Skip to Content

Conservation Solutions Laboratory scientists pen new commentary

View Source | September 24, 2019

Aerial view of deforestationMichael Brown, Samantha Cheng and Jim Tolisano, along with dozens of conservation and development researchers and practitioners representing ASU's Conservation Solutions Lab, have penned a new opinion piece, released September 24, 2019, on Mongabay. The scientists call for a crucial change in the way conservation efforts are undertaken.

The scientists argue that conservation efforts must specifically engage frontline communities – those people intimately situated in and around landscapes targeted for conservation – and elevate their role such that they can take the lead in planning and directing nature conservation.

Co-developing solutions with frontline communities requires groups that fund, implement and research conservation to revise their role and approach. In addition, learning from community experiences and adapting solutions over time can improve conservation efforts globally.

Sustainability scientist serves on new environmental economics advisory committee

April 22, 2019

Keryy SmithASU faculty helps establish research organization to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to assess social benefits and costs of environmental policies

Policies on air pollution, climate change and water have far-reaching effects on millions of Americans and businesses. Is the Environmental Protection Agency ─ the federal agency whose mission is to protect public health and the environment ─ using the best available economic science when designing and proposing such policy? The newly created External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee (E-EEAC) will convene nationally recognized environmental economists to ensure that it does.

Continue Reading

ASU and Oakland A's launch sustainability partnership at Hohokam Stadium

February 25, 2019

Man holding baseball in Hohokam StadiumThe Oakland Athletics and Arizona State University's School of Sustainability announced a partnership to help Hohokam Stadium maximize sustainability efforts and move toward zero waste during the 2019 spring training season.

Hohokam Stadium, the spring training home of the Oakland A's, will be the focus of the "Recycle Rally" initiative that will test and implement zero waste strategies with the goals of reducing landfill impact, increasing operational efficiencies and improving the fan experience. The unique partnership launched on February 21, when the A's hosted the Seattle Mariners at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona.

Continue Reading

Sustaining Our Cities

May 28, 2014

By Allie Nicodemo

Imagine a typical day in your city – the commute to work, walk around the block on your lunch break, trip to the dog park before meeting up with friends at a local restaurant. Now imagine what daily life in your city might be like if twice as many people called it home.

This thought experiment isn’t too far from becoming reality. The world population keeps growing with no signs of slowing down. The Census Bureau projects that today’s 7.1 billion will become 9 billion by 2044, and increasingly, these people are moving into cities. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, 6.4 billion people around the globe will live in urban areas - up from 3.4 billion in 2009.

Most of this growth is taking place in developing countries. However, certain cities in the U.S. are experiencing significant population increases as well. Phoenix is one of them, having added more than 40,000 new residents last year alone.

A substantial increase in population, coupled with hotter temperatures and other manifestations of climate change, will present unprecedented challenges for cities. Not only is Phoenix growing rapidly, but its climate also mirrors that of many other cities with populations on the rise, providing a good example of what much of the world is facing now or can expect in the future.

"Phoenix is a place that a lot of people look to for an example of how we will be resilient in the face of what are probably less than optimal conditions," says Wellington Reiter, a consultant for the Office of the President and former dean of the former College of Design at Arizona State University. "What we learn here and how efficiently we use our resources could be exported as intellectual capital or maybe even on-the-ground know-how."

Defining sustainability

The challenges of population growth, climate change and other changing conditions are leading many cities to explore sustainability options. But what does sustainability mean, and how do we measure it?

"It’s defined in many different ways," says David Pijawka, a professor and associate director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. These varying definitions have made it difficult for cities to make policy changes that would help mitigate future challenges.

"We’ve been dealing with that for 25 years. We have some good frameworks and we know what we need to do, but we still must learn to articulate it meaningfully and easily for the decision maker," says Pijawka, who is also a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Many people equate sustainability with environmentalism, but sustainability researchers at ASU are working to broaden our understanding of the concept. They define sustainability as well-being in four key areas: natural capital (plants, animals, water, etc.) human capital (skills, knowledge, etc.), social capital (networks of relationships) and financial capital.

Sustainability is complex because these different sources of capital often conflict with each other. For example, logging a forest reduces natural capital, but can provide jobs that increase financial capital. Different people will prioritize these tradeoffs differently. Someone living in poverty in a rural area might prioritize jobs over environmentalism, while a well-employed person with asthma might place more value on clean air.

"If we want people to continue living here, we have to make certain choices," says Anne Reichman, program manager of the Sustainable Cities Network at ASU. "Those choices are going to be difficult in the future when we look at the cost of water, the cost of energy, our air quality, and resource availability."

These are just some of the factors that must be considered when planning for sustainability. And they’re all connected.

See more at ASU's Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development

City of Phoenix, Arizona State University to Partner on New Regional Resource Innovation Center

January 9, 2014

City of Phoenix, Arizona State University to Partner on New Regional Resource Innovation Center

Annual savings expected from regional public/private waste reduction collaborative

PHOENIX – The city of Phoenix took another substantial leap forward as a global sustainability leader Tuesday afternoon as its city council gave policy approval of a four year agreement to work with Arizona State University to establish a ground-breaking public/private sustainability incubator focused on converting waste and other resources into economic value.

The Center for Resource Intelligence (CfRI) will be a network of public and private entities that provides a wide array of research, development, education and solution services to more effectively manage resources and create economic value. Industries ranging from energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing and recycling will collaborate in this effort that city staff project could result in $1-3 million of savings annually.

"This is about turning trash once destined for the landfill into business opportunities and jobs for our community," said Mayor Greg Stanton. "With this effort, Phoenix can lead the way to discover how to reduce our waste in a way that spurs innovation and advances our economy."

CfRI will be managed by the Sustainability Solutions Services (S3), a program within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, in collaboration with the city, private sector affiliates and other municipalities and institutions. The city’s investment will initially focus on creating value, economic opportunity and jobs out of waste streams.

"Sustainability is the 'low-hanging fruit' when it comes to identifying new ways to save taxpayer dollars and generate new revenue to run our city," said Vice Mayor Bill Gates, chairman of the City Council Finance, Efficiency, Economy and Sustainability Subcommittee. "This public-private partnership will maximize our efforts by

encouraging green entrepreneurs to bring their businesses and ideas to life right here in Phoenix."

The center will work with various businesses and government entities to address types

of waste streams including food scraps, recyclables and yard waste using a project oriented collaborative model. Center collaborators will be able to introduce and sponsor projects while taking advantage of the knowledge base and synergies present within the CfRI’s network.

"The city of Phoenix is leading the way in supporting green entrepreneurs and reducing our solid waste," said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. "Sustainable businesses are the future of Phoenix."

The CfRI resulted from a series of stakeholder workshops conducted by S3 in collaboration with Phoenix’s Public Works Department to facilitate a regional partnership that will develop technologies and markets and create economic opportunities.

"This seed investment from the city of Phoenix will allow the Center for Resource Intelligence to develop a large network of organizations in the Valley and potentially around the globe that can collaborate to help achieve the levels of resource effectiveness required for 9 billion people to live well on the planet by 2050," said Dan O’Neill, general manager for S3. "We appreciate the leadership of John Trujillo and the team in the city’s Public Works Department for having the vision to find solutions to our Valley’s – and planet’s – sustainability challenges."

City staff estimates an additional 10 to 25 percent diversion of solid waste from landfill to other uses through the research and development of the CfRI and partnerships with the private sector.

The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are the result of a $27.5 million investment in Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability by the Walton Family Foundation. Within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, diverse teams of faculty, students, entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators collaborate to deliver sustainability solutions, accelerate global impact, and inspire future leaders through eight distinct initiatives. For more information visit sustainabilitysolutions.asu.edu.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

Jason Franz, 480-727-4072

City of Phoenix

Yvette Roeder, 602-495-0189

SCN awarded President's Award for Sustainability

May 1, 2012

Sustainability is a balance of environmental, social and economic concerns. ASU staff and faculty are advancing sustainability by demonstrating exemplary practices, leading by example, and sharing solutions to catalyze change.

This award recognizes ASU teams that have demonstrated excellence in fostering the successful development, implementation, and promotion of sustainability principles, solutions, programs, and services in the teaching, learning, research and business missions of the University.

Continue Reading