ASU Wrigley Institute News

Phoenix Business Journal: Filmmaker teaching ASU sustainability students

November 12, 2013

peter-byckPeter Byck, director and producer of “Carbon Nation” and a new professor of practice for the School of Sustainability and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is currently teaching students sustainability concepts through documentary-making.

“It’s about solutions and changing students’ careers,” says Byck. “It was a beautiful fit for my next project.”

Students from both schools are divided into three teams investigating solar issues in Arizona. The students will then showcase their documentaries to a live audience at the end of the semester. Byck is also partnering with ASU to create a follow-up to “Carbon Nation” called “Carbon Nation Mach 2.”

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Sustainability Scientist to lead $1.8 million solar grant

November 9, 2013

Dragica Vasileska, also a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, is leading a research team developing stronger and more reliable photovoltaic solar cells. Funded by the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, Vasileska’s team will receive $1.8 million over three years.

Vasileka says heat, cold, moisture, humidity, and other environmental extremes wear down photovoltaic solar systems. In order to be truly sustainable, systems must be able to weather all kinds of climates. Her team will investigate what exactly causes the degradation of the cells, then develop prevention methods.

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Green Living Magazine: The phosphorus issue

November 8, 2013

phosphorus fertilizer_102499277In this month’s Green Living Magazine, Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Jim Elser talks about the one ingredient we all depend on but never talk about: phosphorus. He has been studying phosphorus for over 20 years. The element naturally occurs in our environment and is used to grow our food. However, due to the globe’s increasing population and the resulting stress on food supplies, phosphorus levels are dwindling.

Elser started ASU’s Phosphorus Sustainability Initiative to find ways to conserve, recycle, and sustain global phosphorus supplies. Unfortunately, there is no way to create phosphorus in the lab. The only supplies are what the Earth produces.

“This is the biggest problem we’ve never heard of,” Elser says.

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Technology brings real world to sustainability students

November 7, 2013

student-video-conferenceIn ASU’s School of Sustainability, professors are taking advantage of the many technological opportunities available today to entice students and expand their real-world, global experiences. By using methods like Vidyo, Skype, Voice Thread, and others, classrooms turn into living laboratories for students exploring sustainable communities, international policy, and sustainable development.

“Technology can bring the class to the outside world, instead of taking the outside world to the class,” says David Manuel-Navarrete, an assistant professor in the School of Sustainability and a senior sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

Other sustainability professors advise that newcomers develop a back-up plan in case any glitches occur. However, many students expect their professors to be up-to-date on new technology and to use such technology in the classroom.

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ASU engineers use SunShot Initiative funds for solar advancements

November 6, 2013

Several Sustainability Scientists and ASU engineers are developing ultra-thin silicon solar cells that produce more electricity from the sun with a Department of Energy SunShot Initiative three-year grant. Given $3.5 million, project leader Stuart Bowden is teaming up with Stephen Goodnick, Christiana Honsberg, Mariana Bertoni, and Zachary Holman to advance the U.S.’s solar energy future. All team members are also part of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. Much of the work will take place in ASU’s Solar Power Lab on the Tempe campus and Research Park.

“A wave of advances is expected in photovoltaic solar cell technologies that should propel solar-energy industry growth within the next several years, and our efforts stand to make a big contribution to move that forward,” Bowden says.

Project partner institutions include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, the University of New South Wales in Australia, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

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Sustainability Scientists outline climate change effects

November 5, 2013

Scientific findings compiled for the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment are explained in the November issue of the Ecological Society of America’s journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. In particular, Senior Sustainability Scientist and CAP LTER project director Nancy Grimm guest edited the issue and authored two of the journal’s papers.

“The impacts that climate change has had and will have on people are interwoven with the impacts on ecosystems,” says Grimm, also a professor in the School of Life Sciences. “I think that we instinctively know that. In this assessment, we try to draw that connection.”

Additionally, John Sabo, director of research development for the Global Institute of Sustainability and associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, co-authored a paper on weather extremes and preparation.

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LEDs light up Wells Fargo Arena

November 5, 2013

Arizona State University’s Wells Fargo Arena is the first LED-lit NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision facility in the nation. ASU’s recent sustainability partner, Ameresco, joined Musco Sports Lighting, ASU Facilities Development and Management, and University Sustainable Practices to remove the stadium’s previous 109.20 kW lighting system with the new 27.74 kW LED system. Now, the stadium’s lighting uses 75 percent less energy without compromising lighting levels.

LED lighting (light-emitting diode) is a high-efficiency, low-temperature lighting source that is known for lasting 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. It is estimated that the new LED installation will save ASU $357,000 over 10 years.

This past summer, Sun Devil Athletics made the Natural Resource Defense Council’s list of top 10 sustainable athletic departments.

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White House honors School of Sustainability student

November 4, 2013

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Joe Knott, also a current ASU School of Sustainability graduate student, was chosen to be one of the White House’s 2013 Champions of Change for his continued commitment to land and species conservation.

Knott, a 33-year veteran, has served at the Pentagon as program manager for the Army’s Compatible Use Buffer Program that conserved 70,000 acres of land across the U.S. for conservation and green space. His last military assignment was as the Sustainability and Energy program manager for the National Guard Bureau, developing and implementing sustainability education, policies, and renewable energy initiatives for all 54 states and territories.

Knott will be awarded tomorrow morning at the White House’s ceremony. The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website at 10:00 a.m. ET.

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White House to honor veterans as “Champions of Change” for advancing clean energy and climate security

Institute Press Releases

November 4, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — November 4, 2013 — On Tuesday, November 5th, just days before Veterans Day, the White House will honor 12 local heroes as “Champions of Change.” The event will celebrate American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are doing extraordinary work to advance clean energy and increase climate resilience and preparedness in their communities.

In a Presidential Proclamation on National Energy Action Month, President Obama challenged the Nation to build a clean energy economy and increase energy security. Noting that we now import less oil than at any point in the past 20 years, the President stressed the need to keep moving forward to protect these gains and fuel growth for decades to come. Additionally, the President’s Climate Action Plan maps out a way to drive advancements in the energy sector, add thousands of jobs to strengthen the American economy, and lead efforts to address climate change globally. The President has stated that developing clean energy technology and preparing for the effects of climate change are crucial to ensuring America’s continued growth and the health of future generations.

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ASU team shines in Solar Decathlon

November 1, 2013

The team of students from ASU and the University of New Mexico competed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon and scored fifth in the architecture category and sixth in the engineering category among 20 participating teams.

“This was a notable collaboration between ASU programs in design, engineering and sustainability, and programs from the University of New Mexico,” says Michael Underhill, interim dean for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The ASU team was composed of students and faculty leaders from The Design School in the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the School of Sustainability. Called aSUNm, the team created an affordable energy-efficient home for a desert landscape.

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AZ universities to showcase algae research

November 1, 2013

This Saturday, students and researchers from all three major Arizona universities will unite to showcase their current algae projects, in particular, using wastewater to grow algae for food, fuel, and feed. Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and University of Arizona will share their work on Saturday, Nov. 2, in room 101 of the Engineering Building 69 on NAU’s campus in Flagstaff.

“The three Arizona universities bring exceptional talent to the field of algae,” says Milton Sommerfeld, senior sustainability scientist and co-director of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) at ASU, the leading institution of the collaboration. “Our goal is to help place Arizona at the forefront of this developing technology and provide the education and training necessary to support this effort.”

Interested participants who cannot attend are welcome to tune into the event online at http://www.cefns.nau.edu/~teb/rtx/PlayLive/RTX_PlayLive_Beta.html.

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ASU engineering grad putting education to work in solar energy field

November 1, 2013

Manny Quijada, a graduate of Arizona State University’s Solar Energy Engineering and Commercialization program, started Western Texas College’s own Solar Energy Technology program a year ago. Now a solar energy curriculum specialist, Quijada is sharing his expertise and teaching the future generations of solar technicians, researchers, and business owners.

“I’m thrilled to be in a position where I can motivate others to learn about solar energy technology and to envision a future for this power source that can help nations and governments secure a sustainable environment,” he says.

Since 2011, ASU’s solar energy program has graduated 27 students who are equipped with the engineering, policy, economic, and technology sides of solar energy.

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When decision-making is shared, maintain a shared vision

October 30, 2013

grass-mountain-by-Netzin-Steklis-sm-300x225School of Sustainability alumnus Cameron Childs (MA ‘12) has published her work in the September 2013 issue of Ecology and Society. Together with ASU Sustainability Scientists Abigail York, Dave White, and Michael Schoon, as well as Gitanjali Bodner of The Nature Conservancy in Tucson, Childs authored the article, Navigating a Murky Adaptive Comanagement Governance Network: Agua Fria Watershed, Arizona, USA.

The study analyzes perceptions about how multiple agencies work together to co-manage the Agua Fria Watershed in Arizona, using insight and personnel from the long-enduring co-management project, Las Cienegas. What they found was that general lessons and approaches from one project may be transferable, but particular institutions, management structures, or projects must be place-specific.

The study was part of a special feature on Exploring Opportunities for Advancing Collaborative Adaptive Management (CAM): Integrating Experience and Practice.

“Whether working in a desert watershed or the apparel and footwear industry,” says Childs, “collaboration is critical to addressing sustainability challenges. No one organization can do it alone.”

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Alum addresses water-energy nexus in newly published study

October 30, 2013

Browns-Ferry-Nuclear-PlantA study published October 27, 2013, in the journal Nature Climate Change says global warming will make water scarcer in some places. The implication for coal power plants, which require a lot of water to operate, is that they could become obsolete in water-scarce areas, overtaken by renewable energy like wind and solar.

School of Sustainability alumnus Chris Harto (MS ’09) was a contributing author on the report, which was the first to account for water availability as well as emission-reductions in calculating the most economical mix of energy technologies. Harto, now an environmental and energy analyst at the Argonne National Laboratory, was quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article about the study.

“There’s a rate at which nature provides water,” Harto says. “When you start bumping up against that limit, you start running into some significant conflicts.”

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Getting Back to Nature: How Biophilic Cities Can Restore Biodiversity and Enhance Lives

Thought Leader Series

October 29, 2013

A Thought Leader Series Piece

beatley_highres_300dpiBy Tim Beatley

Note: This month Tim Beatley’s Biophilic Cities Launch exhibit featured student photography and videos from Senior Sustainability Scientist David Pijawka’s Sustainable Cities course. The work explores local examples of biophilia in neighborhoods, public parks, and vacant lots.

When I describe myself as a “biophilic urbanist” as I sometimes do, reactions vary from quizzical looks to knowing smiles. But almost always my title serves to open a conversation about the quality of contemporary life and the important role of nature in our lives.

The concept of biophilia was popularized by Harvard biologist and entomologist E.O. Wilson.  To Wilson, biophilia is “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Innate means hereditary and hence part of ultimate human nature.” We are carrying with us, so the argument goes, our ancient brains, and so no wonder that we are happier, more relaxed and productive in the presence of nature. Living a happy, meaningful life is certainly possible in the absence of nature, but much harder, as we increasingly understand that nature is not optional but essential.

Biophilic design has been well-articulated and convincingly adopted by architects, but relatively less attention has been given to understanding the implications of biophilia for the design and planning of urban neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitan regions, otherwise known as biophilic cities.

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ASU, National Academies publish science policy magazine

October 28, 2013

Senior Sustainability Scientist Daniel Sarewitz will assist the re-branding and editing of the U.S. National Academies’ quarterly magazine, Issues in Science and Technology. Sarewitz aims to address the current challenges of using science and technology to shape policy and how policy impacts our everyday lives.

“We will be publishing really interesting, well-written, provocative articles about questions of science, technology, society and policy, articles that will continue to expand the audience for Issues in Science and Technology,” Sarewitz says. “We want everyone who is concerned about the future to recognize why these questions should be at the forefront of their attention.”

Sarewitz, also the co-director of ASU’s Consortium for Science and Policy Outcomes, says the new partnership will bolster ASU’s presence in D.C. and expand the science-policy discussions outside Washington.

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Phoenix Business Journal: ASU wins $5M for solar

October 25, 2013

solar-decathlonThe U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative granted Arizona State University a total of $5 million to be used in solar research. The university will receive close to $3.5 million for solar cell devices and around $1.4 million to develop more reliable solar components. The SunShot Initiative is a national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive and more efficient.

“The tremendous growth in the U.S. solar industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water and provides affordable clean energy to more and more Americans,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and will help ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation.”

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Triple Pundit: Sustainability business leaders focus on ‘can do’

October 25, 2013

In a recent Triple Pundit article by Arizona State University Sustainability Scientist George Basile and consultant Bruno Sarda, the “can’t do” overshadows the positivity of change and innovation in today’s business world.

“The ‘can’t do’ conversation is, by its very nature, a discussion of inaction, of intention rather than execution,” writes the authors. “In order to bridge the gap between intention and execution, the world needs effective and determined leaders who know how to use tools such as strategy, global context, communication, and an emerging suite of new leadership skills to make the necessary change our planet and society needs to ‘thrive today and tomorrow.'”

ASU has answered the call for sustainability leaders by establishing the School of Sustainability and Global Institute of Sustainability. The Institute launched the new Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives in which one particular initiative starting this January, the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership, targets current and future business professionals who want to incorporate sustainability into every sector of the workplace but don’t yet know how.

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ASU launches Walton sustainability scholarship program

October 24, 2013

To encourage and reward candidates for the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program, the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University will offer scholarships of up to $15,000 per student. This dedicated financial assistance was made possible due to a $100,000 fund established through the institute’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

The Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program is designed for mid-career professionals working to advance sustainability initiatives. Recipients of the Walton Sustainability Executive Scholarships will be selected based on their leadership potential and previous achievements.

Online applications are currently being accepted for the program’s inaugural class until Nov. 18. For more information about the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership, the Walton Sustainability Executive Scholarship Program or how to apply, contact program adviser Jennifer Griffin at (480) 727-3097 or visit leadersinsustainability.asu.edu.

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Student clubs offer sustainable outlets

October 23, 2013

Sustainability-Student-GroupsAt Arizona State University (ASU), sustainability is a core value – not just of university leadership, but also of many students across the university’s campuses. ASU has student groups related to virtually any interest. Here’s a list of groups related to sustainability. If you’re interested in living, learning about, or solving problems of sustainability, consider joining one or more of these organizations.

Clubs that bring sustainability to ASU campuses »

Clubs for sustainability education and networking »

Clubs for living sustainably »

Clubs for collective action and sustainability solutions »

Learn more about ASU student organizations at http://asu.orgsync.com/home. Think your group should be included on one of these lists? Contact us at sustainability@asu.edu.