ASU Wrigley Institute News

ASU a 2012 Finalist for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership

February 24, 2012

Second Nature will announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Climate Leadership Awards at the 6th annual Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) on June 21-22, 2012 in Washington, D.C.  Arizona State University is one of five finalists in the “Doctorate Granting University” category.

The Climate Leadership Awards highlight campus innovation and climate leadership to transition society to a clean, just, and sustainable future, and are chosen from ACUPCC signatory institutions in good standing via a nomination process.

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ASU sustainability scientist gives anthropologist view of globalization at the local scale

February 19, 2012

The modernization of isolated villages brings about a change in human information flow patterns that not only destroys the social fabric of the community, but also the economy and the landscape, according to Sander van der Leeuw, a Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

Van der Leeuw, an archaeologist and anthropologist specializing in the long-term impacts of human activity on the landscape, studied the consequences of the construction of roads after World War II in Epirus, a region dotted with rural villages that is shared by Greece and Albania. He looked at how information flow patterns were changed by the building of roads and how the mindset of the people in the villages was transformed as a consequence, leading to major transformations in the economy and the social life of the population.

“The roads brought the villages into the modern word, which is essentially a globalization process,” said van der Leeuw, who presented an anthropologist’s view on how globalization works at the local scale during a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Feb. 19.

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Climate change takes back seat to decision-making in water security says ASU researcher

February 17, 2012

Phoenix, the sixth largest U.S. city, is vulnerable to water shortages even without climate change because of heavy outdoor water use and fragmented governance, according to research conducted at the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University.

“Scientists, decision-makers and the general public have different perceptions of Phoenix’s water problems,” said Patricia Gober, a geographer and Senior Sustainability Scientist at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

“Scientists see a demand problem, decision-makers see a supply problem; and residents see someone else’s problem,” said Gober, a founding director of DCDC. Gober presented findings from simulation modeling and the principles of decision-making during a session on water security on Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Bonding out: Making companies pay up front for potential environmental disasters

February 15, 2012

Whether it’s building an oil pipeline, drilling for fuel in the ocean or “fracking” to flush natural gas out of the Earth, we’re often asked to believe the process is safe, when companies want to do something that could have big benefits. But that process also could be potentially disastrous for the environment.

Now, an economics professor at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business has a way for these companies to show the public that the risks will be managed – by requiring them to post the estimated costs of a spill or major environmental side effect ahead of time through the creation of refundable environmental bonds.

“If the risks are manageable, as proponents suggest, then raising the money for the bonds should not be a challenge,” explains V. Kerry Smith, an environmental economist, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “In each case, the requirement for an environmental bond shifts the responsibility for who assumes the risk of any catastrophic event of large-scale development to those arguing the risks are small. When enough others agree, we should have a robust market for those willing to assume the resulting environmental risks.”

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European economist raises 'green growth' strategy as deficit solution

February 9, 2012

A solution to the global financial crisis may be in the hands of economists – notably those like Carlo Jaeger of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) – who are embracing a bold economic model designed around green growth.

Jaeger, who has a joint appointment at the University of Potsdam and chairs the European Climate Forum, is at Arizona State University this winter as the Julie Wrigley Visiting Senior Scholar at the School of Sustainability. He has been interacting with ASU sustainability scientists, faculty members and students to discuss research on how a green growth strategy to address the global financial crisis can bring about transformational changes.

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Sustain What? Exploring Species for a Sustainable Future

Thought Leader Series

January 31, 2012

A Thought Leader Series Piece

By Quentin Wheeler

Several centuries of species exploration have taught us that a vast number of Earth’s plants and animals are extremely limited in their ecological associations and geographic distributions. When these species lose their specific habitats, it usually means extinction. Yet, because we don’t know what or how many species actually exist or where they live, we are unable to detect or measure these quiet changes in biodiversity.

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What Would Steve Jobs Have Done?

January 26, 2012


From Sustainability: The Journal of Record, December 2011, 4(6): 261-263, an article by Senior Sustainability Scientist George Basile about the important role of universities in leading change in sustainability and the critical relationship between entrepreneurship and student success.

For any sustainability graduate or new practitioner, there exists a tale of two narratives. The first reflects the reality of a historically horrendous job market, a new field with relatively unknown academic degrees, and an abundance of competition from seasoned professionals. The other reflects the reality of being at the leading edge of a pioneering wave with the opportunity and promise of discovery and forging one’s own future given a more complete understanding of the reality humanity finds itself in. Both narratives paint a picture of transition and both are true. So, what is one to do?

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Insects rank high on inventory of newly discovered species

January 24, 2012

Annual ‘State of Observed Species’ report released by International Institute for Species Exploration

This word cloud visually represents the number of species in each category that was discovered and officially described in calendar year 2009. In this design, the larger the word means a greater number of species in that category. Beetles dominate the 19,232 species newly known to science in 2009, according to the 2011 State of Observed Species (SOS) report released Jan. 18, 2012, by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. More at Photo by: International Institute for Species Exploration/Arizona State University
More than half of the 19,232 species newly known to science in 2009 – the most recent calendar year of compilation – were insects. According to the 2011 State of Observed Species (SOS) report released Jan. 18 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU, insects comprised 9,738 of the year’s new species, or 50.6 percent.

The second largest group in the 2009 report was vascular plants, totaling 2,184 or 11.3 percent. Of the 19,232 in the total count, seven were birds, 41 were mammals and 1,487 were arachnids – spiders and mites.

And, according to this latest report, there was a 5.6 percent increase in new living species discovered in 2009, compared to 2008.

The annual SOS report card on the status of human knowledge of Earth’s species summarizes what is known about global flora and fauna. The 19,232 species described as “new” or newly discovered during 2009 represent about twice as many species as were known in the lifetime of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who initiated the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications more than 250 years ago, said the report’s author, Quentin Wheeler, an ASU entomologist and founding director of the species institute.

“The cumulative knowledge of species since 1758 when Linnaeus was alive is nearly 2 million, but much remains to be done,” Wheeler said. “A reasonable guess is that 10 million additional plant and animal species await discovery by scientists and amateur species explorers.”

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Soldiers to learn sustainability techniques at ASU

January 11, 2012

Online certificate custom-designed to meet US Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve readiness objectives

The design and establishment of an online graduate certificate in sustainability leadership at Arizona State University for soldiers and civilians in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve was inaugurated Jan. 6 during a signing ceremony.

Participating in the event at the Army National Guard Bureau headquarters in Arlington, Va., were ASU President Michael M. Crow; Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Nelan, assistant to the director, Army National Guard; and Richard G. Kidd IV, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability.

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Initiative to study, restore mountain preserves

January 4, 2012

Cholla in South Mountain ParkMetropolitan Phoenix has the largest set of wild land preserves of any major metropolitan area in the United States, including the largest city park in the country, South Mountain Park. Mountain preserves are treasures in our own backyard, yet the pressures of urbanization, invasive species and overuse of certain parks threaten their long-term integrity.

Arizona State University’s Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program in the Global Institute of Sustainability and ASU’s Ecosystem Conservation and Resilience Initiative (ECRI) in the School of Life Sciences are part of a new initiative to address the future of these mountain park preserves.

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Modernizing utility rates to aid energy efficiency plans

December 20, 2011

“You cannot run an economy, especially one poised for growth (like Arizona) without energy,” noted two Arizona State University energy experts in an op-ed that appeared in the Dec. 19 Arizona Republic.

“On the cusp of its 100th birthday, Arizona is facing an aging energy infrastructure that is unprepared for a sustainable future,” wrote ASU’s Gary Dirks and Matthew Croucher. Dirks is director of LightWorks, an ASU initiative that capitalizes on the university’s strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. He is also a distinguished sustainability scientist with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainably. Croucher, an economist, is an associate research professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business and a senior sustainability scientist with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

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“Retrofitting Suburbs” is featured on National Public Radio

December 15, 2011

A November 29 broadcast on National Public radio features a project co-directed by planning professor Aaron Golub and Milagros Zingoni of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. Students involved include Benjamin Stanley, of the School of Sustainability and Christian Solorio; Hector Navarro; and Whitney Warman of the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts.

In the project, called “Retrofitting Suburbs: Re-visioning the Cul-de-Sac,” Golub, Zingoni and their team are working with the city of Avondale to re-design one of its cul-de-sacs for the year 2030. The goal is for the re-designed cul-de-sac to fit the needs of future populations, in which there will be an increasing number of single- and two-person households. The re-designed cul-de-sac will use the existing structures to accommodate up to 3 times as many residents, in “manors” that blend small private units with shared space.

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City of Phoenix receives HUD grant, ASU a key partner

December 15, 2011

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the City of Phoenix a three-year $2.9 million Sustainable Communities grant, with ASU as a key partner.

The grant’s objective is to promote transit-oriented development (TOD) along the light rail line – with a focus on development that will provide all residents with safe, convenient access to quality, affordable housing, well-paying jobs, education and training programs, fresh food and healthcare services.

The project, named Reinvent Phoenix: Cultivating Equity, Engagement, Economic Development and Design Excellence with TOD, will foster development near the light rail that serves to:

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ASU to aid governor's energy policy team to spur solar installs

Institute Press Releases

December 15, 2011

Harvey Bryan, left, sustainability professor, takes his renewable energy systems students on a field trip to the rooftop of COOR Hall at ASU's Tempe campus.The Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) at Arizona State University is one of the players on the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy team tabbed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to identify and eliminate barriers to easy and affordable rooftop solar installation.

Gov. Jan Brewer announced this month that the Arizona team received a $710,000 grant from DOE, the first-year award in a three-year $2.8 million initiative, with the goal of developing processes to lower costs by identifying best practices in finance, permitting and zoning.

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'The Business of Sustainability' presents 'green' blueprint

Institute Press Releases

December 15, 2011

What does the future of business look like in a sustainability-minded world, and how do we get there are two among many questions addressed in the three-volume set, “The Business of Sustainability: Trends, Policies, Practices, and Stories of Success.”

A dozen chapter contributors from ASU essentially helped to develop the first integrated presentation of the business of sustainability. The books were published in November 2011 and bring together more than 70 experts who specialize in several industries. The volumes’ editors include Scott G. McNall, who joined forces with fellow editors who hail from ASU: George Basile, a professor in the School of Sustainability, and James C. Hershauer, an emeritus professor of management.

According to Hershauer, the editors teamed up to produce the books because they collectively saw fragmentations in the approaches businesspeople were making when engaging in sustainability discussions.

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Tesco and the Sustainable Consumption Institute Join The Sustainability Consortium

Institute Press Releases

December 12, 2011

ASU has announced that Tesco is joining The Sustainability Consortium, an independent group of global businesses, academics, governments and non-governmental organizations that work collaboratively to drive innovation in consumer product sustainability. The Tesco-funded Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) at The University of Manchester will also become an academic member of the Consortium. Tesco joins 16 other European members that provide The Sustainability Consortium a strong foothold in the region.

Joining The Consortium is a further boost to Tesco’s work on sustainability and comes after its commendation as the top green UK retailer by the internationally recognized Carbon Disclosure Project. By focusing on environmental and social sustainability in the supply chain, The Consortium’s collaboration between Tesco and other global businesses will drive sustainable production and consumption in the consumer goods market. This partnership builds on The Consortium’s recent opening of a European branch at Wageningen University & Research Centre in The Netherlands.

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Near-death experience puts grad on activist path

December 8, 2011

bamartinA near-fatal illness when she was 16 led Beth Anne Martin to dream big dreams. She decided she wanted to make the world a better place.

Now 21, the ASU senior from Chandler has hiked through rainforests to study ecology in Costa Rica and has planted hundreds of trees as a farm intern in New Zealand. She has founded a student organization to fight slavery and trafficking, and has led volunteer efforts for a Tempe homeless program and an environmental action team.

Next year the young activist will head for Chile to study food security and community-based agriculture, having just won a $26,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

She is one of more than 400 university students from 40 countries selected by Rotary International to study abroad. They will participate in community service projects and speak to civic groups, acting as “goodwill ambassadors” for their home countries.

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Scientists examine urban heat island in low-income areas

December 6, 2011

Looking over green treetops toward downtown PhoenixResearch on urban heat island by CAP LTER researchers Darrel Jenerette, Sharon Harlan, Will Stefanov, and Chris Martin recently was featured in Wired Magazine’s article “Environmental Gap Widens in Phoenix.”

The Wired story focused on the researchers’ findings reported in the journal Ecological Applications.

Scientists from ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability examined the role of vegetation in urban cooling, particularly in low-income neighborhoods experiencing extreme heat. The study was funded by a National Science Foundation grant awarded to the School.

While an increase in vegetation would ameliorate heat conditions and provide multiple ecosystem services, the authors argue that “vegetation has economic, water, and social equity implications that vary dramatically across neighborhoods and need to be managed through informed environmental policies.”

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Implementing energy efficiency on an urban scale

November 30, 2011

Q&A with Mick Dalrymple

Mick Dalrymple

Duct sealing, air sealing, and HVAC replacement are three of the most effective residential energy upgrades.

The Energize Phoenix Corridor is a diverse area centered on the city’s Metro Light Rail.

Mick Dalrymple is the ASU project manager for Energize Phoenix, a $25 million federally funded program to upgrade the downtown Phoenix core for significant energy savings. He cofounded the Arizona chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, served two terms on USGBC’s national board, and is a LEED Accredited Professional in both the Building Design & Construction and the Homes rating systems. Dalrymple is a graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and ASU’s MBA program and has founded or cofounded three companies: a.k.a. Green Environmental Building Supplies, a.k.a. Green Services, and Desert Moon Productions. He also contributed to development of the ICC-700 National Green Building Standard.

How did sustainability become part of your career?

My career in sustainability was triggered by the release of the National Energy Policy plan in 2001, which depended heavily on continuing use of fossil fuels. Having grown up in a military family, I knew this plan would ultimately result in more U.S. troops being deployed to protect our energy interests abroad. As a former lobbyist for Arizona’s university students, I understood that change results from involvement. So I began working with others to create more sustainable solutions.

What is your most important sustainability-related project right now?

Energize Phoenix is a three-year incentive and education program focused on reducing energy waste in buildings. Energy efficiency is our single cheapest source of available “new” energy. Reducing wasted energy not only makes our businesses more competitive and our households more resilient, but it also reduces environmental impacts and reliance on other countries. Our goal is to trigger a substantial number of energy retrofits of homes and buildings and create a culture of energy efficiency along a ten-mile stretch of Phoenix’s light rail system. Such upgrades lowered energy consumption in my own home by 75 percent. The potential is enormous.

How will your work make a difference?

It is still early, but Energize Phoenix is already producing savings in 74 buildings and 302 apartments, while also providing lessons learned for the rapidly growing energy efficiency industry. In addition, our numerous lines of research will boost results for current and future energy efficiency programs. Our socio-behavioral research, for example, should improve the targeting of market-based energy efficiency programs. Meanwhile, our engineering research is working to increase the energy savings achieved through retrofits. And our economics research is tracking the energy and economic impacts of this program structure. We are also making a concerted effort to communicate research results to 40 other related programs across the country and to the U.S. Department of Energy.

What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you most?

It’s the human issue. We have many sustainable solutions available that are not being implemented because we refuse to accept responsibility and deal with the problems we have created. We know the planet itself will go on regardless of what we do. We must collectively decide whether we value each other and our children enough to stay on board for the ride.

Note: The first year report on Energize Phoenix – Energy Efficiency on an Urban Scale – is available at

November 30, 2011

Archeologists investigate Ice Age hominins adaptability to climate change

November 17, 2011

Complex computational modeling provides clues to Neanderthal extinction

Computational modeling that examines evidence of how hominin groups evolved culturally and biologically in response to climate change during the last Ice Age also bears new insights into the extinction of Neanderthals. Details of the complex modeling experiments conducted at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado Denver will be published in the December issue of the journal Human Ecology, available online Nov. 17.

ASU Senior Sustainability Scientist Michael Barton authored the article, “Modeling Human Ecodynamics and Biocultural Interactions in the Late Pleistocene of Western Eurasia.” The article was co-authored by ASU Senior Sustainability Scientist John Martin “Marty” Anderies, an associate professor of computational social science in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the School of Sustainability; as well as Julien Riel-Salvatore, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver; and Gabriel Popescu, an anthropology doctoral student in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU.

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