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ASU struts its sustainability stuff on Earth Day

Hands holding a globe
April 21, 2016

You could argue that every day is Earth Day at Arizona State University — an institute that set up the first sustainability school in the nation, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. 

So today — when the world officially comes together to honor the planet — feels extra special to ASU students, faculty and staff. Especially those students who live in the Sustainability House at Barrett, the Honors College. 

The house is a place for students who are interested in engaging in a green lifestyle. Residents can dry their laundry on clotheslines and grow plants and vegetables in the outside courtyard, which can be used for community dinners. 

“The building itself is interesting because students proposed the sustainable-living complex with low energy and water use, solar panels, gray-water recharge and low-flow fixtures in every room,” said Nicole Greason, manager of marketing, publicity and public relations for Barrett, the Honors College.

And students who don’t live in the house can still be a part of the sustainability movement by joining the Barrett Sustainability Club, which held its own Earth Day event on April 20.

"We had a great turnout — 117 students attended the celebration, where we converted T-shirts into reusable shopping bags,” said Ryan Taylor, assistant financial director.

The club will also be helping a group of 125 fifth-graders learn how to plant flowers in recyclable water bottles.

Taylor said he first started thinking about sustainability “because of environmental impact” but “after taking a closer look at sustainability, it's not just the environment, but meeting the needs of people now and in the future.”

Learn more about how ASU is making an impact on the environment and what's going on at ASU for Earth Day below.

Big globes, small globes

Growing leaders in sustainability

The ASU School of Sustainability broke ground in 2006 by offering a revolutionary program that didn’t yet exist in the corporate world. Now, the school is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the first university in the nation granting stand-alone sustainability degrees.

ASU Tempe campus buildings

Sierra Magazine ranks ASU high in sustainability

According to Sierra Magazine, the high temperatures of the Sonoran Desert doesn’t stop ASU from being a “Cool School.” The university was ranked 13th out of 153 universities for its commitment to high environmental standards, with emphasis on ASU’s sustainable transportation, building design and organic gardens.

Houses devastated by floods

A pragmatic approach to extreme weather

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” should be the attitude to take about climate-change-related natural disasters, says a report issued by ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. Mankind has to make adaptations for extreme weather events in the future, like an Indonesian elevated-park proposal that could save hundreds of thousands of lives from floods and tsunamis.

A team of seals

ASU researcher: Now is the time to prioritize endangered species

Did you know that more than a billion dollars should be allocated to recover endangered species, but less than 25 percent of that actually goes to species recovery? Leah Garber, ASU professor and director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, argues that a new, comprehensive strategy is needed to curb unprecedented extinction rates.

Solar panels

ASU furthers role as leader in sustainability

ASU is continuing to make strides in sustainability by partnering with PayPal and power company APS to build one of the state’s largest solar power plants in the Red Rock scrub desert. The plant is projected to be online by the end of the year and will more than double the university’s renewable-energy capacity.

Volunteers harvest oranges in Tempe

Harvesting the campus

Ever wonder where the orange juice in your dining hall comes from? Since 2008, the ASU Campus Harvest volunteers have collected more than 10,000 pounds of oranges a year on the university’s Tempe campus.

Drought's affect on Folsom lake

ASU part of $12M award to establish water sustainability network

Water crises are the top global risk to the viability of communities throughout the world, according to 2014 survey by the World Economic Forum. ASU has joined a consortium of 14 academic institutions called the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) to help communities enhance preparedness for responding to water crises.

Grass growing out of twin toilets

From poop to power

The secret to a lower utility bill may reside inside the porcelain throne. ASU water-treatment expert Bruce Rittman says that a shift in the way we treat wastewater could lead the way to an untapped font of sustainable resources. 

Professor David Pearson teaches a class in the Amazon rainforest

Saving the rainforest is not a cliche for ASU biologist

David Pearson was born in Minnesota, but his heart resides in a hotter place. The ASU professor in the School of Life Sciences is the lead instructor of the Amazon Rainforest Workshops, where students spend a summer in Peru learning about tropical ecology, sustainability, bird diversity and more. 

A street in a neighborhood of brownstones with the road lined with cars on both sides

Trying to shrink your carbon footprint? Think small

While businesses and consumers are focused on clean energy and electric cars to reduce their carbon footprint, emissions are still on the rise. ASU researchers Kevin Gurney, Nancy Grimm and Mikhail Chester propose that city managers should look at emissions on a per-building basis in order to greatly reduce global urban CO2 emissions. 

Earth Day events

8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. April 22: Hike/volunteer event to restore walking and hiking trails on A Mountain

April 22-May 8: Ditch the Dumpster at the Tempe, Downtown Phoenix and West campuses

2-3 p.m. April 22: Earth Day panel on conservation and sustainability at the Life Sciences Center E-Wing, room 250

6 p.m. April 22: Earth Day celebration at the School of Sustainability residential college (Adelphi Commons II)

Photos by Deanna Dent/ASU, U.S. Navy, courtesy of Leah Gerber/ASU, courtesy of SunPower Corporation, Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources, Kelly Keena/Amazon Rainforest Workshops and cmart7327/iStock

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