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New program pairs sustainability knowledge with implementation know-how

June 6, 2017

Project Cities Announcement

Picture the main streets of your city shielded by solar panels – would that make a summer outing downtown more comfortable? How about vertical farms on former brownfield sites down the street from your home – wouldn't such easy access to fresh food be nice?

Arizona State University’s Project Cities thinks so too.

That’s why the new program, part of ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network (SCN), is working with municipalities to implement environmentally-conscious projects that make life better for people and businesses alike.

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Congratulations to Sustainable Cities Network's Anne Reichman

June 6, 2017

Anne Reichman

The ASU Wrigley Institute is pleased to announce the promotion of Anne Reichman to director of the Sustainable Cities Network.

Anne has been program manager of SCN since its inception in 2009, when she oversaw its introduction, development and expansion throughout Arizona. Since that time, she’s created a statewide network dedicated to improving community and regional sustainability practices through engagement with ASU programs, faculty and students. Recently, Anne established Project Cities – an exciting new program within SCN – and received the Ponderosa Pine Award for the network’s Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0.

As director, Anne will continue to operate at the highest levels on the institute’s behalf, interfacing with communities and organizational partners on topics ranging from renewable energy and green building to the changing climate. Please join us in congratulating Anne on this exciting step up as she continues her work to create a more livable and prosperous Arizona.

Sustainable Cities Network becomes STAR Community Rating Index Organizational Affiliate

May 30, 2017

by Erin Rugland

The STAR Community Rating System is a nonprofit organization that works to evaluate, improve, and certify sustainable communities. Several communities across the nation and in Arizona are STAR members, including SCN Steering Committee communities Chandler, Tucson, Phoenix, Avondale, Peoria, and Scottsdale. Membership benefits include access and tracking of sustainability metrics, as well as a dearth of other materials that can help to advance community sustainability.

STAR Affiliates are nonprofits, businesses, and institutions working with the organization to support and improve the STAR Community Rating System. STAR Affiliates are vital to efforts to help improve local communities. As a STAR Affiliate, the Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) can now help Arizona communities in securing resources to help collect data for STAR Leading Indicators, and we will be able to utilize STAR resources in order to aid communities in various efforts. View the STAR Affiliates page here.

SCN/SOS Engaging with Cities Luncheon Recap

May 18, 2017

By Erin Rugland

The Sustainable Cities Network and the School of Sustainability hosted its second Engaging with Cities Luncheon as part of the annual School of Sustainability Open House. At this event, students showcased their Spring 2017 semester research projects conducted for Arizona communities to a full house of municipal staff and ASU faculty and students. This year’s luncheon featured projects from three different School of Sustainability courses: SOS 582: Project Management for Sustainability, taught by Paul Prosser and Dr. Caroline Harrison; SOS 498/594: Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness, taught by Dr. Scott Cloutier; and SOS 321: Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems, taught by Dr. Mike Schoon. Four student projects were highlighted in all.

Engaging with Cities Luncheon

The first project, presented by Masters of Sustainable Solutions students Whitney Love, Rachael Rosenstein, James Spearman, and James Sponsler for SOS 582, involved evaluating the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance (SMFBA) recycling and solid waste program. The overall goal of the project was to create a comprehensive waste diversion implementation plan that increases the percentage of materials SMFBA sends to recycling facilities. The students proposed audits, educational tools, and infrastructure changes to increase diversion of SMFBA’s recyclable waste from the landfill.

Waste Diversion, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance by Rachael Rosenstein, James Sponsler, James Spearman, and Whitney Love for SOS 593

The second project presentation by School of Sustainability Students Beth Ann Morrison, Erica Berejnoi Bejarano, and Rabekha Siebert for SOS 498/594, who discussed work in civic engagement and neighborhood revitalization in a City of Tempe neighborhood.

Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness, City of Tempe by Beth Ann Morrison, Erica Berejnoi Bejarano, and Rabekha Siebert for SOS 498/594

The third project was presented by ASU undergraduate students Mike Schwartz, Zachary Muncy, Alison Almand, Shizuki Goto, and Matt Burmeister for SOS 321 on Green Infrastructure. Specific GI features were highlighted for the City of Phoenix which included short- and long-term costs, maintenance requirements, and benefits/challenges helping the city alleviate the issue of stormwater runoff.

Green Infrastructure, City of Phoenix by Mike Schwartz, Zachary Muncy, Alison Almand, Shizuki Goto, and Matt Burmeister for SOS 321

The fourth and final student group was presented by ASU undergraduate students Curt Klepper, Steve Latino, Olaya Reyes, Haley Daily, and Conrad Bavousett for SOS 321. This project focused on the challenges and solutions of increasing recycling at multi-family recycling units in an effort to increase the City of Scottsdale’s diversion of solid waste from apartments and condominium complexes by 30% by 2030.

Waste Diversion, City of Scottsdale Curt Klepper, Steve Latino, Olaya Reyes, Haley Daily, and Conrad Bavousett for SOS 321

Thank you to all ASU faculty and students, and SCN partnering communities who participated and made this luncheon a success!

Sustainable Cities Network receives Ponderosa Pine Partnership Award

May 15, 2017

By Erin Rugland

Anne ReichmanThe Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management awarded the Sustainable Cities Network and partners with the department’s first Ponderosa Pine Partnership Award for the Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0: Branching Out One Community at a Time.

This award was given at the 2017 Arizona State Arbor Day Celebration, which included winners of the Arbor Day K-12 Poster Contest, as well as recognition for 29 Tree City USA communities, 2 Tree Campus USA sites, 2 Tree Line USA utilities and 4 Urban Forestry Awards.

The Ponderosa Pine Award is one of the Urban Forestry Awards presented at the celebration, given “to increase the recognition of outstanding urban forestry projects in Arizona." It is presented for the innovative, strategic and/or pioneering collaborative efforts of organizations. It recognizes a project for the exceptional involvement of multiple organizations that was implemented during the past year.

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Project Desert Canopy: Air Quality in Southwest Forests

February 14, 2017

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Project Summary

A multi-state project funded by the USDA Forest Service to conduct urban forestry ecosystem services assessments in partnering communities. This project utilized i-Tree Eco to capture baseline data that may be used to assist communities to develop municipal and regional planning goals and implement strategies that address regional attainment of federal air quality standards. Four communities (Phoenix, AZ; Albuquerque, NM; Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX) located in regions at-risk of not meeting federal air quality standards partnered in this effort to complete assessments. This project aligned a diversity of committed partners and programs in the arena of southwest green infrastructure, and was focused on improving environmental health and community livability. This project was also initiated as a comparison to similar research that has been conducted in other parts of the country. Through this project, tools and other products are made available to assist Southwestern communities in their efforts to improve community livability. This project addressed community priorities identified in Statewide Forest Action Plans for Arizona, New Mexico and Texas: (1) Recognition of ecosystem services provided by forests; and (2) Implementation of strategies that improve community health and address environmental health factors.

Project Goals

  1. Produce community forest assessments in four targeted municipalities that quantify current ecosystem services being provided (including improved air quality, energy conserved, carbon sequestered, and much more);
  2. Develop and implement municipal goals, planning tools and community forest strategies (planning, development and management) that are recognized by environmental regulators as mitigating factors for air quality;
  3. Develop planning tools and outreach materials and use these tools through traditional and non-traditional partnership forums to increase awareness and develop similar projects and efforts throughout the Southwest and the United States.

This project involved extensive collaboration with municipal, state and federal partners to develop agreed-upon sampling strategies; data analysis and reports; results distribution/dissemination; and in the creation of outreach materials. Community reports and additional information are provided as links below.

Project Partners: Arizona State Forestry, City of Phoenix, New Mexico EMNRD Forestry Division, City of Albuquerque, City of Las Cruces, Texas A&M University Forest Service, and the City of El Paso.

Public Information Dissemination Partner: Arizona State University/ Sustainable Cities Network, Julie Anne Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

More information

Project Desert Canopy

Brochure and Fact Sheets


Interview with EPA Region 9's Karen Irwin

January 23, 2017

At the Sustainable Cities Network, we have maintained contacts within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9, the subdivision of the EPA serving the Pacific Southwest--including Arizona. Many resources are available through the EPA but the representatives within municipalities may not know about these resources, how to navigate them, or that the Region 9 Office can provide more targeted assistance. Karen Irwin, our primary contact at Region 9, has answered some questions to let us know how to best connect with the Region 9 office and resources.

Karen IrwinKaren is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. Her work involves forming strategic partnerships with local governments and other entities to advance sustainability objectives such as renewable energy, waste reduction and recovery, and green streets and landscapes. Karen’s projects encompass developing informational tools and resources and providing technical assistance. She developed three national scale online tools published on EPA’s website. Prior to her current job, Karen served in EPA’s Air and Water programs acting on local rules and regional plans to meet national air and water quality standards. She received a Masters of Public Affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Q: What resources and opportunities does EPA Region 9 offer to Arizona communities?

A: EPA offers a wide range of informational and analytical tools to help local governments move forward with sustainability initiatives in their communities, as well as grant and contractor technical assistance opportunities in certain focus areas. Sustainability initiatives supported by EPA encompass smart growth/walkable & transit-oriented communities, green infrastructure, energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction & materials reuse and recovery, sustainable water & wastewater infrastructure, and green fleets, among others. Our tools often highlight best practices and exemplary programs implemented in urban and rural communities across the U.S. that can serve as case studies or templates for other communities.

Learning more specifics about the types of sustainability initiatives that Arizona local and tribal governments are interested in pursuing, as well as local needs and priorities, can help me identify which EPA tools and resources would be the most relevant and useful, as well as available resources from other organizations. I can also facilitate connections to Region 9 staff with topical expertise, if not myself, to offer support. For example, one of Region 9’s offices works to expand pollinator habitat; conversations fostered through the SCN network have led to interest by this office in pursuing a pilot project with an SCN member community to develop a pollinator protection plan, along with pollinator habitat.

Q: What activities are happening in other EPA Region 9 states that can benefit Arizona communities?

A: Several California communities (urban and rural, small and large) are leaders in sustainability, benefiting from State programs and funding that support implementation of environmentally beneficial practices. EPA Region 9 tracks many of these activities and can share with Arizona communities successful examples from California that are replicable in other areas.

Q: What are some opportunities that you can see for communities to improve their sustainability efforts? Low-hanging fruits?

A: There are many ways communities can incrementally improve their sustainability efforts – one of the lowest-hanging opportunities is to expand the objectives of a current project a local agency is already pursuing to add complimentary sustainability elements. For example, if a public works agency is re-designing a road to make it more pedestrian friendly, the re-design can integrate other ways to make the road project more sustainable, such as tree canopy, landscaping that infiltrates water, greener paving practices and pavement (e.g., to reduce urban heat island effect and use recycled materials), energy-saving light fixtures, pollinator-friendly plants, and clean construction equipment. Many of these elements can be implemented at equivalent or lower cost compared to conventional practices. Other low-hanging fruit opportunities exist with local government procurement and contracts, building permit review & approval, water and wastewater utility projects, fee structures for trash and recycling, and donation of edible food that would otherwise be wasted.

Q: How can cities get in contact with you and EPA Region 9 as a whole?

A: I encourage cities to reach out directly to me by phone (415) 947-4116 or email ( I’m also happy to connect Arizona communities to other EPA Region 9 staff who address various aspects of sustainable approaches for water, air, and land.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to highlight?

A: EPA Region 9 is a resource! I see great opportunity with ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network structure to exchange ideas, consider how EPA assistance may be beneficial in securing robust local outcomes, and to share information on successful examples and how to overcome obstacles.


Since its convening in 2008, the Sustainable Cities Network has maintained contact with EPA Region 9. This ongoing connection has allowed for each body--Region 9, ASU, and Arizona communities--to learn and share knowledge, case studies, and resources, so that each's lexicon of sustainability best practices steadily expands and so partnerships may emerge when interests align.


Interview conducted by Erin Rugland, SCN Student Assistant, via email

What's in a Name? Everything! Put on Your Thinking Caps and Send Us Your Most Creative Program Names!

June 27, 2016

We need your help naming a new program at ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability!  The program brings ASU students and faculty together with a local city government to address urban sustainability challenges over the course of a year.  It would be similar to SDSU’s Sage Project.

Names and/or acronyms should embody terms like:

  • city or community
  • sustainability
  • resilience
  • livability
  • university/education/ASU
  • partnership
  • and urbanism...just to name a few!

Be creative!  If your name is chosen for the program, you’ll receive bragging rights and some Wrigley Institute swag.

Up for the challenge?  Ready… Set..GO!   Email your program name suggestion to

Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0 - Branching Out One Community at a Time

December 31, 2015

Save the Date HQ

Click to view image

March 9th, 2016

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

AE England Building

ASU Downtown Campus

See the schedule of events here!

Find the presentations from this event here.

Urban forestry is critical for providing access to nature and ecosystems services to the dense living populations within Arizona urban areas. A well-established urban forest provides clean air, wildlife habitat, and cooling effects while promoting a sense of place and community in an area. Maintaining a cohesive urban forest enhances a community, more fully integrating it into nature. Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network is hosting the second Regional Tree and Shade Summit in March 2016. Held at ASU Downtown’s AE England Building, this one day event will provide public, private, and nonprofit organizations with the tools, strategies, and best practices for urban forestry management in the arid southwest.

The Summit is free to attend and is open to municipal, private and nonprofit sector professionals and active citizens. It is being hosted in partnership with ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the cities of Avondale, Mesa, and Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., the Arizona State Forestry Division, and USDA Forest Service. Funds for this project were provided by the Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance Program administered through Arizona State Forestry – Urban and Community Forestry Program, and the USDA Forest Service.


Keynote Speaker - Dr. Greg McPherson

Greg McphersonDr. Greg McPherson is a Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station located in Davis, CA, Greg grew up under a canopy of American elm trees in Howell, Michigan. Despite attempts to save the trees, all were lost to Dutch elm disease, and having felt the sting of that loss he became a green accountant, developing new methods and tools for quantifying the value of nature's benefits from city trees. He works with a team of scientists to measure and model effects of trees on energy use, urban heat islands, air pollutant uptake, carbon sequestration, and rainfall interception. Their research is helping justify investments in urban forest planning and management. In 2000, Greg received the International Society of Arboriculture's L.C. Chadwick Award for Research. Greg was a co-founder and Chair of the Tree Growth and Longevity Working Group and serves on the California Urban Forest Advisory Council. He attended University of Michigan (BGS), Utah State University (Masters in Landscape Architecture), and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Ph.D. Forestry).


Additional Speakers

Brad LancasterBrad Lancaster is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems that sustainably enhance local resources and our global potential. He maintains the website, filled with a wealth of information learned from being a Watershed Specialist. His hometown projects have included working with the City of Tucson and other municipalities to legalize, incentivize, and provide guidance on water-harvesting systems, demonstration sites, and policy. Brad’s aim is always to boost communities’ true health and wealth by using simple overlapping strategies to augment the region’s hydrology, ecosystems, and economies—living systems upon which we depend.


Kieran SikdarKieran Sikdar is a Water Resources Engineer with Watershed Management Group. He combines his experience as a Civil Engineer (MS), Certified Floodplain Manager, and Certified Water Harvesting Practitioner with over 10 years of experience in cost benefit analysis, green infrastructure/low impact development design, watershed restoration, and permaculture design. His focus is to implement water-harvesting practices on a broad scale as critical flood mitigation and stormwater infrastructure to shade and beautify our communities while repairing our urban watersheds.


Regional Tree & Shade Summit 2.0

Branching Out One Community at a Time

March 9th, 2016

8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

AE England Building

ASU Downtown Campus

424 N. Central Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85004

This event is free to attend; however, registration is required to plan for seating and food/beverage.



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A Special Thank You to Our Sponsors




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Low Impact Development Toolkit

April 20, 2015

Low Impact Development Toolkit

The Cities of Mesa and Glendale, with a grant from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA), have partnered to develop this Low Impact Development (LID) Toolkit, with the support of consulting planners and designers and the input of city agencies.LID ToolkitThe Toolkit is intended to identify current stormwater management practices and national and regional LID

best practices, ultimately providing a living document with simple, updatable tools, that can guide the city and their businesses and residents, toward more sustainable stormwater design practices.

While the Cities of Mesa and Glendale are distinct entities with their own development and stormwater management challenges, goals and policies, there are enough similarities - in their maturity, development potential, geography and proximity to the metro area - that practices and recommendations from this effort can be readily applied in both communities, as well as elsewhere

in the Valley. Representatives from both cities’ engineering, transportation, planning, environmental, and parks agencies generously contributed their ideas, concerns and challenges.

City policies can either encourage or discourage the use of LID tools. As with other cities in the Valley, Mesa and Glendale have adopted a modified form of Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) standards for guiding development policy and implementing public works projects. This Toolkit includes some practices that are not currently recognized by MAG or the Cities, but should be

reviewed and adopted before being acceptable for use. Many cities have already adopted incentives for both public and private development to encourage increased LID use. For the developer and builder, benefits can include expedited reviews, tiered fees, and even exceptions to certain planning requirements such as overall density, setbacks, parking, and landscaping requirements. For

homeowners, potential incentives include rebates, and reduced landscape water use. The Cities’ role in this effort is to lead by example -- by providing funding for pilot projects in highly visible areas to increase public awareness, by updating and supporting policies that encourage more sustainable stormwater management, and by considering the integration of LID into all municipal projects. View the toolkit here.

SCN Steering Committee Member Now Peoria's Economic Efficiency and Sustainability Manager

March 25, 2015

Lisa Estrada

Thanks to her enthusiasm for sustainability, Lisa Estrada, Peoria’s representative on SCN’s Steering Committee, has recently changed titles. Previously the Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator, her new title is now Economic Efficiency and Sustainability Manager. Prior to the creation of the position, much of the work in sustainability the City has completed was implemented from the grassroots level with the support of management. Initiatives have focused on integrating sustainability practices throughout the municipality; and despite the economic downturn, Peoria was able to maintain a commitment to green practices, while continually seeking new opportunities in this area. The City’s success led to widespread enthusiasm to do more in sustainability. In January of this year, there was an opportunity to create a position to specifically focus on sustainable municipal practices to guide the City’s sustainability program.


Along with the new position, Lisa is also a member of ASU’s Executive Masters in Sustainability Leadership’s newest cohort. In enrolling in the program, she will be able to learn more about sustainability, as well as the necessary tools, skills and leadership required to demonstrate its value to the City. Lisa is gaining exposure to best practices, success stories, and expert faculty. She finds it to be an “incredible opportunity to be surrounded by sustainability experts who are passionate and committed to a sustainable future.”


Education and outreach are important components of the initiatives Lisa and the City are looking to implement. For residents, the City is looking to expand Peoria’s current Sustainable University community education workshops. For employees of the City, Lisa is making an impact in educating new employees in sustainable practices, emphasizing the importance of setting expectations for all new hires. She is also working closely with City staff on developing best practices for municipal functions; a recent example, redesigning water fountains to function as reusable bottle filling stations that also track the amount of one-time-use bottles that are potentially kept out of the landfill. Other initiatives include establishing new goals for greenhouse gas emissions, greening fire stations, and looking into renewable energy opportunities. SCN congratulates Lisa for her achievements, and wishes her success in these future endeavors.

Resource Innovation and Solutions Network

February 19, 2015

Resource Innovation and Solutions Network Walton RISN Logo

A new paradigm focused on integrated resource management is emerging in response to the current unsustainable pace of resource consumption, waste production, and the increasing financial, social and environmental cost of managing resources. Recognizing this opportunity, the City of Phoenix and the ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative (WSSI) within the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) have partnered to establish the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN). RISN brings together university, government, business and non-governmental partners to transform the relationship between resources, the environment and the economy in order to create a resource-focused Circular Economy (CE) platform that makes urban areas healthier, resilient and more efficient. CE can be defined as an industrial economy where there is no waste and therefore is restorative by intention, aims to rely on renewable energy, and hopefully eradicates waste through careful design. In the context of waste and waste stream resources, CE flows are self-sustaining and comprise a closed loop of resources that are reused and recycled so that almost no waste is produced.

RISN positions the business case for sustainability that drives industry-related initiatives that promote economic development. It is this business case that not only drives the agenda for decision makers, but also supports the appropriate definition of the scope of problems and related opportunities. It enables them to recognize the conditions under which decisions must be made, implemented and monitored to significantly transform their cities.

RISN advances integrated resource management through a global network of public and private partners using collaboration, research, innovation and application of technologies to create economic value, driving a sustainable circular economy. The initiative connects with innovators and organizations looking to create, implement and/or enhance sustainability solutions. Developing solutions in collaboration with RISN’s public and private partners provides access to research and expertise from the nation’s leading sustainability education institution, feedstock and facility resources from one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious municipalities, and shared knowledge from like-minded organizations working to create economic value that drives a sustainable circular economy.

The potential impacts of RISN initiatives begin with increased waste aversion, diversion and better use of diverted waste and recycling material. More importantly, RISN is focused on economic development outcomes: creation of new new local businesses, growth of existing ones and jobs.

Click here for a full description of current RISN projects:

• Green Organics Regional System Design (coming soon!) to develop a current status map and system design for landscape waste throughout the Phoenix metropolitan region. It will include a regional map of available feedstock volume and type, along with a system design that identifies the specific sites and technologies where the type and volume of available feedstock can be processed economically and environmentally, based on a flexible market demand determination. Within the month, outreach efforts will commence to engage city Solid Waste Divisions.

• Multi-Family Recycling is a solutions-oriented research and student-led project that will identify opportunities and strategies to implement waste-reduction in multi-family housing complexes.

• Food Scrap and Resource Feasibility study will develop a Phoenix food scraps conversion program, in partnership with the local grocers and the City of Phoenix. This project will assess the economic viability of pre-consumer food waste solutions and to quantify the amount, quality, and location of food-waste feedstock in the Phoenix metropolitan region.

• Waste Assessment Tool project is the development of a Resource Valuation Assessment (RVA) Tool to identify the processing costs associated with internal waste management and educate organizations in best waste management practices.

• Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Waste Reduction project is a solutions-oriented and student-led project that is implementing waste reduction programs throughout all PVUSD schools through developing optimal recycling and waste policies. The basis of this project is a student-led research effort and teacher workshops conducted by ASU Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools.

• Living Building Challenge Course and Analysis is being taught at ASU’s School of Sustainability to explore the opportunities to incorporate Living Building concepts into the master plan for the RISN campus as well as the envisioned headquarters building.

• Regional GHG Emissions Measurement project to develop a state-of-the-art comprehensive regional GHG emissions management system that will set the gold standard for how cities address urban climate protection, public engagement and collaborative sustainability-driven economic development.

Sustainable Cities Network Convenes Climate Scientists, Municipal Leaders

January 21, 2015

By Saritha Ramakrishna

January 21, 2015

On January 8, ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) convened municipal and nonprofit leaders in order to discuss the impacts of extreme weather on local government. Held at the Sheraton in Downtown Phoenix as part of the AMS annual conference, this gathering was an exclusive session for SCN members to meet and learn from climate experts.

American Meteorological Society panelists gather with SCN members

American Meteorological Society panelists gather with SCN members. Photo credit: William von Dauster, NOAA

Attendees came from planning, public works, community development and other city departments in order to gain insights on this pressing topic. Local level policymakers were also present from the cities of Goodyear, Casa Grande and Tempe. In total, 13 communities and public sector agencies were represented from around the Valley and state, in addition to representation from one nonprofit organization.

The event featured a diverse panel of experts from organizations such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Arizona, Portland State University, the University of Chicago and many more. Panelists also came from various academic backgrounds and presented on a variety of topics, describing the effects of extreme weather on human health, economies and urban infrastructure.

The broad range of speakers provided attendees with a holistic perspective of some of the issues Arizona communities are currently facing, and will face in the future. Municipal attendees were provided an opportunity to ask clarifying questions, especially in terms of how climate facts and predictions relate to decision-making at the municipal level.

Increases in both temperature and the intensity of precipitation events were discussed in the context of the infrastructure required to sustain a high quality of life with these predicted changes. Arizona is already known for having extreme weather as a norm, so coping with further changes is something that panelists viewed as vital.

On the topic of the urban heat island effect, Dr. Mary Hayden with the National Center for Atmospheric Research discussed the importance of mapping cooling centers in the urban core. Dr. Amir Jina with the University of Chicago discussed Arizona’s predicted rising future mortality rate due to extreme heat. This is already a pressing issue, as the Maricopa County Public Health Division estimated that 1,050 cases of heat associated mortality occurred in an eight-year period from 2006-2013.

Discussion of mitigation and adaptation strategies focused on city and region-specific solutions. Panelists fielded questions on several different topics, such energy usage, water scarcity, climate modeling and climate communication. Attendees found the information helpful in aiding decision-making and providing uniform narratives on climate science and its greater impacts.


The Sustainable Cities Network is a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

Call for Internship Proposals

January 12, 2015

ASU’s School of Sustainability seeks local partners to host sustainability focused internships. Interns can be at the graduate or undergraduate level and are available for approximately 10-12 hours a week during spring, summer, or fall semesters. Interns would provide value to your organization, while earning academic credit toward their degree and gaining hands-on professional experience.

Some examples of past internship projects include:

• Waste stream analysis, LCA, and reduction/diversion research

• Creating a sustainability scorecard that encompasses waste, energy usage, food systems, and supply chain issues

• Designing formal and informal curriculum to teach sustainability concepts to children

• Coordinating events that transform vacant lots and connect communities

If you think your organization may be interested in hosting a School of Sustainability intern, please contact Caroline Savalle, Internship and Experiential Education Specialist, for details:

Flagstaff Considers Bag-Free Future

December 17, 2014

Past the mountains of buried trash at Flagstaff’s Cinder Lake Landfill, 25-foot-high fences stand guard to catch flyaway trash picked up by northern Arizona’s whipping winds. Everything from dog food bags to plastic containers cling to the base of the fences’ nets, but by far the most prevalent items are plastic bags. The city of Flagstaff spent almost $67,000 last year removing windblown trash from the area around the landfill, and project manager Matt Morales estimated that up to 80 percent of the items lofted beyond the landfill’s fences are plastic bags. The possibility of eliminating, or at least greatly reducing, the single-use bags that get caught in trees, coalesce in waterways and blow across streets in and around Flagstaff is motivating a growing coalition of groups hoping to convince the city’s leaders to enact a ban or fee on them. Read more here .

Call for Community Challenges, SOS 321

December 1, 2014

Class Descripion and Projects Desired

Professor Michael Schoon of ASU’s School of Sustainability is teaching a class in the upcoming spring semester (Jan-May 2015), SOS 321 in which he will be having small groups of SOS students research sustainability issues from a governance and policy perspective. He would like to engage with several, local communities on a limited basis and have these communities submit their “real-world” issues for analysis by the students. The course description for SOS 321 and the engagement opportunity timeline and commitment is outlined below.

Your community is invited to review the opportunity below and consider posing a sustainability issue to this class. If you are interested or have questions, please email Anne Reichman at and I will be happy to assist you. Professor Schoon would be happy to help communities develop issue submittals if they feel they need assistance. Sustainability issues need to be identified by mid-January 2015.

Thanks so much for considering this opportunity!

Spring 2015 Session (January-April 2015)

SOS 321/Community Engagement Opportunity:

SOS 321 is looking for several, local communities to pose sustainability-related research questions, both general and specific in nature, to the class so student workgroups can research and propose policy and governance options back to the communities. The community sustainability challenge should include the following:

1) Must be a specific challenge for your community (Past examples include how to reduce recycling contamination by residents, how to dispose of brine removed from groundwater, and how to plan for and mitigate the urban heat island effect.);

2) Provide practical educational research opportunity for students (Students have great insight into current sustainability science and introductory skills in policy and governance theory; however, they do not, in general, have specific technical skills or advanced training on urban policy or planning.)

3) Building on the previous point, our goal is to leverage the sustainability training, the creativity and critical thinking skills, and the vitality of our students in a way that helps their municipal partners to solve real-world problems.

SOS 321 Course Description - Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems:

Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems (SOS 321) is a class that requires integration of theory and practice, exposing students to sustainability issues in governance and policy analysis. Using two lenses, institutional analysis and policy analysis, students will apply a broad understanding of sustainability governance to a specific issue in the city and/or region. By partnering with municipalities in the Phoenix Metro area, students will conduct policy and institutional analyses on suggested real, local environmental issues for these participating communities. This class provides students a unique opportunity to integrate theory and practice, while identifying solutions to real, local problems.

Community Participation and Engagement:

The following is a suggested schedule for the spring 2015 course. Details will be fine-tuned with your community prior to participation:

Early to mid-January: Project ideas are submitted, discussed and finalized with the cities and the course teaching faculty.

Mid- to end of January: City officials will visit the class and briefly present information on the sustainability challenge and/or topic which is requiring research or that is being faced locally.

In February, students will prepare a Code of Stakeholder Engagement that specifies how, how often, and when students will engage with their city project partners.

February – April: Students will work in small teams (4-5 students) to research and provide answers/solutions back to their city project partners.

Early April: Student teams will present a preliminary version of their findings to the project partners. Each project will have 3-4 student teams presenting their solutions as part of a mini, in-class competition. Following feedback from their project partners on their presentations, students will submit a final project overview with executive summary to their project partners by the end of April.

Urban Sustainability Best Practices Class, Presentations

November 24, 2014

Over the course of the last 15 weeks, the School of Sustainability senior and graduate students have been applying their textbook knowledge to real world scenarios. Several municipalities and other government agencies from across Arizona have presented these students with current projects. The students have been studying and implementing these best practices with their public sector clients, and will be presenting their findings. If you are interested in seeing what these innovative students have found in their research, please RSVP to Dr. Nalini Chhetri at

Date/Time: Dec 4, Thursday: 4:30PM to 7:30PM, Dec 5, Friday: 8:30AM to 11:30AM

Location: ASU’s Tempe Campus, Wrigley Hall, Room 481

See the list below for a schedule of these presentations:

Presentations, Day 1, 12/4/14, 4:30PM-7:30PM

City of Scottsdale, Green Building Program, 4:30

Maricopa County Flood Control District, Demonstration Gardens, 4:50

Arizona Department of Transportation, Redesign of Transportation Corridor, 5:10

City of Goodyear, Demonstration Garden on Superfund Site, 5:30

City of Goodyear, Wetland Waste Water Treatment Project, 5:50

Presentations, Day 2, 12/5/14, 8:00AM-11:30AM

Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, National and International Best Practices in Feedstock Regionalization, 8:00

Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, Financial Impacts of Regional Feedstock Aggregation 8:20

Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, Best Practices in Feedstock Diversion and Contamination Reduction, 8:40

Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, Financial Impacts of Energy-Use Disclosure Ordinances 9:00

Luke Airforce Base, Water Remediation Study, 9:20

City of Mesa, Low Impact Development at the Mesa Urban Garden, 9:40

City of Tucson, Low Impact Development, Business Case, 10:00

City of Mesa, Evaluating the Feasibility of a Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Facility,10:20

Duct Tape and Planters inspire a City!

October 20, 2014

By Tracy Stevens, Director, Development & Engineering Services, City of Avondale

On Saturday, October 11, 2014, the City of Avondale Development and Engineering Services Department transformed 5th Street using temporary measures within historic Avondale, Arizona. The project corridor consisted of a 40-foot wide asphalt pavement with 4-foot wide attached sidewalks along both sides within the Western Avenue Arts District. With the use of duct tape, donated trees, and spray chalk the street was transformed into a multi-modal street which promotes walking and biking, while still serving vehicles and providing on-street parking. Vertically buffered bike lanes were installed using a row of parked vehicles in one direction and planters in the other direction. A Parklet was created using outdoor carpet, planters, tables and chairs to demonstrate pedestrian activation of the street within a parking stall. That evening, during the City’s annual Resident Appreciation Night, residents of all ages enjoyed riding bicycles along the protected bike lane or walking along sidewalks dually buffered by parked vehicles and bike lane improvements. As they were able to actually “feel” the improvements, City leadership were inspired to better utilize our public space to create more multi-modal streets.

Avondale Before Image

The street before the temporary changes.

Avondale After Image

The street following the changes, as a multimodal, pedestrian and cyclist friendly area.

Employing Sunlight: Taking a Tour of Tempe's Largest Solar Project

May 30, 2014

By Gabrielle Olson, ASU Lightworks

On March 27, 2014, Tempe’s South Water Treatment Plant hosted their first public solar tour. The tour highlighted the implementation of more than 3,000 solar panels that will generate more than 1.6 million kilowatt (kW) hours of electricity each year, supplying 15 percent of the plant's energy needs. This achievement marks the city’s largest solar energy project thus far.

Sunny and without a cloud in the sky, the afternoon was at perfect condition for the solar panels. City of Tempe’s Energy Management Coordinator, Grace Kelly, and Environmental Services Manager, David McNeil, introduced themselves as tour guides. "I feel lucky because I get to go outside and work on this project every day," McNeil said as he led guests toward the impressive display of solar panels.

Guests on the tour were free to walk around with Kelly and McNeil asking any questions they had about the solar project. The tour was without haste as guests had the opportunity to independently network with one another while pleasantly enjoying a first-hand look at the remarkable project.

Once the tour ended, guests were led back inside for a thorough presentation by Kelley, discussing the development of the project. Although it had been in the talks for a few years, Kelly explained that planning for the project officially began in early 2012. The first step was establishing the city’s Alternative Energy Committee, which aims to research the best energy practices and select sites for installations. The bid to issue Tempe South Water Treatment Plant with solar panels took place in December with submittals for the project due by March 2013. Out of the 10 vendors submitted for the proposal, SolarCity was selected to install the solar energy system along with the public power utility Salt River Project (SRP). The overall project only took about two years to complete with just six weeks needed for construction. Kelly saluted SolarCity, SRP, and the City of Tempe for their great work together in the partnership. Follow this link to view the entire Power Point presentation.

With 100 percent of the solar energy produced going into the plant, Tempe expects to save more than $25,500 in utility costs during the first year, and anticipates savings of $2.3 million over 20 years. Plans for the city’s next solar projects are already in the making. Future solar projects include a 250 kW facility at Tempe’s downtown Police/Courts building, a 900 kW system at Johnny G. Martinez Water Treatment Plant, and solar implementation at a library complex is in its planning phase. It is clear that Tempe is working toward establishing itself as a leading city committed to solar energy. Follow this link to SRP’s website to watch a brief virtual tour of the facility’s solar panels.

To view the full article, follow this link to the ASU Lightworks website.

Sustaining Our Cities

May 28, 2014

By Allie Nicodemo

Imagine a typical day in your city – the commute to work, walk around the block on your lunch break, trip to the dog park before meeting up with friends at a local restaurant. Now imagine what daily life in your city might be like if twice as many people called it home.

This thought experiment isn’t too far from becoming reality. The world population keeps growing with no signs of slowing down. The Census Bureau projects that today’s 7.1 billion will become 9 billion by 2044, and increasingly, these people are moving into cities. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, 6.4 billion people around the globe will live in urban areas - up from 3.4 billion in 2009.

Most of this growth is taking place in developing countries. However, certain cities in the U.S. are experiencing significant population increases as well. Phoenix is one of them, having added more than 40,000 new residents last year alone.

A substantial increase in population, coupled with hotter temperatures and other manifestations of climate change, will present unprecedented challenges for cities. Not only is Phoenix growing rapidly, but its climate also mirrors that of many other cities with populations on the rise, providing a good example of what much of the world is facing now or can expect in the future.

"Phoenix is a place that a lot of people look to for an example of how we will be resilient in the face of what are probably less than optimal conditions," says Wellington Reiter, a consultant for the Office of the President and former dean of the former College of Design at Arizona State University. "What we learn here and how efficiently we use our resources could be exported as intellectual capital or maybe even on-the-ground know-how."

Defining sustainability

The challenges of population growth, climate change and other changing conditions are leading many cities to explore sustainability options. But what does sustainability mean, and how do we measure it?

"It’s defined in many different ways," says David Pijawka, a professor and associate director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. These varying definitions have made it difficult for cities to make policy changes that would help mitigate future challenges.

"We’ve been dealing with that for 25 years. We have some good frameworks and we know what we need to do, but we still must learn to articulate it meaningfully and easily for the decision maker," says Pijawka, who is also a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Many people equate sustainability with environmentalism, but sustainability researchers at ASU are working to broaden our understanding of the concept. They define sustainability as well-being in four key areas: natural capital (plants, animals, water, etc.) human capital (skills, knowledge, etc.), social capital (networks of relationships) and financial capital.

Sustainability is complex because these different sources of capital often conflict with each other. For example, logging a forest reduces natural capital, but can provide jobs that increase financial capital. Different people will prioritize these tradeoffs differently. Someone living in poverty in a rural area might prioritize jobs over environmentalism, while a well-employed person with asthma might place more value on clean air.

"If we want people to continue living here, we have to make certain choices," says Anne Reichman, program manager of the Sustainable Cities Network at ASU. "Those choices are going to be difficult in the future when we look at the cost of water, the cost of energy, our air quality, and resource availability."

These are just some of the factors that must be considered when planning for sustainability. And they’re all connected.

See more at ASU's Office of Knowledge and Enterprise Development