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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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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

Board Letter 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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Conservation biology students launch Nature@ASU

Board Letter 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.

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LightWorks draws VIP crowd at energy innovation summit

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

March 16, 2016

Al-Gore-ARPA-E-LightWorks-ASUTaking part in a high-visibility event near the nation’s capital means you need to be on your toes. Just ask sustainability scientist Zak Holman, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He was displaying a technology at the recent ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit near Washington, D.C., when Al Gore, the former vice president, walked up and asked him about the PVMirror Holman had invented.

Holman’s PVMirrors were part of an ASU LightWorks display put on by Arizona State University for the ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy) summit. ASU professors, staff and students took part in the three-day event. They had the chance to show off their work to several people, including dignitaries like Jim Yong Kim – president of the World Bank – who was also impressed by Holman's technology.

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Powering Pakistan's future through partnership

ASU Sustainability News

February 16, 2016

smiling student in striped tee shirt next to smiling man in suitThe first cohort in a partnership with leading Pakistani engineering universities – dedicated to researching and developing solutions for Pakistan’s energy needs – was welcomed to ASU in January 2016.

The 24 exchange graduate students are part of a project called the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy – directed by Senior Sustainability Scientist Sayfe Kiaei. USPCAS-E aims to fully unlock Pakistan’s economic potential through an educated and involved workforce. It intends to accomplish this by addressing Pakistan's unique energy needs and developing relationships between government, industry and academia to inform sustainable policy.

The collaboration is sponsored by Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission and the U.S. Agency for International Development, who awarded ASU $18 million to support the project.

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Tri-continental partnership takes on global issues

ASU Sustainability News

February 9, 2016

university presidents sitting onstage in front of audienceIn February 2016, Arizona State University and two other major research institutions formally launched the PLuS Alliance, a new tri-continental partnership to help find research-led solutions to global challenges and expand access to world-class learning.

ASU, King’s College London and the University of New South Wales in Australia are combining cutting-edge research capabilities, faculty expertise and student experience to address global issues related to sustainability, health, social justice, and technology and innovation. The research will be supported with a suite of related online learning programs.

“There are two essential, core things that need to be advanced at the largest scale possible, with the deepest impact possible,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “And those are educational attainment and sustainable outcomes. And those two things together sit at the core of this alliance.”

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New tool helps corporations apply analytics to water use

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News Biodiversity News

January 22, 2016

asu-water-decision-toolASU's Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is behind a revolutionary tool unveiled at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, held in Paris in December 2015, and now piquing the interest of major corporations.

The Green Infrastructure Support Tool was developed by Senior Sustainability Scientist John Sabo - affiliated faculty in the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes - and helps corporations apply analytics to their water use, simultaneously supporting water conservation, habitat restoration and the bottom line.

Dow Chemical is now considering implementation of the tool at its Texas operations on the Brazos River. Here, there are many places where wetlands can be restored, but only a few that are economically viable and will better meet Dow's bottom line. Finding where it would be best to invest in green infrastructure is what the tool does.

The development of the tool was made possible through a partnership with Earth Genome - a nonprofit with the goal to enable key institutions to account for natural capital in decision-making.

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Report outlines new utility regulatory pathways

Institute Press Releases LightWorks News

January 7, 2016

powering-tomorrow-energy-reportTempe, Ariz., Jan. 7 – As more electricity providers enter the energy market, the way consumers obtain electricity is becoming more and more decentralized. Today, the leaders of the Powering Tomorrow Initiative released their Phase Two report, which defines industry structures and regulatory packages that accommodate a growing number of market participants, while securing the vitality of existing utilities and a fair playing field for new market entrants.

Powering Tomorrow has been co-directed by Kris Mayes, a professor of practice at the ASU School of Sustainability and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Darrell Hanson, a former Iowa public utility commissioner and two other former utility commissioners. ASU has been a participant in Powering Tomorrow, and will continue to assist in future phases of the effort.

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Celebrating 10 years of leading the way

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Alumni News

January 4, 2016

asu-school-sustainability-anniversaryArizona State University’s School of Sustainability has been boldly leading the way to a sustainable future since its inception in 2006.

Now in 2016, the school – the first comprehensive, degree-granting program of its kind in the nation – reaches its 10th Anniversary. The milestone will be marked with a series of memorable events from April 14-16, including a Wrigley Lecture by renowned author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan.

The school has enjoyed numerous accomplishments over the past decade, including an expanding set of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, a minor in sustainability and multiple online offerings. It has also established training partnerships with organizations including the International Finance Corporation, World Bank, Starbucks, Walton Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, United States Agency for International Development and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Food security a historic factor in climate resilience

ASU Sustainability News

December 28, 2015

vulnerability-climate-resilienceUnderstanding human capacity to cope with climate challenges of the distant past has great significance for adequately addressing those that we face today.

Teams of researchers – including Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Margaret Nelson – working in both the American Southwest and North Atlantic islands of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroes have found that historic and prehistoric peoples who were vulnerable to food shortage were especially susceptible to climate challenges.

In each instance, eight variables – ranging from social to environmental – were applied to quantify vulnerability to food shortage in the absence of climate challenges. The cases with lowest vulnerability showed no extreme social change or food shortage following climate-related disasters. Researchers also found that social factors, such as limitations on networks and mobility, were the primary contributors to food shortage vulnerability.

Nelson, the lead author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on these findings, says the research illustrates that addressing vulnerabilities – even those that are not climate-related – is a key part of climate disaster management.

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Creating concrete that can better weather heat

ASU Sustainability News

December 23, 2015

roads-sustainability-resilienceA new international initiative called Infravation, a combination of infrastructure and innovation, endeavors to rebuild major roads in ways that are more sustainable.

ASU engineer and sustainability scientist Narayanan Neithalath's proposal was among fewer than ten selected by the European Commission from nearly 100, with only one other from the United States. His $1.6 million award will be used to find out whether mixing a phase-change material with concrete can significantly enhance the durability of pavements and bridge decks.

Phase-change materials are substances that respond to temperature variations by changing their state from solid to liquid or vice versa, and can be sourced from petroleum or plants. The substance Neithalath's Infravation team is working with is especially effective at absorbing and releasing thermal energy, which makes it a good choice for mixing with concrete. This is because the material can absorb much of the heat it is exposed to, thereby protecting concrete from temperatures that can trigger fractures.

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Joint master's to teach sustainability in global setting

ASU Sustainability News

December 21, 2015

asu-leuphana-sustainability-mastersA joint master's degree program in global sustainability science between ASU and Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, has received German accreditation. Students who enroll in the program will spend time at both universities, work on joint projects and receive a degree from both.

Accreditation marks major milestone for the program, which is the first of its kind at ASU and represents the university's global education efforts. 

“Reaching sustainable development goals requires a different type of international education and new forms of institutional collaborations among universities and other institutions of higher learning,” said ASU President’s Professor Manfred Laubichler, who directs the joint ASU-Leuphana Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation.

ASU and Leuphana also collaborated on a “global classroom” project taught by professors from both institutions and are working together on an increasing number of research projects.

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Media seeks ASU expertise on Paris climate talks

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 10, 2015

media-mentions-300x300Eight ASU sustainability experts were in attendance at the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Paris, France, Nov. 30 through Dec. 11. With expertise ranging from international law to ecology to ideology, policy and equity, Arizona State University was well represented in the media.

In an article published near the end of the negotiations, Sustainability Scientist Sonja Klinsky was prominently featured in the Los Angeles Times. Together with Walton Sustainability Postdoctoral Fellow Manjana Milkoreit, Klinsky was also consulted for a piece on PBS FRONTLINE. Foundation Professor of Law Daniel Bodansky was featured in articles by both US News & World Report and CNN, and local NPR affiliate KJZZ ran an interview with Klinsky and Bodansky, as well.

Follow our web page dedicated to the COP 21 for more information about the experts, plus quotes, links to articles and more.

What’s the deal with food compost at ASU?

ASU Sustainability News

December 4, 2015

Every truck of organic material diverted away from the landfill strengthens ASU’s commitment to sustainable business practices.

Compost is immensely beneficial because it decreases methane emissions from landfills; treats waste as a resource; employs locally; saves money; supports alternatives to the outdated, linear economy landfilling model; and creates fertilizers to rejuvenate soils and grow food.

Compost CollectionComposted organics from ASU benefit the local economy and environment, and a lot of work goes into the process.

Items including food scraps, paper plates and napkins are picked up by custodians, kitchen staff and Zero Waste department staff, then placed in centralized bins for collection by Sonoran Waste Disposal’s organics transportation truck. Organics are collected from athletic venues, the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus, large events, all dining halls on the Tempe campus, as well as one dining hall on the Polytechnic and West campuses.

Office building pilot programs are currently underway at University Sustainability Practices, Wrigley Hall and the University Service Building. Almost 300 tons of food waste was diverted in fiscal year 2015 through these collection routes.

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