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ASU and TU Sign MOU to expand university partnership

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 26, 2017

Nalini Chhetri holds signed MOU with three other men in Nepal.This June, ASU signed its second Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tribhuvan University (TU) in Kathmandu, Nepal, furthering a five-year partnership.

The partnership dates back to 2012, when ASU Senior Sustainability Scientists Netra Chhetri, Nalini Chhetri and Milan Shrestha first engaged with TU and were invited to the university as guest speakers.

ASU signed its first MOU with TU’s Institute of Engineering (IOE) in 2015. Through that collaboration, two cohorts of ASU students have studied abroad in Nepal. The 2017 study abroad session, called Grassroots Innovation for Sustainable Development, brought ASU and IOE sustainability and engineering students together on two projects to help Nepali farmers: solar-powered lift irrigation and biochar production.

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ASU researchers awarded $4.3M for photovoltaics research

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July 17, 2017

In 2017, ASU researchers received $4.3 million in Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Awards for their work with photovoltaics, making ASU the largest recipient of SunShot funding in the Photovoltaics Research category for the year.

The DOE's SunShot Intiative aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional methods, a goal that three senior sustainability scientists at the ASU Wrigley Institute are helping to achieve. Stuart Bowden is designing the M-Cell, a photovoltaic cell architecture to enable higher voltage and lower current. Meanwhile, Meng Tao is working to reduce processing expenses, improve reliability and maintain high efficiency for photovoltaic devices.

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Solar-powered system helps provide water beyond the annual rainy season

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July 14, 2017

This summer, a group of 11 ASU sustainability and engineering students traveled to the Hindu Kush Himalaya region to help local farmers support their operations year-round – eliminating the need to migrate to lowlands or to other countries as seasonal laborers.

The students, part of a study abroad course organized through the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and developed through GlobalResolve,  developed hardware like a solar-powered lift irrigation system during the spring semester, then deployed it while the students were onsite in June.

“This class cooperates with local farmers to combine existing irrigation and solar technologies to provide a refreshing shortcut for the region’s food and energy challenges,” said Senior Sustainability Scientist Netra Chhetri. “With assured water supply, these farmers can plan their crops better and grow off-season vegetables that fetch four times more value than cereals, which are the current crops being harvested.”

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Cities can make greener purchases with help of new initiative

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July 6, 2017

As local governments step to the forefront of sustainability commitment-making, a team of Arizona State University researchers – including School of Sustainability Professor Nicole Darnall – launch a project aimed at making it easier for cities to “buy green."

Called the Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative, the project was informed by survey responses from 616 government officials from 459 cities. The responses led the ASU team to create eight real-world recommendations that can be used by city officials considering environmentally-friendly products – from light bulbs to carpeting.

The tips will be disseminated in a marketing blast that will reach thousands of local governments nationwide.

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Moving forward on climate change post Paris agreement

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June 22, 2017

When the United States withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, it sparked a debate over what should happen next.

That debate was reflected during a June 2017 Case Critical discussion, held by the ASU Wrigley Institute and featuring Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky and ASU economist William Boyes. The discussion was moderated by Rob Melnick, executive director of the institute and a professor of practice in the School of Sustainability.

Kinsky reiterated the views she shared in a recent ASU Now interview, adding this about the way forward: "I think we’re swimming with opportunities. There are large-scale technological investments. The cost of air pollution to people’s health is astronomical. That’s a public health debate. There’s a social justice perspective. How will we deal with agriculture? Find your skill set and apply it."

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A silver lining to Phoenix's heat wave

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June 19, 2017

Randy Cerveny sits in a blue shirt on his desk in front of stacks of books and papers.Explaining to ASU Now why Phoenix residents have to bear extreme temperatures every summer, Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Randy Cerveny said, "We have a large upper-air ridge of high pressure centered over our area, in essence a large 'heat dome.'"

Cerveny – the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) rapporteur on climate extremes – gave a glimmer of hope to Valley residents by adding, "These hot temperatures are needed aspects for creating the shift in winds that allows moisture to flow up from the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. In other words, if it weren’t for these hot temperatures now, we wouldn’t have thunderstorms next month."

ASU hosts the WMO’s Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, as well as monitors and verifies extreme temperatures around the globe.

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Vision for rehabilitated watershed lands ASU team with award

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

June 18, 2017

Part of the celebration to welcome the canoe Hōkūleʻa home from her worldwide voyage, ASU took the overall prize in the Make the Ala Wai Awesome challenge, an international student design competition that asked contestants to rehabilitate a critical Oʻahu watershed containing one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.

The School of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks energy center have been working with a Hawai'i public-private partnership network to find new answers to the country's unique sustainability challenges. LightWorks enlisted help from The Design School, which turned the effort into a class project where graduate students in design and sustainability addressed climate change, water, food, energy and natural resources sustainability on the Ala Wai.

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Incubating waste innovations for a robust circular economy

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June 14, 2017

With the support of the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) – a public-private network established through a partnership between ASU and the City of Phoenix – the RISN Incubator was announced in June 2017.

The incubator, a business development and accelerator program, seeks early-stage ventures that focus on solutions to waste-related challenges. Eligible venture concepts include, but are not limited to: conversion of solid waste into new material or energy; services that divert, reuse or recycle; software applications around sustainability (waste, organic material, reuse, recycling); and design services that focus on sustainability.

The ventures that are selected will have access to resources and support from ASU and Phoenix as they contribute to the regional development of a vibrant circular economy.

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Art exhibit showcases nature-inspired designs

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June 9, 2017

A 2017 exhibit at the Tempe Center for the Arts, "Biomimicry: Nature Inspired Design," showcases an approach to problem-solving that harnesses both the practicality and beauty of nature's designs.

Through the biomimicry philosophy, people work to create sustainable lifestyles by observing how animals and plants overcome obstacles in their environments. And because Arizona State University is a leader in this field, several faculty members and alumni are involved in the exhibit, which also includes events to inspire the community.

According to Prasad Boradkar, senior sustainability scholar and director of ASU's Biomimicry Center, "The impact of design and manufacturing of new products doesn’t affect only humans. It affects all species on the planet. So why don’t we learn from all species on the planet?"

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Teaming up to create market for waste carbon dioxide

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June 6, 2017

ASU researchers sit in room having discussion.ASU is partnering with the Center for Carbon Removal and institutions like Iowa State University, Purdue University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with the aim of creating a market for waste carbon dioxide.

This initiative – born from conversations between ASU President Michael Crow and Noah Deich, executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal – approaches the climate change challenge as an economic opportunity. In doing so, it will encourage new businesses while transforming existing industries like agriculture, forestry, fuel and manufacturing.

"Working together with the Center for Carbon Removal, we will develop a roadmap leading to real, valuable and lasting uses for carbon in the air," said Betsy Cantwell, vice president for research development of ASU Knowledge Enterprise Development. "We hope to implement the roadmap in a timeframe that will rapidly impact global carbon futures.”

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Climb in global patent rankings highlights ASU's innovative spirit

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

June 6, 2017

Image of Skysong building roof against clear blue sky.ASU has jumped up 8 spots in the rankings for U.S. patents granted to universities across the globe. After earning 62 patents in 2016 alone, ASU demonstrated its niche for innovation and climbed to 30th place in rankings by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

ASU faculty researchers are developing pioneering technology, like engineer Tom Sugar's wearable robotics created to help humans with work and every day tasks.

"ASU’s jump in the patent rankings shows that the innovation occurring across the university is the direct outcome of our commitment to impact,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer of ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Development. “We will continue to advance use-inspired research that positively shapes and contributes to the communities around us. It is a mission that drives and inspires us.”

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Paris Climate Agreement: The fallout from withdrawal

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June 2, 2017

After President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky went over the possible ramifications with ASU Now.

Klinsky, who studies climate negotiations, said that the decision will hurt American business and devastate our country's international credibility.

"Already, there are long-standing tensions and questions about the American commitment to climate action," Klinsky explained. "Cumulatively, the U.S. is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Breaking a promise by pulling out of this agreement or by removing domestic regulations will profoundly erode international trust in an arena in which collective action and cooperation is crucial."

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Research team gets the gold for carbon capture technology

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May 31, 2017

ASU researcher in maroon button-up shirt shows his carbon capture technology device.A 2017 International Readers’ Poll by Algae Industry Magazine landed an ASU research team with the “Gold Medal” Award in the Laboratory Equipment Category.

Sustainability scientists Bruce Rittmann and Klaus Lackner led the team, aimed at assisting the U.S. Department of Energy in increasing renewable energy production. The result was ASU's Air Capture Technology that collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, scrubs it, and captures it for future use. This energy can be used to feed certain types of algae that can then be used as biofuels – both reducing emissions and providing affordable energy.

The team hopes to implement this technology on a commercial scale in the future. Currently, it's building the systems's first prototype at the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) on ASU’s Polytechnic Campus.

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Scientist 'throws shade' on hot summer days

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May 30, 2017

Two years ago, Senior Sustainability Scientist Ariane Middel led a study on thermal comfort at ASU’s student union in Tempe. She and her team found that shade was the most important factor for comfort – more so than air temperature, humidity, and even clothing colors and materials.

Flash-forward to this year. Middel, an assistant research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has developed a tool that will someday show pedestrians the shadiest — and therefore coolest — route to their destinations. It will also tell planners and architects where they should create more shade.

The tool is a mobile weather station that resembles Pixar's WALL-E. Middel worked with a team of computer scientists to equip the weather station with the ability to take high-resolution Google Earth images. The 180-degree “fish-eye” views help to calculate whether a specific location would be in the sun or shade during a given time of day.

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Top Arizona high school grad plans to study sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 26, 2017

One of 10 Flinn Scholars committed to being a SunDevil, Ashley Dussault wants to use her major — sustainability — to help people.

“The program is about change, which is what I want to do. I want to plan cities to be better and to help with poverty,” said Dussault, who will graduate from Hamilton High School in the Chandler Unified School District.

She’s especially interested in the social-justice component of sustainability.

“I want to show the people of the world that just because sustainability is happening, they don’t have to be pushed out of their homes and that there’s a place for them in the world.”

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ASU in world's Top 3 for sustainability initiatives

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

April 26, 2017

ASU is third in the world and second in the U.S. for sustainability initiatives, according to a 2017 rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, known as STARS, rated ASU highest with the following percentages of available points: 87 percent in academics and research, and 95 percent in campus and public engagement.

AASHE STARS is a comprehensive tool for measuring sustainability at more than 800 colleges and universities around the world. It benchmarks institutions in over 1,000 data points covering academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

To achieve gold, ASU built campus and community collaborations to provide world-class education and research sustainability with the first School of Sustainability more than a decade ago. Now, 12.5 percent of ASU’s courses are recognized as sustainability or sustainability-related and 74 percent of academic departments offer sustainability courses.

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On our own soil: 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival hits home

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April 5, 2017

Indigenous people in boats on a lake with a sign to protect the water.At the beginning of April 2017, ASU held its 7th annual Human Rights Film Festival in the College Avenue Commons Auditorium on its Tempe campus. The festival – sponsored in part by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability – was a free, three-day event open to the public.

This year, the festival embraced a domestic theme, as every documentary it featured highlighted human rights abuses within the United States. These topics included immigration, racism, poverty, reproductive rights, and indigenous rights such as the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Film is a powerful way to convey experience,” says Senior Sustainability Scholar LaDawn Haglund, who founded the festival and continues to serve as its director. “It transcends an intellectual understanding of an issue to reach people’s hearts. With human rights violations, this is so important because statistics and facts make us numb rather than outraged, which is how we must feel — at least momentarily — if we want to create a world where such violations are stopped.”

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Agriculture in Arizona faces a warmer future

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Food Systems News

March 27, 2017

Rows of green lettuce in a fieldHow might climate change affect Arizona? A decrease in crop yields, for one thing, according to Andrew Berardy – a postdoctoral research associate with the Food Systems Transformation Initiative – and Senior Sustainability Scientist Mikhail Chester.

After studying the food-energy-water nexus that governs agriculture in Arizona, the pair found that the state's yields could drop more than 12 percent per 1 degree Celsius. This would have cascading effects – including more irrigation and increased food prices – that would be felt throughout the region.

In light of roll-backs in environmental protection by the Trump administration, Berardy and Chester advise that farmers upgrade to more efficient irrigation methods like drip irrigation. Their findings were published in IOP Science.

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Navigating the rapids of water management

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March 24, 2017

We’ve portioned out more of the Colorado River’s water than it can deliver. What now?

Senior Sustainability Scientist Dave White, who directs ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City, delivered his ideas for staying afloat in a March 2017 KED Talk. He demonstrated how the lessons he learned while rafting the Colorado River in 1998 are applicable to today's proverbial water rapids – namely drought, climate insecurity, population growth and overallocation.

"The solutions to these problems will require courage, skilled and experienced leadership," says White, "....and the recognition that the vitality of the American West depends on everyone paddling together."

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Sowing the seeds of sustainability education

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March 22, 2017

Spotlighting the Sustainability Teachers' Academy – a program of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives – ASU was recognized with a 2017 Best of Green Schools award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.

The award, presented in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network, acknowledges the importance of cultivating lifelong awareness by planting the sustainability seed early and, particularly, ASU's efforts to achieve just that through community education.

The annual Best of Green Schools awards recognize 11 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing the best environmental efforts in schools across the country. ASU was honored in the higher-education category.

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