Skip to Content

Sustainability News

Congratulations to Sustainable Cities Network's Anne Reichman

ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 6, 2017

Anne Reichman

The ASU Wrigley Institute is pleased to announce the promotion of Anne Reichman to director of the Sustainable Cities Network.

Anne has been program manager of SCN since its inception in 2009, when she oversaw its introduction, development and expansion throughout Arizona. Since that time, she’s created a statewide network dedicated to improving community and regional sustainability practices through engagement with ASU programs, faculty and students. Recently, Anne established Project Cities – an exciting new program within SCN – and received the Ponderosa Pine Award for the network’s Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0.

As director, Anne will continue to operate at the highest levels on the institute’s behalf, interfacing with communities and organizational partners on topics ranging from renewable energy and green building to the changing climate. Please join us in congratulating Anne on this exciting step up as she continues her work to create a more livable and prosperous Arizona.

Sustainability alumnus named to Greenbiz '30 Under 30'

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 5, 2017

Samson SzetoSamson Szeto, communications program coordinator of ASU LightWorks, has been named to the 2017 GreenBiz "30 Under 30." The list honors young corporate sustainability professionals who strive to make an impact in their workplace and the world, and Szeto is doing just that.

Szeto, who graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability in 2013, was nominated by his supervisor Travis Johnson, project and business development manager at LightWorks. He was recognized for his work on several renewable energy projects – including NEPTUNE – and his involvement with carbon capture technology.

The NEPTUNE project, a joint venture with the U.S. Navy and six other universities, trains veterans for careers in the energy sector. Szeto’s work with carbon capture technology involves creating strategic partnerships that unite corporations with ASU researchers working to halt climate change.

"Samson is passionate about driving innovation and sustainability into businesses and society," says Johnson. "I’m proud of him for being honored with the 30 Under 30 award, and I am sure he will continue changing the world."


Paris Climate Agreement: The fallout from withdrawal

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 2, 2017

PollutionAfter President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky went over the possible ramifications with ASU Now.

Klinsky, who studies climate negotiations, said that the decision will hurt American business and devastate our country's international credibility.

"Already, there are long-standing tensions and questions about the American commitment to climate action," Klinsky explained. "Cumulatively, the U.S. is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Breaking a promise by pulling out of this agreement or by removing domestic regulations will profoundly erode international trust in an arena in which collective action and cooperation is crucial."


Book penned by ASU energy expert honored with award

ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 1, 2017

Martin PasqualettiSenior Sustainability Scientist Martin Pasqualetti was awarded the 2017 Place Research Award by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) and the Project for Public Spaces.

The 2017 Place Research Award  is one of four Great Places Awards given every year. The award recognizes work that applies an interdisciplinary research approach – integrating design, research and practice while focusing on the relationship between people and their environment.

Continue Reading

Research team gets the gold for carbon capture technology

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 31, 2017

ASU researcher in maroon button-up shirt shows his carbon capture technology device.A 2017 International Readers’ Poll by Algae Industry Magazine landed an ASU research team with the “Gold Medal” Award in the Laboratory Equipment Category.

Sustainability scientists Bruce Rittmann and Klaus Lackner led the team, aimed at assisting the U.S. Department of Energy in increasing renewable energy production. The result was ASU's Air Capture Technology that collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, scrubs it, and captures it for future use. This energy can be used to feed certain types of algae that can then be used as biofuels – both reducing emissions and providing affordable energy.

The team hopes to implement this technology on a commercial scale in the future. Currently, it's building the systems's first prototype at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) on ASU’s Polytechnic Campus.


Scientist 'throws shade' on hot summer days

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 30, 2017

Ariane MiddelTwo years ago, Senior Sustainability Scientist Ariane Middel led a study on thermal comfort at ASU’s student union in Tempe. She and her team found that shade was the most important factor for comfort – more so than air temperature, humidity, and even clothing colors and materials.

Flash-forward to this year. Middel, an assistant research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has developed a tool that will someday show pedestrians the shadiest — and therefore coolest — route to their destinations. It will also tell planners and architects where they should create more shade.

The tool is a mobile weather station that resembles Pixar's WALL-E. Middel worked with a team of computer scientists to equip the weather station with the ability to take high-resolution Google Earth images. The 180-degree “fish-eye” views help to calculate whether a specific location would be in the sun or shade during a given time of day.


Fishing for answers in Phoenix's urban lakes

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

May 23, 2017

A "No Fishing" sign in an urban lakeA recent study on fishing in Phoenix found that, of the anglers surveyed at six urban lakes, the majority reported eating recreationally-caught fishes even though they thought the water might be polluted.

Erin Pulford – a School of Sustainability graduate – is the lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Management. Based on Pulford's Master of Sustainability Solutions project with advisor Beth Polidoro, the study found varying levels of organic contaminants in surface water samples collected from the six urban lakes where anglers were surveyed.

The study bears particular significance to low-income and high-minority neighborhoods, where most of the city's recreational fisheries lakes and ponds are located. The results can be used to inform policies, improve water quality and support further research in order to reduce potential risks to public health.

Milton Sommerfeld: Legacy and Lifetime Achievements

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 16, 2017

ASU Milton SommerfeldWhat’s so great about algae?

If you had the good fortune to meet Milton Sommerfeld, you have a hearty answer to that question.

Appropriately dubbed “The Wizard of Ooze,” Milt illuminated the world of algae with vibrant imagery, bubbling-good humor, and – if you were lucky – a mouthful of algae cookie, freshly baked by his wife Carolyn.

Milt unlocked algae’s potential, demonstrating its boundless possibility while leaving an enduring legacy of research, both at Arizona State University and well beyond its walls.

Catching the algae bug

Milt grew up in rural Texas on his family’s farm. Not only did this upbringing teach Milt the importance of hard work, resilience and integrity – virtues he continually demonstrated to his students and colleagues – it also introduced him to a specific slimy-green substance.

Continue Reading

Sustainable Cities Network receives Ponderosa Pine Partnership Award

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 15, 2017

Anne Reichman

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management awarded the Sustainable Cities Network and partners with the department’s first Ponderosa Pine Partnership Award for the Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0: Branching Out One Community at a Time.

This award was given at the 2017 Arizona State Arbor Day Celebration, which included winners of the Arbor Day K-12 Poster Contest, as well as recognition for 29 Tree City USA communities, 2 Tree Campus USA sites, 2 Tree Line USA utilities and 4 Urban Forestry Awards.

The Ponderosa Pine Award is one of the Urban Forestry Awards presented at the celebration, given “to increase the recognition of outstanding urban forestry projects in Arizona." It is presented for the innovative, strategic and/or pioneering collaborative efforts of organizations. It recognizes a project for the exceptional involvement of multiple organizations that was implemented during the past year.

Continue Reading

Top Arizona high school grad plans to study sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 26, 2017

Ashley DussaultOne of 10 Flinn Scholars committed to being a SunDevil, Ashley Dussault wants to use her major — sustainability — to help people.

“The program is about change, which is what I want to do. I want to plan cities to be better and to help with poverty,” said Dussault, who will graduate from Hamilton High School in the Chandler Unified School District.

She’s especially interested in the social-justice component of sustainability.

“I want to show the people of the world that just because sustainability is happening, they don’t have to be pushed out of their homes and that there’s a place for them in the world.”


TSC joins Walmart in going for a gigaton

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 19, 2017

TSC project GigatonIn April 2017, Walmart announced an ambitious goal to reduce emissions by one billion tons (a “gigaton”). The company invited key suppliers to join Project Gigaton by making climate commitments that will help the company reach its target by 2030.

That's where The Sustainability Consortium, founded through a partnership between ASU and the University of Arkansas, comes in. The organization will act as an official measurement partner, collecting data on emissions – both upstream and downstream in the value chain of products – from participating Walmart suppliers.

“Climate change is one of the gravest threats we face. It also presents unlimited opportunities for companies that choose to lead," said Euan Murray, TSC Chief Executive. "By taking a science-based approach to set such an audacious goal, Walmart cements its place as a leader with Project Gigaton. The Sustainability Consortium is proud to support Walmart in this critical initiative and we look forward to helping them deliver."


Joining forces with private sector for sustainability outcomes

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News Biodiversity News

April 18, 2017

WBCSDIn March, two representatives from Arizona State University attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 2017 Liaison Delegate meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. Amy Scoville-Weaver represented ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), and William Brandt attended on behalf of ASU LightWorks.

The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

The conference, Roadmap for Impact in Today’s Reality, focused on the drastic political changes over the past year, implications for sustainability and the critical opportunity for the private sector to engage in new ways on sustainable development. As part of the conference, WBCSD released its CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Continue Reading

Grant helps to create a community hub

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 17, 2017

ASU ImpactA blighted neighborhood is transforming into a community hub, complete with a vegetable garden tended by refugee families, thanks in part to a $2,500 gift from Mortenson Construction to ASU’s School of Sustainability.

Working with the humanitarian organization International Rescue Committee, ASU students and residents cultivate produce in an aquaponics greenhouse at 1616 West Camelback Road, a low-income neighborhood in Central Phoenix that has limited nutritional options.

"Through careful and intensive design, this project could become a place for the refugee community to call home and feel integrated into the neighborhood," says Josh Greene, a senior in architectural studies.

Continue Reading


What would it mean to lose the Endangered Species Act?

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

April 13, 2017

A whale fin flips above the waterAs the current presidential administration rolls back numerous environmental regulations, Senior Sustainability Scientist Leah Gerber considers the consequences of losing the Endangered Species Act – another item queued for the chopping block.

In an April 2017 commentary in Christian Science Monitor titled "Is the endangered species act facing extinction?," Gerber touts the services biodiversity provides us - among them, food, medicine, clean water and air. Not only do these enhance rather than impede our lifestyle, in Gerber's opinion, the plants and animals that make up our ecosystems enrich our lives in ways often ascribed to art.

According to Gerber, who directs ASU's Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, these benefits provide solid ground for a bipartisan effort to strengthen the ESA's ability to protect endangered species rather than to limit or invalidate it.

"For those species that we deem worthy of protection, we must promote their recovery and be willing to pay for it," Gerber writes. "For the losing species, we need to prepare for the consequences of their disappearance from Earth."


Sustainability professor gives GreenBiz the inside view

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 11, 2017

George BasileSustainability is a field written in pencil, at best, according to School of Sustainability Professor of Practice George Basile.

In an April 2017 interview with GreenBiz,  Basile explains that sustainability is always evolving, requiring its practitioners to be keen learners.

"When you implement sustainability even today, very quickly people find out what it’s like to be a pioneer," he says. "You’ll find yourself in new territory."

The students who enroll in sustainability courses at ASU are not intimidated by this prospect. In Basile's opinion, School of Sustainability students are among the best.

"They’re willing to learn. They’re motivated. They come with a great breadth of backgrounds and they really are solution-oriented," he explains. "They’re looking at 'how do we build the future we want.'"


On our own soil: 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival hits home

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 5, 2017

Indigenous people in boats on a lake with a sign to protect the water.At the beginning of April 2017, ASU held its 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival in the College Avenue Commons Auditorium on its Tempe campus. The festival – sponsored in part by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability – was a free, three-day event open to the public.

This year, the festival embraced a domestic theme, as every documentary it featured highlighted human rights abuses within the United States. These topics included immigration, racism, poverty, reproductive rights, and indigenous rights such as the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Film is a powerful way to convey experience,” says Senior Sustainability Scholar LaDawn Haglund, who founded the festival and continues to serve as its director. “It transcends an intellectual understanding of an issue to reach people’s hearts. With human rights violations, this is so important because statistics and facts make us numb rather than outraged, which is how we must feel — at least momentarily — if we want to create a world where such violations are stopped.”


Mobilizing agency to address urbanization

ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 5, 2017

A man stands as he rows down a river in MexicoXochimilco, Mexico City is the last remnant of the complex lacustrine system of wetlands that was the basis for agriculture and livelihoods in pre-Columbian times. However, the water is no longer provided by natural springs, but is provided by the discharge of treated wastewater from the neighboring, densely-populated and impoverished borough of Iztapalapa.

The water quality is not good, not only because of its source, but also because of numerous illicit discharges of sewage into the wetland from the irregular and expanding urban settlements on the wetland’s fringe. Water quality concerns have undermined fishing and agricultural livelihoods, and threaten the ecotourism activities of the area.

MEGADAPT – led by School of Sustainability Professor Hallie Eakin – recently conducted a Transformation lab (T-Lab) in Xochimilco. While there are numerous sustainability challenges associated with Xochimilco, the T-lab focused on the issue of informal/irregular settlements and the urbanization of the historic wetlands. The MEGADAPT team proposed the T-lab as a collaborative arena where participants could discover and mobilize agency to address urbanization.

Continue Reading

Agriculture in Arizona faces a warmer future

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

March 27, 2017

Rows of green lettuce in a fieldHow might climate change affect Arizona? A decrease in crop yields, for one thing, according to Andrew Berardy – a postdoctoral research associate with the Food Systems Transformation Initiative – and Senior Sustainability Scientist Mikhail Chester.

After studying the food-energy-water nexus that governs agriculture in Arizona, the pair found that the state's yields could drop more than 12 percent per 1 degree Celsius. This would have cascading effects – including more irrigation and increased food prices – that would be felt throughout the region.

In light of roll-backs in environmental protection by the Trump administration, Berardy and Chester advise that farmers upgrade to more efficient irrigation methods like drip irrigation. Their findings were published in IOP Science.


Navigating the rapids of water management

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News DCDC News

March 24, 2017

Dave White Colorado river waterWe’ve portioned out more of the Colorado River’s water than it can deliver. What now?

Senior Sustainability Scientist Dave White, who directs ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City, delivered his ideas for staying afloat in a March 2017 KED Talk. He demonstrated how the lessons he learned while rafting the Colorado River in 1998 are applicable to today's proverbial water rapids – namely drought, climate insecurity, population growth and overallocation.

"The solutions to these problems will require courage, skilled and experienced leadership," says White, "....and the recognition that the vitality of the American West depends on everyone paddling together."


Sowing the seeds of sustainability education

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 22, 2017

Spotlighting the Sustainability Teachers' Academy – a program of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives – ASU was recognized with a 2017 Best of Green Schools award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.

The award, presented in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network, acknowledges the importance of cultivating lifelong awareness by planting the sustainability seed early and, particularly, ASU's efforts to achieve just that through community education.

The annual Best of Green Schools awards recognize 11 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing the best environmental efforts in schools across the country. ASU was honored in the higher-education category.