At 4th annual State of Sustainability Summit, ASU remains committed to leading — and teaching — sustainability
When the director of Arizona State University’s Energy Innovations Group takes the long view of his job, he’s looking at an investment in the future.
Someone else’s future.
Gerry DaRosa sees the 90 solar installations across ASU’s campuses and locations as possible inspiration for a CEO thinking 15 years from now about what she wants in a new headquarters.
“I think it’s very important to set the example here at ASU for the next generation,” DaRosa said Monday at ASU’s fourth annual State of Sustainability Summit, an event that showcases the university’s accomplishments in the past year.
Home to the world’s first school of sustainability and the first university to offer a degree in the practice, ASU strives to act as a living laboratory and example of sustainability for society.
“We are educating the next generation of leaders who will go out with this knowledge, and every decision they make will be informed by this knowledge,” university Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen said. “I can’t think of anything more important in the area of sustainability we can do than that single function. … We’re a model of what we’d like to see in this world.”
Set against a global backdrop, the university’s efforts aren’t even a drop in the bucket. All the efforts of all American universities who signed a pledge to reduce carbon emissions amount to about 3 percent of U.S. emissions.
“That’s as far as your brain can go?” ASU President Michael Crow said he asked a reporter who tossed that observation to him in an interview. “We have 100 percent of the learner imprint, and 3 percent of the carbon footprint. I’ll take the learner footprint, and we’ll move forward with that as a thing we work to alter and change and advance.”
Creating a sustainable future is not about what corporations, politicians and governments can do. It’s about what individuals do.
“We had to be more than academics who sat around and came up with ideas for other people to implement,” Crow said. “We also had to implement those ideas ourselves, so we signed up easily. We’re going to try to take our carbon footprint to the lowest possible number. I don’t have a date yet. … The point is, we need to be an all-in place that alters the teaching, learning and discovery environment about this really important thing — sustainability.”