Students, faculty 'show' sustainability at open house event

May 23, 2013

Arizona State University's School of Sustainability hosted its year-end open house and project showcase on April 24 where students and faculty got to show off their innovative course assignments and partnerships. For example, students in Professor David Manuel-Navarrete's Sustainability Leadership and Social Change course introduced their video highlighting ASU's transformation towards university-wide sustainability.

"Since the School was first established, we have put value on diverse learning and teaching strategies that simulate professional team settings, address real-world sustainability issues and involve community members as project partners," says Katja Brundiers, the School's university-community liaison and the event's organizer.

The event created new collaborations as part of the School's Project-and Problem-Based Learning. Students and faculty interacted together one-on-one as well as with members of the public. The event was part poster session, part mixer, part lecture, and part discussion.


Scientists announce top 10 new species for 2013

May 23, 2013

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has announced its list of top 10 new species discovered during 2012. More than 140 species were nominated and the international committee chose according to appropriate nomenclature and official 2012 naming.

"Sustainable biodiversity means assuring the survival of as many and as diverse species as possible so that ecosystems are resilient to whatever stresses they face in the future. Scientists will need access to as much evidence of evolutionary history as possible," said Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU and a sustainability scientist at ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

The top species include a carnivorous sponge, a glow-in-the-dark cockroach, flowering bushes, a false coral snake, and a new monkey.


Slate Magazine: Cutting carbon dioxide emissions is not enough

May 23, 2013

Last week, carbon dioxide amounts in the Earth's atmosphere reached past 400 parts per million, according to Mauna Loa Observatory. This is the highest its been since humanity's beginning. ASU's Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss says mitigating climate change will need more than reducing emissions; we need to extract carbon that's already in the atmosphere.

Krauss writes in a Slate Magazine Future Tense article:

"Though there could be huge advantages to directly extracting carbon dioxide from our atmosphere instead of from its source, there has been almost no R&D funding to explore making it a reality. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been put into subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production."


School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter wins first place in Sparky's Membership Mania competition

May 15, 2013

sparky-membership-mania-2013Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter won first place in the Sparky’s Membership Mania Competition for the second consecutive year. This competition provides a $500 cash award to the ASU Alumni Chapter with the largest increase in membership each year. Thank you to the many School of Sustainability graduates who have joined the School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter. We appreciate your talents, expertise, and connection to your alma mater! Pictured left to right: Alissa Pierson (ASU Alumni Association), Brigitte Bavousett (School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter President), Dr. Christine Wilkinson (ASU Alumni Association).

Student connects art, sustainability through experiential learning

May 14, 2013

Omaya Ahmad, a fellow with Arizona State University’s Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools program and a School of Sustainability doctoral student, integrates sustainability in Greenway Middle School's curriculum and established courses.

Particularly, Ahmad teaches environmental sustainability to seventh-graders and societal sustainability to eight-graders. Through Greenway's partnership with the Phoenix Art Museum and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Ahmad was able to use local artwork to give her students real-life lessons outside the classroom.

“I wanted to do my fellowship in the Paradise Valley Unified School District because I graduated from a school in that district,” says Ahmad. “They matched me to Greenway, because of the opportunities with the honors core there. It was such a great match. It was gratifying to watch the students learn, and I learned a lot, too.”


Scientists use crowd-sourcing to help map global CO2 emissions

May 13, 2013

To locate global power plants and record their greenhouse gas emissions, Arizona State University scientists are calling on citizens for help.

The researchers, including Sustainability Scientist Kevin Gurney, developed a website with a Google Earth interface that makes it easy for everyday people around the world to enter information. The website, "Ventus," aims to create a complete list of global power plants, something that does not exist and is needed to fully comprehend the global carbon emissions cycle.

"Through Ventus, people around the world can play an active role in helping to solve the climate change problem," Gurney said. "We hope to gather a global team of people who want to make a difference—and do so, right now. The information we gather from Ventus can ultimately help determine what we as a society can do locally and globally about climate change."

Watch the video »


Faculty Spotlight: Shauna BurnSilver

May 13, 2013

Before becoming a Sustainability Scientist and professor in the School of Sustainability, BurnSilver was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa. She received her doctoral degree in human ecology from Colorado State University. BurnSilver combines all facets of science—like common property theory, landscape ecology, conservation, and vulnerability—to provide useful research for decision-making. She co-authored a paper with researchers from Colorado State University and the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, Africa that describes a new model for conducting research. The model advises to include local people at the very beginning of the research process and then work with them to disseminate the results at a community level. The paper received Ecological Society of America’s Sustainability Science Award for 2012.

Continue Reading

ASU experts offer roadmap to Medicare sustainability

May 11, 2013

Three ASU researchers recently published the book, "A Roadmap to Medicare Sustainability," in hopes of illuminating how current Medicare is chipping away at the security of future dependents. To make Medicare more sustainable in the long-run, Denis Cortese and colleagues Natalie Landman and Robert Smoldt suggest raising the eligibility age, develop a premium support model, establish true pay for medical providers, and work on tort reform.

Right now, Medicare is a major contributor to the U.S. federal debt due to the growing costs as Boomers begin to retire.

"Medicare must be fundamentally reformed and made sustainable in a manner that is fair to seniors, their children and their grandchildren who are or will be paying the taxes for the Medicare program," said Smoldt, associate director of ASU’s Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program. "Bold action and consistent leadership on several fronts are required."


Study to look at how consumers perceive sustainable products

May 9, 2013

Carola Grebitus, assistant professor of food industry management at the Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management, is in charge of a study looking into public perceptions of sustainable products. Study participants look at packaging and marketing materials to provide feedback regarding which tactics would make them purchase more sustainable products.

Grebitus is coordinating the study at the request of Henkel, a German company known for Dial soap, Purex laundry detergent, and Renuzit air fresheners. Sustainability has been a core goal for the company that offers many eco-friendly products and lifestyle choices to everyday consumers.

"I want to help consumers understand what is sustainable by discovering what sustainability means to them," Grebitus said. "In this study, we deal with perception which leads to uncovering what it means to be environmentally friendly as a consumer."


Dutch delegation visits ASU to strengthen partnerships for a more sustainable world

May 9, 2013

Community and business representatives from the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands visited ASU President Michael Crow and leaders of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS). The Dutch delegation met with partners from GIOS' Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives (WSSI) to learn more about sustainability in Arizona and to share their sustainability knowledge from the Netherlands.

The Municipality of Haarlemmermeer aims to become one of the most sustainable sites for businesses, communities, and organizations in the Netherlands. ASU Sustainability Scientists brainstormed with the Dutch representatives who included aldermen Arthur van Dijk and John Nederstigt, sustainability programs manager Debby de Rijk, and higher education programs manager Wendy van Vliet.

"The visit helped them better understand the ways in which ASU can contribute to Haarlemmermeer’s vision of becoming a regional model for sustainability," WSSI program manager Marta Hulley Friedman said.


Doctoral graduate develops toolkit for culturally sustainable design

May 9, 2013

Tejas Dhadphale is receiving his doctoral degree in Design, Environment and the Arts from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and did his dissertation in India studying local retailers. While many businesses are focusing on sustainable product development and looking into the economic, environmental, and social aspects of a product, Dhadphale says many overlook the cultural aspect.

"Modern retailers fail to resonate with the cultural practices of daily shopping, specifically among Indian women," says Dhadphale. "India consumers equally value personal relationships, trust, and informal communication with retailers."

Dhadphale's goal is to create a toolkit that will allow product developers to create culturally appropriate businesses and services. To make the toolkit, Dhadphale drew on his education on sustainability, anthropology, and design.


ASU algae researchers partner to create health products

May 9, 2013

The Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) at Arizona State University and the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) are working with Health Enhancement Products, Inc (HEPI). to advance the science behind algae-based health and wellness products like vitamins and food chemicals.

Algae substances from HEPI's test facility in Scottsdale were transferred to AzCATI and ATPpartners for further studying and preservation.

“These partnerships give us access to world-class algae experts and facilities,” said HEPI CEO Andrew Dahl. “Moving the cultures to the AzCATI/ ATP3 site and to the NCMA labs opens up a vastly broader range of  scientific  capabilities and expertise and provides access to a  tremendous network of development and production partners all while realizing substantial cost savings."


'Carbon Nation' director Peter Byck teaches sustainable storytelling

May 9, 2013

Peter filmingFor his new professor of practice position at ASU's School of Sustainability and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Peter Byck will be teaching a new "Sustainability Storytelling" course this fall.

Students from the two schools will learn how to produce and direct their own five-minute documentaries about issues surrounding clean energy and climate change. Byck is a seasoned documentarist; his first film, "Garbage," won the South by Southwest Film Festival and his second documentary, "Carbon Nation," is gaining worldwide attention.

“Working with a large university like ASU will allow us to amplify stories out into the world because we need to educate the American people on clean energy,” says Byck.


Can 7 billion people have clean water and plentiful food, ASU scientists ask

May 8, 2013

The Phosphorus Sustainability Research Coordination Network (RCN), a global gathering of researchers and stakeholders, will meet in Washington, D.C. May 14-16 to discuss a dwindling nutrient we all count on for food and clean drinking water: phosphorus.

The Phosphorus Sustainability RCN is led by Arizona State University Sustainability Scientists James Elser and Rimjhim Aggarwal, along with University of Arizona scientist Tauhidur Rahman. The goal of the five-year RCN is to find ways to recycle and efficiently produce phosphorus for a global demand. Phosphorus is a main ingredient in crop fertilizers, and the world's supplies are running out. Phosphorus runoff from farms is also the main culprit of ecological dead zones, massive fish die-offs, and contaminated drinking water.

“If you drink water and eat food, you should care about phosphorus,” Elser says.


Sustainability alumna turns food waste into a career

May 8, 2013

Grad PicNatalie Fleming graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012 and a month later, she obtained a position at a Utah startup called EcoScraps. The company collects food waste from grocery stores, food banks, and farms and turns it into eco-friendly and sustainable gardening products. Working remotely in San Francisco, Fleming is the district sales manager responsible for training EcoScrap employees and representatives.

She gives some advice to graduating sustainability students on how to enter the job market:

"Tell everyone you meet how excited you are to graduate and how much you love sustainability," Fleming says. "Let them know you’re on a job hunt. Share your interest with people and you never know where that connection is going to come from. It will help you get your foot in the door."


ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability co-founder, Julie Wrigley, talks investing

May 8, 2013

julie2-croppedIn Green Living Magazine's May issue, Julie Ann Wrigley, CEO of Wrigley Investments, LLC, discusses investing for a better, more sustainable tomorrow.

“Where can our investments, both for profit and in the not for profit sector, help to look for solutions to real world problems?” she asks.

Wrigley is an advocate for sustainable communities and businesses. She has tailored her investments to include the health, environmental, and education sectors. In 2004, Wrigley helped co-found Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability.

“All of us can make choices that can impact the future by very small steps and that is becoming an impactful investor.”


The Green Register: College Move-Out Eco-Friendly Tips

May 7, 2013

SHAB_students_46Move-out topics like packing, cleaning, and textbooks are covered in The Green Register's "The Green Minute."

For instance, you can collect recycled boxes from local companies instead of buying brand-new boxes. Be sure to sell back your old textbooks, too, or donate them to local schools. And have leftover furniture? Sell it online or host a garage sale.

For more tips, learn about Arizona State University's Ditch the Dumpster program.


SolarWorld to sponsor ASU's Solar Decathlon team

May 7, 2013

solar-decathlonSolarWorld, one of the world's largest solar energy companies and the largest U.S. solar manufacturer, will sponsor Arizona State University's team in the Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon.

ASU is one part of the shared Arizona State University and University of New Mexico team called aSUNm. Students and faculty advisers from both universities are currently developing their "SHADE" project. Focusing on a desert southwest ecosystem, the modular home prototype takes advantage of the sun with solar power and features water storing capabilities.

aSUNm will debut the house at the Solar Decathlon October 3-14 in Orange County, California.


Coffee grounds: the magic ingredient to ASU's newly lush flowerbeds

May 1, 2013

The plants on Arizona State University's Tempe campus have a little more spring in their step, thanks to the work of two Ground Services employees who are also university students.

Vicente Solis and Rigoberto Polanco are studying sustainable engineering and urban horticulture in addition to starting the program, "Grounds for Grounds." For a year, they collected over 500 pounds of used coffee grounds a week to reuse as fertilizer. The program has diverted a ton of waste from the landfill monthly, saved $900 in waste removal fees, and saved the university $10,000 in fertilizer costs.

“The bulk of the waste is from the four Starbucks and the three cafes that serve Starbucks coffee on the Tempe campus," says Solis. "We worked with partners at Aramark and ASU Facilities Management to develop the program, placing 96-gallon green bins on the Memorial Union loading dock and behind Oasis Café. These bins are filled once a day by Starbucks employees.”


Low-Carbon Fuels from Sunlight and Waste Carbon Dioxide: It is Possible, is it Practical?

Thought Leader Series

April 30, 2013

A Thought Leader Series Piece

estechel-for-TLSBy Ellen B. Stechel

Note: Ellen B. Stechel is the Deputy Director of ASU's LightWorks and Managing Director of LightSpeed Solutions, communicating global efforts of leading scientists and researchers working towards sustainable transportation energy based on liquid hydrocarbon fuels from the sun.

A network of issues buried beneath the strategic and economic importance of petroleum and the increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is complex; however, until addressed, no measure of global sustainability will be obtainable.

If we accept that, any solution to such issues yield lower net carbon emissions by 50-80 percent, then despite obvious advantages, alternative fossil fuel pathways cannot be the ultimate solution for transportation.

Continue Reading