduate online degrees offered by ASU. In fact, the university's online bachelor’s degree program has been ranked fourth in the nation out of more than 1,300 reviewed by U.S. News & World Report, who scored based on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, and peer reputation.

Ohrt likes that the courses keep students on track and are self-directed, so she could work in between caring for her granddaughter. She expects to graduate in December 2017 and is considering working for a government agency or a nonprofit focusing on environmental justice.

Source

Modeling a way toward sustainable urban development

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 5, 2017

A crate of ripe red tomatoes Seeking sustainable solutions to unfettered development, a team of ASU researchers has been working to create an innovative, physics-based model that can predict how gardens and farms can most efficiently be integrated into cities.

The model will look at what would happen if vacant land in a city were turned into urban farms, which could produce food for the neighbors and help mitigate the urban heat-island effect. UHI occurs when concrete and asphalt stay warmer overnight, raising temperatures. Conversely, plants and trees allow desert land to cool at night.

Led by sustainability scientist Alex Mahalov, the team is part of a collaborative five-year national project funded with $4 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. The work crosses several disciplines, with mathematician Mahalov joined by experts in agribusiness, geography and sustainability.

Source

O Christmas tree: Greening your holiday

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 24, 2016

A Christmas tree with a mom and a child in the backgroundNatural vs. artificial – which Christmas tree is better for the environment, and can consumer choice really make a difference?

Carole Mars, senior research lead at The Sustainability Consortium at ASU, delves into what makes a Christmas tree "green," and whether other considerations come into play for consumers decorating for the holidays.

So, which tree is really more environmentally-friendly?

It depends on how consumers use it. Mars explains that there are several options for environmentally-conscious shoppers seeking to lower their environmental footprint. Locally-sourced natural trees that are composted or recycled will have a ‘break-even point’ of approximately four years, after which their environmental impact will be mitigated. On the other hand, artificial trees must be used for at least eight years to have a lower environmental impact than their natural counterparts, but can easily be re-used and re-purposed year after year.

Thus, it is crucial for holiday consumers to plan ahead when selecting their Christmas trees to find the perfect  compromise between tradition and conservation.

Source

Climate change solutions through thermal radiation

ASU Sustainability News

December 23, 2016

Liping Wang standing next to man in a lab looking over a microscopeIn a world where climate change poses an ever-growing threat, reducing conventional energy use is paramount to protecting the atmosphere.

An assistant professor at ASU, Liping Wang explores using thermal radiation to meet the demand for sources of renewable energy and energy conservation devices. With this aim, Wang is developing nanowire-based metamaterials, which are more flexible and tunable – and therefore yield the best results.

Wang says these technologies can help to produce high-efficiency renewable energy sources and to recycle waste heat. By re-using this previously-wasted heat, the demand for conventional energy sources declines and – in turn – so do greenhouse gas emissions and the acceleration of climate change.

Source

A windy path toward preserving Arctic ice

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 22, 2016

Researchers walk on melting iceThe rapid melting of Arctic ice is among the most dramatic effects of climate change. This is because the thawing of permafrost is likely to drive temperatures even higher throughout our planet and cause a number of cascading effects.

Recognizing that human habits are unlikely to change enough for this melting trend to be reversed, Steve Desch – a School of Earth and Space Exploration professor – decided to explore other options.

Desch formed an interdisciplinary research team, including sustainability scientist Hilairy Hartnett. The team created an innovative ASU class called "Geodesigning the Arctic" that focused on one solution in particular: using a windmill pump, buoy and hose to artificially increase the thickness of Arctic ice.

The next steps for the team are working with colleagues internationally to promote the idea of Arctic ice management and applying these ideas to saving – and perhaps creating – more Arctic ice.

Source