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HOAs influence water use, ASU study finds

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 5, 2016

Low-water landscaping in desert neighborhoodHomeowners associations are good for water conservation, according to a study led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Elizabeth Wentz.

Upon analyzing water-use records for properties throughout several neighborhoods in Goodyear, Arizona, Wentz and her research team found that houses in HOAs used significantly less water than those that were not. They also found that houses in HOAs had less vegetation overall, even when minimum vegetation requirements were listed among the HOAs' rules.

The team concluded that a sense of community, coupled with fines for non-conformers, make homes in HOAs more likely to observe an area’s social and environmental norms – even if those norms are never codified in law. If HOAs shaped their standards to reflect environmentally-friendly landscaping, they could save thousands of gallons of water per household every year.


Camels don't fly, deserts don't bloom

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 2, 2016

Tractor on a desert farmOne hundred miles west of Phoenix, a Saudi Arabian-owned farming operation called Almarai grows alfalfa for hay year-round. Why would a foreign company grow one of the most water-intensive crops in the desert of La Paz County, Arizona? And what does this mean for the future of water resources in the state?

"Camels don't fly, deserts don't bloom" is a 2016 documentary by a team of seven ASU students from five countries – three of whom are enrolled in the School of Sustainability. Under the guidance of sustainability scientist Peter Byck, director of Carbon Nation, the 15-minute film explores the questions raised by this agricultural anomaly.


Sustainability Highlights magazine covers a notable 2015

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 27, 2016

ASU sustainability professor Arianne Cease holds a locust on her hand and smiles2015 was another momentous year for the ASU Wrigley Institute, with multiple milestones in solutions, engagement, education and research. School of Sustainability professor Arianne Cease was named among the Popular Science Brilliant 10, the international Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network was established with a $12 million grant, and the Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Services presented a plan to green Albania's schools to the prime minister of that country.

Eight ASU sustainability scientists, scholars and fellows attended the historic U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Paris, School of Sustainability grad student Anna Bettis asked Democratic presidential candidates for their climate change commitments during a televised CNN debate, and household names Tom Friedman and M. Sanjayan joined our growing list of distinguished Wrigley Lecturers.

And that's just a sampling. For a more in-depth look at what we accomplished last year, flip through our newly-released 2015 Sustainability Highlights magazine.


ASU LightWorks director named clean air champion

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 25, 2016

13250482_10208163534062855_577511014_nThe Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition is one of 90 coalitions across the country designated by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the use of petroleum motor fuel. These efforts are directed under the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act to reduce air pollution and dependence on foreign oil.

Every two years, Valley of the Sun and Tucson Regional Coalitions stage a Legislative Breakfast, where legislators, staff and civic leaders are invited to learn the latest in the means of reducing the use of petroleum fuel. This event features key speakers and a comprehensive display of alternative fuel vehicles.

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Meeting emissions targets after Paris climate talks

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Professional Training and Custom Sustainability Education

May 19, 2016

Smokestacks billow emissions in front of a blue skyWithin months of the Paris climate talks, more than 20 city officials from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for a "how-to" on inventorying sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The training – led by Raj Buch, practice lead for the Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Services – helped attendees determine where emissions cuts are most needed.

Twenty-one city officials attended, from countries including Argentina, India, South Africa, Korea, Bolivia, China and Bangladesh. All of them were clients of World Bank, an organization that mainly finances Third World infrastructure projects and is concerned about the effects climate change will have on them.

Bank officials asked the School of Sustainability to design and deliver a curriculum around this topic, as it had done for other topics in the past. The workshop will be produced in an online format, as well.


Love of a language shapes sustainability grad's path

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

May 16, 2016

Bridget Harding standing on a wet walking path through a field of tall flowersSchool of Sustainability student Bridget Harding's love of the Korean language, which she studied throughout high school and her time at ASU, has shaped her path in a few profound ways.

First, it prompted her to study abroad in South Korea, where she became interested in East vs. West perspectives on nature and ecology. It also became a point of intrigue for potential employers, who viewed that the knack for learning such a difficult language as an indicator of other aptitudes – like learning difficult computer programs.

Harding was admitted into the Fulbright Scholarship Program in South Korea, where she will teach English for at least one year. She is one of the 118  uniquely-talented students to graduate from the School of Spring in 2016.


A higher-ed transformation that could help save the planet

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 12, 2016

New York buildings with trees.In a May 2016 article in Huffpost Green, the directorate of the ASU Wrigley Institute examines the question, "Can universities save the planet?"

In the piece, authors Rob Melnick, Gary Dirks and Chris Boone contend that practical solutions to the mega-problems we face are not being implemented quickly enough. They attribute this gap, in part, to the incremental advance of these problems – too difficult to see for many people to take seriously.

Universities – with their vast portfolio of expertise – can be instrumental in closing this gap, say the authors. But only if they move from the current model, where knowledge generation and dissemination is the sole goal, to one where solution implementation is the desired end.


A glimpse into the future of algae

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

May 11, 2016

summerfeld_and_algae-5One of the nation’s top experts on algae, ASU sustainability scientist Milton Sommerfeld, has spent half of a century exploring the possibilities of the plant as a super food, fuel, fertilizer and more.

Sommerfeld – co-director of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation at ASU's Polytechnic campus – explains that there are roughly 75,000 different types of algae, and that certain strains are more optimal for given uses than others.

According to Sommerfeld, the most immediate impact from algae will be in bioremediation – a waste management technique that uses organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants from a contaminated site. He expects commercial algal biofuels further down the line, as production will require scaling the small cultivation operations of the present to an industrial level.


Thinking circularly in a rapidly-growing megacity

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 10, 2016

asu-circular-economy-workshop-lagos-2To help address the mounting challenges of Africa's most populous city – Lagos, Nigeria – the Global Sustainability Solutions Services of ASU’s Walton Initiatives hosted a three-day workshop there in April 2016.

The first of its kind in the world, the "Introduction to Ethical Circular Economy" workshop was hosted at Sustainability School Lagos – an institution modeled after ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. It encouraged the group of 35 students, city and state officials, and others to imagine an economy where resources are remanufactured, refurbished and recycled – nothing is wasted.

“There is a tremendous amount of potential for a circular economy in rapidly developing countries,” said Senior Sustainability Scientist and Practice Lead Raj Buch. “It’s where the larger opportunity arises because it’s where most of the economic development is going to happen.”

Buch co-led the course with General Manager Dan O’Neill and Olufemi Olarewaju – an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership graduate and the executive director of the Sustainability School Lagos.


NASA funds first ASU student team to run space satellite

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

May 6, 2016

Students with laptops smiling in infrared An ASU undergraduate project called “Phoenix,” which will design and build a bread loaf-sized satellite, has been awarded $200,000 by the NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Student Instrument Program. The satellite, called a “3U CubeSat,” will use thermal infrared imaging to investigate how human activity and weather create urban heat islands around the Valley.

"Phoenix" follows an interdisciplinary model, made up of students and faculty from the School of Sustainability, among others. Though faculty and a graduate student will be mentors on the project, the team of more than 25 undergraduate students will be designing, promoting, building and running it from beginning to end.

“This project is history in the making,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration associate professor Judd Bowman, the project’s principal investigator. “No undergraduate student group at ASU has run a satellite in space before.”


Solar panels: worth it? ASU expert discusses on FOX 10

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

May 4, 2016

Harvey Bryan in front of blue FOX 10 backdrop wearing navy blazerIn a May 2016 segment of "Is it worth it?" on FOX 10 Arizona Morning, ASU senior sustainability scientist Harvey Bryan answered frequently-asked questions about installing solar panels on a home.

Bryan, a professor in The Design School, explained to hosts Rick D'Amico and Andrea Robinson that there are a variety of rooftop solar options available. They range from crystalline to thin-film, and vary in efficiency and price.

He confirmed that 85% of the rooftop solar market is constituted by power-purchasing agreements, where there are no up-front costs and you are paid for the energy that you generate. There are also leasing agreements, where you pay to lease the panels but get your energy for free, as well as outright purchasing.

In the instance of outright purchasing, an expensive option in the short-term, Bryan estimates owners can expect paybacks in six to eight years. This is because technology is reducing costs by up to 30% a year in some instances.

Bryan advises shopping around and getting at least three quotes prior to making a purchase.


International innovation through partnership with Beijing Normal University

Board Letter 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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Partnership drives international sustainability education

Board Letter 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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ASU mends the trails of iconic mountain on Earth Day

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.

WaterSim debuts at largest science festival in US

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.


Best-selling author takes a look at your next meal

ASU Sustainability News 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.


Anniversary celebration propels school into its next decade

ASU Sustainability News 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!


Adapting to climate change while working to reverse it

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 8, 2016

A devastated community after a stormEfforts to reverse climate change are not fast-acting enough, so we must take practical steps now to blunt disasters, says a March 2016 report called “Adaptation for a High Energy Planet: A Climate Pragmatism Project.”

Co-author Daniel Sarewitz – a sustainability scientist and the director of ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes – explains that while working toward a reduction in carbon emissions is important, we must adapt to the increased likelihood of extreme weather events in the meantime. This can be achieved through flexible, forward-thinking infrastructure; contingency plans for evacuation and emergency housing; and improved weather tracking, among others.

“There’s all sorts of aspects to this; it’s not just a technological problem,” Sarewitz says. “What we’d really like to see is policymakers and the media realize that there is a different, more hopeful way to look at the problem, and it points the way towards solutions.”


Expect the unexpected in age of The Anthropocene

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. 

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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