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May 16, 2008

Global Institute of Sustainability

The newly renovated building housing Arizona State University’s (ASU) Global Institute of Sustainability opened its doors this week.

In his remarks to a crowd of 400 at the building’s rededication, ASU President Michael Crow described the building as the nerve center for hundreds of students, faculty, and staff who are researching sustainable solutions for an urbanizing world. He also compared the formation of the Institute’s new School of Sustainability, the only school of its kind in the US, to the emergence of medical schools, focused on individual health, in the 18th century. “ASU is the only institution in the US that has stepped up to focus on our collective health and well-being of the planet.”

Added Jonathan Fink, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and the University's Sustainability Officer, “Along with serving as the hub of all sustainability research and education across ASU’s four campuses, we are working with the University’s business operations to ensure we put our research goals into practice. We are committed to the goal of climate neutrality on our campuses, which means conserving water and energy, developing sustainable materials and renewable technologies, and recycling.”

The building is one of the most ecofriendly structures on ASU's Tempe campus, taking advantage of natural light, recycled materials, and even wind power.

Gone are the cavernous hallways of the structure’s earlier incarnation as home to the College of Nursing, replaced by windowed facades, metal-trellised breezeways, and brightly painted halls. The trellises, designed by College of Design students, will eventually be covered with vines, providing natural shade and cooling.

Natural light permeates the building, suffusing through skylights, beaming in through exterior windows, and spreading into interior windows. Low-wattage lamps, monitored by motion and light sensors, supplement natural light where needed, helping to ensure little energy waste. Light reflects off Formica-like countertops made from recycled milk jugs inlaid with shavings from recycled cans. Light falls on puzzlepieced carpeting, composed of 40% recycled material that can be recycled, square by square, as it wears out.

Filtered water fountains and water coolers conserve water and discourage use of plastic water bottles. Bathrooms are outfitted with timer-based faucets, waterless urinals that save 40,000 gallons of water per year, and low-water use toilets. Outside, water efficiency is also being supported by the use of drought-tolerant plants, automated watering, and porous paving to control storm water run-off. Up on the roof sit six wind turbines, each capable of running 24 hours a day and each providing 1,000 watts of power to the APS grid. The roof will soon feature solar panels, part of ASU’s plan to install solar cells on the rooftops of campus buildings, providing four to seven megawatts of power on the Tempe campus.

“Universities may only use up 3% of the country’s carbon footprint,” said Crow, “but we represent 100% of the student footprint, and we must model sustainable behavior and prepare our students to confront the issues of our time and bring what they learn into industry, government, and schools.”

The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, business practices, and the University's operations for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the US, offers transdisciplinary degree programs that explore and advance practical solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges. For more information, go to: http://sustainability.asu.edu or

http://schoolofsustainability.asu.edu.

Media Contact:

Lauren Kuby, 480-965-8840 / lauren.kuby@asu.edu

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