Skip to Content

News

Seminar provides sunny outlook on solar in Kosovo

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

July 19, 2016

An old-looking power plantWhen asked to design a program on renewable energy and sustainability to be presented in Kosovo – a country that relies on two coal-fueled power plants – the School of Sustainability's Ryan Johnson gladly accepted.

Johnson, who directs the school's professional training and custom sustainability education efforts, then approached geographer Martin Pasqualetti and electrical engineer Ron Roedel because of their expertise in renewable energy, as well as with a similar program in the Middle East.

After studying Kosovo's great solar potential, the two professors presented their insights at a two-week seminar beginning in May 2016. Each day was split between presentations by Pasqualetti – a sustainability scientist who focused on the social aspects of transitioning to a new energy source – and Roedel, who focused on the technical aspects of renewable energy. Together, they demonstrated the value of renewable energy and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Source

Locust outbreak brings ASU expert to Argentina

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

July 14, 2016

A hand holding three locusts of different sizesWhen a massive locust outbreak struck Argentina in 2016, Senior Sustainability Scientist Arianne Cease flew to the scene to offer her expertise.

Cease, a professor in the School of Sustainability, has studied locusts around the world. She and her lab manager arrived to swarms more than four miles long and two miles high – the worst Argentina had seen in 60 years.

After assessing the situation and sharing her research, Cease hosted a two-day workshop. Here, she described to university researchers and government officials how to address locust outbreaks using a systems approach.

With the aim of creating a rapid-response team to address situations like the one in Argentina, Cease is building a Global Locust Consortium. She hopes to host the initial meeting by early 2017.

Source

Taking useful technology to market

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

July 12, 2016

The modern glass aesthetic of ASU's Biodesign building reflecting the sunset The environment of creativity fostered by ASU was recognized in July 2016, when the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association released their annual rankings. According to the groups, ASU ranks 38th among worldwide institutions in utility patents earned, with 55 patents secured in 2015.

“It’s a very nurturing culture that makes it easy for folks to file patents,” says Senior Sustainability Scientist Rolf Halden, who has been awarded six patents in the last six years.

Halden, who directs ASU's Center for Environmental Security, works to improve human health by studying exposure to toxic chemicals and inventing ways to clean up contamination in soil and groundwater.

Source

Students study culture and sustainability in Morocco

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

June 27, 2016

Two scientists enjoying coffee outside a Moroccan cafeFor the fourth year in a row, the School of Sustainability sponsored a study abroad excursion to Morocco, where Arizona State University students studied the complexities of sustainable development.

Senior Sustainability Scientist Mary Jane Parmentier – who served as a member of the Peace Corps in Morocco in the 1980s and has maintained contacts there – led the program.  Students learned about the differing priorities among the unique cultures in this North African nation, then digested that knowledge during nightly meetings.

The study abroad program has evolved from year to year, becoming more culturally immersive and focused on evaluating sustainability solutions that are being implemented in host countries. For more updates from this excursion and others, visit the Global Sustainability Studies Program's blog.

Source

Inaccurate emissions numbers weaken Clean Power Plan

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 24, 2016

Illuminated power plant at night, its reflection in nearby waterAccording to an Arizona State University study led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Kevin Gurney, federal data on power-plant carbon dioxide emissions is significantly flawed.

Power plants are responsible for roughly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. Inaccurate data concerning these emissions undermines the federal Clean Power Plan, which is designed to strengthen the clean-energy trend by setting a national limit on the carbon pollution produced by power plants.

“This policy relies on the achievement of state-level CO2 emission-rate targets,” write the study's authors. “When examined at the state level, we find that one-third of the states have differences that exceed 10 percent of their assigned reduction amount. Such levels of uncertainty raise concerns about the ability of individual states to accurately quantify emission rates in order to meet the regulatory targets.”

Source

A neighborly partnership for energy reform

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

June 23, 2016

Beltrán stands at a podium with a black curtain behind himLeonardo Beltrán Rodríguez, undersecretary for planning and energy transition under Mexico’s Secretary of Energy, is managing the most significant reform of Mexico’s energy sector in more than 70 years – and ASU is helping him do it. In June 2016, Beltrán met with ASU leaders to formalize a relationship of future collaboration in energy research and education.

“ASU is one of the premier universities in the U.S. in terms of energy research, with nationally recognized centers...,” said Stephen Goodnick, deputy director of ASU LightWorks. “ASU also has strong partnerships within Mexico, with more than $35 million worth of projects related to Mexico either in partnership with Mexican entities or with a focus on Mexican topics, cultures or materials.”

Source

HOAs influence water use, ASU study finds

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 5, 2016

Low-water landscaping in desert neighborhoodHomeowners associations are good for water conservation, according to a study led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Elizabeth Wentz.

Upon analyzing water-use records for properties throughout several neighborhoods in Goodyear, Arizona, Wentz and her research team found that houses in HOAs used significantly less water than those that were not. They also found that houses in HOAs had less vegetation overall, even when minimum vegetation requirements were listed among the HOAs' rules.

The team concluded that a sense of community, coupled with fines for non-conformers, make homes in HOAs more likely to observe an area’s social and environmental norms – even if those norms are never codified in law. If HOAs shaped their standards to reflect environmentally-friendly landscaping, they could save thousands of gallons of water per household every year.

Source

Meeting emissions targets after Paris climate talks

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 19, 2016

Smokestacks billow emissions in front of a blue skyWithin months of the Paris climate talks, more than 20 city officials from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for a "how-to" on inventorying sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The training – led by Raj Buch, practice lead for the Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Services – helped attendees determine where emissions cuts are most needed.

Twenty-one city officials attended, from countries including Argentina, India, South Africa, Korea, Bolivia, China and Bangladesh. All of them were clients of World Bank, an organization that mainly finances Third World infrastructure projects and is concerned about the effects climate change will have on them.

Bank officials asked the School of Sustainability to design and deliver a curriculum around this topic, as it had done for other topics in the past. The workshop will be produced in an online format, as well.

Source

Love of a language shapes sustainability grad's path

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 16, 2016

Bridget Harding standing on a wet walking path through a field of tall flowersSchool of Sustainability student Bridget Harding's love of the Korean language, which she studied throughout high school and her time at ASU, has shaped her path in a few profound ways.

First, it prompted her to study abroad in South Korea, where she became interested in East vs. West perspectives on nature and ecology. It also became a point of intrigue for potential employers, who viewed that the knack for learning such a difficult language as an indicator of other aptitudes – like learning difficult computer programs.

Harding was admitted into the Fulbright Scholarship Program in South Korea, where she will teach English for at least one year. She is one of the 118  uniquely-talented students to graduate from the School of Spring in 2016.

Source

A big boost for bioenergy research at ASU

ASU Sustainability News

May 16, 2016

Bright green algae in tubesTwo ASU biofuel projects are among six nationwide receiving $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore innovative solutions in bioenergy.

One project aims to improve algal biomass growth while reducing evaporation and eliminating the need for cooling. It has the potential to reach five times the current algal production rates, reducing the cost of enclosed algal cultivation systems and boosting total fuel potential.

The other will engineer cyanobacteria for the production of ethyl laurate, which is easily converted to biofuels or bioproducts that are compatible with existing infrastructure. The expected outcome is an economically competitive yield of a biofuel produced directly from CO2 under the influence of sunlight.

These projects will support the work of the Bioenergy Technologies Office to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels and develop a more robust bioeconomy. This means more green jobs and innovation, as well as a better environment and national energy security.

Source

A glimpse into the future of algae

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 11, 2016

summerfeld_and_algae-5One of the nation’s top experts on algae, ASU sustainability scientist Milton Sommerfeld, has spent half of a century exploring the possibilities of the plant as a super food, fuel, fertilizer and more.

Sommerfeld – co-director of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at ASU's Polytechnic campus – explains that there are roughly 75,000 different types of algae, and that certain strains are more optimal for given uses than others.

According to Sommerfeld, the most immediate impact from algae will be in bioremediation – a waste management technique that uses organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site. He expects commercial algal biofuels further down the line, as production will require scaling the small cultivation operations of the present to an industrial level.

Source

Thinking circularly in a rapidly-growing megacity

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 10, 2016

asu-circular-economy-workshop-lagos-2To help address the mounting challenges of Africa's most populous city – Lagos, Nigeria – the Global Sustainability Solutions Services of ASU’s Walton Initiatives hosted a three-day workshop there in April 2016.

The first of its kind in the world, the "Introduction to Ethical Circular Economy" workshop was hosted at Sustainability School Lagos – an institution modeled after ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. It encouraged the group of 35 students, city and state officials, and others to imagine an economy where resources are remanufactured, refurbished and recycled – nothing is wasted.

“There is a tremendous amount of potential for a circular economy in rapidly developing countries,” said Senior Sustainability Scientist and Practice Lead Raj Buch. “It’s where the larger opportunity arises because it’s where most of the economic development is going to happen.”

Buch co-led the course with General Manager Dan O’Neill and Olufemi Olarewaju – an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership graduate and the executive director of the Sustainability School Lagos.

Source

NASA funds first ASU student team to run space satellite

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 6, 2016

Students with laptops smiling in infrared An ASU undergraduate project called “Phoenix,” which will design and build a bread loaf-sized satellite, has been awarded $200,000 by the NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Student Instrument Program. The satellite, called a “3U CubeSat,” will use thermal infrared imaging to investigate how human activity and weather create urban heat islands around the Valley.

"Phoenix" follows an interdisciplinary model, made up of students and faculty from the School of Sustainability, among others. Though faculty and a graduate student will be mentors on the project, the team of more than 25 undergraduate students will be designing, promoting, building and running it from beginning to end.

“This project is history in the making,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration associate professor Judd Bowman, the project’s principal investigator. “No undergraduate student group at ASU has run a satellite in space before.”

Source

WaterSim debuts at largest science festival in US

ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

April 18, 2016

DCDC staff stand in front of booth, smiling and flashing ASU pitchforkASU's Decision Center for a Desert City was one of only 30 National Science Foundation-funded projects invited to represent the organization at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., from April 16-17, 2016.

Visitors to the DCDC  booth learned about water in the West through WaterSim – a simulation tool created by the center to estimate water supply and demand for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It allows users to explore how various factors like regional growth, drought, climate change and water management policies influence water sustainability.

The festival – the largest and only national science festival, as well as the largest STEM education event in the United States – saw an estimated 350,000 visitors over the course of two days.

Source

Best-selling author takes a look at your next meal

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Food Systems News

April 14, 2016

Author Michael Pollan sitting at table with his books smiling at studentAuthor, journalist and food activist Michael Pollan — named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine — gave a Wrigley Lecture on April 14, 2016, as part of the School of Sustainability's 10th anniversary celebration.

Pulling from 15 years of research, Pollan detailed the many shifts in agriculture since the industrial revolution – including the move from sunlight to oil. He explained how many factories that supported WWII – like those that manufactured bombs – went into the food business post-war, making products like pesticides instead.

These shifts have had a number of unintended negative consequences, Pollan explained. They include crops that are so laden with chemicals that they are not fit for direct human consumption, a poor quality of life for farmed animals, and a significant toll on the overall health of Americans.

Pollan concluded by commending the ASU Wrigley Institute for its focus on solutions to the problems of food system sustainability. After receiving a standing ovation, he joined the excitement at both the Rescued Food Feast and Festival of Sustainability at ASU.

Source

Anniversary celebration propels school into its next decade

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 14, 2016

asu-school-of-sustainability-ten-yearsIn 2014-2015, more than 1,500 ASU students were enrolled as sustainability majors and minors across business, engineering, sustainability, humanities and nutrition. Ten years prior, the degree did not exist – not at ASU or any other university in the nation.

The festivities on April 14, 2016, not only celebrated the evolution and accomplishments of the first-ever School of Sustainability, they recognized the foresight and collaborative spirit of Arizona State University as a whole.

The day began with a packed house at a Wrigley Lecture by best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan, who discussed some disturbing trends in our food system and how they can be reversed. After receiving a standing ovation from the audience, Pollan joined the migration to the Rescued Food Feast, which served nearly 1,000 people with delicious meals made from nutritious foods typically disposed of for cosmetic reasons alone.

Diners then followed members of ASU's marching band to the front steps of Wrigley Hall, where Benefactor Julie Wrigley and President Michael Crow remarked on the occasion. Alumni, faculty and community members alike then enjoyed the Festival of Sustainability at ASU, featuring a Farmers Market, live music and exhibits by departments throughout the university.

It was a 10th birthday to remember!

Source

Adapting to climate change while working to reverse it

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 8, 2016

A devastated community after a stormEfforts to reverse climate change are not fast-acting enough, so we must take practical steps now to blunt disasters, says a March 2016 report called “Adaptation for a High Energy Planet: A Climate Pragmatism Project.”

Co-author Daniel Sarewitz – a sustainability scientist and the director of ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes – explains that while working toward a reduction in carbon emissions is important, we must adapt to the increased likelihood of extreme weather events in the meantime. This can be achieved through flexible, forward-thinking infrastructure; contingency plans for evacuation and emergency housing; and improved weather tracking, among others.

“There’s all sorts of aspects to this; it’s not just a technological problem,” Sarewitz says. “What we’d really like to see is policymakers and the media realize that there is a different, more hopeful way to look at the problem, and it points the way towards solutions.”

Source

Mexico to modernize power grid with help from ASU

ASU Sustainability News

April 6, 2016

Electrical towering looming in front of a bright blue skyASU was recently named a participant in a three-year, $26-million grant that will help Mexico – a country in the midst of privatizing and updating its energy industry – explore its energy options and how it can connect with its neighbors.

The grant was awarded to the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey by Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology and its Secretary of Energy, and is designed to address the energy economy in the country. It will help build infrastructure, perform research and conduct educational activities, preparing Mexico for its energy future.

ASU is receiving $1.5 million of the grant and will provide its energy economic modeling proficiency via the Decision Theater. It will also apply its renowned expertise in power engineering to the project, according to ASU LightWorks Deputy Director Stephen Goodnick.

Source

Conservation biology students launch Nature@ASU

ASU Sustainability News Biodiversity News

March 28, 2016

Waterfall in a lush tropical forestA group of ASU undergraduate and graduate students has created an extensive resource dedicated to enhancing the experience of future conservation biologists and showing them the range of career options in the field.

Nature@ASU, which launches in fall 2016, will feature five components: a mentorship program; an internship finder; a job-mining component; high school outreach; and a website.

Sharon Hall, associate director of education and diversity at the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and a senior sustainability scientist, will serve as Nature@ASU's faculty adviser. She explains that though conservation biology careers are numerous, they are often unclear to high school students and their parents.

The is where the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will play a supporting role, helping Nature@ASU create a hub for conservation biology engagement.

Source

Let's talk water abundance, not scarcity, says new initiative

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 22, 2016

Desert mountains in background and calm lake in foregroundA five-year Arizona State University initiative called FutureH2O is flipping the global conversation about water – focusing on abundance and how to create it, rather than on scarcity.

John Sabo, a senior sustainability scientist and professor in the School of Life Sciences, directs the new initiative and announced it at a White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016.

“FutureH2O will look for new opportunities to harness the abundance of water on the planet,” said Sabo. “Some of these opportunities are things you’d expect us to do as a university, like training the next generation of water managers. But some of the other opportunities are things that ASU is uniquely poised to do."

ASU will work with large corporate water consumers to restore what they use, train a new generation of leaders on water usage, turn a Phoenix-area municipality into a model for reducing outdoor water use, as well as maximize sensors, data and the internet on a global scale to instantly manage water and hydropower.

Source