Algae testbed leaders look to solve national energy needs

April 22, 2013

Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) members from across the nation visited the ASU Polytechnic campus April 15-18 to collaborate on research and projects and to advance algae-based technologies.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Arizona State University's ATP3 initiative brings algae researchers together to maximize efforts and streamline research to effectively advance sustainable technologies like biofuels.

Gary Dirks, the Global Institute of Sustainability's new director and director of ATP3 says, "The ATP3 kickoff meeting gave all of the partners of ATP3 a chance to discuss how we will support public and private institutions in finding solutions to the nation's energy challenges."


2013 winners of President's Award for Sustainability

April 21, 2013

For their demonstrated excellence in fostering the successful development, implementation and promotion of sustainability, three programs at ASU were awarded the President's Award for Sustainability:

Facilities Management Grounds Services – Grounds for Grounds
The program recycles coffee grounds into fertilizer, working towards Arizona State University's zero waste goal.

Materials Management Recycling
The recyclable items list has grown thanks to ASU's Materials Management, which also helps ASU Recycling staff.

Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools
Graduate students, professors, high school students and teachers, and researchers team up to work on a project to make a local Arizona school more sustainable.


Professor helps National Academies promote sustainable urban development

April 20, 2013

Arizona State University engineer and Senior Sustainability Scientist Samuel Ariaratnam is among contributors to a new book published by the National Academies aimed at providing communities some of the best strategies for sustainable urban development.

Underground construction is a rapidly expanding field, fueled by the growing needs of cities to replace aging infrastructure or build new infrastructure using methods that will increase the efficiency, resiliency and safety of such facilities and utility systems.

“I’m certain this book is going to have a big impact. It’s already gotten a lot of attention internationally,” he says. “Everyone is looking for better ways to build infrastructure, both the public sector and private sector.”


ASU's School of Sustainability receives grant from Women & Philanthropy

April 19, 2013

PrintWomen & Philanthropy, a group committed to supporting and investing in Arizona State University, awarded $286,541 to six promising programs this year, the highest amount of total annual funding in its 10-year history.

While this year’s grants recognize ASU’s commitment to science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM), they also include programs that support ASU’s commitment to connect with communities through mutually beneficial partnerships.

The School of Sustainability, part of the Global Institute of Sustainability, received $30,200 to work with the journal, "The Sustainability Review," to produce public videos highlighting current research in an easy-to-understand format.


ASU appoints leading documentary filmmaker, sustainability expert as Professor of Practice

Institute Press Releases

April 18, 2013

peter byck-RTTEMPE, Ariz. – April 18, 2013 – Arizona State University has appointed documentary filmmaker Peter Byck to jointly serve as Professor of Practice for the Global Institute of Sustainability’s School of Sustainability and for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Byck focuses on issues of environmental sustainability and he has more than 20 years’ experience as a writer and producer. His most recent documentary, the widely acclaimed Carbon Nation™, is a “climate change solutions movie (that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change).” The film was recently featured during an interview with Byck on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” show. Byck’s new installments in the “Carbon Nation 2.0” film series will be co-branded with ASU.

Byck will teach a short film documentary course to educate and provide hands-on experience to students on communicating contemporary principles, ideas, concepts, and issues of sustainability; documentary film-making and marketing; and storytelling on sustainability-related topics. The course will be offered in the fall semester of 2013.

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Secure Food and Water Supply Depend on Phosphorus

Institute Press Releases

April 18, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. — April 18, 2013 — The Phosphorus Sustainability Research Coordination Network (RCN) kicks off its first meeting in Washington, D.C. May 14-16 to address ongoing challenges in producing a sustainable global phosphorus system.

This is the first of five annual meetings of the Phosphorus Sustainability RCN designed to connect scientists and stakeholders across the world to find sustainable solutions that provide a secure food supply, protect fisheries, and maintain clean drinking water.

James Elser, a sustainability scientist at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, serves as principal investigator of the RCN. Elser is also a Regents’ professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences, with more than twenty years’ experience in phosphorus research.

“Phosphorus is a naturally occurring element essential for all life, including crops,” explains Elser. “The availability of cheap phosphate rock used to make fertilizers is increasingly uncertain. Meanwhile, phosphorus runoff from farms and cities pollutes lakes, rivers, and coastal oceans, causing harmful algal blooms that impair drinking water and kill fish and shellfish. Neither of these situations is desirable, but it would seem that by solving one, we might solve the other. For long-term sustainability, we need to make fertilizer by efficiently recycling phosphorus from the food system instead of mining increasingly scarce rocks. This will also keep our lakes and oceans clean.”

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ASU features science historian and author Naomi Oreskes

Institute Press Releases

April 16, 2013

OreskesTEMPE, Ariz. – April 16, 2013 – American historian of science and author Naomi Oreskes visits Arizona State University on Monday, April 22 as a Wrigley Lecture Series speaker, hosted by ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

Oreskes will speak about climate change and how consensus forms around scientific issues. The event is free and open to the public, held at ASU’s Tempe campus, Old Main building in the Carson Ballroom, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

Please RSVP at:

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Dutch leaders present lectures on regional sustainability

April 16, 2013

The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program under ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, is hosting two lectures by representatives from the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands. The lectures are part of the Institute's Sustainability Series.

The Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives recently partnered with officials in Haarlemmermeer in February to learn how the region has become a go-to example of urban sustainability and policymaking.

The Dutch representatives, Fonz Dekkers, John Nederstigt, and Arthur van Dijk, will discuss topics such as sustainability monitoring, urban development, and Haarlemmermeer as a case study.


School of Sustainability student wins Udall Scholarship for commitment to environment

April 16, 2013

emily_allenEmily Allen, a sustainability and English major and student in Barrett, The Honors College, has been named a 2013 Udall Scholar by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. She will receive a $5,000 scholarship to use toward tuition for her senior year at Arizona State University.

Allen hopes to follow in the footsteps of the scholarship's namesake, Morris K. Udall, a U.S. congressman who established legislation in Arizona to expand national parks and create the Central Arizona Project.

“My career goal is to work with local governments in the state of Arizona to protect fragile water resources from the pressures of overuse and rapid urban development. I plan to accomplish this goal as an attorney with a water law specialty, either in a private firm or a local municipality,” Allen stated on her scholarship application.


Obama reappoints Sustainability Scientist to Committee on the National Medal of Science

April 11, 2013

castillo-chavez_3472Arizona State University Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez has been reappointed to the U.S. President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.

Castillo-Chavez is a Regents’ Professor and a Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor at ASU. He is a faculty member in ASU's School of Sustainability and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability. President Obama first appointed him to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science in 2010.

The 12-member committee evaluates and nominates fellow scientists for the National Medal of Science—one of the field's highest honors. Nominated scientists come from the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sectors.

Upon his reappointment, President Obama said: “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”


Downtown Phoenix is ripe for a feast on the street

April 10, 2013

feast on the street london 2013A celebration of food, art, and community is coming to downtown Phoenix on Saturday, April 13. Called “Feast on the Street,” the event is a culmination of numerous local community partnerships that will bring people together for a meal or two on First Street in Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row District.

“Feast on the Street is an urban harvest festival celebrating food and art in the desert, while reclaiming the city street for pedestrians,” says Heather Lineberry, Arizona State University Art Museum’s senior curator, associate director, and an event organizer. “It creates a place to gather with our Phoenix neighbors around art and food. What could be better?”

The Global Institute of Sustainability is providing composting workshops at the zero waste event and ASU's Green Team will educate participants on recycling, composting, and waste. ASU School of Sustainability alumnus, Colin Tetreault, will act as master of ceremonies.


Arizona Forward to build on ASU student investigation of vacant-land development opportunities

April 8, 2013

Last fall, students in a community building course partnered with Valley Forward (now Arizona Forward) to develop new ideas for vacant lots near Phoenix's light rail corridor. The same students presented their work to Arizona Forward this semester and the organization has decided to turn their suggestions into a white paper and toolkit.

The course instructor Dean Brennan helped teaching assistant Hannah Szabo and the students in the course to explore the cost and focus of vacant lot revitalization. School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning student Julia Kerran and School of Sustainability student Will Heasley presented the project’s results to the Arizona Forward committee.

“Temporary development creates a use for locations that can otherwise become a source of blight, filling in empty space and fostering creative ideas as well as promoting community activities,” explains Brennan, an ASU faculty associate and planning professional.


SRP, SunPower dedicate solar power system at Polytechnic campus

April 8, 2013

Salt River Project (SRP) and SunPower Corp. have dedicated a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant to the ASU Polytechnic campus. The solar power system is the first commercially deployed for SunPower Corp. using its SunPower C7 Tracker technology. The tracking system concentrates the sun’s power seven times to lower costs of electricity use from solar power plants available today.

The system uses little water and is predicted to generate as much energy needed to power 225 SRP customers' homes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the system will offset the production of 1,277 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year or the equivalent of removing 241 passenger vehicles from Arizona roads each year.

“This dynamic project with SunPower enables ASU to move closer to our 2015, 25-megawatt solar energy-generating goal, embrace innovative technologies, and facilitate possible education opportunities for our students,” said David Brixen, ASU’s associate vice president of Facilities Development and Management.


Sustainable business practices are necessary for the common good

April 8, 2013

Richard--smaller sizeFor Earth Month 2013, the Global Institute of Sustainability will welcome Richard Morrison, ASU's Morrison Institute co-founder, to talk about sustainable and ethical business practices. Part of the Institute's Sustainability Series, Morrison's talk, "Ethics and Sustainable Practices," will take place on Monday, April 29, from noon until 1:30 p.m.

Morrison is an Episcopal priest and a sustainable ranching business partner. He is also an attorney, focusing on Native American water rights and natural resource policy.

Morrison says his main sustainability challenge is world hunger. Morrison joined the Farm Foundation's  Dialogue Project for Food and Agriculture Policy in the 21st Century to find a common commitment to ending world hunger.


#EarthMonth2013 @ASUGreen

Sustainability In Action

April 2, 2013

Earth Day is Monday, April 22, but Arizona State University is making the whole month of April a time to celebrate the natural world we all depend on. The Tempe and Polytechnic campuses feature a wide variety of events for Earth Month 2013 that you can get involved in.

For instance:

- Wrigley Lectures featuring England’s resident climate change expert Sir Crispin Tickell and science historian Naomi Oreskes
- Sustainability Series discussions with Local First Arizona’s Kimber Lanning and ASU’s Morrison Institute co-founder Richard Morrison
- film screenings of “A Fierce Green Fire” and “A Place at the Table: One Nation, Underfed”
- backyard date palm harvesting workshops
- Earth Week Festival
Farmers Market @ the ASU Tempe campus
- local community gardening
- southwest storytelling workshop
- organic food eating contest

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ASU gets down to Earth in April

April 2, 2013

Earth Day is Monday, April 22 and Arizona State University is turning all of April into Earth Month 2013. Tempe campus and Polytechnic campus feature multiple events like workshops, lectures, and film screenings. All events are open to the public.

“ASU’s Earth Month helps us celebrate our connections to the natural resources and ecosystems on which we depend,” says Nick Brown, ASU’s director of University Sustainability Practices. “In an urban environment, it’s easy to overlook our interdependence on natural systems, and observations like Earth Day remind us of our need for good land stewardship.”


Award-winning films, directors headline ASU Human Rights Film Festival

April 1, 2013

imagesTen films will be screened during Arizona State University's Human Rights Festival this weekend, April 5-7, at the Tempe campus.

Human Rights Film Festival Director and Sustainability Scientist LaDawn Haglund says, "I was inspired to create a human rights film festival, in part, because in an academic environment, it is easy to get lost in heady and sometimes terrible facts. Film, when done well, forces us to bring our hearts to the issues, helping us to empathize and, hopefully, spurring us to act."

Of the films, one is part of ASU's Earth Week 2013 events entitled "A Fierce Green Fire." The film explores the history of the grassroots environmental movement for the last fifty years. Another film, "Four Stories Of Water" focuses on indigenous water rights.


Science historian and writer Naomi Oreskes to discuss ‘Who is Responsible for Climate Change?’

April 1, 2013

OreskesNaomi Oreskes will be visiting Arizona State University to give her lecture, “Who is Responsible for Climate Change?” on Earth Day, Monday, April 22 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. at Old Main’s Carson Ballroom on the Tempe campus.

Oreskes is a prolific writer, appearing in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and academic journals like Nature and Science. She was named the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication.

As a writer and an academic, Oreskes researches the role of science in society and investigates society's reaction to climate change evidence. She shares the importance and urgency of climate change to multiple audiences.


Bacterial boost for clean energy

March 30, 2013

Joseph Miceli, a researcher at ASU’s Biodesign Institute with Sustainability Scientists Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and Cesar Torres, is studying how the anode respiring bacteria can be used to clean up waste and produce hydrogen or electric energy.

“One of the ways we currently treat wastewater from such sources as food processing is to use aerobic organisms,” Miceli says, referring to bacteria requiring oxygen for survival. “So we have to pump oxygen into the system in order to help feed the bacteria, which break down the chemical contaminants. This adds a very large cost.”

However, the anode respiring bacteria Miceli is studying can survive in oxygen-free environments, making it more cost-effective and sustainable. Even more so, the bacteria produces energy while respiring.