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Sustainability News

Rating Phoenix Sustainability: What Matters Most?

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News Thought Leader Series

November 3, 2011

A Thought Leader Series Piece

ggammageBy Grady Gammage, Jr.

In early October, Andrew Ross issued the latest indictment of Phoenix: Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City. Ross’s book represents the latest, longest, and most articulate examination of Arizona’s capital – the nation’s sixth largest city – as a kind of colossal demographic mistake. But he’s not the first to go down this path.


In a 2006 radio interview, author Simon Winchester said that Phoenix “should never have been built” because “there’s no water there.” In 2008, rated Phoenix among the least sustainable cities in the U.S. for water supply, primarily because of the distance water must travel to reach the city. In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that Maricopa County, home to the Phoenix Metro area, was among the “most challenged” places in the U.S. for climate change – this conclusion based on the difference between rainfall and water use within the county. And in 2011, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) found current patterns of Arizona water use to be “unsustainable,” due to the large amount of water going to agriculture.


These views highlight the huge problems inherent in measuring urban sustainability. In large part, Phoenix seems to be everyone’s favorite whipping boy essentially because it’s hot in Arizona and doesn’t rain very much. This view is too simplistic. 


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Accelerated actions, transformative approaches, and laser focus make Arizona State University excel as a sustainable campus

Campus Sustainability ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

October 14, 2011

At Arizona State, the bar is sky-high when it comes to how the university runs its daily sustainable campus operations. It continues to be recognized as a model for sustainability; Arizona State University was recently named on The Princeton Review’s 2012 Honor Roll of the nation’s “greenest” universities. For the fourth consecutive year, The Princeton Review has recognized ASU for obtaining the highest possible score (99) in its Green Rating tallies. ASU was one of only 16 universities to achieve a perfect score.

ASU was also in the top 25 on Sierra magazine’s Coolest Schools list – a survey that ranks the greenest college campuses across the nation. A publication of The Sierra Club, Sierra magazine’s "Coolest Schools" ranking is an index that provides comparative information about the most important elements of campus sustainability.

In addition, ASU earned a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). ASU was one of only 22 institutions out of 117 to receive a 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.

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Participate in the ASU Innovation Challenge!

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 6, 2011

The ASU Innovation Challenge, a funding competition open to Arizona State University undergraduate and graduate students of all majors. The Arizona State University Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from across the university to make a difference in our local and global communities through innovation. Win up to $10,000 to make your ideas happen! Applications are due by 5:00 PM (MST) on the final day of Global Entrepreneurship Week: Friday, November 18, 2011. For more information go to

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability Expands Through Partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

October 5, 2011

In an effort to further advance the transition to a sustainable economy in Mexico, Arizona State University (ASU) and Tecnológico de Monterrey have jointly launched the Latin America Office of the Global Institute of Sustainability. This extension of ASU’s Global Institute at Tecnológico de Monterrey will conduct applied transdisciplinary research, offer an innovative curriculum, and develop business solutions that accelerate the adoption of a sustainable culture.

The Latin America Office of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability will offer academic programs to educate future leaders in the transition to a green economy. It will conduct applied research to address Latin American issues, particularly the adoption of sustainable development. It will also leverage linkages with the Technology Park at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico City Campus, to promote clean technologies and entrepreneurial projects that will create green jobs and businesses, and promote public policies that preserve natural capital through active participation of all sectors of society.

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Regional Tree and Shade Summit receives Award of Merit at Valley Forward’s Environmental Excellence Awards

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

September 26, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz. Shade - we all crave it during sun-scorched days, and the shade that trees provide creates an escape from the heat. So where are all the trees?

The Sustainable Cities Network at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability is aware of this need for more trees in our urban world. Partnering with the cities of Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix, the Network hosted the Valley’s first Regional Tree and Shade Summit on March 9, 2011, in Phoenix. The Summit brought together public officials, municipal staff, nonprofit organizations, and professional associations to identify strategies for increasing tree and shade and green infrastructure, and creating a healthier, more livable and prosperous Arizona.

On Sept. 17, the Regional Tree and Shade Summit received an Award of Merit at Valley Forward’s annual Environmental Excellence Awards program in the Environmental Education/Communication: Public Sector category. The awards recognize outstanding environmental achievement and projects that promote environmental initiatives. 

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Arizona State University’s Sustainability Achievements Rated GOLD by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

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.

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Quenching the Desert's Thirst

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.

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Green: What Drives Cities’ Runaway Growth?

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.

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The Sustainability Consortium Opens European Office, Appoints Three New Board Members Including Two NGOs

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

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.

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Changes in Maryvale, Real and Perceived

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.

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The Value Proposition of a Sustainable Degree

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.

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What Is the Worth of a Degree in Sustainability?

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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?

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ASU Faculty Help Tip the Scales Toward Global Sustainability at Nobel Symposium

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

June 27, 2011

Sander van der Leeuw

Elinor Ostrom

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.

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High School Students Win Big and Gain Real World Experience through ASU Research Program

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

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.

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Great Job Growth in Sustainability, But… Only If You Also Have Other Skills

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.”

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Marketplace & The Gary Comer Global Agenda Present: Moving By Degrees The Future Energy Abyss, An Intimate Conversation with John Hofmeister

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

June 15, 2011

Retired Shell Oil President Shares Thoughts; ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability Hosts Event

(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.

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ASU Professor Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

ASU Sustainability News Institute Press Releases School of Sustainability News

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.

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Spring 2011 Convocation speaker shares her sustainability story

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

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.

Is $2.50 per gallon of gasoline a thing of the past?

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

May 8, 2011

PHOENIX - Each Sunday, debuts an Arizona issue - along with two opposing sides on the topic. Don’t worry, you always have the opportunity to make comments at the bottom of the page. Yeah, your opinion matters, too.

This week we're tackling the debate on whether or not $2.50 per gallon of gasoline is a thing of the past.

John Hofmeister, a distinguished sustainability scholar and retired president of Shell Oil Company, says with the U.S. producing less, but expecting to consume the same, consumers here will face gasoline prices in the $5 to $6 and the price will climb even higher.

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