September 12, 2013
Honors students in Senior Sustainability Scientist David Pijawka’s course will have their research photographs and videos displayed in October’s Biophilic Cities Launch exhibit.
Pijawka’s course, Sustainable Cities, focused on sustainability issues within urban cities. The honors students explored Valley locations and analyzed their “biophilic,” or natural designs. Biophilia, a concept popularized by ecologist E.O. Wilson, suggests that humans have an innate connection to nature and need it to be happy and healthy. Cities apply biophilia to design buildings, parks, preserves, and residences.
“Biophilia is a ‘hook’ for sustainability; students often engage with this concept really quickly because they can think about themselves and how nature plays a role in their life,” says Dorothy Trippel, Pijawka’s teaching assistant and a graduate of the School of Sustainability.
The exhibit will take place on October 17-20 at the University of Virginia.
September 10, 2013
Senior Sustainability Scientist and engineer Mikhail Chester is teaming with experts from University of California, Los Angeles to study Phoenix and LA’s susceptibility to rising temperatures. Specific at-risk communities usually fall in the low-income areas, where people have poor access to air conditioning, clean water, and shade.
The ASU/UCLA team is particularly interested in how urban infrastructure can help alleviate the negative side effects of increasing urban temperatures. The National Science Foundation is funding the research, awarding $480,000 over the next four years. The researchers hope they will find very specific construction and design methods that can protect people from the threat of heat.
September 10, 2013
In his latest column for The Arizona Republic, Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan discusses biomimicry, or the process and study of using nature to inspire practical solutions to everyday problems. Panchanathan is the senior vice president for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.
In his article, Panchanathan describes the research Arizona State University engineers, biologists, and computer scientists are doing with biomimicry.
“Researchers in ASU’s Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis are studying nature’s original clean-energy solution — photosynthesis,” says Panchanathan. “The ASU scientists are analyzing the biochemistry of photosynthesis in order to design new systems for harvesting solar energy and converting light into fuel.”
September 9, 2013
Participants are invited to scale up their knowledge of algae growth and management Nov. 4-8 at the Algae Testbed Public-Private-Partnership (ATP3) fall workshop on Large-Scale Algal Cultivation, Harvesting, and Downstream Processing. The weeklong workshop will take place at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation, the leading ATP3 testbed site at the ASU Polytechnic campus. To sign up for the workshop, visit atp3.org/education.
The workshop will cover the practical applications of growing and managing microalgal cultures at production scale. ATP3 is a network of 12 agencies, which range from private industries to educational institutions and national labs, funded through a $15 million grant from the US Department of Energy.
September 6, 2013
Arizona’s official state bird is the cactus wren, just one of the many animals that call the Sonoran Desert home. On October 19, the Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society will present the Wildlife First Symposium, sponsored by Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation.
The symposium aims to gather wildlife experts and interested community members to discuss conservation efforts for native Sonoran Desert wildlife. The event will feature numerous speakers from ASU, as well as from various organizations such as the Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management, The Center of Biological Diversity, and others.
Register now at http://www.aztws.org.
September 5, 2013
A new event series called “Arts and Humanities in Sustainability” will explore the human connection and place in relation to the natural world, as well as integrate different sets of knowledge to ultimately find new solutions for a sustainable future.
“The goal of this new series is to demonstrate the impact the arts and humanities have on sustainability,” says Ann Kinzig, a series co-creator, senior sustainability scientist in Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability, and professor in the School of Life Sciences. “Many sustainability challenges have no easy solutions.This means we have to go well beyond science to understand how people see the world, relate to it, and imagine what it could be.”
The Global Institute of Sustainability partners with the Institute of Humanities Research, ASU Art Museum, and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to sponsor the series that examines sustainability concepts through a diverse range of ideas, emotions, actions, and contexts.
September 3, 2013
John Sabo, director of research development for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, recently published an article with Robert Glennon in the journal Solutions that outlines the very imminent threat of water scarcity in the western U.S.
“To grasp the scale of water scarcity in the West, consider that earth fissures have opened up in Arizona from excessive groundwater pumping,” the authors write. “In Southern California, lack of water has prompted the cancellation of scores of commercial and residential construction projects.”
Despite low supplies, farmers, meat suppliers, and other water users are still guzzling water at a higher pace. Sabo and Glennon warn of the imbalance between supply and demand, suggesting increased residential tap water rates to improve infrastructure and revision and expansion of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) to offset costs.
September 3, 2013
Arizona State University and Sandia National Laboratories have signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage collaborative research, build educational and workforce development programs, and inform policy endeavors for renewable energy. The potential areas of focus are solar hybrid fuels, solar thermochemical fuels, concentrating solar technologies, photovoltaics, electric grid modernization and algae-based biofuels.
“As the largest university in the nation and the largest of the national laboratories, we have high expectations for our future efforts under this partnership,” said Gary Dirks, director of LightWorks and the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.
Sandia National Laboratories is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) using science and engineering to provide solutions for national security and innovative technology.
September 3, 2013
Andrea Baty, a School of Sustainability master’s graduate, recently became VF Corporation’s newest sustainability coordinator. VF Corporation is an $11-billion clothing company that includes brands like Nautica, Wrangler, Kipling, and The North Face. Baty joins the Sportswear division, working with the Nautica and Kipling teams.
As the sustainability coordinator, Baty designs employee education programs, organizes volunteer events, develops a sustainability strategy for both brands, and presents on corporate sustainability.
“My duties allow me to see the impact of shifting a company to more sustainable operations,” Baty says. “There is a large effect of one company’s operations that ripples down to supply chains and people.”
August 28, 2013
The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and the Green Sports Alliance has named Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Athletics a top 10 athletic department working towards sustainability.
“Progress toward sustainability requires the reconceptualization and reorganization of all of university enterprises,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Nowhere is this more visible than in athletics, where the interaction between the university and its constituents is most public.”
Sun Devil Athletics has nine athletic-specific solar installations that generate about 7.5-megawatt hours of electricity each year, the most of any university athletic department in the country. The nine solar power systems are part of ASU’s current 72 collective systems across all four campuses.
August 27, 2013
Note: John Sabo is the Global Institute of Sustainability’s director of research development, where he leads a grant proposal team that since 2008, has brought in over $44 million in expenditures. Sabo also collaborates with scientists across the U.S. investigating the impacts of water shortages on the sustainability of human and natural systems.
The year 2013 will be remembered in the U.S. as a year of extremes: The effects of Hurricane Sandy continue to cripple New York City. Droughts across the Corn Belt are causing massive crop failure. Devastating fires destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado for a second year in a row. Flash floods have claimed lives and businesses from coast to coast, including communities experiencing recent drought and fire. This year was exceptional. Or was it?
When most people think of climate change, they think of global warming—the trend of rising air temperatures that causes a shift in expected or long-term average climate conditions. There are valid exceptions to the trend of course. Many people observe their cities occasionally cooling, and therefore think global warming is not happening. Local observations that differ from the global average from time to time are an example of a second aspect of climate change that is equally, if not more important, than the global trend: Climate change exacerbates regional differences in climate as well as the swing between years of famine and years of plenty.
August 26, 2013
As part of a GreenBiz webcast, Arizona State University Senior Sustainability Scientist George Basile and Dell’s director of global sustainability operations Bruno Sarda shared their advice on what it takes to tackle sustainability challenges: sustainability leaders.
“One of the big challenges is that sustainability is typically framed as a set of disparate problems,” Basile says. “It doesn’t allow business leaders to be effective.”
A sustainability leader needs to inspire and transform businesses and organizations if improvements are to be made. Sarda shares his six steps for implementing sustainability at Dell: vision, strategy, goals, plans, execution, and communication. Fortunately, both experts agree sustainability leadership can be learned.
August 26, 2013
Julie Anand, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Art and a Senior Sustainability Scholar in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, designed and organized a photography workshop at a Honduran nonprofit this past summer. She partnered with Guaruma, an organization that provides photography and computer science after-school programs to local Honduran youth.
“We created cyanotypes because they are very elemental—only needing sunlight, water, and observation of natural patterns,” says Anand. “Through photography classes at Guaruma, the children learn to understand their place, to be wide awake in it, and to love it.”
The students’ artwork will be displayed at ASU’s Step Gallery September 16-20, with an opening reception on Tuesday, September 17, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Sales from the artwork will go to Honduran primary and secondary schools. All are welcome to attend.
August 26, 2013
Every scientist knows it’s hard to keep track of data, especially if it’s data taken from hard-to-reach wildlife subjects. That’s why Senior Sustainability Scientist Heather Bateman and her colleagues in the College of Technology and Innovation created a mobile phone app that allows researchers to enter data at any time at a more accurate and faster level.
Bateman studies lizards and came across the app idea when she was finding errors in data collection. The current field methods allowed for more human errors than scientists would like.
“We realized this was a problem for us, and probably a problem for anyone who collects data in the field,” Bateman says. “Not having a way to track electronically while on site meant we couldn’t immediately check for errors or duplications.”
August 23, 2013
Arizona State University joins Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for World-Class Universities top 100 universities in the world list. Shanghai Jiao Tong University just released its 11th edition of “2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities.”
According to the authors of the rankings, ASU is “perhaps the most advanced globally in terms of merging the boundaries between academic disciplines. President Michael Crow has led Arizona in a strategy of differentiation, whereby the university’s academic profile is focused upon intellectual fusion around major international challenges.”
Within the report, ASU ranked 46th among all universities in the United States and 25th among all public U.S. universities.
August 22, 2013
To investigate the demand and uses of graywater or effluent in Arizona, Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) turned to a social networking and digital mapping program called WaterMatch. In 2011, ASU partnered with Intel and CH2M HILL to develop the program that “plays matchmaker” for graywater producers and consumers. DCDC is using WaterMatch to investigate the incentives, roadblocks, and constraints for wastewater reuse.
“This is important because there are many different groups that are pointing to water reuse as an important part of the solution for water sustainability,” says Dave White, principal investigator, co-director of DCDC, and senior sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.
Two School of Sustainability students, Saad Ahmed and Rud Moe, were data collectors for WaterMatch, locating water treatment plants in Arizona and New Mexico.
August 21, 2013
College of Technology and Innovation professor and Senior Sustainability Scientist Heather Bateman is joining Northern Arizona University professor Matt Johnson to study how the tamarisk leaf beetle influences wildlife populations in Southwestern riparian ecosystems like the Virgin River that stretches through Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. Known as a type of “biocontrol,” the beetle could naturally eliminate non-native vegetation like saltceder without causing harm to wildlife.
However, the endangered flycatcher often nests in saltceder, creating a controversial environment to test the beetle biocontrol.
“Some researchers have identified a potential dilemma that the biocontrol beetle could defoliate saltcedar where the flycatcher is nesting and cause nests to fail,” Bateman says. “However, defoliation can occur at different times of the summer, depending upon beetle movement and densities. Therefore, it is important to determine the timing of saltcedar defoliation and flycatcher nesting.”
August 18, 2013
In a recent article, GreenBiz senior writer Heather Clancy highlights the many sustainability achievements and goals for Arizona State University, a “driving force behind the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.”
ASU aims to become carbon-neutral by 2025, a goal already in the works with 72 solar systems, electric vehicles, recycling and composting efforts, and sustainable purchasing.
To guide ASU’s sustainable purchasing efforts, the business and purchasing team uses an automation and process management application developed by SciQuest. The program is all part of ASU’s “principled practice” philosophy, writes Clancy.
August 15, 2013
TEMPE, Ariz. – August 15, 2013 – Recognizing a gap in sustainability leadership education and development, Arizona State University, the nation’s leader in sustainability education, is launching a new executive master’s program focusing on organizational leadership. This new program will equip professionals with the skills to effectively integrate sustainability throughout all facets of their organizations.
Developed by ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program of the Global Institute of Sustainability, and housed at the School of Sustainability, the new Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership (EMSL) is a 13-month program designed for mid-career professionals currently employed in or near sustainability roles with its first class commencing in January 2014.
August 14, 2013
Each year, the Sierra Club’s magazine, Sierra, analyzes and rates national universities based on particular sustainability categories like food, transportation, and curriculum. This year, Arizona State University ranks 55 out of 162 universities. ASU shines in the curriculum, purchasing, and transportation categories, beating University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.
To be part of the annual rankings, university administrators are responsible for submitting answers to the Sierra Club’s questionnaire, sharing accomplishments and methods on sustainability practices.
To date, ASU generates a total of 20.8 MW of solar energy on all campuses and is developing a zero waste program with Waste Management. University employees and students are always finding ways to purchase sustainable materials and reuse supplies.