Experts Issue Report on Adapting to Climate Change in Desert and Coastal Cities

April 29, 2009

In January 2009, a group of 31 experts with diverse backgrounds convened at Arizona State University’s Decision Theater for a two-day workshop. Participants identified management needs, research gaps, and adaptation solutions relating to the impacts of climate change in coastal and arid urban environments.

Planning Integrated Research for Decision Support for Climate Adaptation and Water Management: A Focus on Desert and Coastal Cities was co-sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Arizona State University. Findings from the workshop are documented in the formal report (1.02 MB PDF).

Podcast: The scoop on buying in bulk


April 28, 2009

Brendan Beardsley, a master’s student in ASU’s College of Design, has a plan to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle and save a little money, too. Learn more about his design for a convenient bulk foods container and how it can benefit you and your planet.

Podcast by Brenden Beiriger, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University

Ray Jensen as University Sustainability Operations Officer

April 27, 2009

By Karen Leland, Director
Communications and Marketing

Demonstrating its proactive leadership in the field of sustainability, Arizona State University (ASU) has appointed Associate Vice President of University Business Services Ray Jensen as University Sustainability Operations Officer, with the responsibility to forward sustainability practices in as many aspects of the University’s operations as possible. In his expanded role, Jensen will collaborate with the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), while continuing to report directly to the Executive Vice President, CFO and Treasurer, Morgan R. Olsen.

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ASU's School of Sustainability has eyes to the future

April 23, 2009

On a recent warm weekday morning, ASU students Joe Canarie and Jamie Wernet toiled away in an organic garden wedged between a fence and a lecture hall, pinching off excess blossoms from a squash plant.

It's a baby step in a mission to save the world.

Canarie is an ecology major. Wernet studies linguistics. Both are enrolled in ASU's School of Sustainability.

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Controls of food chain length in an urban desert environment

April 23, 2009

Author's: John L. Sabo, Kevin E. McCluney
Summary: Understanding the determinants of the length of food chains is of fundamental importance to ecologists. Food chain length influences the potential complexity of the community, patterns of biomass in each trophic level, and possible biomagnification of harmful substances (e.g. mercury or DDT, Post 2002). There are many factors that may affect food chain length and debate over the importance of each has recently intensified (Post 2002). Additionally, very little is known about the functioning of urban ecological communities. Here we examine the influence of resource availability (water), disturbance (wind), and ecosystem size (number of plants) on the food chain length of arthropod communities inhabiting brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) at the Desert Botanical Gardens, a remnant desert site located in the urban Phoenix, AZ area. To do this we set up a field experiment consisting of 108 sets of replicate brittlebush locations, subject to three levels of watering (resource availability; one, three, or seven times per week), leaf blower wind (disturbance; none, once, or twice per month), and number of plants (ecosystem size; 1, 2, or 3 plants in sets). Our preliminary results suggest that water increases and wind decreases food chain length in brittlebush arthropod communities, and that there is a potential interaction between these two variables. Our results suggest no support for an effect of ecosystem size (number of plants in replicate sets) on FCL, though total plant volume may exert a heretofore unmeasured effect. Overall, our results suggest strong climatic control on the length of food chains on this naturally occurring plant in desert cities.

The Economics of Sustainability


April 22, 2009

Paul Atkinson from KJZZ Rado

The recession has forced the issue of sustainability to take a back seat. But as KJZZ's Paul Atkinson reports, now may be the time to help the economy by adopting sustainable practices. Jonathan Fink, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability is interviewed along with others.

> Hear the story

The View from 2025

April 20, 2009

By Rob Melnick
Executive Dean, Global Institute of Sustainability and
Presidential Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Strolling down one of our world-famous canal banks in 2025, it's hard to imagine that a renaissance of greater Phoenix was launched in 2009 during the nation's economic meltdown. With the financial and real estate industries in tatters and major infrastructure in decline, Valley leaders nevertheless joined forces and seized the opportunity to implement bold, yet practical new ideas for creating a truly sustainable urban place.

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Science Foundation Arizona Launches New Solar Initiatives and the Solar Technology Institute

Institute Press Releases

April 17, 2009

Five new solar initiatives totaling $4 million dollars to advance Arizona's renewable energy leadership

PHOENIX - Science Foundation Arizona announced its new solar technology initiatives and the opening of the Solar Technology Institute (STI) on April 17, with simultaneous events at the APS Star Facility in Phoenix and Global Solar in Tucson.

In a collaborative effort, STI is deploying Arizona's significant solar resources with industry and the research strengths of Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Arizona (UA) to grow the state's global leadership in renewable energy. STI is being led by two pioneers in the solar field, Robert "Bud" Annan and Richard Powell, to serve as co-directors. The Stardust Foundation is assisting in the financial support of the investments.

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Impacts of Traffic Noise on Birds in Urban Environments


April 14, 2009

Communication is the basis of all social relationships between animals. Birds use acoustic signals (calls and songs) to attract and bond with mates, defend territories and warn of danger from approaching predators. Background noise reduces the distance over which a call or song can be heard. As well as natural noises (e.g. wind and rain), birds in urban habitats must compete with human-generated noise such as road-traffic noise, much of which occurs in the lower-frequency bands below 2,000 Hz. Birds in cities have been known to use a number of strategies for overcoming noise, such as singing at a higher pitch to reduce masking by the low-frequency noise, singing more loudly, or singing at night time when traffic noise is at its lowest.

I travelled to Phoenix to investigate the how birds there respond to traffic noise. In a collaborative project with researchers from GIOS and SoLS at ASU, I recorded the calls and songs of birds and measured noise levels at 24 neighbourhood parks around the city. We are particularly interested to see whether doves such as the Inca dove and mourning dove are calling at a higher pitch in noisy areas. Of all the birds that live in cities, we would expect them to have the most difficulty hearing each other in traffic noise. This is because they have very low-pitched calls that are overlapped by the low-pitched traffic noise. But these species are very common around Phoenix, which suggests that they can still attract mates and breed successfully in noisy urban environments. In the future, we would like to investigate the breeding success of doves in noisy and quiet locations, to see whether urban noise is actually having an impact on their populations.

The Business of Climate Change - A Call for Innovation


March 31, 2009

By Jessica Lagreid
Undergraduate, W.P. Carey School of Business
Student Worker, Global Institute Of Sustainability

Andy Hoffman"In periods of great flux and uncertainty, the people who love [change] are going to find opportunities," says Andrew J. Hoffman, the author of Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy? (2008). Speaking to an ASU audience and reporters on Mar. 19, the University of Michigan professor of sustainable enterprise cast climate change as both a threat and an opportunity.

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Keeping Our Old Computers Out of the 'E-Waste' Piles

March 23, 2009

ewilliamsEric Williams, an assistant professor of civil, environmental and sustainability in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, is interviewed on a segment of the program Sustainability, which aired recently on National Public Radio, including local Phoenix-area affiliate station KJZZ-91.5 FM.

The show focuses on projects that scientists and engineers are working on to solve many of the world’s environmental problems.

Williams talks about his National Science Foundation-funded search for solutions to the growing worldwide problem caused by a proliferating amount of “e-waste.” That’s a short way of referring to all the junk we are creating when we toss out our old and used electronic equipment, especially computers.

Williams suggests ways we could properly recycle computer components or keep old computers in use. That way the chemicals and materials would not pile up on waste heaps and threaten to do environmental damage by finding their way into soils and water sources.

The segment begins about 18 minutes and 15 seconds into the 50 minute show (the entire program is worth a listen). Sustainability is part of the Global Challenges Series from the Purdue University College of Engineering.

Listen to Sustainability. And read more about Eric Williams and his "e-waste" research.

Lebanese Architect Embraces “Poetry of Decay” Renovating War-Scarred Buildings


March 17, 2009

By Leah Starr, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury defies the norm with his avant-garde designs, which he builds in response to what he calls the “total denial period” following the political and civil unrest in Lebanon.

In a dimly lit room of the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix, Khoury addressed a crowd of over 200 recently as images of his past, current, and future projects were projected onto an overhead screen.

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Quantum Dots/Nanomaterials: Ingredients for Better Lighting, Reliable Power

March 13, 2009

Imagine flexible lighting devices manufactured by using printing techniques. Imagine solar power sources equally as reliable and as portable as any conventional power source.

Such advances are among aims of research at Arizona State University to find ways of more effectively harnessing solar power and producing more energy-efficient, durable and custom-designed light sources. The work is now drawing support from two international corporations.

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New Microscope to Advance Research, Education

March 13, 2009

Arizona State University will be home to one of the world’s most advanced electron microscopes, one that will enable researchers to do work essential to making significant advances in nanoscale aspects of solid state science and materials science and engineering.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Materials Research has approved a grant to fund ASU’s $5 million project to acquire an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope that allows for the clearest possible views yet of matter at the atomic level.

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Phoenix Mayor to Unveil Lofty 17-Point Green Plan for Phoenix

March 11, 2009

Mayor Phil Gordon will use today's State of the City address to outline an ambitious strategy to make Phoenix the first carbon-neutral city - and the greenest - in the entire country.

Green Phoenix, a 17-point plan developed in collaboration with Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability, would require about $1 billion in water, renewable energy, public-transit and other investments.

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Award to Transform Babble to Benefit


March 11, 2009

jwuWhat comes to mind when you look across grasslands? That they are major components of “drylands,” regions that cover more than 40 percent of the world's land area and home to more than 25 percent of the global human population? Or, rather, lyric phrases, such as “Leaves of Grass” and “Amber waves of grain?”

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‘Gurus’ Clean Up Campus with Powerful Recycling Mission


February 25, 2009

Whispered rumors have reached us about a dedicated band of "Recycling Gurus" on ASU campuses who can enlighten students on how to improve the ecological footprints of their residence halls. The Gurus' mantra for recycling compactors: "No glass, no plastic bags, no pizza boxes." Repeat 50 times, please. We tracked down two of the Recycling Gurus and in a Q&A with the duo found out what makes them tick. Hailing from the Center Complex dorms, freshman Mechanical Engineering and Sustainability students Andrew Latimer and Alex Davis tell us more about their lives as Recycling Gurus...

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FBR Open Works to Get Greener


February 23, 2009


By Tara Alatorre, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

The golf course has gotten a little greener at the FBR Open in Scottsdale thanks to a two-year-old policy enacted to establish and encourage recycling. As a result, the nearly half a million fans at this year’s event, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1, had just as much fun as in previous years, but left behind a smaller percentage of trash destined for the landfill.

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