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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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ASU LightWorks director named clean air champion

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 25, 2016

13250482_10208163534062855_577511014_nThe Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition is one of 90 coalitions across the country designated by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the use of petroleum motor fuel. These efforts are directed under the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act to reduce air pollution and dependence on foreign oil.

Every two years, Valley of the Sun and Tucson Regional Coalitions stage a Legislative Breakfast, where legislators, staff and civic leaders are invited to learn the latest in the means of reducing the use of petroleum fuel. This event features key speakers and a comprehensive display of alternative fuel vehicles.

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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.

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Understanding climate and energy through environmental humanities

LightWorks News

May 18, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11 52 44 AMEnvironmental humanities is a rapidly growing field focused on the study of human imagination, perception, behaviors and the relationship with their surrounding environments, both social and natural. Arizona State University humanist research is led by sustainability scholar Dr. Joni Adamson. Her research defines how and why, in the face of seemingly non-imminent danger, humans choose to act as they do and what would make them shift direction rapidly.

This approach is being integrated into all climate and energy research at ASU. This work will contribute substantially to the understanding of human behaviors, motivations, and decision-making, both individually and collaboratively. This research aims to catalyze the rapid social transitions needed to address global energy transitions and climate change.

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Designing solar-powered cyanobacteria for production of biofuels

LightWorks News

May 18, 2016

J06088 Lightworks BIFOLD 3 PDFP2Green chemicals and biofuels are projected to become major players in the economy. This is incredibly important as CO2 levels rise and fossil fuel use becomes a liability.

Dr. Willem Vermaas, a senior sustainability scientist,  and his team have been researching a novel concept to use photosynthetic microorganisms or cyanobacteria as biocatalysts that use solar energy and carbon dioxide to produce and secrete fatty acids for direct production of biofuels without major production of biomass.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Profitable agriculture through recovered energy, nutrients and solids

LightWorks News

May 2, 2016

J06088 Lightworks BIFOLD 1 PDFP1Currently, organic waste management in agriculture presents huge economic and environmental problems. These problems include regulatory risk, the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus, water and air pollution, and the lack of investment in anaerobic digestion. However, ASU researchers led by Bruce Rittmann are developing innovative systems to convert organic wastes into high-value products. These products can lead to improving employment and economic development in rural areas, and turn a liability into profit.

Rittmann and his team are developing smart, interconnected systems that synergistically produce renewable and high-value energy, fertilizers and soil amendments from organic wastes. They aim to increase profits for farmers by converting and recycling organic wastes into an assortment of value-added products.

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Creating energy and clean water in arid environments

LightWorks News

May 2, 2016

2016 Reseach Portfolio NewestWorldwide, water security in arid regions is threatened by unsustainable use of groundwater and population growth. In order for villages, towns, and cities to be sustainable and prosperous, clean water is essential. This requires efficient treatment and reuse of wastewater.

ASU researchers led by Peter Lammers have developed an innovative system that employs a heat-tolerant strain of microalgae in a closed system for efficient wastewater treatment under hot, arid conditions at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI). The bio-solids and algal biomass are then converted into energy, such as liquid fuel, through hydrothermal liquefaction or anaerobic digestion.

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International innovation through partnership with Beijing Normal University

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

April 28, 2016

25496231294_902c0b3fc6_oStrengthening Arizona State University’s commitment to innovation, ASU and Beijing Normal University have agreed to establish the Joint International Research Laboratory of Disaster Risk and Sustainability Sciences. The mission of the Joint Lab is to establish an international innovation platform for fostering research, training and education programs in both disaster risk and sustainability sciences, with an emphasis on integrated risk governance for sustainable development.

The ultimate goals for the Joint Lab are to understand the transformation of social-ecological systems in the context of global climate change, to provide the knowledge required for societies elsewhere in the world to deal with risks posed by global environmental change, and to seize sustainable development opportunities in a transition to global sustainability.

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Partnership drives international sustainability education

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

April 28, 2016

26008456592_62e279a211_oArizona State University is developing a long-term partnership with Beijing Normal University through a joint education program. This program between ASU and BNU allows the universities to drive their shared vision of sustainability through education.

We’re excited to announce that BNU and ASU have agreed to establish a collaborative education program known as the “BNU-ASU 3+1+2 Program.” This program allows qualified undergraduate students enrolled at BNU to successfully complete three years of their curriculum at BNU, and then transfer to ASU for another year to finish their undergraduate program. When students complete the first four years in the program, they receive a bachelor’s degree from BNU, after which they have the option to pursue a two-year Master of Science in Sustainability degree at ASU's School of Sustainability.

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