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Sustainability News

Profitable agriculture through recovered energy, nutrients and solids

LightWorks News

May 2, 2016

J06088 Lightworks BIFOLD 1 PDFP1Currently, organic waste management in agriculture presents huge economic and environmental problems. These problems include regulatory risk, the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus, water and air pollution, and the lack of investment in anaerobic digestion. However, ASU researchers led by Bruce Rittmann are developing innovative systems to convert organic wastes into high-value products. These products can lead to improving employment and economic development in rural areas, and turn a liability into profit.

Rittmann and his team are developing smart, interconnected systems that synergistically produce renewable and high-value energy, fertilizers and soil amendments from organic wastes. They aim to increase profits for farmers by converting and recycling organic wastes into an assortment of value-added products.

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Creating energy and clean water in arid environments

LightWorks News

May 2, 2016

2016 Reseach Portfolio NewestWorldwide, water security in arid regions is threatened by unsustainable use of groundwater and population growth. In order for villages, towns, and cities to be sustainable and prosperous, clean water is essential. This requires efficient treatment and reuse of wastewater.

ASU researchers led by Peter Lammers have developed an innovative system that employs a heat-tolerant strain of microalgae in a closed system for efficient wastewater treatment under hot, arid conditions at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI). The bio-solids and algal biomass are then converted into energy, such as liquid fuel, through hydrothermal liquefaction or anaerobic digestion.

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International innovation through partnership with Beijing Normal University

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

April 28, 2016

25496231294_902c0b3fc6_oStrengthening Arizona State University’s commitment to innovation, ASU and Beijing Normal University have agreed to establish the Joint International Research Laboratory of Disaster Risk and Sustainability Sciences. The mission of the Joint Lab is to establish an international innovation platform for fostering research, training and education programs in both disaster risk and sustainability sciences, with an emphasis on integrated risk governance for sustainable development.

The ultimate goals for the Joint Lab are to understand the transformation of social-ecological systems in the context of global climate change, to provide the knowledge required for societies elsewhere in the world to deal with risks posed by global environmental change, and to seize sustainable development opportunities in a transition to global sustainability.

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New partnership drives international sustainability education

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

April 28, 2016

26008456592_62e279a211_oArizona State University is developing a long-term partnership with Beijing Normal University through a joint education program. This program between ASU and BNU allows the universities to drive their shared vision of sustainability through education.

We’re excited to announce that BNU and ASU have agreed to establish a collaborative education program known as the “BNU-ASU 3+1+2 Program.” This program allows qualified undergraduate students enrolled at BNU to successfully complete three years of their curriculum at BNU, and then transfer to ASU for another year to finish their undergraduate program. When students complete the first four years in the program, they receive a bachelor’s degree from BNU, after which they have the option to pursue a two-year Master of Science in Sustainability degree at ASU's School of Sustainability.

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Partnership to increase educational success of Native Hawaiians

Board Letter Institute Press Releases

April 26, 2016

Two men in suits shaking handsHonolulu – Leaders from Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Arizona State University (ASU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on April 11 to cooperate and advance education and sustainability.

“This MOU signifies a call to action for both of our organizations. Partnerships such as this also demonstrate our commitment to foster local and global servant leadership and cultural engagement among Native Hawaiians and all learners in Hawaiʻi,” said KS Chief Executive Officer Jack Wong. “We acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, but instead we need to work together with those who share the same goals and whose priorities align with ours, with Hawai‘i’s.”

The partnership with ASU is another step toward KS’ strategic goal of contributing to our communities’ collective efforts to kōkua educational systems throughout Hawai‘i.

“Arizona State University and Kamehameha Schools share a mission to improve the communities around us through education,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This partnership creates pathways for our students to sustain and enrich society -- at a local level and far beyond.”

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ASU mends the trails of iconic mountain on Earth Day

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 22, 2016

Teachers and students smile while collecting trash at A MountainTo commemorate Earth Day 2016, the ASU Wrigley Institute partnered with the City of Tempe to host a clean-up of "A" Mountain on April 22.

Roughly 150 volunteers from at least seven organizations hit the trails of Tempe's only preserve, armed with trash pickers and bags. Staff from the Department of Public Works – who had come in on their day off, in some instances – hauled away four dump trucks of debris, with many more small loads taken away in golf carts.

According to Robert Bartelme of the City of Tempe, up to 150 bags of trash were removed. This is a testament to the impressive volunteer turnout – the largest in the event's seven-year history.

Faculty Highlight: Klaus Lackner

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

lackner-carbon-capture-e1460415938931-300x300Arizona State University’s President Michael Crow has hired Center for Negative Carbon Emissions Director Klaus Lackner twice.

The first time was when Crow was vice provost at Columbia University. He attracted Lackner in 2001 from Los Alamos National Laboratory to join Columbia's Earth Institute and become a professor.

Crow knew he was hiring a big picture thinker: Lackner’s interest in self-replicating machine systems had been recognized by Discover magazine in 1997 as one of seven ideas that could change the world, and his work in mineral sequestration of carbon dioxide in silicate minerals appeared in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report.

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A promising path to negative carbon emissions

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

negcarbon_scenariorgbCarbon dioxide is a potent greenhouse gas and its steady accumulation poses ever-increasing risks of harmful climate change. The need for collection of carbon waste and its permanent and safe disposal will not stop even if the world succeeds in abandoning fossil fuels. Halting the rise of carbon dioxide at any reasonable concentration demands a transition to a net zero or even net negative carbon economy.

Negative carbon emissions via air capture provide an important and largely neglected tool for mitigating climate change. Air capture could recover carbon flows that were allowed to escape into the atmosphere, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Therefore, we aim to create a Center of Excellence within ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE) to research negative carbon emissions and direct capture of carbon dioxide from the ambient atmosphere.

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Joint decision-support analysis of water and energy systems

LightWorks News

April 21, 2016

John SaboThe increasing global demand for energy will stress water resources because energy production requires water for refining and cooling processes. Additionally, deployment of new clean-energy technologies must be well established based on the geography and hydroclimate.

Arizona State University researchers led by Senior Sustainability Scientist John Sabo, are developing Net-WEST, a data hub and analytics platform, that will engage key decision makers from the water and energy sectors to co-develop systems thinking tools for the planning of energy infrastructure. This project will involve public-private partnerships among national energy laboratories, power authorities, water agencies and utility companies.

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WaterSim debuts at largest science festival in US

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

April 18, 2016

DCDC staff stand in front of booth, smiling and flashing ASU pitchforkASU's Decision Center for a Desert City was one of only 30 National Science Foundation-funded projects invited to represent the organization at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., from April 16-17, 2016.

Visitors to the DCDC  booth learned about water in the West through WaterSim – a simulation tool created by the center to estimate water supply and demand for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It allows users to explore how various factors like regional growth, drought, climate change and water management policies influence water sustainability.

The festival – the largest and only national science festival, as well as the largest STEM education event in the United States – saw an estimated 350,000 visitors over the course of two days.

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Best-selling author takes a look at your next meal

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News Food Systems News

April 14, 2016

Author Michael Pollan sitting at table with his books smiling at studentAuthor, journalist and food activist Michael Pollan — named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine — gave a Wrigley Lecture on April 14, 2016, as part of the School of Sustainability's 10th anniversary celebration.

Pulling from 15 years of research, Pollan detailed the many shifts in agriculture since the industrial revolution – including the move from sunlight to oil. He explained how many factories that supported WWII – like those that manufactured bombs – went into the food business post-war, making products like pesticides instead.

These shifts have had a number of unintended negative consequences, Pollan explained. They include crops that are so laden with chemicals that they are not fit for direct human consumption, a poor quality of life for farmed animals, and a significant toll on the overall health of Americans.

Pollan concluded by commending the ASU Wrigley Institute for its focus on solutions to the problems of food system sustainability. After receiving a standing ovation, he joined the excitement at both the Rescued Food Feast and Festival of Sustainability at ASU.

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Anniversary celebration propels school into its next decade

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 14, 2016

asu-school-of-sustainability-ten-yearsIn 2014-2015, more than 1,500 ASU students were enrolled as sustainability majors and minors across business, engineering, sustainability, humanities and nutrition. Ten years prior, the degree did not exist – not at ASU or any other university in the nation.

The festivities on April 14, 2016, not only celebrated the evolution and accomplishments of the first-ever School of Sustainability, they recognized the foresight and collaborative spirit of Arizona State University as a whole.

The day began with a packed house at a Wrigley Lecture by best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan, who discussed some disturbing trends in our food system and how they can be reversed. After receiving a standing ovation from the audience, Pollan joined the migration to the Rescued Food Feast, which served nearly 1,000 people with delicious meals made from nutritious foods typically disposed of for cosmetic reasons alone.

Diners then followed members of ASU's marching band to the front steps of Wrigley Hall, where Benefactor Julie Wrigley and President Michael Crow remarked on the occasion. Alumni, faculty and community members alike then enjoyed the Festival of Sustainability at ASU, featuring a Farmers Market, live music and exhibits by departments throughout the university.

It was a 10th birthday to remember!

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Human energy analytics

LightWorks News

April 8, 2016

Graph of human-centered principlesASU's  Human Energy Analytics group, led by Jacqueline Hettel, creates new informatics tools and resources to catalyze, accelerate and improve the human outcomes of global energy-systems change.

ASU researchers work with energy companies to change their organizational cultures; with communities to invent new energy futures; and with policy leaders to accelerate energy innovation. This work leads to a better understanding of how to improve clean-energy technology adoption in diverse, complex communities.

By embodying human-centered principles in data design, tool development and analysis, human energy analytics can identify reliable signals of human values and motivations to optimize the social value of energy transitions.

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Micro-grid innovations for sustainable communities

LightWorks News

April 8, 2016

asu-lightworks-microgridsReliable access to electricity is widely regarded as a keystone to overcoming poverty. Micro-grids are localized energy grids that can be used to provide reliable, safe, and low-cost power to 1.4 billion people lacking access today.

The micro-grids research team lead by Nathan Johnson has developed a suite of solutions for off-grid power applications that accommodate residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Additional work by the group includes exploration of solar thermal applications and direct current power architectures.

All projects leverage public-private partnerships to drive energy innovations from concept to construction. On-site deployment, testing and scale-up of technologies are completed in conjunction with NGOs or entrepreneurs to spur local business development.

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Expect the unexpected in age of The Anthropocene

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 8, 2016

Sir Crispin Tickell wearing purple sweater sitting in arm chair in sunlit roomHow we cope with the accumulating effects of our actions is a major issue for society and requires understanding and political leadership.

This was the sentiment of the Sustainability Series talk given by Sir Crispin Tickell – a member of the Board of Directors for Sustainability at ASU – in April 2016.

He began by staging The Anthropocene, which he described as a man-made geological epoch that started when fossil fuels began replacing muscle.

Now, Tickell said, we need to address climate change on an intellectual level, closing the gap between scientific findings and political will. We need to learn to think differently and – above all – to expect the unexpected.

Tickell is a member of the Advisory Council for Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. He is the former director of the Policy Foresight Programme for the University of Oxford and former chancellor of the University of Kent. 

Mexico to modernize power grid with help from ASU

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

April 6, 2016

Electrical towering looming in front of a bright blue skyASU was recently named a participant in a three-year, $26-million grant that will help Mexico – a country in the midst of privatizing and updating its energy industry – explore its energy options and how it can connect with its neighbors.

The grant was awarded to the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey by Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology and its Secretary of Energy, and is designed to address the energy economy in the country. It will help build infrastructure, perform research and conduct educational activities, preparing Mexico for its energy future.

ASU is receiving $1.5 million of the grant and will provide its energy economic modeling proficiency via the Decision Theater. It will also apply its renowned expertise in power engineering to the project, according to ASU LightWorks Deputy Director Stephen Goodnick.

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Attention Wildlife Students and Young Professionals

Biodiversity News

April 5, 2016

Logo of state of Arizona and a quail on a branchSave the date for this exciting opportunity to participate in The Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society's (TWS) Wildlife Techniques Workshop on April 23, 2016!

The main courses take place from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the bat mist netting will be held after dark. Anticipated topics include capture/trapping techniques, darting/leg holds/propane net guns, CODA net gun, bat ID and mist netting, radio-telemetry and GPS at Horseshoe Ranch. Camping is permitted Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23, and offers time for informal networking.

This event is free, but a $5 annual membership fee to TWS is requested. Space is limited to 60 people. RSVP must be received by April 8. To reserve your spot, contact Holly Hicks at 623-236-7499, or hhicks@azgfd.gov.

Scientists combat accelerating biodiversity loss

Biodiversity News

April 5, 2016

Glass of water with painting of nature in the background
A glass of fresh drinking water. © The Nature Conservancy and Kent Mason.

The Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to address scalable solutions to global challenges at the intersection of nature conservation, sustainable development and human well-being.

The Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas Work Group principle investigators, Dr. Leah Gerber and Dr. Penny Langhammer, et al. are working to incorporate ecosystem services and human well-being benefits into Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) developed by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Click here for more information on the KBA partnership between CBO and IUCN.

Come research with McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Field Institute

Biodiversity News

March 29, 2016

Bird on branchThe McDowell Sonoran Field Institute has just announced their 2016-2017 Graduate Fellowship. The Field Institute Director, Helen Rowe, will discuss the fellowship, the priority research areas, and ways you can collaborate on Monday, April 5, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. The talk will take place in ISTB1, Room 301, and both faculty and students are welcome. No RSVP is required.

 

ASU students pursue biodiversity solutions in the global south

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 29, 2016

Two dolphins jumping through waves in the oceanBiodiversity describes the plethora of different species on the Earth, as well as the ecosystems that they create and sustain. Humans couldn’t survive without a biodiverse planet, simply because the ecosystems we rely on only function due to the interactions of all these different species. In many cases, we don’t know exactly how a single species fits into the web of ecosystem functions; we do know that once a species goes extinct, there’s no going back.

The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) is one of Arizona State University’s newest endeavors to conserve biodiversity around the world, through research, natural resource management and education. In terms of education, the center is one of several ASU programs now working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to connect student researchers with partners in the global south to address conservation challenges.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the USAID program to provide our students with hands-on practical conservation development research,” says CBO director Leah Gerber.

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