ASU Wrigley Institute News

Sustainability scientists receive $12M to lead urban resilience network

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.”

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Vows and Values: Our Sustainable Wedding Story

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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ASU partners with Leuphana University on global sustainability center

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.

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ASU partners to improve Pakistan’s energy production

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.

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Student Spotlight: Sharyn Tom

June 4, 2015

Sustainability-Student-Sharyn-Tom
Senior Sharyn Tom presenting the “School of Sustainability’s Student Survival Guide.”

Sharyn Tom is a Spring 2015 graduate of the School of Sustainability, having earned a Bachelor of Science in the Economics of Sustainability track. She also obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Prior to graduating, Tom shared her sustainability story with us. We look forward to hearing where her curiosity and passion for problem solving take her next!

Why did you choose to major in Sustainability?
Because I’m a dual citizen between Canada and the U.S., I would go to Vancouver, B.C. every summer to visit family. I was constantly inspired by the city’s sustainability advances in transportation, First Nations Law, urban planning, policy and conservation. I wanted to be part of the revolution that brought those wonderful things to Phoenix, and I saw the sustainability program at ASU as an opportunity to become knowledgeable in the field.

Why did you choose the Economics of Sustainability track?
I was completely inspired by ECN 360: Economic Development – a class I took with Todd Schoellman. It remains one of my favorite economics classes because it opened my eyes to new ways of applying my sustainability knowledge for good. Understanding key elements of economics – such as supply and demand, market movements and financial incentives – became a powerful part of building the business case for sustainability.

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ASU blue bag program contributes to zero waste goals

May 14, 2015

blue-bag-collection-zero-wasteIn response to employee demand and to help meet the university’s zero waste goals, the team behind ASU Recycling now offers the blue bag program. Blue bags capture waste previously headed toward the landfill – including coffee pods, cosmetic containers and water filters – and are available to all offices and departments on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The team has placed 275 blue bags in 52 buildings since January, and hopes to extend the program to the Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic and West campuses – including the Thunderbird School – in the fall 2015 semester.

“On average, about 350 tons of waste per month collected at the Tempe campus goes to the landfill,” said Lucas Mariacher, ASU Recycling technician. “We are taking recycling to a whole new level with the blue bag program. Before program launch, the majority of items that are accepted in blue bins were being landfilled.”

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The development of sustainability education at ASU

May 13, 2015

sustainability-educationThere has never been a more important time to educate and train the leaders of the future to deal with the threats of instability. Current world leaders are discussing climate change at the same time that local communities in the U.S. strive for more resilience to increases in climate events.

U.S. universities have a responsibility to prepare modern sustainability business, government and other professionals with the innovative technical and management approaches needed to lead in a rapidly changing world. During this January 14, 2015, webinar titled “Innovative Approaches to Sustainability Education at U.S. Universities,” Dean Christopher Boone discussed how ASU’s School of Sustainability – the first of its kind in the United States – came to be and how it has evolved. He also described how the School is providing future sustainability leaders with the education they need now, along with tools to move the sustainability field forward.

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Artificial leaf jumps developmental hurdle

February 18, 2014

Photo by: Michael Hagelberg
Photo by: Michael Hagelberg

In a recent early online edition of Nature Chemistry, ASU scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, have reported advances toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf.

Designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the goals of BISfuel – the Energy Frontier Research Center, funded by the Department of Energy, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University.

Hydrogen is an important fuel in itself and serves as an indispensible reagent for the production of light hydrocarbon fuels from heavy petroleum feed stocks. Society requires a renewable source of fuel that is widely distributed, abundant, inexpensive and environmentally clean.

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Solar energy leaders come together for 4th Arizona Solar Summit

February 17, 2014

azsolarsummitiv_feb20The Arizona Solar Summit brings together people and organizations to advance the solar industry on both the regional and national levels, creating a network to propel Arizona to national prominence in the industry.

The fourth annual Arizona Solar Summit, part of the 2014 Sustainability Solutions Festival, will focus on introducing innovative policies, programs and technologies that are critical to reshaping Arizona’s energy markets.

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What ecosystem greeted the first settlers of the northern Caribbean?

February 13, 2014

Photo by: Nancy Albury
Photo by: Nancy Albury

Assembling a picture of past environments always involves detective work. The reward is a clearer understanding of how natural and human forces have changed environments in the past, giving insights to how modern-day environmental changes take place.

Working with especially elusive evidence, Janet Franklin, ASU professor of geography, is participating in an effort to understand the profound changes in plant and animal life that occurred on the oceanic islands of the West Indies since the end of the last ice age.

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ASU releases 2013 report on sustainability initiatives

February 12, 2014

Photo by: CFO Visual Communications
Photo by: CFO Visual Communications

The recently released 2013 Sustainability Initiatives Revolving Fund (SIRF) annual report chronicles $5.6 million in investments that support Arizona State University.

The investments included seven energy conservation projects and six student and campus-oriented projects at ASU. From lighting retrofits, to specialized recycling bins, to an urban garden at the Downtown Phoenix campus, SIRF funds thrive in some surprising places.

In addition to project details and descriptions of all SIRF projects financed in 2013, the report includes three Q-and-A interviews with ASU SIRF fund recipients who have put their sustainability ideas into action.

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ASU Health Services Building awarded LEED platinum

February 11, 2014

Photo by: Bill Timmerman
Photo by: Bill Timmerman

The Health Services Building on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus has earned a LEED platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Health Services is the second ASU building to receive a platinum certification, which is the highest USGBC green building ranking under its LEED (Leadership in Excellence in Environmental Design) program. The Health Services Building is also the 38th ASU building to be LEED certified.

The Health Services Building underwent a major renovation and expansion that was completed in March 2012 by ASU’s Facilities Development and Management unit.

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Research reveals effectiveness of urban heat-reducing technologies

February 10, 2014

heatbubble.still002Life in a warming world is going to require human ingenuity to adapt to the new realities of Earth. Greenhouse-gas-induced warming and megapolitan expansion are both significant drivers of our warming planet. Researchers are now assessing adaptation technologies that could help us acclimate to these changing realities.

But how well these adaptation technologies – such as cool roofs, green roofs and hybrids of the two – perform year-round, and how this performance varies with place remain uncertain.

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ASU engineers to lead national solar energy technology projects

February 10, 2014

goodnick-holmanArizona State University engineers will lead two multi-university/industry research teams in support of a new U.S. Department of Energy program to develop technologies that use the full spectrum of sunlight to produce inexpensive power during both day and night.

The department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced allocation of $30 million in funding for 12 projects selected to conduct research for its Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program.

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ASU hosts first GreenBiz U Forum

February 6, 2014

ASU community invited to learn current sustainability business trends

green-biz-u-simulcast-20140218For the first time, the annual GreenBiz Forum, a hallmark conference hosted by GreenBiz Group, is coming to Arizona State University as a shadow conference for students, faculty and staff, called GreenBiz U. Presentations at GreenBiz Forum, set to take place Feb. 18-20 in Scottsdale, will be simulcast for free on ASU’s Tempe campus during GreenBiz U.

GreenBiz Forum, which happens twice a year in various locations around the country, provides an in-depth look at today’s sustainable business challenges and opportunities.

“GreenBiz Forum brings together sustainability leaders from the world’s biggest corporations to discuss key trends and best practices,” says Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group. “We’re excited to bring this wealth of insight and inspiration to the larger ASU community, which includes tomorrow’s business leaders.”

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Bicycle Program Manager Joins Parking and Transit Services

February 6, 2014

New position created to encourage, facilitate cycling on and off campus

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Arizona State University Parking and Transit Services announces Donna Lewandowski has been hired to serve as Bicycle Program Manager. Lewandowski, who is the first to work in this newly created post, begins her job duties on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.

Lewandowski’s primary responsibilities will be to develop, implement and maintain programs and activities that encourage bicycle usage on and off campus. She will be the lead liaison in connecting bike commuters with services that can help them maintain their bikes and stay safe on the roads. Lewandowski will also assist cyclists with incorporating other modes of transportation that contribute to ASU sustainability goals into their daily commutes.

Lewandowski comes to ASU from Tucson Medical Center, where she served as a community outreach specialist since last March. She coordinated Safe Kids Pima County, a diverse community coalition for childhood injury prevention. Her duties included planning and executing community safety events aimed at children’s and women’s health, as well as developing grant application, fundraising and marketing materials for the Safe Kids coalition.

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ASU partners to bring algae technology into next generation

February 4, 2014

dscn0221
Photo by: John McGowen

A newly announced partnership between Arizona State University, Heliae and SCHOTT North America is a big step forward on the path to accelerate algae technology.

The collaboration will bring Heliae’s algae production technology to ASU’s algae testbed facility. Through the partnership, SCHOTT financed a Helix photobioreactor built by Heliae and installed at ASU’s Department of Energy-funded algae testbed facility on the Polytechnic campus. Over the next several years, algae researchers at ASU will leverage the Helix photobioreactor to propel the understanding of algae production technology, including an investigation into the effect of glass tubing innovations on the yields and economics of algae production. The reactor will also deliver the production of high-quality algae cultures, which will support broader ASU algae operations.

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Presence of humans, urban landscapes increase illness in songbirds

February 4, 2014

housefinchesonfeeder_2Humans living in densely populated urban areas have a profound impact not only on their physical environment, but also on the health and fitness of native wildlife. For the first time, scientists have found a direct link between the degree of urbanization and the prevalence and severity of two distinct parasites in wild house finches.

The findings are published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University made the discovery while investigating intestinal parasites (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) found in house finches. The group also studied the effects of urbanization on the stress response system of the finches.

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ASU research helps guide transportation policy

January 29, 2014

Photo by: Shutterstock.com
Photo by: Shutterstock.com

Arizona State University’s robust and expanding range of transportation research and studies was reflected recently in the contributions of faculty members and students to one of the major international gatherings of transportation experts.

An ASU contingent of more than 30 faculty members and students presented their research in more than 40 workshops and sessions at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12-16. The event attracted about 12,000 professionals from academia, research institutions, industry and public and private policy groups from around the world.

The TRB is a major division of the private, nonprofit National Research Council, administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The council seeks to serve the public interest by providing expertise to government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities.

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Why higher ed, advanced energy systems will rescue global climate policy

January 29, 2014

higher-ed
Photo by: stock.xchng

With the European Union split on a new energy and climate strategy to 2030, and developing countries such as India and China unwilling to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, global climate policy has reached an impasse.

So, the question remains: How can policymakers, institutions of higher education and citizens from all over the world foster a conversation on global climate policy that sparks action? By demanding superior systems of energy use is one proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming panel organized by ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

The public panel discussion, “Rescuing Climate Policy,” is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., Feb. 5, inside Wrigley Hall, room 481, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The talk will blend American, European and Chinese perspectives on the development and adoption of advanced systems of energy use.

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