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Sustainability News

Exploring opportunities for collaborative partnerships in Bulgaria

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

July 11, 2017

A team from Arizona State University, led by ASU Lightworks® Director Bill Brandt, wrapped up a week-long series of meetings with Bulgarian institutions in Sofia, Bulgaria. These meetings established collaborative partnerships around digital learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, environmental health and safety, circular economy and energy and sustainability.

“Arizona and Bulgaria share similarities in size and the importance of mining business to their economies," Brandt told reporters in Sofia. "We are excited by the opportunities we found to partner with Bulgaria's leading higher education and research institutions, including technological universities and business schools, the Naval Academy, Academy of Science and Sofia Tech Park, major industrial companies, municipalities and clusters to drive innovation and best practices.”

ASU has already started joint projects with partners in Romania and Kosovo.

Cities can make greener purchases with help of new initiative

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

July 6, 2017

As local governments step to the forefront of sustainability commitment-making, a team of Arizona State University researchers – including School of Sustainability Professor Nicole Darnall – launch a project aimed at making it easier for cities to “buy green."

Called the Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative, the project was informed by survey responses from 616 government officials from 459 cities. The responses led the ASU team to create eight real-world recommendations that can be used by city officials considering environmentally-friendly products – from light bulbs to carpeting.

The tips will be disseminated in a marketing blast that will reach thousands of local governments nationwide.

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Moving forward on climate change post Paris agreement

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 22, 2017

When the United States withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, it sparked a debate over what should happen next.

That debate was reflected during a June 2017 Case Critical discussion, held by the ASU Wrigley Institute and featuring Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky and ASU economist William Boyes. The discussion was moderated by Rob Melnick, executive director of the institute and a professor of practice in the School of Sustainability.

Kinsky reiterated the views she shared in a recent ASU Now interview, adding this about the way forward: "I think we’re swimming with opportunities. There are large-scale technological investments. The cost of air pollution to people’s health is astronomical. That’s a public health debate. There’s a social justice perspective. How will we deal with agriculture? Find your skill set and apply it."

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Vision for rehabilitated watershed lands ASU team with award

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

June 18, 2017

Part of the celebration to welcome the canoe Hōkūleʻa home from her worldwide voyage, ASU took the overall prize in the Make the Ala Wai Awesome challenge, an international student design competition that asked contestants to rehabilitate a critical Oʻahu watershed containing one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.

The School of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks energy center have been working with a Hawai'i public-private partnership network to find new answers to the country's unique sustainability challenges. LightWorks enlisted help from The Design School, which turned the effort into a class project where graduate students in design and sustainability addressed climate change, water, food, energy and natural resources sustainability on the Ala Wai.

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Incubating waste innovations for a robust circular economy

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 14, 2017

With the support of the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) – a public-private network established through a partnership between ASU and the City of Phoenix – the RISN Incubator was announced in June 2017.

The incubator, a business development and accelerator program, seeks early-stage ventures that focus on solutions to waste-related challenges. Eligible venture concepts include, but are not limited to: conversion of solid waste into new material or energy; services that divert, reuse or recycle; software applications around sustainability (waste, organic material, reuse, recycling); and design services that focus on sustainability.

The ventures that are selected will have access to resources and support from ASU and Phoenix as they contribute to the regional development of a vibrant circular economy.

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Art exhibit showcases nature-inspired designs

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 9, 2017

A 2017 exhibit at the Tempe Center for the Arts, "Biomimicry: Nature Inspired Design," showcases an approach to problem-solving that harnesses both the practicality and beauty of nature's designs.

Through the biomimicry philosophy, people work to create sustainable lifestyles by observing how animals and plants overcome obstacles in their environments. And because Arizona State University is a leader in this field, several faculty members and alumni are involved in the exhibit, which also includes events to inspire the community.

According to Prasad Boradkar, senior sustainability scholar and director of ASU's Biomimicry Center, "The impact of design and manufacturing of new products doesn’t affect only humans. It affects all species on the planet. So why don’t we learn from all species on the planet?"

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Sustainability alumnus named to Greenbiz '30 Under 30'

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 5, 2017

Samson Szeto, communications program coordinator of ASU LightWorks, has been named to the 2017 GreenBiz "30 Under 30." The list honors young corporate sustainability professionals who strive to make an impact in their workplace and the world, and Szeto is doing just that.

Szeto, who graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability in 2013, was nominated by his supervisor Travis Johnson, project and business development manager at LightWorks. He was recognized for his work on several renewable energy projects – including NEPTUNE – and his involvement with carbon capture technology.

The NEPTUNE project, a joint venture with the U.S. Navy and six other universities, trains veterans for careers in the energy sector. Szeto’s work with carbon capture technology involves creating strategic partnerships that unite corporations with ASU researchers working to halt climate change.

"Samson is passionate about driving innovation and sustainability into businesses and society," says Johnson. "I’m proud of him for being honored with the 30 Under 30 award, and I am sure he will continue changing the world."

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Paris Climate Agreement: The fallout from withdrawal

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 2, 2017

After President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky went over the possible ramifications with ASU Now.

Klinsky, who studies climate negotiations, said that the decision will hurt American business and devastate our country's international credibility.

"Already, there are long-standing tensions and questions about the American commitment to climate action," Klinsky explained. "Cumulatively, the U.S. is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Breaking a promise by pulling out of this agreement or by removing domestic regulations will profoundly erode international trust in an arena in which collective action and cooperation is crucial."

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Scientist 'throws shade' on hot summer days

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 30, 2017

Two years ago, Senior Sustainability Scientist Ariane Middel led a study on thermal comfort at ASU’s student union in Tempe. She and her team found that shade was the most important factor for comfort – more so than air temperature, humidity, and even clothing colors and materials.

Flash-forward to this year. Middel, an assistant research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has developed a tool that will someday show pedestrians the shadiest — and therefore coolest — route to their destinations. It will also tell planners and architects where they should create more shade.

The tool is a mobile weather station that resembles Pixar's WALL-E. Middel worked with a team of computer scientists to equip the weather station with the ability to take high-resolution Google Earth images. The 180-degree “fish-eye” views help to calculate whether a specific location would be in the sun or shade during a given time of day.

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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®

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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Top Arizona high school grad plans to study sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 26, 2017

One of 10 Flinn Scholars committed to being a SunDevil, Ashley Dussault wants to use her major — sustainability — to help people.

“The program is about change, which is what I want to do. I want to plan cities to be better and to help with poverty,” said Dussault, who will graduate from Hamilton High School in the Chandler Unified School District.

She’s especially interested in the social-justice component of sustainability.

“I want to show the people of the world that just because sustainability is happening, they don’t have to be pushed out of their homes and that there’s a place for them in the world.”

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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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On our own soil: 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival hits home

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 5, 2017

Indigenous people in boats on a lake with a sign to protect the water.At the beginning of April 2017, ASU held its 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival in the College Avenue Commons Auditorium on its Tempe campus. The festival – sponsored in part by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability – was a free, three-day event open to the public.

This year, the festival embraced a domestic theme, as every documentary it featured highlighted human rights abuses within the United States. These topics included immigration, racism, poverty, reproductive rights, and indigenous rights such as the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Film is a powerful way to convey experience,” says Senior Sustainability Scholar LaDawn Haglund, who founded the festival and continues to serve as its director. “It transcends an intellectual understanding of an issue to reach people’s hearts. With human rights violations, this is so important because statistics and facts make us numb rather than outraged, which is how we must feel — at least momentarily — if we want to create a world where such violations are stopped.”

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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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