ASU Wrigley Institute News

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

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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

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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 Think your group should be included on one of these lists? Contact us at

Sustainability students create documentary on transforming education

October 23, 2013

In School of Sustainability professor David Manuel-Navarrete’s SOS 494 course, Sustainability Leadership and Social Change, students created, edited, and filmed a documentary highlighting the transformations that Arizona State University and the Sustainability branch at CREST (the Center for Research in Engineering, Science and Technology) are undertaking to put sustainability at the center of education.

“By making the documentary, the balance of power within the class is altered; the instructor is no longer a purveyor of information and the students are not just the consumers,” Manuel-Navarrete says. “Instead, it becomes a process of co-production. The co-production allows the students to effectively absorb the course’s teachings.”

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School of Sustainability teaches impact of climate change to International Finance Corporation members

Institute Press Releases

October 22, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. — October 22, 2013 — Tasked with determining how best to invest global money in developing countries, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) consulted Arizona State University (ASU) for expert sustainability advice, October 15-16 at ASU.

“Our scientists and faculty bring transdisciplinary expertise, applied research and solutions to global challenges, turning knowledge into action,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We are honored to contribute that level of experience and applied science to support the exceptional work of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and to help the IFC.”

More than 40 IFC Climate Business Group members from around the world gathered in Tempe for the two-day “short course” about implications of climate change, presented by various experts from ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability.

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Visit ASU’s Wrigley Hall on the 2013 Solar Tour

October 21, 2013

IMG_9756_0472Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has proclaimed October to be Arizona Solar and Renewable Energy month and to celebrate, the 2013 “Living with the Sun” Solar Tour kicks off this weekend Saturday-Sunday, October 26-27. ASU’s own Wrigley Hall, the headquarters of the School of Sustainability and Global Institute of Sustainability, is scheduled on the tour for both Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-4:30 p.m.

The tour is self-guided, but there will be building experts on hand at Wrigley Hall to talk about the building’s specific sustainability aspects including the solar and wind systems, recycled materials, and native vegetation. Wrigley Hall is located at 800 S. Cady Mall on ASU’s Tempe campus on the corner of College Ave. and University Dr.

Tour locations map

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Sustainability Scientists identify climate-friendly crops for AZ farmers

October 21, 2013

With water levels dipping in Lake Mead and population growth at an all-time high, policymakers, government agencies, and growers need to be equipped with proper water-saving agriculture and agro-ecosystem methods. To provide guidance on crop variations and water-conserving cropping patterns, Senior Sustainability Scientist Soe Myint and the Agri-Business Council of Arizona organized a workshop at ASU SkySong on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013.

Local farmers, USDA, Maricopa County Farm Bureau, Arizona Department of Water Resources, and other stakeholders worked with scientists to compare crop types to alleviate growing season risk and potentially increase profit while saving water for farmers in Arizona. Senior Sustainability Scientists Libby Wentz and Rimjhim Aggarwal served as speakers and Senior Sustainability Scientist Nancy Selover offered her expertise as the AZ State Climatologist.

Myint is the principal investigator of the NOAA-funded project, “Evaluation of Drought Risks and its Impact on Agricultural Land and Water Use to Support Adaptive Decision-Making” with additional funds being supplied by ASU’s Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research and Decision Center for a Desert City.

Call for Entries: The St. Andrews Prize for the Environment

October 18, 2013

Arizona State University scientists and student researchers are welcome to enter their environmental conservation projects in the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment.

Since 1998, the Prize has awarded works that address human/animal conflicts, water issues, air quality, solar power, food supply, and community regeneration. The top project will win $100,000. The second and third finalists will each win $25,000.

The St. Andrews Prize for the Environment is an international initiative by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the independent exploration and production company, Conocophillips.

Entries should be submitted online by October 31, 2013.

Peace conference cultivates sustainable agriculture

Institute Press Releases

October 15, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. — October 15, 2013 — The annual Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability (EmPeace LABS) conference takes place October 19-26 in Maharashtra, India to connect global farmers in a network that will further sustainable farming methods and establish peaceful communities in developing countries.

The EmPeace LABS conference is coordinated by Arizona State University (ASU), Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd., and the Gandhi Research Foundation. Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful perspective is a core inspiration for the conference’s curriculum.

“When people are hungry, they fight for resources,” says Marek Wosinski, conference organizer, senior sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, and senior lecturer in ASU’s Department of Psychology. “If you want to create stability, you need to secure food.”

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Institute shares sustainability through events

October 15, 2013

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and its School of Sustainability host many events throughout the year, both on campus and off. These events not only bring world-renowned thinkers and doers, many in our own backyard, from academia, business, and government to ASU; they also provide an outlet for ASU to present its own sustainability research to the public and engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges.

Events are free and open to the public, up to room capacity, so RSVP early. Visit for a list of upcoming events.

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