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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 voyaging 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 that contains one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water.

The School of Sustainability and ASU LightWorks energy center have been working with a Hawaii 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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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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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

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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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World Water Day: ASU team explores water perceptions across globe

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March 22, 2017

An SOS students sits, interviewing a Fijian woman, also seated.An interdisciplinary ASU research team is exploring what water means around the world. In the most recent phase of their research program, the Global Ethnohydrology Study, students and faculty worked together to survey residents from the United States, New Zealand, Fiji and Bolivia regarding local perceptions of water risk, scarcity and solutions.

In honor of the World Water Day 2017 theme “Wastewater,” the team focused on the need to treat and reuse wastewater to safeguard people and our environment. It found that perceptions about water quality and quantity, as well regarding wastewater usage, vary depending on the region's level of development.

Kelli Larson, senior sustainability scientist and School of Sustainability professor, explained, "The implications of our research suggest that collective actions and policies in using wastewater may be more popular in developed areas, whereas individual practices and technologies may be more effective in less developed regions."

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ASU, Conservation International team up to protect biodiversity

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 22, 2017

Group photo of President Crow with CBO staff and Professors of PracticeAs a key program within the Knowledge Partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International, ASU welcomed seven Professors of Practice in March 2017.

These scientists will devote time to teaching, mentoring and service initiatives at the university, all aligned toward advancing the three goals of the partnership: protecting biodiversity; promoting sustainable development, particularly in food production and fisheries; and training the next generation of conservation biologists.

“Right now we’re in a race, a race that will not be easily won,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The forces of nature and the negative force of our impact on nature are accelerating. The acceleration of those forces are such that they will contribute to our need to have something we don’t have, which are better theories, better ideas, better tools, better solutions, better implementation, better translation – none of which comes naturally.”

As the New American University, ASU supports local and global partnerships to ignite innovative solutions to pressing biodiversity conservation issues around the world.

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A sojourn to Sweden for solar energy research

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March 21, 2017

Meng Tao sits for a portrait, dressed in a suit and a striped blue tie.Senior Sustainability Scientist Meng Tao has been selected as the 2017 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology. Tao will take his solar energy expertise to Sweden, where he will work at the Chalmers University of Technology for the 2017–2018 academic year.

In Sweden, Tao will focus his research on charging electric vehicles with solar energy and on value-added recycling for solar modules.

“Charging electric vehicles by solar electricity makes environmental sense, but it is still expensive and unreliable,” Tao says. “That’s why we are developing a new solar photovoltaic system for charging electric vehicles that reduces the cost of solar electricity by 30 percent while eliminating its intermittency."

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Cultivating a space to learn and grow

ASU Sustainability News

March 10, 2017

A woman directs a student's attention to something in the garden, where there a numerous plants, squares of hay and a wheelbarrow.Available to faculty, staff and students, the community garden at ASU’s Polytechnic campus helps the community understand food systems and water conservation in the desert. That's part of the reason why it is regularly used for capstone projects and outdoor class lessons.

According to Susan Norton, program manager of sustainability practices, “[The garden] opens the minds of students to what it means to eat local, what it tastes like, and why it is important.”

Much of what the garden grows is donated to food banks – about 370 pounds so far. Those who lease space through Norton’s program maintain it, and the waiting list is growing. That's why Norton wants to expand the garden, moving it to a more central and accessible location.

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ASU and UNAM join forces for microgrid boot camp

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

March 10, 2017

Students assemble solar panels at the ASU Poly campusIn March 2017, doctoral students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) joined NEPTUNE student veterans on ASU's Polytechnic campus for a week-long, intensive microgrid boot-camp.

Over a 40-hour period, boot camp attendees learned about microgrid infrastructure through interactive tours, lectures and lessons, and were provided with a platform to collaborate and share insights.

Mircogrid systems provide back-up energy during loss of power from a main grid, and are vital for places that need reliable and continuous energy – such as hospitals or military bases. They can be powered by various types of energy including solar, which was the focus of the boot camp.

UNAM's partnership with ASU's LightWorks made the collaboration possible, and the pair continue to work together to develop alternative energy solutions.

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Phoenix gets a guide to greener procurement from ASU

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March 3, 2017

Nicole Darnall in front of a projector screen that reads "Top 5 Barriers"Wanting to lessen its impact on the environment, the City of Phoenix decided to explore ways to make more eco-friendly purchasing decisions. Sustainability experts Nicole Darnall and Lily Hsueh were among the half-dozen ASU faculty to help them.

The ASU team assessed opportunities for purchasing improvements by conducting focus group interviews with city procurement specialists. After identifying complex organizational barriers and trade-offs, the team provided eight recommendations that will help Phoenix advance its 2050 environmental sustainability goals.

“By engaging city officials, our team was able to address one of the city's concerns — how it can further integrate environmental considerations into its purchasing processes,” said Darnall, the principal investigator. “At the same time, we developed a better understanding about sustainable procurement, advanced our research ideas, and engaged teams of graduate students in project-based learning. This project created wins for everyone.”

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High Antarctic temperatures provide insight to ASU scientist

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March 1, 2017

Dr. Randy Cerveny sits in his office with books piled behind him.ASU Professor and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Randy Cerveny announced in March 2017 that Antarctica has reached record-breaking warm temperatures – in some places over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cerveny, a Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the World Meteorological Organization, has collaborated with other WMO experts to measure the impact of rising Antarctic temperatures on the rest of the planet. The team has published their findings in a recent report.

"The polar regions of our planet have been termed the ‘canary’ in our global environment," he says. "Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions...The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked.”

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Sustainability scientist recognized as positive disrupter

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February 27, 2017

Manfred wearing a brown jacket and standing in front of a chalkboard full of writingDistinguished Sustainability Scientist Manfred D. Laubichler, a theoretical biologist known as a positive “disrupter” who identifies trends years in advance, is being honored with the Faculty Service Achievement Award at Founders’ Day 2017.

Laubichler is regarded for his work on Complex Adaptive Systems, focusing on complexity as a unifying principle in the social and life sciences. One of his most significant contributions was to the launch of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute's Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, which prepares scientists and policymakers for questions that arise as cities become megacities.

Another project that Laubichler was instrumental in is the ASU-Leuphana Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation. The center – created in 2015 in conjunction with Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany – builds on the universities' shared focus on global sustainability and transdisciplinary research. Its creation included the first dual master’s degree in global sustainability sciences, which enables students to attend and receive degrees from both universities.

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Sustainability students pave a profitable path toward zero waste

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

February 20, 2017

School of Sustainability student Eric presents his project Circle BlueThree School of Sustainability students have come up with a way to guide small organizations painlessly toward zero waste. And they’ll make money doing it.

Eric Johnson, Sean Murray and Daniel Velez – all students in the Master of Sustainability Solutions program – make up the consulting firm Circle Blue. The firm will partner with schools, nonprofits and small businesses to find and eliminate waste, saving money and reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills.

And now they have a financial boost in achieving that aim. The Circle Blue team won a $20,000 grant from the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, defeating two other teams in the pitch competition in February 2017. The event, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, sought the team with the strongest potential to solve a social challenge.

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