Arizona's sustainable energy future gets boost from new grants

June 17, 2010

Editor’s note: This press release first appeared on the APS">">APS website and has been republished with permission.

Three Arizona State University (ASU) faculty members have been awarded $10,000 APS Sustainable Design Research grants to advance sustainability in the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, industrial, interior or visual communication design. Download Full Image

Thomas Hartman, associate professor, ASU Herberger">">Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, is studying the creation of design templates that optimally orient a home to reduce energy use while taking into account traditional subdivision layout and housing design plans.

Sherry Ahrentzen, PhD, associate Director for Research, Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, is designing and building a prototype for a sustainable therapeutic garden at a low-income senior housing facility, which is undergoing a Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) green renovation and occupant health study.

Catherine Spellman, associate professor, ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, is researching urbanism and the application of sustainable design practices at the scale of the neighborhood, the street and individual houses to create a better quality of living.

“All three of these projects will help designers and builders create more energy efficient infrastructure, which is important to a sustainable energy future for Arizona,” said Ed Fox, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for APS.

The APS Endowment for Sustainable Design Research grants come from a collaborative effort between APS and ASU. In 1994, the APS-ASU Environmental Showcase Home was built. The home was designed to help reduce consumption of natural resources and to significantly change perceptions about standard building practices and materials in the Sonoran Desert. APS donated the Environmental Showcase Home to the ASU Foundation for a New American University (ASUF) in 2000. Subsequently, ASUF sold the home, and in consultation with APS and the college, used the proceeds to establish the endowment that supports the faculty grants. The grants follow on the original mission of the showcase home, to educate and foster new solutions for sustainable designs.

“The faculty and students in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture are advancing collaborative design models that help redefine 21st century challenges and provide solutions in service of the greater public good,” said Darren Petrucci, director, ASU Herberger Institute School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Comprised of a dynamic combination of disciplines, the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University is at the forefront of the investigation of creativity and creative practice shaping the 21st century. Many of the institute's programs consistently rank in the top ten of national peers and encompass over 45 areas of study within its six schools: architecture and landscape architecture; art; arts, media and engineering; dance; music; and theatre and film. The ASU Art Museum and the Herberger Institute Research Center support our research initiatives. To learn more about the institute, visit

APS">">, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves about 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the largest principal of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW)

Media Contact:

Steven Gotfried
Arizona Public Service

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


Future teachers capture honors in iCademy competition

June 18, 2010

Three teams from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College have been honored for their digital video production skills in Arizona State University’s annual iCademy competition. 2010 marks the third consecutive year in which students from professor Keith Wetzel’s Technology in Early Childhood Education class have received multiple awards in the ASU-wide competition.

Students Daniela Behm and Andrea Stoneburg took first-place honors with their video, “The Eyes of a House Wife.” Honorable mention accolades went to Chieu Train, Stacy McMahan and Mark Mezger for “Education Then and Now,” and to Michael Gleba, Denisese Vidrios and Keesha Wylie for “Glen Canyon Dam.” Download Full Image

This year’s competition, sponsored by the Applied Learning Technologies Institute at ASU, featured “The Wisdom of Our Elders” as a theme. Teams of students who participated in this unique project-based learning experience were responsible for producing a three-to-five-minute video based on an interview with an elder in the community. Topics focused on historic events, people and places in Arizona.

The project was broken into five strategic categories, with points awarded in each: project orientation and the value of technology; project planning and conceptualization; footage and image collection; video editing; and completion.

“Participating in the project and competition encourages our future preK-12 teachers to be historians and teachers of project-based learning,” said Wetzel, who has been a faculty member at ASU’s West campus since 1991 and who last year was the leader of a Teachers College team that received a prestigious Best Practices Award for the Innovative Use of Technology from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

“Producing the video as a team is a multi-step process requiring students to work together to conduct research on their topics, write a script and storyboard the information to be presented,” Wetzel said. “They also learn technical skills during the production and editing process.”

The incentive to win the competition is a motivating factor, Wetzel added. “Students enjoy being recognized for their creativity and hard work. They also enrich their résumés before applying for teaching positions.”

Behm and Stoneburg’s first-place video focuses on an interview with longtime Phoenix-area resident Julia Baker, who tells stories associated with the Valley’s tremendous growth over the past several decades. The students included historical photos in the video to illustrate the topics Baker discusses.

“Julia is my grandmother’s best friend,” said Behm. “Completing this project opened up my mind to the world of technology, while also making me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to. I look forward to teaching my future students about the steps involved in the creative process of making a video.


Behm, Stoneburg and the other students selected for awards in the iCademy competition were honored at ASU’s annual Microcomputers in Education Conference; they also received complimentary conference registrations.

More information about the annual iCademy competition is available at">">