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Sustainability News

City of Phoenix, ASU establish public/private sustainability incubator

View Source | January 9, 2014

srp waste sortThe City of Phoenix city council approved a four-year partnership with Arizona State University to create the Center for Resource Intelligence. The center will provide a wide array of research, development, education, and solutions services to more effectively manage the city's resources and create economic value.

Industries such as energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing, and recycling will collaborate to convert trash once destined for the landfill into business opportunities and jobs. The center is part of the City's effort to create value, economic opportunity, and jobs.

The center will be managed by the Sustainability Solutions Services program, part of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

Want to save the whales? Put a price on them says ASU professor

View Source | January 6, 2014

Photo by: Leah Gerber
Photo by: Leah Gerber

Overharvest by commercial whaling has been a well-recognized world threat to stable whale populations since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium against commercial whaling in 1986. However, because of loopholes, whaling countries at odds with the ban continue to hunt under the guise of scientific whaling or in outright objection to the IWC, while the IWC and its members, as well as whale conservationists, can offer few methods to enforce the ban or effectively curb whale harvests.

This lack of cooperation and constructive communication among whalers, the IWC and conservationists has posed a decade’s old roadblock to solution building and balancing whaling practices with stabilization of whale populations.

One recently proposed solution is the creation of “whale shares,” an approach developed by Leah Gerber, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, and colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, is published as a forum in the January issue of Ecological Applications.

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Scientists propose 'dirty but necessary' way to feed 9 billion people

View Source | January 2, 2014

cornfieldThe modern agriculture system that feeds most of the world’s population relies in large part on phosphorus, a chemical element that is mined from a small number of ancient seabed locations around the world. Phosphorus (in the form of the compound phosphate) is an essential ingredient in fertilizer and is critical for food systems worldwide, but about 75 percent of it is mined and exported from just one country – Morocco.

The United States will become entirely reliant on imports of phosphorous within roughly three or four decades – and as phosphate deposits become more scarce, the price of fertilizer could spike and massively disrupt our food supply.

In a Future Tense article for Slate magazine, ASU’s James Elser, Regents’ Professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Bruce Rittmann, Regents’ Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, propose a three-part solution to this looming crisis.

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Inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival set to take place Feb. 17-22

View Source | December 18, 2013

GreenBiz GroupIn partnership with the GreenBiz Group and The Sustainability Consortium, Arizona State University's Sustainability Solutions Festival will bring the nation's leaders in sustainable business, renewable energy, research, humanities, and innovation during one week of local events. The Festival is a project under the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, a program part of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

"The Sustainability Solutions Festival exemplifies ASU’s endeavor to address the world’s environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century through collaborative, transdisciplinary, and solutions-oriented thinking and training," says Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University.

The Festival will take place at various locations across Tempe and Phoenix, beginning Feb. 17 and ending on Feb. 22. Additional partners include Arizona Solar SummitArizona Science CenterArizona SciTech FestivalSedona Film Festival, and the City of Tempe.

Sustainability alum advises hospitals on waste, recycling

View Source | November 19, 2013

Rud MoeRud Moe, a 2013 School of Sustainability graduate, is now the hospital sustainability specialist for Stericycle. Using the knowledge he gained while at ASU, Moe advises Stericycle on how they can promote less wasteful medical practices at hospitals.

"In the past, most of a hospital's trash was disposed as hazardous medical waste, which requires expensive and environmentally damaging processes like incineration," Moe says. "In some cases, dangerous pharmaceuticals are just thrown down the drain and eventually end up in local ecosystems or in our water supply. Stericycle provides hospitals with the training and infrastructure needed to properly sort their waste and increase recycling, which helps the environment, saves the hospitals money, and reduces the strain on landfills."

Like most students in the School of Sustainability, Moe enjoys making a positive impact on the world.

Sustainability alum's career adapts to changing world

View Source | November 14, 2013

Emma Huizar-FelixEmma Huizar-Felix, a 2012 graduate of the School of Sustainability, moved from her home state of Mexico to pursue more opportunities and a higher education. She settled in Arizona and ended up double majoring in design and sustainability and minoring in landscape architecture. From a young age, she knew hard work and determination could get her anywhere.

"For young people in Mexico to start on their own path, it’s really hard. If I had stayed there, I would always have worked in my Mom’s business, or my Dad’s," says Huizar-Felix. "I didn’t really want that. I wanted to grow more and be able to prove to myself I can do a lot on my own."

In the future, Huizar-Felix hopes to open her own business and consult on sustainability in Mexico. She wants to help lower energy costs and consumption in businesses much like her parents'.

Sustainability a means of achieving change for alumnus

October 15, 2013

Mariela CastanedaMariela Castaneda is a water resource specialist at the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), a job she attained following an internship there during her senior year at Arizona State University (ASU). She graduated in 2013 from ASU’s School of Sustainability.

The Glendale, Ariz. native and graduate of Copper Canyon High School considered Northern Arizona University as well as the University of Arizona, but decided on ASU because of the financial support she received here.

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ASU sustainability grad joins VF Corporation as sustainability coordinator

View Source | September 3, 2013

Andrea BatyAndrea Baty, a School of Sustainability master's graduate, recently became VF Corporation's newest sustainability coordinator. VF Corporation is an $11-billion clothing company that includes brands like Nautica, Wrangler, Kipling, and The North Face. Baty joins the Sportswear division, working with the Nautica and Kipling teams.

As the sustainability coordinator, Baty designs employee education programs, organizes volunteer events, develops a sustainability strategy for both brands, and presents on corporate sustainability.

"My duties allow me to see the impact of shifting a company to more sustainable operations," Baty says. "There is a large effect of one company’s operations that ripples down to supply chains and people."

School of Sustainability alum now environmental program manager for City of Avondale

View Source | August 7, 2013

Daniel CulottaDaniel Culotta, who graduated from ASU's School of Sustainability last spring, is now the Environmental Program Manager for the City of Avondale. He is responsible for assisting companies, facilities, and organizations in achieving environmental regulation compliance, but also for creating the city's first-ever municipal sustainability plan.

"We’re creating the sustainability plan using an up-to-date, participatory, and evidence-based approach," Culotta says. "This plan will serve as the foundation for action going forward."

Culotta attributes his career success to the organizational and solution-focused experiences he had while at the School of Sustainability. He hopes that his new position will show people that sustainability is a fact of life.

Juggling solutions, experts is all in a day's work for sustainability grad

View Source | July 8, 2013

Rajesh BuchRajesh Buch, a practice lead with Sustainability Solutions Extension Service under the  Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, graduated from the School of Sustainability last year. He is now applying his background in mechanical engineering, energy systems, and business in the Extension Service, a unique consulting group that pairs student analysts with faculty members who guide sustainability projects.

As a practice lead, Buch organizes the student groups and collaborates with the faculty to implement projects such as greenhouse gas inventories, waste recycling programs, and biofuel evaluations.

"Sustainability is a way to correct our way of developing," he says. "We can start by taking baby steps. I contribute by assisting those private and public organizations that are willing to recognize the importance of sustainability."

Sustainability alum takes the 'hazard' out of 'hazardous waste'

View Source | June 4, 2013

Bradley BakerBradley Baker graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012. Now, he works as a hazardous waste compliance officer at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Waste Programs Division. He learned at a young age that our resources are finite, and taking care of them takes personal and group responsibility.

In his position, Baker inspects local businesses and facilities to make sure they are following hazardous waste regulations.  Baker says his real-world experience from internships helped him gain his position.

"Find an internship, whether it is paid or unpaid," he tells fellow students. "I have well over a year's worth of experience doing unpaid internships, and I would not have been able to apply for the jobs I did without them."

Sustainability alumna turns food waste into a career

View Source | May 8, 2013

Natalie Fleming 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."