Student combines construction, sustainability in new venture

December 11, 2012

Tim Exposito’s interest in construction is nothing new. At 16, he helped his brother build a house. In high school, he worked at a cousin’s construction business. During his high school senior year, Exposito spent his mornings at a construction site and his afternoons in the classroom.

His passion for sustainability has always been there, too. Download Full Image

“I’ve always written papers about recycling, impacts and implications,” Exposito says. “Sustainability has always been a fascination of mine. It’s always been a goal of mine to reuse something instead of throwing it away. I do this in construction and everyday as much as possible.”

Originally from Michigan, Exposito earned his associate’s degree in architecture and construction technology before moving to Arizona in 2011. While researching sustainability, Exposito stumbled upon Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability.

“There was so much information on sustainability that I continued to look into it,” he says. “It sparked a fascination and I came across ASU’s program.”

Now, Exposito gets to combine construction and sustainability in his career.

Exposito works full time at CORE construction as a superintendent on U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified projects. He recently started a new venture called Balanced Future Remodeling, LLC. The company assists contractors during sustainable remodeling projects with Balance Future Remodeling’s own network of realtors, marketing professionals and sustainable material suppliers.

In addition to graduating from the School of Sustainability, Exposito is graduating from the Del E. Webb School of Construction and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, where he was able to share his sustainability knowledge with fellow classmates.

“Sustainability can be applied to anything you want to apply it to – construction, education, life in general,” he says. “It’s tough to put a specific definition to it.”

While a student, Exposito immersed himself in several campus construction and sustainability initiatives. As part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program, a social entrepreneurship class, he helped build a “cabin of the future” for a camp in Prescott and promoted digital literacy in education at a school in rural Mexico.

“In the EPICS program, we tackled real-world problems and made the world better for those who can’t make it better for themselves,” he says.

Exposito has some advice for new sustainability students: be open-minded and take a holistic approach to problem-solving.

“Hard work pays off and I think it is beneficial to show other sustainability students what can be achieved throughout the university if you apply yourself,” he says. “There are a lot of opportunities available through sustainability education.”

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

Doctoral student helps cities envision a sustainable future

December 11, 2012

Most five year olds may be more concerned with cartoon TV shows rather than their neighborhood community garden. But Braden Kay started his life mission early – at a local youth garden when he was just a kid.

“I grew up in Washington, D.C., and saw the challenges of providing quality services to an economically and racially segregated city,” he says. “From starting at the local youth garden at age five, I always wanted to be part of producing solutions that bring diverse people together to make their city better with opportunity for all.” Download Full Image

Kay says it was ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of Arizona State University as a New American University that drew him to the School of Sustainability to study urban development and sustainability challenges.

“The School of Sustainability provided me with the opportunity I was looking for – to become a world-class urban solution developer,” he says. 

Kay is graduating from ASU’s School of Sustainability with a doctorate, and was a National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow at Phoenix’s Bioscience High School, where he co-generated sustainability-oriented curriculum and projects with students and faculty. For his dissertation, Kay was a project manager for Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row’s Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Spaces’ Valley of the Sunflowers program and Growhouse urban farm. There, he helped turn a vacant lot into a field of sunflowers that produced biofuel.

But it was when he was a Teach for America corps member in St. Louis and a teacher with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) in Gary, Ind., where he learned that the challenges faced by urban America are intimidating, and that possible solutions require hard-working people and strategic planning.

At ASU, Kay explored those possible solutions as a student researcher in Sustainability Scientist and professor Arnim Wiek’s Sustainability Transition and Intervention Research Lab. There, he co-developed sustainability transition strategies for the City of Phoenix General Plan Update.

“We have been able to contribute to innovative planning efforts in Phoenix, and I have been able to learn from amazing graduate students in my lab who are tackling sustainability challenges from water scarcity to the effects of nanotechnology on society,” Kay says.

After graduation, Kay will continue improving communities by working as a postdoc with sustainability scientists, planners and graduate students on Reinvent Phoenix, a city project that is developing sustainability strategies and solutions for the neighborhoods along the Metro light rail.

Kay hopes his work in community enrichment and urban sustainability will create a new type of sustainability science.

“We need to have a piece of sustainability science that focuses on creating strategies for how we get to a sustainable future,” he says. “To help with this, I want to contribute strong leadership and collaborative solutions to the city that I live and work in.”

So far, Kay has a bright future. After his postdoc, he’ll continue the work he’s been doing since he was five years old.

“I hope to work on sustainability strategy building and solution development in American cities,” Kay says. “I think I have the ability to be part of entrepreneurial teams that are invested in making urban sustainability a reality in their cities. I hope to find cities, like Phoenix, that are excited about sustainability and ready to get to work.”

Natalie Muilenberg,
Editor Assistant
Global Institute of Sustainability

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library