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Sustainability News

Science within Art: #ArtTree

LightWorks News

May 24, 2017

The interactive artificial carbon capture tree, or #ArtTree, bridges the gap between science and art through a creative project that models a real-life technology. It was built as an artistic representation of Professor Klaus Lackner's carbon capture technology, which passively captures CO2 from the atmosphere 1,000 times more efficiently that trees.

The #ArtTree was created, designed and constructed through collaboration among Samson Szeto of ASU LightWorks ®, Shahrzad Badvipour of the Center of Negative Carbon Emission (CNCE), and Phil Weaver-Stoesz and Dallas Nichols – graduate students at the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University.

The display has been featured at TEDxASU and Earth Day Texas (EDTx), allowing participants to simulate how carbon capture technology works. The #ArtTree is an excellent opportunity to educate attendees at events, not only about climate change issues but about a technology we’re developing here at ASU to solve climate change.

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2017 Vision Award presented to ASU LightWorks®

LightWorks News

May 18, 2017

The 2017 Vision Award was presented to the ASU LightWorks® Accelerator team by ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development (KED). This award is given to a staff member or team who has demonstrated excellence in incorporating the vision and goals of ASU as a model of the New American University.

According to KED, "The LightWorks® Accelerator team has exemplified the vision and goals of a New American University by leading a collaboration program with the U.S. Navy and six other universities titled NEPTUNE. NEPTUNE’s missions are to conduct cutting-edge energy research while engaging the veteran community at ASU to advance their career development."

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Milton Sommerfeld: Legacy and Lifetime Achievements

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 16, 2017

What’s so great about algae?

If you had the good fortune to meet Milton Sommerfeld, you have a hearty answer to that question.

Appropriately dubbed “The Wizard of Ooze,” Milt illuminated the world of algae with vibrant imagery, bubbling-good humor, and – if you were lucky – a mouthful of algae cookie, freshly baked by his wife Carolyn.

Milt unlocked algae’s potential, demonstrating its boundless possibility while leaving an enduring legacy of research, both at Arizona State University and well beyond its walls.

Catching the algae bug

Milt grew up in rural Texas on his family’s farm. Not only did this upbringing teach Milt the importance of hard work, resilience and integrity – virtues he continually demonstrated to his students and colleagues – it also introduced him to a specific slimy-green substance.

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2017 Algae Industry Magazine’s International Readers’ Poll

LightWorks News

May 13, 2017

Algae Industry Magazine’s (A.I.M.) International Readers’ Poll is an assessment of where the algae industry is today, and what dominated 2016. It singles out those who are driving the industry’s progress, as well as those who are making the most valuable contributions through their dedication, skills, ideas and high achievement.

The 2017 International Readers’ Poll surveys the perspectives of A.I.M. readers, who have invaluable firsthand knowledge in recognizing the trends and technologies that will enable algae development and applications.

This year, Arizona State University won four Gold Awards: Algae Educational Institution and Algae Laboratory awarded to the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI), Scientist or Research awarded to Dr. Thomas Dempster, and Laboratory Equipment awarded to Dr. Bruce Rittmann and Dr. Klaus Lackner.

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Charrettes at ASU and Earth Day Texas: Interview with ASU LightWorks®

Uncategorized LightWorks News

May 10, 2017

A national series of charrettes is being held to drive acceleration of all profitable clean solutions in different industries, such as oil and gas, transportation, etc.

The goal of these charrettes is to identify and explore proposals for utilizing tax cuts to reduce emissions of air pollutants. At Arizona State University’s ASU Wrigley Institute, ASU LightWorks® hosted a charrette with the goal of developing policy proposals for clean tax cuts that would benefit research and development in clean technology, particularly technology that reduces concentrations of air pollutants in the atmosphere.

“Universities can create new technologies, but it is companies that will need to bring these to markets," says  Bill Brandt, director of ASU LightWorks®. "The charrette process is a way of asking the question 'what if' and then thinking through how that helps create jobs and opportunity.”

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ASU in world's Top 3 for sustainability initiatives

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

April 26, 2017

ASU is third in the world and second in the U.S. for sustainability initiatives, according to a 2017 rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, known as STARS, rated ASU highest with the following percentages of available points: 87 percent in academics and research, and 95 percent in campus and public engagement.

AASHE STARS is a comprehensive tool for measuring sustainability at more than 800 colleges and universities around the world. It benchmarks institutions in over 1,000 data points covering academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

To achieve gold, ASU built campus and community collaborations to provide world-class education and research sustainability with the first School of Sustainability more than a decade ago. Now, 12.5 percent of ASU’s courses are recognized as sustainability or sustainability-related and 74 percent of academic departments offer sustainability courses.

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Joining forces with private sector for sustainability outcomes

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Biodiversity News

April 18, 2017

In March, two representatives from Arizona State University attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 2017 Liaison Delegate meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. Amy Scoville-Weaver represented ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), and William Brandt attended on behalf of ASU LightWorks.

The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

The conference, Roadmap for Impact in Today’s Reality, focused on the drastic political changes over the past year, implications for sustainability and the critical opportunity for the private sector to engage in new ways on sustainable development. As part of the conference, WBCSD released its CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Agriculture in Arizona faces a warmer future

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Food Systems News

March 27, 2017

Rows of green lettuce in a fieldHow might climate change affect Arizona? A decrease in crop yields, for one thing, according to Andrew Berardy – a postdoctoral research associate with the Food Systems Transformation Initiative – and Senior Sustainability Scientist Mikhail Chester.

After studying the food-energy-water nexus that governs agriculture in Arizona, the pair found that the state's yields could drop more than 12 percent per 1 degree Celsius. This would have cascading effects – including more irrigation and increased food prices – that would be felt throughout the region.

In light of roll-backs in environmental protection by the Trump administration, Berardy and Chester advise that farmers upgrade to more efficient irrigation methods like drip irrigation. Their findings were published in IOP Science.

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Navigating the rapids of water management

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

March 24, 2017

We’ve portioned out more of the Colorado River’s water than it can deliver. What now?

Senior Sustainability Scientist Dave White, who directs ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City, delivered his ideas for staying afloat in a March 2017 KED Talk. He demonstrated how the lessons he learned while rafting the Colorado River in 1998 are applicable to today's proverbial water rapids – namely drought, climate insecurity, population growth and overallocation.

"The solutions to these problems will require courage, skilled and experienced leadership," says White, "....and the recognition that the vitality of the American West depends on everyone paddling together."

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Sowing the seeds of sustainability education

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 22, 2017

Spotlighting the Sustainability Teachers' Academy – a program of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives – ASU was recognized with a 2017 Best of Green Schools award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.

The award, presented in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network, acknowledges the importance of cultivating lifelong awareness by planting the sustainability seed early and, particularly, ASU's efforts to achieve just that through community education.

The annual Best of Green Schools awards recognize 11 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing the best environmental efforts in schools across the country. ASU was honored in the higher-education category.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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High Antarctic temperatures provide insight to ASU scientist

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 1, 2017

Dr. Randy Cerveny sits in his office with books piled behind him.ASU Professor and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Randy Cerveny announced in March 2017 that Antarctica has reached record-breaking warm temperatures – in some places over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cerveny, a Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the World Meteorological Organization, has collaborated with other WMO experts to measure the impact of rising Antarctic temperatures on the rest of the planet. The team has published their findings in a recent report.

"The polar regions of our planet have been termed the ‘canary’ in our global environment," he says. "Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions...The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.”

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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.

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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.

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