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Sustainability News

Bringing stable power to the most remote communities

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

February 22, 2018

As many as 1.3 billion people lack access to electrical power, according to Senior Sustainability Scientist Nathan Johnson. That's why the ASU engineer – who directs the Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions – is advancing technologies for electrical-grid modernization and off-grid electrification.

One of these solutions is the microgrid, which provides independent power generation and storage. Johnson and the LEAPS team are developing microgrids that are more technically and economically viable – easier to design, scale and transport. On top of providing the world's poorest and most remote communities with stable power, this technology can improve scenarios like disaster-relief and medical care.

Johnson’s approach to military microgrids won a TechConnect Defense Innovation Award at the Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges Summit.


ASU, Major League Baseball partner for sustainability

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 21, 2018

Major League Baseball has announced it will partner with Arizona State University's School of Sustainability on a zero waste initiative during parts of the 2018 Cactus League schedule. ASU sustainability students will engage with baseball fans and help Salt River Fields – spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies – to minimize and manage their waste.

"We want do our part to ensure that future generations of D-backs fans can appreciate the beautiful Arizona landscape and will continue to focus on improving sustainability efforts throughout Spring Training and all season long at Chase Field," says Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall.

According to Christopher Boone, dean of ASU's School of Sustainability, the partnership is a perfect fit for the school. "We are thrilled to be able to let our faculty and students apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting and help the Cactus League aim for the ambitious goal of zero waste," Boone said.


Food Systems director calls for lifestyle-wide behavior change for a more sustainable future

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

February 20, 2018

Chris Wharton, director of the Food Systems Transformation Initiative, gives the latest KEDTalk hosted by ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development. "We live in a world of wild, damaging, unsustainable excess," he says, and the solution requires a rapid, transformational response. By revealing what is hidden in plain sight, Wharton illuminates a path to health, wealth, happiness and sustainability through values-based behavior change.


Largest community of ecologists names ASU scientist its 2019 president

ASU Wrigley Institute News Global Drylands News

February 7, 2018

Osvaldo-Sala-Blue-Shirt The members of the Ecological Society of America have elected Osvaldo Sala – founding director of Arizona State University's Global Drylands Center – to a three-year term on the ESA governing board. Sala will assume the role of president elect in August 2018, president in 2019 and past president in 2020.

Sala is a professor in the School of Life Sciences and the Julie A. Wrigley Chair in Life Sciences and Sustainability in the School of Sustainability. He founded the Global Drylands Center in 2017 to engage key stakeholders in dryland stewardship and develop solutions for arid ecosystems around the world. Of over 100 previous ESA presidents, Sala will be the first Hispanic person to hold the position.

Founded in 1915, the ESA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit community of more than 9,000 scientists, researchers, decision makers, policy managers and educators who are dedicated to understanding life on Earth. It is the largest community of ecologists in the world.

ASU hosts Environmental Humanities workshop

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

February 7, 2018

In January 2018, over 40 participants from universities around the world gathered at ASU for a workshop co-sponsored by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and the PLuS Alliance.

The workshop focused on the ways that humanities methodologies are contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration and participatory engagement on climate change and energy transition. Participants also explored how better assessment of impact might be piloted through modes of inquiry that include narrative, story, metaphor, imagery and representations that convey the cultural knowledge behind decision making.

Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, kicked off the workshop with a 2018 EHI lecture titled “The Cultural Functions of Climate.” Workshop sessions were keynoted by leading international cultural geographers, humanists and philosophers, including Giovanna Di Chiro of Swarthmore College and Kyle Powys Whyte of Michigan State University.

We followed up with Joni Adamson – English and Environmental Humanities Professor, Senior Sustainability Scholar & Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative – to tell us more about the workshop and EHI:

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Undergrad helps the tourism industry become certifiably green

School of Sustainability News Sustainability Connect Successes

February 5, 2018

Interns often wear many different hats, being responsible for or involved in a handful of different projects at any given time. This was certainly true in the case of Justyn Beach, who obtained a Pollution Prevention (P2) Internship for the Hospitality and Lodging Sector with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

Justyn is a Sustainability undergraduate studying Sustainability with a Policy and Governance concentration and a minor in Justice Studies. From August to November of 2017 he created a comprehensive checklist of sustainable business practices for hotels, lodges, and resorts. It served as the bridge between sustainability and hotels, lodges, and resorts across the entire state of Arizona, and it was very difficult to create a statewide program that is large enough to be effective yet not so large that it becomes unwieldy. The checklist is part of a larger Green Certification Program that is currently being developed by the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association (AzLTA) in conjunction with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s a step toward creating a more sustainable, functional business model.

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Sci-fi can offer a window to our food future

ASU Sustainability News Food Systems News

February 1, 2018

There are plenty of sci-fi stories set in post-apocalyptic scenarios where urban ruins crumble amid mass environmental destruction, and the remaining human communities struggle to find food, water and shelter. Charlie Jane Anders’ short sci-fi story “The Minnesota Diet” is different, and the Food Systems Transformation Initiative (FSTI) director Chris Wharton explains why in a special Future Tense article for Slate.

Anders’ story begins in fictional New Lincoln, a technologically advanced, future urban city seemingly well-insulated from agricultural vulnerabilities—until it isn’t.

Wharton says “The Minnesota Diet” offers opportunities for backcasting and reflection on our current behaviors when it comes to our food system. Anders’ story lends insight into more than just the technological efficiencies required for food production and delivery systems — it invites us to think critically about the choices we make right now with the resources we have today.


EMSL graduate hired as executive director

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

January 27, 2018

Jessica Morrison, a School of Sustainability graduate who earned an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership degree, has been chosen as Resource Conservation Partners's new executive director. 

Resource Conservation Partners is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore natural habitats through cross-sector collaboration in Ventura County. In her new position, Morrison hopes to increase stakeholder and community engagement through local restoration and conservation projects.


Sustainability student represents bright energy future

School of Sustainability News

January 26, 2018

Kayla Kutter,  a student in the School of Sustainability's Master of Sustainability Solutions program and the School for Future of Innovation in Society's Master of Science program, has been named to the 2018 class of Energy Scholars presented by Net Impact, OneEnergy Renewables and 3Degrees.

The goal of the Energy Scholars program is to support and build a flourishing clean energy economy. At its core, the program works to empower the renewable energy leaders of tomorrow to use technology to combat climate change by providing professional growth and industrial access opportunities.


Glendale Becomes First in Arizona to Replace Streetlights with LED Bulbs

ASU Wrigley Institute News SCN News

January 18, 2018

It isn’t every day a city council gets a treat like the one Glendale enjoyed Tuesday night.

The city was honored for its work to change out all of their old energy draining high-pressure sodium arc lights with efficient LED replacements.

The project was achieved with help from Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network. As a founding member of the network, Glendale has worked with the university and other member cities to reduce energy use, carbon footprint, recycling and other efforts.

According to the network’s director Anne Reichman, Glendale and Phoenix worked closely as Phoenix started to negotiate to replace its 92,000 streetlights.

“As part of this LED purchase, Glendale was able to piggyback the city of Phoenix originated for their LED streetlight replacement,” she said.

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A story of gender equality

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 12, 2018

Amid cartel-related chaos, female shrimp traders in Sinaloa, Mexico shed literal blood, sweat and tears to carve their niche in the historically male-dominated industry. Ultimately, these women managed to achieve economic independence and secure hope for future generations.

That’s why Maria Cruz Torres, an anthropologist and senior sustainability scientist at ASU, has worked tirelessly for twenty years to make their efforts visible – even despite the threat of personal violence. She tells the stories of 52 women in her most recent book, “Voices Throughout Time: Testimonies of Women Shrimp Traders in Sinaloa, Mexico.”

Cruz Torres’ work illuminates the interrelations of gender, labor and resource management in aquaculture, as well as the industry’s effects on the political ecology and economy of the U.S.-Mexico transborder region. She was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017.


Getting to the source of poor water management

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 12, 2018

We often think of the impacts of extreme events, like the flooding in Houston or the damage from the earthquake this year in Mexico City, as resulting from some anomalous “Act of God” or natural hazard.

Vulnerability researchers, however, know that the damage and loss experienced in any city is also the result of human decision-making and actions. Over years, decades and centuries, these decisions define the built environment and the vulnerability of urban residents to hazards.

A team of ASU sustainability scientists and researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) pulled reviewed historians' accounts of 600 years of water-related hazards in Mexico City, from the time of the city’s founding in 1325 to the present. They documented how key decisions made by city leaders to control flooding or address water scarcity for the city’s residents evolved over time into new hazards, or exacerbated the very hazards they were aiming to manage.

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Linked food systems affect global governance

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 4, 2018

School of Sustainability Associate Professor Hallie Eakin is the lead author of a new article in the Ecology and Society journal. The article, titled "Transforming governance in telecoupled food systems," uses case studies to analyze how the linking of food systems around the world affects their governance and the actors within them.

The authors conclude that telecoupling has the potential to positively change the governance of food systems. This may alleviate the conflict generated among actors within food systems who have opposing values and interests.


Water management in Brazil

ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

December 31, 2017

One of the most pressing global challenges for sustainable development in the era of the Anthropocene is freshwater management. Water is a fundamental human necessity and essential to improve social equity, promote broad economic development and protect the functioning of the earth system.

That’s why ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City collaborated with scientists, managers, policymakers and other stakeholders in Pernambuco, Brazil – to build local capacity to manage existing and future water resources efficiently, sustainably and equitably. Together, the team developed modeling tools and a decision support system that prepares users for whatever water scenarios come their way.

Student makes huge impact with wine and butterflies during undergraduate internship

School of Sustainability News Sustainability Connect Successes

December 19, 2017

Christine Carmazzi, an undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelor’s in the international development track, was able to obtain the highly sought after Sustainability and Harvest internship at the Patton Valley Vineyard.

Although Christine believes the most important part of her internship was that she built a monarch butterfly sanctuary, she admits that she feels particularly lucky to have stomped around in a tank of grape juice.

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British diplomat examines US stance on climate change

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 12, 2017

In December 2017, two years after the Paris climate agreement was signed, the One Planet summit explored ways to meet climate goals without the support of the United States government.

On that note,  Distinguished Sustainability Fellow Sir Crispin Tickell – an ASU Wrigley Institute board member – gave ASU Now his prescription for the denial of climate change science in the U.S.

"We need a bit of political leadership. We had it originally in Britain from Margaret Thatcher, with whom I used to work quite closely," Tickell said. "I think politicians should take a grip and explain clearly to people in language they can understand what is happening and what has to be done about it, and what it will be necessary to do if nothing is done sooner rather than later."


Supporting science to sustain our planet

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 11, 2017

In a December 2017 interview with Juli Staiano, Chief Philanthropy Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ASU Wrigley Institute board member Robert Litterman gave his reasons for giving back to the field.

"To me, science has always been the sort of North Star. It’s the facts in which we ground our behavior," Litterman told Staiano. "And so, when I see it come under attack and see the damage that that does – particularly in the context of climate – to rational decision making, I feel like I need to support the institution that represents the scientific community. It’s pretty simple."

Coming from a risk management background, Litterman is passionate about the topic of climate risk.

"I think this problem – with respect to climate – is clearly driven by economic interests of those who would be negatively impacted by an appropriate response," Litterman said. "It’s a risk management problem. Everyone understands what we need to do is to price the risk appropriately."


New ASU center to offer nation’s first degree in Sustainable Food Systems

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

December 7, 2017

With the aim of finding better solutions to today's food-related challenges, Kelly and Brian Swette have made a major gift to establish the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University.

The new center, housed within the School of Sustainability, will tackle food systems from a holistic standpoint, taking into consideration water and energy use, carbon footprint and nutrition – all with an emphasis on efficiency across the global supply chain. It will also offer the nation’s first degree in Sustainable Food Systems.

Explaining that the new center will accelerate and expand current efforts, Dean Christopher Boone said, "By combining ASU’s assets as a research powerhouse with the entrepreneurial spirit of our students and the expertise from external partners, these sustainable food systems solutions will have profound and positive implications for livelihoods, human health and ecosystem integrity."

Brian is a member of the Board of Directors of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU, as well as an alumnus of the university. In 2012, he and Kelly launched Sweet Earth Natural Foods – a company that sells plant-based, natural and organic fare.


A savvy solution to Mekong River's hydropower dilemma

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 7, 2017

Nearly 100 hydropower dams are planned for construction along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. While they are expected to provide clean energy to countries in the region, the dams may also offset natural river patterns if not managed properly.

In a December 2017 issue of Science magazine, Senior Sustainability Scientist John Sabo and his collaborators propose a solution.

“We have figured out the relationship between river flows and fish catch, and we have developed an algorithm for dam operators to use that will increase fish harvests and still generate power,” Sabo says. “Dams are going to be built no matter how much fuss we make; our research shows how we can be more strategic about the buildout and operations of these dams in the Mekong.”


ASU’s Project Cities wraps up a successful first semester

ASU Wrigley Institute News Project Cities

December 6, 2017

ASU Project Cities held its first semester-end project showcase with the city of Apache Junction at the university's Memorial Union on November 29, 2017.

Professors and students from multiple campuses presented on the findings of seven courses, during which extensive time was spent researching and creating recommendations for the city that straddles Maricopa and Pinal counties. Roughly 150 people attended the showcase, including members of the Apache Junction government and community, ASU faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students.

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