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ASU LightWorks director receives clean air champion award

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

Board Letter 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

Board Letter 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

Board Letter 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

Board Letter 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 – 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

Board Letter 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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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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New 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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Faculty Highlight: Klaus Lackner

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

lackner-carbon-capture-e1460415938931-300x300Arizona State University’s President Michael Crow has hired Center for Negative Carbon Emissions Director Klaus Lackner twice.

The first time was when Crow was vice provost at Columbia University. He attracted Lackner in 2001 from Los Alamos National Laboratory to join Columbia's Earth Institute and become a professor.

Crow knew he was hiring a big picture thinker: Lackner’s interest in self-replicating machine systems had been recognized by Discover magazine in 1997 as one of seven ideas that could change the world, and his work in mineral sequestration of carbon dioxide in silicate minerals appeared in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report.

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A promising path to negative carbon emissions

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

negcarbon_scenariorgbCarbon dioxide is a potent greenhouse gas and its steady accumulation poses ever-increasing risks of harmful climate change. The need for collection of carbon waste and its permanent and safe disposal will not stop even if the world succeeds in abandoning fossil fuels. Halting the rise of carbon dioxide at any reasonable concentration demands a transition to a net zero or even net negative carbon economy.

Negative carbon emissions via air capture provide an important and largely neglected tool for mitigating climate change. Air capture could recover carbon flows that were allowed to escape into the atmosphere, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Therefore, we aim to create a Center of Excellence within ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE) to research negative carbon emissions and direct capture of carbon dioxide from the ambient atmosphere.

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Joint decision-support analysis of water and energy systems

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

John SaboThe increasing global demand for energy will stress water resources because energy production requires water for refining and cooling processes. Additionally, deployment of new clean-energy technologies must be well established based on the geography and hydroclimate.

Arizona State University researchers led by Senior Sustainability Scientist John Sabo, are developing Net-WEST, a data hub and analytics platform, that will engage key decision makers from the water and energy sectors to co-develop systems thinking tools for the planning of energy infrastructure. This project will involve public-private partnerships among national energy laboratories, power authorities, water agencies and utility companies.

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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.

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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!

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Human energy analytics

LightWorks News

April 8, 2016

Graph of human-centered principlesASU's  Human Energy Analytics group, led by Jacqueline Hettel, creates new informatics tools and resources to catalyze, accelerate and improve the human outcomes of global energy-systems change.

ASU researchers work with energy companies to change their organizational cultures; with communities to invent new energy futures; and with policy leaders to accelerate energy innovation. This work leads to a better understanding of how to improve clean-energy technology adoption in diverse, complex communities.

By embodying human-centered principles in data design, tool development and analysis, human energy analytics can identify reliable signals of human values and motivations to optimize the social value of energy transitions.

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Micro-grid innovations for sustainable communities

LightWorks News

April 8, 2016

asu-lightworks-microgridsReliable access to electricity is widely regarded as a keystone to overcoming poverty. Micro-grids are localized energy grids that can be used to provide reliable, safe, and low-cost power to 1.4 billion people lacking access today.

The micro-grids research team lead by Nathan Johnson has developed a suite of solutions for off-grid power applications that accommodate residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Additional work by the group includes exploration of solar thermal applications and direct current power architectures.

All projects leverage public-private partnerships to drive energy innovations from concept to construction. On-site deployment, testing and scale-up of technologies are completed in conjunction with NGOs or entrepreneurs to spur local business development.

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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.

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