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Sustainability News

ASU offers dual masters of journalism and sustainability

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 26, 2015

Wind Turbine and Blue SkyThe Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Sustainability have partnered to offer a Master of Mass Communications and a Master of Sustainable Solutions. The offering caters to students interested in careers reporting on environmental issues and alternative energy - as well as to those working in sustainability sciences who communicate with journalists - allowing them to pursue the separate degrees in less time through streamlined admissions procedures and course requirements.

“One of the critical aspects of moving toward a sustainable future is helping people understand why and how sustainability is relevant to their lives, and how best to communicate those ideas,” said Christopher Boone, dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability. “This dual-degree opportunity with the Cronkite School will provide our School of Sustainability students with a versatile skill set to effectively reach and engage a broad audience on the very best solutions for building a sustainable future.”

The partnership marks the fifth dual-degree offering of the School of Sustainability.


Arizona needs sustainability now, writes institute directorate

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 25, 2015

Downtown Phoenix SkylineIn a recent opinion piece in the Arizona Republic titled "Our Turn: Hotter Arizona must find sustainability," the directorate of the ASU Wrigley Institute - Rob Melnick, Gary Dirks and Christopher Boone - discusses the global rise of sustainability and its significance for our collective future.

Highlighting unsettling trends such as the rapid warming of our planet, acidification of our oceans and depletion of our natural resources, the authors stress that the time for action is now - particularly in a climate like central Arizona - if we are to prosper.

The authors go on to emphasize the role of universities in producing solutions to the sustainability challenges we face. They point to the impressive employment rates of ASU School of Sustainability graduates as evidence that business owners also recognize the need for solutions.

The piece concludes, "ASU is applying its talent and its resources to helping Arizona cities, businesses and communities understand, become resilient to and solve local and global sustainability challenges."


Carbon Nation director talks cows, soil and carbon capture

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 24, 2015

Cows at PastureIn a recent GreenBiz article titled "The rise of the soil carbon cowboys," sustainability scientist and film director Peter Byck discusses the merits of adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing -  a method that benefits the soil, animals and ranchers alike.

Byck explains how AMP contributes to climate change mitigation by sucking carbon dioxide from the air and sending it deep into the soil, where it can be stored for centuries. He contends that getting oil companies on board heightens this benefit.

"What if these oil companies used their money to help ranchers transition to AMP grazing, and then shared in the credits for the carbon being stored in the soil?," he writes. "What if those soil carbon storage credits were cost effective for the oil companies to buy, while that same soil carbon increase helped the ranchers reduce operating costs due to a more robust ecosystem on their land, where nature takes the place of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides?"

Byck and a whole systems science research team continue to explore the benefits of AMP grazing, particularly with regard to slowing climate change.


DCDC to expand scope, impact of water research with NSF award

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 21, 2015

hoover-dam-lake-meadThanks to a new $4.5 million National Science Foundation award, water managers and decision makers from cities in the Colorado River Basin can take greater advantage of Decision Center for a Desert City - a research unit of the ASU Wrigley Institute.

This four-year award, the third made to DCDC in its 10-year history, allows the center to expand the geographic scope of its work to cities in states like Colorado, Nevada and California. As a result, DCDC researchers can better explore the transformational changes necessary to sustain water supplies well into the future.

Given the mounting sustainability challenges we face - including long-term drought, a warming climate and large-scale land-use change - the grant comes at a critical time.

Says DCDC Director Dave White, “It comes with a greater sense of urgency and a greater sense of understanding of the scale and scope of the changes that are likely necessary to transition the cities and the region into a more sustainable state over the next several decades.”


ASU named among Top 20 most sustainable universities

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

August 11, 2015

Wrigley Hall with blue sky backdropIn its 2015 “Coolest Schools” ranking of the nation's greenest colleges and universities, Sierra Magazine named Arizona State number 13 out of 153. This is the magazine's ninth annual survey, in which universities are ranked based on their commitment to high environmental standards. ASU scored high in several categories, including: undergraduate programs, student outreach, building design, sustainable transportation and organic gardens.

"We’re so inspired to see how colleges are taking the lead on addressing climate change,” said Avital Andrews, Sierra Magazine’s lifestyle editor. “From building green to saving water to offering hundreds of eco-classes, these schools’ efforts are profound, and are changing not only the campus grounds, but also the minds of the students they’re educating."


7 principles for building resilience, illustrated

ASU Wrigley Institute News

August 3, 2015

Hand drawing first principle of resilience-buildingMichael Schoon, a senior sustainability scientist and assistant professor in the School of Sustainability, is among the authors of a Cambridge publication titled “Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems." The book highlights seven primary principles, which are listed in this extended summary.

In a recent newsletter, the Stockholm Resilience Center debuted a video titled "How to apply resilience thinking," an approach it defines as an investigation into the interaction between people and nature and how it can best be managed. It then outlines the seven principles Schoon and his colleagues discuss in their book: maintaining diversity and redundancy, managing connectivity, managing slow variables and feedbacks, fostering complex adaptive systems thinking, encouraging learning, broadening participation and promoting polycentric governance.

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National water network features ASU sustainability scientists

ASU Sustainability News

August 3, 2015

Cars caught in floodA consortium of 14 academic institutions and key partners across the United States is addressing the challenges that threaten urban water systems in the U.S. and around the world. With support from a $12 million cooperative agreement from the National Science Foundation, ASU is part of the Sustainable Research Network called the Urban Water Innovation Network.

The mission of UWIN is to create technological, institutional and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises. The ASU team - led by principle investigator and sustainability scientist Matei Georgescu  -  will address a spectrum of issues related to hydroclimate, engineering and socioeconomics - areas that are required to comprehensively examine urban sustainability solutions.


ASU researchers aid in understanding how bees vaccinate their young

ASU Sustainability News

July 31, 2015

Bee sucking nectar from yellow flowerAfter studying a bee blood protein called vitellogenin, researchers from ASU, University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä and Norwegian University of Life Sciences discovered how bees naturally immunize their offspring against diseases in their environments. The discovery is significant to humans as it could play an important role in helping to combat colony collapse disorder - an increasingly common occurrence that threatens global food security.

The team, which included researchers from ASU's School of Life Sciences, found that bacteria from the outside environment is incidentally included in a royal jelly made by worker bees for their colony's queen. Pieces of the bacteria are then bound to vitellogenin - a protein - and carried via blood to the developing eggs. Because of this, the immune systems of bee babies are better prepared to fight diseases found in their environment once they are born.

Now that the team understands how bees vaccinate their babies, they are pursuing the first edible and natural vaccine for insects.


Sustainability scientists receive $12M to lead urban resilience network

ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 22, 2015

Ariel view of Indian Bend Wash in Arizona
The Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale (pictured) is an example of safe-to-fail resilient infrastructure - the focus of the ASU UREx SRN. By contrast, the LA River is an example of fail-safe infrastructure. Image credit: Nancy Grimm.

Extreme weather events - like the rain and subsequent floods in the Phoenix metropolitan area in September 2014 - are occurring more frequently and can cripple crucial infrastructure that enables transit, electricity, water and other services. To tackle these challenges and change the way we think about urban infrastructure, the National Science Foundation awarded a transdisciplinary team of three ASU researchers $12 million to lead the international Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather-Related Events Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN).

Anthropologist Charles Redman, ecologist Nancy Grimm and engineer Mikhail Chester will evaluate the social, ecological and technical systems related to infrastructure, recognizing the values of all stakeholders - from city decision-makers to the citizens who will use and be affected by infrastructure. They will also work to understand the natural environment in which infrastructure operates and evaluate available infrastructure technology. The result will be a suite of tools supporting the assessment and implementation of urban infrastructure that is resilient, tailored to a particular city and safe-to-fail - versus fail-safe, which can be a dangerous illusion.

“By bringing this all together, I think we may be able to really talk to people who build the future," says Redman. "From the first day of designing something like highways and power grids, we’re going to talk about how Earth’s systems work and how human institutions react. And we’re going to build for that. We’re going to build infrastructure to be more resilient and equitable and not just more efficient.”


Vows and Values: Our Sustainable Wedding Story

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 17, 2015

Smiling bride and groom on sunny spring day
Photo by: Leanne Young of Leanne Michelle Photography

by Katie Peige Baker

School of Sustainability Alumna

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

our wedding was green

and sustainable too!

Brad and I met at Green Drinks, a networking group for environmental professionals. We both graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability but never met during our undergraduate studies. Now, we are both sustainability professionals; I work for the Decision Center for a Desert City as the education and community outreach coordinator and Brad works for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality as a hazardous waste compliance officer.

We wanted to practice what we preach, teach and enforce while making a green statement by having an Earth Month wedding. So we pledged to have as little impact on the environment as possible within our budget, which ended up actually saving us a bunch of green.

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Distinguished sustainability scientist awarded for conservation efforts

ASU Sustainability News

July 17, 2015

A smiling Smith with a Tibetan pastoralistFor his lasting contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats, ASU professor and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Andrew Smith was presented the Aldo Leopold Award by the American Society of Mammalogists.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Leopold Conservation Award from the American Society of Mammalogists,” said Smith, a President’s and Parents Association Professor with the School of Life Sciences. “Aldo Leopold was a giant and everyone working in conservation today stands on his shoulders.”

Smith received the award for his decades of research on the behavioral ecology of mammals, the effects of habitat fragmentation and the ecosystem services provided by small mammals. One of his more recent projects highlighted the importance of China’s Tibetan Plateau pika. He is also known for creating the School of Life Science’s Conservation Biology degree program - one of the first formal programs of its kind in the nation.


City of Phoenix, Walton Initiatives partnership featured in Fortune

ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 17, 2015

Aerial view of the Phoenix RISN campusA recent article in Fortune magazine, titled "Phoenix's $13 million plan to turn trash into cash," highlighted the city's crucial partnership with ASU's Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives - known as the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network.

RISN was established between the City of Phoenix's Reimagine Phoenix initiative and the Walton Initiatives, and serves as a global network of public and private partners using collaboration, research, innovation and the application of technologies to create economic value while driving a sustainable circular economy.

“We don’t want to get to that point 50 years down when there is a problem,” John Trujillo, director of City of Phoenix Public Works, told Fortune. “Our population is projected to almost double by 2050 in this region. Our goal is to create this circular economy so instead of sending our garbage to the landfill and our recycling to China, we want to create our own economy right here. Why not ship it next door to the campus and create a product?”

According to Fortune, RISN will play a role in reaching the city's aim of a 40 percent diversion rate by 2020.


ASU partners with Leuphana University on global sustainability center

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 1, 2015

Researchers celebrate new sustainability center ASU and Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany are pioneering a path in international academic cooperation through the new Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation. The center will focus on inter- and transdisciplinary projects in both teaching and research with an emphasis on transforming society, fusing intellectual disciplines and engaging globally.

The two universities have already worked together on numerous projects, including research into current perceptions of sustainability and sustainable development conducted by three Leuphana faculty and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Manfred Laubichler. Laubichler is also among the Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation’s founding members, along with School of Sustainability Dean Christopher Boone and sustainability scientists Sander van der Leeuw and Arnim Wiek.

The researchers will have the designation of permanent visiting scholar at the partner university.


ASU shows sustainability solidarity through Green Sports Alliance

ASU Sustainability News

June 26, 2015

Solar Panels on ASU's Wells Fargo ArenaThe Pac-12 Conference has announced its membership in the Green Sports Alliance, making it the first collegiate sports conference to count all its members – including ASU – as participants. As members of the GSA, the conference and university athletics programs have committed to measure their environmental performance, develop strategies and goals to reduce their footprint, monitor progress and engage fans in the process.

Sporting events at ASU have specifically been targeted as a place to educate students and the community on how to become more sustainable.

“It’s very rare to find a red trash receptacle at any of our sporting events,” said Peter Wozniak, manager of ASU’s athletic facilities. “We really do try and lead by example.” Wozniak added that in addition to using LED lighting and providing recycling bins at their sports facilities, ASU purchases sustainable cleaning supplies and encourages food suppliers to use recyclable products.


ASU among world's top 50 universities for patents granted

ASU Sustainability News

June 16, 2015

Cover of Top 100 worldwide universities granted patents in 2014A new report from the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association - based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - ranks ASU among the world's top 50 universities for the number of patents in 2014. The 48 patents issued to ASU researchers that year tied it for 44th, just ahead of Duke University. The ranking reflects the university's dedication to conducting use-inspired research and building innovative technologies that contribute to our communities.

“The granting of 48 utility patents continues to demonstrate that our faculty and students are on the frontiers of science and at the forefront of developing new and meaningful technologies that extend to Arizona and beyond,” said sustainability scientist Sethuraman Panchanathan, senior vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “As a rapidly growing research enterprise, these patents recognize the uniqueness of the work performed at ASU and the direct societal impact it has on the nation at large.”


Urban Planning director named dean of social sciences

ASU Sustainability News

June 15, 2015

Wentz wearing an orange top and smiling Beginning July 1, Elizabeth Wentz - a professor and director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning - will assume a new role as dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU.

As a senior sustainability scientist with the ASU Wrigley Institute, Wentz is interested in restructuring cities to be more effective in the face of global climate change, as well as in the factors influencing single-family water demand. Her modeling efforts are reflected in the Decision Center for a Desert City-developed decision tool WaterSim, designed for use by local water managers. She also examines the tradeoffs between residential water and energy use.

"As a New American University, ASU is focused on being a global leader in elevating the stature of the social sciences as an integrative science,” said President Michael M. Crow. “Our teaching and discovery contributions range from global climate change to digital humanities, the geologic anthropocene and engineering solutions. All of which require comprehending and communicating human behavior, social dynamics, cultural differences and political interactions across broad geographic and time scales. Dr. Wentz has the background and experience to move us toward our goal.”


Scientist recognized for collaborative approach to construction

ASU Sustainability News

June 10, 2015

sustainable-engineering-Mounir-El-AsmarMounir El Asmar, a senior sustainability scientist, has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers for his outstanding contributions to construction management and engineering.

El Asmar was presented the ASCE Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize on June 9 at the International Construction Specialty Conference in Canada for his research to quantify the performance of emerging construction project delivery systems. The ASCE award was based on the results of a project he led and reported on in a paper written with two colleagues, which was published in the ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.

“My work is about improving the performance of our built environment,” El Asmar says, “and our study shows this new approach offers real potential for major improvement in the industry.”

El Asmar is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.


ASU experts advise World Bank Group on climate change investment

ASU Sustainability News

June 8, 2015

world-bank-investment-climate-workshopTo determine how investment in the developing world can impact and be impacted by climate change, the World Bank Group and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, traveled to Arizona State University for expert sustainability advice.

On May 18, 2015, a diverse global cohort of 30 World Bank and IFC members gathered in Tempe for a two-day workshop. Here, seven prominent scientists from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability presented their research and insights on climate change. Specialized lectures, panels and discussions explored how the World Bank could contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience, as well as how climate change findings would affect the operations and priorities of the bank.

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Scientist assists Navajo Nation in improving land-use planning

Uncategorized ASU Sustainability News

June 4, 2015

sustainability-navajo-land-planningDavid Pijawka, a senior sustainability scientist and professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has been awarded $80 thousand by the Navajo Nation to continue his work with its planning community.

The award comes after Pijawka and a team of researchers evaluated the processes, quality and outcomes of the Community-Based Land Use Plans developed by the Nation's chapters. The team found that updates were needed, and recommended that they be guided by the latest technical planning knowledge, tools, methods and professional practices. In response, the Nation asked Pijawka to spearhead the effort.

The award will cover the production of two guidance documents, as well as training for the Nation's regional and chapter planners. Training will occur both on-site and at a  ten-day workshop held in June 2015 on ASU’s Tempe campus, which will feature topics like community visioning and participation, geographic information systems, legal issues, and cultural and sovereignty considerations.


ASU partners to improve Pakistan's energy production

ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 4, 2015

Solar Panel in SunOn June 3,  leaders from Arizona State University joined a ceremony in Islamabad to launch a five-year energy studies partnership with two leading Pakistani universities: National University of Science and Technology and the University of Engineering and Technology-Peshawar.

The $18-million project, known as the Partnership Center for Advanced Studies in Energy, was awarded to ASU by the U.S. Agency for International Development. It will work to improve power production in Pakistan, a nation that British economist Jim O’Neill said could be the 18th-largest economy in the world by 2050.

To achieve this, ASU staff will work with Pakistani counterparts on growing capacities in governance, curriculum, applied research, exchanges and scholarships, and institutional sustainability. The driving force will be graduate education and research.

Ultimately, project organizers envision a highly functioning center operating as seamlessly as possible between the two universities so they, in turn, can continue to find innovative and coordinated ways to boost Pakistan’s energy production.