Skip to Content

Sustainability News

Keeping Olympic marathon spectators cool

ASU Now | July 9, 2019

crowd of people in JapanStanding for hours within crowds of people in hot, sunny and humid conditions is a recipe for heat-related illness — but that’s what spectators at the Tokyo Summer Olympics marathons may be dealing with on Aug. 2 and 9, 2020.

To help city officials and the Tokyo Olympic Committee prepare for extreme heat, Arizona State University senior sustainability scientists Jenni Vanos and Ariane Middel were part of a team that measured and mapped out microclimates along the marathon course to identify hot spots where spectators may face discomfort or illness.

Continue Reading

ASU collaborates on virtual field trip to Makalawena, Hawai'i

July 3, 2019

Makalawena beachThanks to a partnership between Arizona State University and Kamehameha Schools in Hawai’i, people around the world can visit two of Hawai’i's natural and cultural sites without having to leave their computer.

ASU’s School of Sustainability and Center for Education Through eXploration (ETX Center) have collaborated with Kamehameha Schools on two virtual field trips (VFTs), including the recently released interactive and educational excursion to Makalawena. Makalawena is a beautiful, remote beach with many environmental and cultural resources located in West Hawai‘i.

Continue Reading

Designing for community and sustainability

ASU Now | June 24, 2019

University Assistant Professors Paul Coseo and Chingwen Cheng asking for community input for the redesign Old Stadium Park in HawaiiIt’s a common story: Developers start transforming public spaces with little to no input from the community — and it doesn’t end happily. But, as Arizona State University Assistant Professors Paul Coseo and Chingwen Cheng (both in The Design School, part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts) have demonstrated, there are inclusive approaches to community design. For the 2018–2019 academic year, they led a group of four landscape architecture students and one design student in a project to collaboratively redesign Old Stadium Park in Hawaii.

The team was invited to collaborate on this project because of longstanding relationships between The Design School and Hawaii initially built through the University of Hawaii’s “Make the Ala Wai Awesome” competition in 2017. Another ASU team, led by senior sustainability scientists Coseo, Cheng and Darren Petrucci (also a professor in The Design School), won first prize out of 40 submissions to this international competition seeking design solutions to challenges facing the Ala Wai Watershed.

Continue Reading

Refugees in Uganda learn agribusiness through online initiative

View Source | June 7, 2019

Refugees in Uganda taking online Agribusiness 250 courseA group of 30 people who live in a refugee settlement in Uganda are the first to take the online Agribusiness 250 course through Education for Humanity, an initiative of Arizona State University that is offering higher education to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Uganda and Rwanda. Education for Humanity is managed by EdPlus, the unit at ASU that creates technology and forges partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning.

More than 68 million people are displaced around the globe, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and fewer than 1% have access to higher education. Education for Humanity is trying to address that need.

Continue Reading

Sustainability Education and Energy Knowledge-sharing (SEEK) Project

May 22, 2019

Sun setting over Tempe Towns LakeThe Sustainability Education and Energy Knowledge-sharing (SEEK) Project catalyzes the values-driven leadership of cohesive social networks, such as congregations and nonprofits, to accelerate societal energy transitions through education, technical assistance and social innovation. An action research project of the Spirituality and Sustainability Initiative, SEEK relies on a novel model for leveraging existing assets and in-kind resources from multi-sectoral partners (including universities, congregations, commercial energy professionals, federal programs and local leaders) to provide tailored mentoring and technical assistance in various online and face-to-face formats that facilitate progressive knowledge development, knowledge sharing and mutual problem-solving.

Continue Reading

Sustainability scientists win solar cell research awards

March 1, 2019

Zachary Holman holding mirro to reflect himselfArizona State University recently earned six prestigious Department of Energy awards, totaling nearly $5.7 million, ranking it first among university recipients of Solar Energy Technologies Office awards to advance photovoltaic research and development in 2018.

Three of these winners were senior sustainability scientists in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Mariana Bertoni, Clark Miller and Zachary Holman.

Continue Reading

Team awarded ASU Morrison Prize for analysis of climate change’s impact on a critical conservation tool

View Source | February 14, 2019

Hand holding glowing lightbulb on a bed of leavesClimate change is complicating land conservation practices because of how it alters land over time. Among other things, climate change is raising new questions about perpetual conservation easements — a critical land preservation tool relied upon by government agencies and nonprofit land trusts. A six-author team that conducted an unprecedented analysis of the structuring of conservation easements in the face of rapid climate change has been awarded the 2019 Morrison Prize, an honor established in 2015 and administered through the program on Law and Sustainability at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Continue Reading

Protecting the hive: ASU scientists discover path to colony-level immunity in honeybees

View Source | February 14, 2019

Honeybee on flower covered in pollenHoneybees frequently make international news, as their global decline threatens the world’s food supply. Since honeybees pollinate the majority of crops that humans use for food, scientists have been searching for a way to maintain healthy bee populations.

Now, researchers with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the University of Helsinki are one step closer to understanding the complex immune mechanism that protects honeybees from diseases in their environments.

Continue Reading

Students provide sustainability solutions for NCAA triathlon

January 16, 2019

Triathlon RunnerAt Arizona State University, successful results often come from collaborative action, especially when making events more eco-friendly. Thanks to ASU students and the work of two ASU sustainability leaders, Colin Tetreault and Lesley Michalegko, the NCAA Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships that took place at Tempe Town Lake on November 4, 2018, was a more sustainable endeavor.

Tetreault is an instructor in the School of Sustainability and Michalegko is a program manager for University Sustainability Practices. Through mutual effort and the support of students, they made the NCAA triathlon a place where functionality met sustainability. They found ways to reduce waste, save money, and increase the fan and competitor experience while simultaneously driving revenue.

Continue Reading

Creating a carbon economy

View Source | January 11, 2019

carbon capturing machineOn Thursday night at the Barrett & O'Connor Center in Washington, D.C., Arizona State University hosted a panel that discussed how society can transition to a carbon economy — as in, pulling carbon from the air and making money from it in an effort to fight climate change.

A financier, a businessman, a policy expert and the inventor of a carbon-capture machine discussed the opportunities and obstacles involved in turning waste into capital at “Hacking for Carbon: Building an Innovation Pipeline for the New Carbon Economy.”

Panelist Klaus Lackner, a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Anne Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, has been thinking about how to manage carbon since the 1990s.

Continue Reading

Big power from a small container

ASU Now | November 29, 2018

Nathan JohsnonWith a $2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research, an Arizona State University professor is working to improve on his solar-powered, electrical grid-in-a-box for use in far-flung corners of the world where power doesn’t reach.

Microgrids are small isolated power systems, such as on oil rigs, in rural villages or at military expeditionary camps. Nathan Johnson, an assistant professor in the Polytechnic School, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, created a solar-powered grid contained in a shipping container.

“Microgrids are often described as an on-grid system that can isolate,” said Johnson, who is also a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. In summer 2018, Johnson received a $2 million, two-year grant from the Office of Naval Research.

Read the full story on ASU Now.

Conservation International partners with ASU’s Decision Theater on innovative tool

View Source | November 7, 2018

A dry, cracked bed of dirt with grass in backgroundClimate change. Species loss. Pollution.

These are well-known consequences of economic development threatening human and ecological health. International efforts to mitigate these threats are also familiar, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting endangered animals and cleaning our air and waterways.

However, perhaps the most crucial threat is also the most neglected — land degradation.

Approximately 1.3 billion people depend on polluted or degraded agricultural land. This leads to reduced agricultural productivity and access to water and increased carbon emissions. It is a complex problem with serious implications for food security, health and sustainable development.

Continue Reading

DOE awards $4.5 million to ASU teams to discover new ways to harness carbon dioxide for reducing cost of biofuel

ASU Now | November 7, 2018

bursts of green lightThe U.S. Department of Energy has announced 36 projects that together have been awarded $80 million to support early-stage bioenergy research and development. Two ASU research teams are among the grantees, with the grants to ASU totaling about $4.5 million.

The two teams are headed by sustainability scientists in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Willem Vermaas, foundation professor in the School of Life Sciences and a member of the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis, and Bruce Rittmann, director of Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and regents’ professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

The DOE is investing $80 million to reduce the cost of algae-based, drop-in fuels to $3 per gallon by 2022, providing consumers with affordable, reliable transportation energy choices.

Continue Reading

Sustainability scientist calls for careful oversight of environmental gene editing

View Source | November 1, 2018

James P. CollinsAround the world, scientists are solving serious issues using modern technology. Whether the solution is genetically modified, malaria-fighting mosquitoes or other gene editing technologies, Arizona State University sustainability scientist James P. Collins is calling for careful risk assessment.

Collins, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at ASU's School of Life Sciences, co-authored a paper published in the journal "Science." The authors urgently encourage global governance to review new technologies on a a case-by-case basis — a decision-making process that must include the local communities that would feel the biggest and most immediate effects.

Continue Reading

Biomimicry Center planting inspiration with seed exhibit

View Source | October 26, 2018

whirlybirdStill most widely associated with the invention of velcro, ASU researchers are walking the talk of biomimicry with a newly renovated office space and a new seed exhibit they hope will capture the imagination of innovators seeking solutions for complex human problems.

"Seeds continue to offer a bottomless design and engineering trove for many other innovations," said Heidi Fischer, assistant director at the Biomimicry Center. "We hope that our exhibition can provide new models for some of these innovations."

Titled “Designed to Move: Seeds that Float, Fly or Hitchhike through the Desert Southwest,” the exhibit, opening Oct. 30 in the Design School South Gallery on ASU's Tempe campus is offering viewers an extraordinary look at the beauty of desert seeds as captured through the macro photography lens of Taylor James, an alumni of ASU’s Masters of Fine Arts program.

The importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen

View Source | October 8, 2018

Whitehouse KitchenAt an October 5 Food and Thought event sponsored by Arizona State University College of Health Solutions, Author Adrian Miller spoke about the importance of African-Americans to the executive kitchen. Miller, a James Beard Award winner, signed copies of his new book at the event, which also featured food tastings an an audience question-and-answer session.

Miller’s book, "The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of African-Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas," takes a look at some of the most pivotal characters in the White House’s kitchen history, some of which he spoke about at the event hosted by the ASU College of Health Solutions.

The reception also featured some of the recipes included in the book that were prepared for presidents and their families throughout history, including first lady Caroline Harrison’s deviled almonds and a baked macaroni and cheese that was served to Thomas Jefferson.

ASU forms partnership to develop remote medical clinics

September 25, 2018

man in collared shirt posing in front of solar panelsArizona State University has joined forces with Medavate and Baya Build, companies that innovate in healthcare and construction industries, respectively, for a unique partnership to deliver groundbreaking healthcare through remote medical and telehealth clinics. The trio partnered based on common missions to address inefficiencies in healthcare, building and energy.

The partnership's energy solutions are designed and integrated by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators led by Nathan Johnson, an expert in sustainable and resilient energy systems at Arizona State University. Johnson is an assistant professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, director of the Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions, and senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Johnson’s team of researchers and developers collaborate with developing countries seeking to address energy needs for emerging market economies and the rural poor. Their work incorporates both on-grid modernization and off-grid solutions for application to industrialized countries and emerging economies.

Continue Reading

Physicist joins ASU LightWorks to help solarize society

View Source | September 18, 2018

Ivan ErmanoskiThe Macedonian-born Ivan Ermanoski concentrates on making fuels and products using solar heat. He’s a recent arrival at Arizona State University LightWorks, where he’ll be working on solarizing our society — that is, reducing the use of fossil fuels by replacing them with solar-derived fuels.

To accomplish this, he and his colleagues are planning to use a thermochemical cycle that would keep carbon dioxide from being added to the atmosphere.

The thermochemical cycle begins when a metal oxide is heated until it gives up some of its oxygen. At lower temperatures, the material wants that oxygen restored, and if exposed to carbon dioxide or steam, the material will take an oxygen from those molecules to yield carbon monoxide or hydrogen.

Continue Reading

ASU LightWorks hire brings new energy to ASU

View Source | September 10, 2018

Jim Miller stands with colleagues around the CR5 thermochemical reactorDecades ago, oilmen had little interest in natural gas, the byproduct of crude oil extracted from the earth. So, they burned it off, like so many lit torches atop Texas’s oil fields. Jim Miller’s grandfather recalls reading the evening paper by their light. Miller, too, recalls living in their shadows. Now he’s living in the Valley of the Sun, working to develop a different kind of energy industry.

The native Texan says he wanted to be a chemical engineer because the successful people he knew as a child either worked in chemical plants or they worked for NASA. “That was it,” he says.

But years later, he found himself working not in a chemical plant nor at NASA but instead thinking up ways to create and harness alternative energy — energy gleaned not from fossil fuels but from renewable sources.

Continue Reading

ASU spring Ditch the Dumpster sees new record of donations

View Source | August 8, 2018

The Arizona State University Zero Waste department collected 58,000 pounds of reusable items in the spring 2018 Ditch the Dumpster event, more than any previous years.

Ditch the Dumpster is a campus program to collect and redistribute or divert student's items when they move out of the dorms. Collected items are donated to organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Goodwill, St. Mary's Food Bank, The Center for Habilitation, and United Food Bank.

This year, Zero Waste collected 58,820 pounds of reusable clothing, electronics, furniture, and other household items. On top of these donations, 97,480 pounds of materials were recycled. The Ditch the Dumpster program also donated more than $5,400 in scholarships for local students.

Visit the Zero Waste website for more Ditch the Dumpster information.