Engineers aim to protect cities from intensifying heat

September 4, 2013

Challenges are on the horizon for urban areas facing expectations of higher temperatures in the future. The situation could be particularly acute in the arid climate of the Southwest, where urban heat is already trending upward.

An Arizona State University engineer, along with a physician and an urban planning expert at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is undertaking research to help cities take steps to lessen the impact of rising temperatures. mikhail chester urban heat Download Full Image

Mikhail Chester, an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, will team with physician David Eisenman, a professor in the UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, and Stephanie Pincetl, an adjunct professor and director of the UCLA Center for Sustainable Communities at the university’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

A National Science Foundation grant providing $480,000 over the next four years will support their study of two sprawling urban areas considered especially vulnerable to an increasing number of heat waves: the Phoenix/Maricopa County and Los Angeles County metro areas.

Socio-economic and health status have largely defined the scope of heat vulnerability studies, Chester explains. At-risk communities are characterized by the poverty levels of residents, who often have uncertain access to water and electric utilities, are linguistically isolated, due to a lack of proficiency in English, and often are surrounded by infrastructure that leaves them more exposed to heat.

In these communities, the elderly and those living with debilitating physical afflictions or chronic diseases are even more at risk.

The ASU-UCLA research team will focus on an aspect that has received scant attention as a way to reduce the impact of excessive heat on those vulnerable populations: “urban form,” primarily building construction practices and public infrastructure.

The goal is to devise precise methods of determining the effectiveness of specific construction practices and infrastructure development that could be implemented to better protect people from threatening levels of prolonged heat.

The researchers will weigh the benefits of such things as building weatherization techniques, rooftop solar-energy technology, tree planting and public cooling structures and spaces.

Their aim is to produce a methodological framework – integrating socio-economic and built-environment factors – that local governments can use as a sound practical basis for investment strategies to reduce heat exposure.

The team plans to present its findings to government and community leaders in Maricopa and Los Angeles counties, and to provide the information to other researchers and the public on an interactive, map-based website.

In addition, the researchers will produce educational materials to guide other engineers, social scientists, and medical and public health professionals in using the new methods for future projects to reduce the heat vulnerability of other communities and urban areas.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


Saftig to lead major fundraising efforts at ASU Foundation

September 4, 2013

Daniel P. Saftig, a fundraising professional with a 30-year track record of success, will join the Arizona State University Foundation for A New American University on Sept. 1, foundation CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr. has announced. Saftig’s appointment coincides with the continued expansion of responsibilities for the foundation.

Saftig will serve the foundation as chief development officer. portrait of Daniel P. Saftig Download Full Image

“I’m beginning to focus more time and energy beyond traditional development as we pursue innovative approaches to generating resources in support of the university,” explained Shangraw. “We are excited to bring Dan and his years of fundraising experience and success in higher education to the ASU Foundation.

“Dan’s solid history with three top public universities and his reputation as a bridge builder, relationship builder and effective communicator make him a perfect fit to lead the foundation’s development efforts. Together, we’ll continue on our trajectory of building a new type of foundation – a New American University foundation.”

Saftig has held executive leadership positions at the Minnesota Medical Foundation at the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University and most recently at the Iowa State University Foundation, where he served for nine years as president and CEO. During that time, Saftig led a team that secured more than $1 billion in new gifts and commitments and doubled the university’s endowment between 2003-2012.

He has served as a consultant to more than a dozen major universities, including the ASU Foundation over the past 12 months.

“I have been most impressed with what Rick Shangraw and the entire ASU Foundation team is establishing,” said Saftig, who will direct the foundation’s development, affinity and annual giving efforts, as well as oversee major university fundraising initiatives. “The foundation mirrors ASU’s reputation for being innovative, progressive and generally ‘on the move.’ I’ve always been very conscious to hook my wagon to winning institutions.”

Saftig’s focus on major university fundraising efforts is familiar territory. He introduced “Campaign Iowa State” upon his arrival in Ames, with a goal of generating $800 million, that was launched in 2007. The campaign raised $867 million in gifts and commitments, realizing more philanthropic support than in the previous 25 years, and raising 30 percent more than two previous campaigns combined.

“In addition to being the absolute best fundraising professional I know, Dan is a great leader,” said former Iowa State University President Gregory L. Geoffroy. “He took a fundraising foundation (at Iowa State) and transformed it into a high-performing organization with a superb team of professionals who loved working under his leadership.

“Dan has many strengths, and I would list ethics, integrity, leadership and teamwork as among his most outstanding.”

Saftig will work closely with ASU Foundation CEO Shangraw to seek ways to bring ASU’s culture, history and its vision of a New American University – one offering academic excellence, broad access to all qualified students and meaningful societal impact – to the forefront in attracting philanthropic investment.

“Dan is the right person at the right time to direct our efforts in accelerating the advancement of ASU,” said Shangraw. “His counsel over the past year has helped the foundation improve in many areas and I am looking forward to the positive impact he will have on all of us – the foundation, the university and the community.”

Saftig says he will be a willing listener first and foremost.

“ASU has such a positive impact on the greater Phoenix area and this state; there are so many potential partners of this university who are capable of moving mountains in support of ASU students, teaching, research and outreach,” said Saftig.

Steve Des Georges