September 6, 2011
Arizona State University exceeds 10 megawatts (MW) of solar-energy capacity, making it the only higher education institution in the United States to have a solar capacity of this size. Ten MW is enough energy to power 2,500 Arizona homes and represents roughly 20 percent of ASU’s peak load, reducing the university’s carbon footprint between 5 to 10 percent. Pushing ASU past the 10 MW mark is its latest 700-panel, 168-kilowatt (kW), ground-mount photovoltaic installation on its Tempe campus.
August 31, 2011
Kristin Mayes is a Senior Sustainability Scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability and a professor of practice in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law where she is director of the Program on Law and Sustainability. From 2003 to 2010 she served on the Arizona Corporation Commission – the state’s utility regulatory agency. As chair of the commission she coauthored Arizona’s ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
What inspired your work in sustainability policy?
I think what triggered my focus on sustainability was the fact that I was appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission back in 2003. And one of the first things that I did as the Corporation Commissioner was to get involved in the creating of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which is a major focus of the Commission. It is one of the major responsibilities –setting policy for renewable energy. So it was really the Commission, my job as a Commissioner, that brought me to renewable energy policy.
I had been interested in it since I was a kid. My dad was very involved in the environmental movement, and in Prescott we had solar panels at our house. But it was really not until I became a Commissioner, and became involved in renewable energy policy, and then later, energy efficiency policy, which we also did at the Corporation Commission.
What is your Program on Law and Sustainability?
I think that the most important sustainability project and goal that we’re working on here at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, through the Program on Law and Sustainability, is to start to assist corporations, nonprofits, governments, with finding their way through the new age of regulation and finding their way through what we know is going to be an increasingly complex world sustainability.
So, we are going to be doing a number of projects for nonprofits, for governments, this coming semester and next semester. We’re starting to see groups ask us for assistance with their renewable energy objectives. There’s one government up in North Central Arizona that we may be assisting, and then there’s a – believe it or not – a group of home owners that are looking for help in getting solar deployed in their community that hopefully we’ll be helping.
So, we’re looking for this to be a very pragmatic, very practical way for the community to interface with Arizona State University, and in particular the Law School, but also the School of Sustainability, and a way for our students to get involved in real-world projects in which they are assisting the community with their sustainability goals.
How will your program affect policy decisions?
I hope that the Program on Law and Sustainability will affect future policy and future decision making in a lot of different ways, but chief among them will be the fact that we are educating the next generation of decision makers. I mean, I’ve had my time in the sun, and so what’s going to be important is that we’re educating lawyers and folks at the School of Sustainability – who are going through that program and who might wind up over here at the law school some day – who can take these policies to the next level. And that means that we need people who are going to understand not only where we’ve been, where we are now, but where we need to go.
We are looking at a world in which sustainability is going to be front and center, not just for corporations but governments and nonprofits, and a world in which the way we provide energy, the way we engage in transportation, will be increasingly consumer focused, and increasingly complicated, really. And so, the regulations that we have in the future are going to be completely different than they are today. The businesses, the utility of the future, is going to be radically different than it is today. So we need to be able to be educating people who can be innovative, who are critical thinkers, and who are interested in these topics.
What sustainability challenge concerns you most?
The sustainability challenge that concerns me most, and I think is most pressing for our country and our planet, is probably how we can go from being a world that produces electricity in a very carbon-intensive way, to one that is cleaner, and greener, and meaner, frankly, at least with regard to our utilities. We need more efficiency. We need greater use of renewable energy. We need to explore things like electric vehicles in the transportation sector. And so, we know we have to get to a certain point, which is a cleaner, more efficient energy economy, but we don’t have a lot of time.
We’re polluting at a pace that is far too rapid, we’re seeing environmental impacts that are huge. We’re seeing enormous economic challenges associated with using too much carbon. So, I think, getting to a more carbon-free energy economy and world is my biggest concern.
August 31, 2011
August 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. – In recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Arizona State University (ASU) has earned a STARS Gold rating. STARS®, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a transparent, self-assessment framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability. Institutions report their achievements in three overall areas: Education and Research; Operations; and Planning, Administration and Engagement. ASU earned its highest points in Planning, Administration and Engagement.
ASU received STARS® credits for a number of innovative programs such as its Campus Metabolism website and its Minor in Sustainability that is available to undergraduate students who are majoring in any discipline. ASU also received credits for the completion of its Carbon Neutrality Action Plan and its Sustainability Plan. Both plans are being utilized to conduct day-to-day operations in ways that help maximize the university’s positive impacts and provide optimal living, working, and learning environments.
August 24, 2011
From KJZZ 91.5 FM, Phoenix, this report from Steve Goldstein features former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson will be a panelist at tomorrow’s NBC Town Hall event, Changing Planet: Adapting to Our Water Future. A capacity audience is expected for the event, and reservations are no longer being accepted. The event will be streaming live on ASUtv.
Host Steve Goldstein talks to two environmental experts about solar projects and water usage in the desert…and which forms of energy are the best for Arizona’s climate. Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and author Robert Glennon give two perspectives on the issue.
August 22, 2011
From The New York Times, this post from Felicity Barringer highlights a study co-authored by Michail Fragkias, Executive Officer of the UGEC Project at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.
Urban areas are growing even faster than urban populations are, and by 2030 urbanized land around the globe will expand by 590,000 square miles — an amount almost equal to the land mass of Mongolia, according to a new study.
The study, which was just published in the journal PLoS One, analyzed 326 other studies that used remote-sensing images to track changes in land use. The authors were Karen C. Seto of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environment Studies; Michail Fragkias of Arizona State University’s Global Institute for Sustainability; Michael K. Reilly of Stanford’s Department of Environmental Earth System Science; and Burak Güneralp of Texas A&M.
August 16, 2011
Actions underscore consortium’s strategic plan to deliver a sustainability measurement and reporting system and become a global organization
TEMPE, Ariz., – Aug. 16, 2011 – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) today announced the opening of its European office and theexpansion of its board of directors to include Non-Government Organization (NGO) members. Both moves strongly align with TSC’s focus of growth, incorporating global partners, and delivering on its mission to design and implement science-based measurement and reporting systems that are accessible to manufacturers and consumers.
TSC’s European office will operate in partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Wageningen UR (WUR) is the leading agricultural university in Europe with a strong commitment to sustainability. WUR has strong relationships with agricultural producers, food processors, and retailers in Europe, includingmany TSC members. In addition, Aalt Dijkhuizen, president and CEO at Wageningen UR, is the third Academic Director appointed to TSC’s board.
August 12, 2011
From KJZZ 91.5 FM, Phoenix, this report from Steve Goldstein features ASU Senior Sustainability Scientist Aaron Golub. Golub’s research relates to urban planning and public transportation.
Maryvale was once a highly desirable area to buy a family home. But changes in the area’s demographics – and changes in perception through the years – have altered the way many people look at Maryvale. We find out what community members think about the place they call home, and what they want from the city of Phoenix government. Steve Goldstein has this report.
August 12, 2011
From Sustainability: The Journal of Record, June 2011, 4(3): 113-116, an article by Ted Mero about ASU School of Sustainability graduate Bavousett and how a degree in sustainability from ASU fits in with companies’ needs today.
Brigitte Bavousett is the first-ever student to graduate with a degree in sustainability. Surely in a world moving toward a more sustainable future, the first accredited graduate in the field could take the professional realm by storm, picking and choosing from the endless suitors knocking down her door. As sustainability programs continue to develop and expand throughout the country’s colleges and universities, those who enter the field must build a knowledge-base and skill set that is not only practical, but marketable, as they look to overcome the instinct of business to tackle its sustainability goals and challenges with in-house employees.
August 12, 2011
An editorial by George Basile, Senior Sustainability Scientist and Associate Professor in the School of Sustainability, was featured in Sustainability: The Journal of Record, June 2011, 4(3): 95-97.
From climate change to global inequity, sustainability is often described as a cacophony of seemingly disparate and globally grand challenges to which the expectation of a tantalizingly simple solution is then attached, i.e., “Please do today, so that we can still do tomorrow.” With this rather heroic framing, what does an academic degree in sustainability mean? What is its role and value-proposition for those students who are the brave pioneers in this emerging field?
July 29, 2011
Eric Williams is a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and an assistant professor in both the School of Sustainability and the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is best known for his work in life-cycle assessment, particularly the environmental impacts of recycled computer hardware. He also investigates energy topics such as the effects of development and urbanization on energy demand and forecasting technological change and growth. Dr. Williams teaches courses covering industrial ecology, design for sustainability, and sustainable consumption.
At what point did “sustainability” become part of your research vocabulary?
When I started my career as a mathematical physicist, I had never heard of the word “sustainability.” It didn’t become a part of my research focus until I made a career change, going to work for the United Nations University in Japan in their Environment and Sustainable Development Programme.
What is your most important sustainability-related research project right now?
I am working on a project that will allow us to better understand the potential for progress in emerging energy technologies such as photovoltaics, wind power, and biofuels. The world looks to these technologies to solve critical sustainability challenges, and substantial sums of public funds have been invested to improve and adopt these new energy technologies. Their development, however, is not where we need them to be in terms of their cost or impacts. More important, we still don’t understand their real potential to achieve future cost savings and also meet sustainability goals.
My project will forecast how these different technological paths can be expected to move toward their goals in coming years. It combines thermodynamic analysis of long-term efficiency limits with empirical models of historical progress. Using this technique, we can see, for example, that solar cells made from silicon wafers will require significantly increased investment to move from their current cost of $3 per watt to their target of $1 per watt.
How will your research affect policy or other decisions?
My work will provide the data that identifies which technologies are more likely to reach long-term goals. This will inform the government and private decision-makers who finance energy technology development and adoption.
What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you most?
Energy. Nothing works without it, not even the solutions we devise for other sustainability issues. While improving technology is an important component of sustainability, it cannot be considered in isolation because as we develop more efficient technology it tends to drive greater adoption – and that creates impacts. To address this concern, we need to better understand the links between technology, growth, and adoption and then manage our systems to reduce negative effects.
July 29, 2011
July 13, 2011
Originally Published in Lightrail Connect, June-August 2011 Edition
Did you know the typical Phoenix family spends about $1,600 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, too much of that energy is wasted. The good news is that a new program called Energize Phoenix is now available to help residents and business owners along the Energize Phoenix Corridor, a 10-mile stretch along the light rail line, save money by saving energy.
The Energize Phoenix program is funded by a $25 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) awarded to the city of Phoenix in partnership with the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University and support from Arizona Public Service.
June 30, 2011
Nalini Chhetri is a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability, Climate Change Science Manager in the Center for Integrated Solutions for Climate Challenges, Research Fellow in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, advisor to GlobalResolve, and a lecturer in the School of Letters and Sciences. She has worked in sustainable development in Nepal, India, Thailand, Ghana, and Vietnam and has frequently consulted for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In this interview, Dr. Chhetri introduces ASU’s new climate change center, a model designed to provide research-based climate tools for policymakers. She also discusses how she has applied lessons from her years of work in international sustainable development to help ASU students advance their social entrepreneurship efforts in impoverished rural Ghana.
What focused your research on sustainability?
Sustainability became a part of my research focus around 1987 when I had graduated as a master’s student from India. I grew up in the Foothills of the Himalayas as they are calling Darjeeling. This is in India. Then, that year I moved to Nepal where my father was, and I was put in charge of this large multidisciplinary integrated watershed management project where I was managing about 20 professionals: engineers, foresters, agriculturists. We were charged to save two of the largest, most important lakes in Western Nepal, which was affecting, I think, about 30,000 people at that time – 142 square kilometers.
The way we approached that project was to integrate forestry, agriculture, infrastructure technology, and extension education. Educate the community, the government of Nepal about the essence of what watershed management was and how it interrelated with sustainable development. So that is when the whole idea of sustainability and sustainable development began to take very strong roots in my thinking and my philosophy, and I’ve carried that since then.
Other than that project, I worked in a sustainable development for about 12 years and that was in India, continued work in Nepal, and also in Thailand. That thinking about how do you relate sustainability continues to be the essence of my research even now.
What is the idea behind your climate change center?
The climate center that we are presently involved in – and I say we, because this is a team effort – is an effort to produce what we hope will be an innovative model of a climate service center that will be adopted by the United States government almost like in the manner of what the National Weather Service is. This will be unique in the sense that it will be researched based, and it will provide climate information and products to decision makers and policy makers so that they have a better array of tools at their service in order to make decisions, especially in the face of changing climate and uncertainty.
We want this center to focus on sectors like air quality, energy, water, health, and we also want to focus on issues of adaptations where we feel that this will be necessary, especially in face of changing climate.
Why do you take students to Ghana?
I take students to Ghana in connection with immersing them and trying to make them understand how to do sustainable business ventures, and how to make it successful in a developing world. Last year, alone, I know we took about 9-10 students – most of them were sustainability students, there was a design student, engineering student, business students. My task, and I was leading this effort with the students, was to make them understand the complexity of what sustainable development is, making them understand what it means to immerse yourself in a village so that any kind of technology is adopted by the villagers.
Let me give you an example. In GlobalResolve, we took the Twig Light. To the idea is, this is appropriate technology, it uses very little resources, and it addresses a need for the villages there because they have issues with a low supply of electricity. It is good for the women because they need it for cooking, especially in the dark, and it is also reliable and cheap. Now the idea is, is that enough? How do you make sure that the people will adopt it? How do you make sure that when we leave the technology behind the people will continue to use it, spread it, and gain from it?
The students went out there: we went to four villages in Western Ghana, we stayed in the villages, we went to houses. We talked with the women and the children and the teachers and the chiefs: we had a discussion with them, we had huge group meetings, we had individual meetings. So, the students came away from this almost 15-day trip in Ghana with a much better understanding of how they needed to tweak their business ventures, how they needed to redesign their technology, how they needed to rethink the whole process of what it means to make a sustainable business venture in a developing country. I think it was much more educational for them than being in a classroom, and I think they had a lot of fun too.
What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you most?
The world sustainability challenge that concerns me the most – and I speak this from the perspective of a researcher, a mother, and as a teacher – is how do we create a mindset, how do we create and nurture an environment that allows ideas to blossom, to be more creative, to be bold? How do we think less of ourselves – less of the me and more of the family, the community, the world? How do we care more? So I think that’s going to be absolutely fundamental, that we start to create that environment that allows us to think like that. And I think that’s the pathway to addressing the sustainability concerns of the world.
June 30, 2011
June 27, 2011
ASU’s Sander van der Leeuw and Elinor Ostrom joined Nobel Laureates, policymakers, and leading sustainability experts at the Third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Sustainability held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm May 16-19, 2011. The symposium was hosted and supported by HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
The four-day meeting culminated in the Stockholm Memorandum: “Tipping the Scales Toward Sustainability.” This document was signed by key Nobel Laureates and handed over to the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability appointed by the UN Secretary General. Conclusions from the UN Panel will feed into the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro and into ongoing climate negotiations.
The Stockholm Memorandum noted that humans are now the most significant driver of global change and are transgressing important planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. It called for coherent global action to reverse negative environmental trends and redress inequalities while also creating long-term structural solutions that gradually change values, institutions, and policy frameworks.
Among the top priorities cited by the memorandum were changing people’s mindset into a sustainability-oriented one, reaching a more equitable world, managing the climate-energy challenge, creating an efficiency revolution, ensuring affordable food for all, moving beyond green growth, reducing human pressures, strengthening Earth System Governance, and enacting a new contract between science and society.
June 24, 2011
ASU’s Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment Expands with New Partnership
TEMPE, Ariz., — Since 1998, nearly 200 high school students from across the Phoenix metro area have done cutting-edge scientific research in labs at Arizona State University (ASU). This opportunity for advanced study has been made possible by the Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (SCENE), a nonprofit organization that partners with the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability to offer a program called Research Experiences for High School Students. SCENE is headed by Executive Administrator, Kathryn Kyle.
Now, to strengthen and expand the program, SCENE and the Global Institute of Sustainability are forming a new partnership with the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
June 16, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. (June 15, 2011) — Many people think the next big job boom will happen in the area of sustainability. Research from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows a huge percentage of employers are already giving positive weight to job candidates with sustainability skills. However, the same research indicates these job applicants also need professional training in existing fields, to push them over the top in the hiring process.
“Right now, sustainability jobs in business are linked to existing organizational structures,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Professor Kevin Dooley, who authored the research. “You’re probably not going to find a sustainability department in many companies, but employees with skills and interest in sustainability will get assigned to related projects and move up the ladder. Job candidates with both sustainability skills and a solid professional background in a field like business or engineering are receiving job offers that far exceed what’s warranted in the current market, and that’s because there aren’t many of them.”
June 15, 2011
(ST. PAUL, Minn.) June 15, 2011– American Public Media’s Marketplace™ and The Gary Comer Global Agenda, in partnership with Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability, will present Moving By Degrees – The Future Energy Abyss, Thursday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, First Amendment Forum Room, Downtown Campus.
The program will be an intimate conversation between David Brancaccio, senior correspondent, Marketplace’s Economy 4.0 and retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, one of the world’s foremost experts on energy and climate. They will discuss everything from climate change and energy independence to global energy leadership and the unrest currently remaking the Middle East.
May 27, 2011
Michael Hanemann is a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Julie A. Wrigley Sustainability Chair in the School of Sustainability and the Department of Economics, W. P. Carey School of Business. His research focuses on environmental economics and policy, water pricing and management, and the economics of adaptive management. In May 2011, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
At what point did “sustainability” become part of your research vocabulary?
As an environmental economist, sustainability has always been part of my research. This goes back to my second year in graduate school, when I had a summer job writing a report for a federal agency on the effects of rapid urbanization on public water supply systems in Phoenix, Tucson, Miami, Seattle, and the outer Boston suburbs.
What are your most important sustainability-related research projects?
I am working with the California Energy Commission and local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area on two issues: to assess the vulnerability of Bay Area communities to climate change, and to develop appropriate adaptation strategies that focus on water, transportation, coastal impacts, agriculture, and health. While climate change may not be the biggest stressor right now compared to population growth and urban land use conversion, it might create a tipping point because of the increased variability and uncertainty that climate change introduces. In a similar vein, I am also working with Spanish colleagues on issues of adaptation to climate change in Spain.
Among my other projects, I am assessing the future water needs of the Hopi Tribe of northern Arizona under a new state standard that calls for an adequate supply of water to make the reservation a “comfortable homeland” and to permit sustained economic growth. I also have a continuing interest in the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and its impacts on the Colorado River ecosystem in Grand Canyon. I served on the original National Research Council committee investigating those impacts in the 1980s and I am now assisting the U.S. Geological Survey as it moves to implement an adaptive management strategy for the dam.
How will your sustainability-related research affect policy or other important decisions?
Over the course of my career, I have worked with policymakers at the state and national level to shape environmental and water policy in a manner that fairly balances the needs of current users with the interests of long-run environmental preservation and sustainability. With respect to the global issue of climate change, I am serving on Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, which we hope will have a significant international influence when it emerges in 2014.
What is the world sustainability challenge that concerns you most?
Water supply and climate change are the two challenges that concern me most, both individually and jointly. While aquatic ecosystems are currently strained by population growth, economic development, and land use changes, the effects of climate keep building up – perhaps more quickly than many suppose.
May 27, 2011
May 18, 2011
CALENDAR/MEDIA ALERT: Global Institute of Sustainability hosts an intimate conversation between David Brancaccio and John Hofmeister
WHAT: American Public Media’s Marketplace in partnership with Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability, hosts an evening event bringing one of the world’s foremost experts on energy and climate to the general public. The wide-ranging conversation will cover everything from climate change and energy independence to global energy leadership and the unrest currently remaking the Middle East.
May 10, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz., — Michael Hanemann, a world-renowned environmental economist, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Hanemann is the Julie A. Wrigley Chair in Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU), where he holds joint appointments in the Department of Economics of the W. P. Carey School of Business, and in the School of Sustainability.
Hanemann is working on the future water needs of the Hopi Tribe under the new Arizona standard for Indian water rights, which calls for a supply of water adequate to make the Reservation a “comfortable homeland” and to permit sustained economic growth. He also is assisting the U.S. Geological Survey as it moves forward to implement an adaptive management strategy for the Glen Canyon Dam.
A leading expert hired by the California Energy Commission, the California State Assembly, and local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hanemann is recognized globally for his research in non-market valuation and his work on the economics of water and the economics of irreversibility and adaptive management. His recent work includes assessing the vulnerability of Bay Area communities to climate change and developing appropriate adaptation strategies – focused particularly on water, transportation, coastal impacts, agriculture, and health.
May 10, 2011
During her nine years in the United States, ASU student Cinthia Carvajal of Bolivia has had to learn a new language and adapt to new cultural and social norms. But she has excelled, and is receiving a double bachelor’s degree in sustainability and anthropology.
Carvajal will be giving back to her community by going out to middle school classrooms and promoting research, math and science. During the summer Carvajal also will conduct research on squatter settlements in Bolivia where she plans to apply her anthropological and sustainability knowledge to help develop more sustainable neighborhoods.
She talks about her experience at ASU.