Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 12, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Sustainable ASU


  • Arizona State University has been transforming its campus into a model of sustainability. See how the university is going green.
Category: Sustainability

View Transcript

Ted Simons: The biggest school in the state has been turning itself into a model of sustainability. David Majure reports.

Ray Jensen: One of the goals, I would say, is to make sure that every student that graduates from ASU leaves here with an understanding of not just what sustainability is but how it relates to their chosen profession.

David Majure: Arizona State University is becoming a model of sustainability, not just through research and academic programs but also its day-to-day operations. That's one reason why an ASU business administrator was named the university's officer of sustainability operations.

Ray Jensen: My role, really, is to try to institutionalize sustainability from the operation sense. Using the people and resources we have and try to expand what we're doing. So that it touches more of the institution in a systematic way. In terms of its overall goals for sustainability, we do have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 and the biggest chunk is energy usage consumption that takes about two-thirds of our carbon footprint comes from energy.

David Majure: It's transforming rooftops into solar power plants that may generate 15-megawatts of energy.

Ray Jensen: If we have 15-megawatts at the end of the day, we're providing half of our energy demand from a renewable source.

Robert Bandling: And we're able to show our solar production occurring on campus where we have six structures that are producing right now, 1.1-megawatts of A.C. generation for the campus load.

David Majure: It's easy to track energy demand and use at ASU in real time. Using campus metabolism.

Robert Bandling: This week versus last week solar generation, this month as well as this year. Anyone the world can log in and see what ASU is doing through our sustainability features. Right now, there's 13 building being represented where our energy management system, which is the back end source, houses a lot more information.

David Majure: Other signs of sustainability on campus might not be as obvious as solar power. For instance, the left-over paint that piles up at ASU's paint shop.

Rose Barton: It's a conglomeration of stuff that appears or left over from jobs.

David Majure: It used to be discarded as hazardous waste.

Rose Barton: I don't know where it went but we were paying to have the barrels removed and then pay to dispose of it.

David Majure: Now the paint gets used.

Rose Barton: We power that into the five-gallon bucket and then mark them, reclaimed interior latex paint and put the color on the top and use that on campus.

David Majure: Last year alone, the program made quite a difference.

Rose Barton: We used close to 360 gallons that we kept out of the landfill. I'm so glad we're using it. I was hoping it would get smaller, but it's like it's growing.

David Majure: When it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts and there's power in numbers.

Bonnie Bentzin: We're a small city of 81,000 people. We operate just like a small city. And what I try to tell people, what's you're unique role in this university. Whether a buyer or I.T. guy or student or faculty. Whatever that role, we all have a unique opportunity to influence this environment that we have. And what really excites me, is ASU is so large that if we make a major shift in how we do things, we can shift a market. We can have an impact. A much bigger impact beyond the borders of our campus and that's exciting to me. That much bigger impact.

David Majure: ASU is partnering with its vendors to promote sustainability. Aramark runs dining halls on campus.

Katrina Shum: We do have sustainability across our dining services but Engrained is our restaurant and the goal of the restaurant is to be an opportunity for students, faculty, the outside community to engage in a sustainable dining experience. It’s focused on locally grown food. Our menu changes every few weeks depending on what's seasonally available. We also have sustainable seafood, we have fair trade coffee. Another thing that ties in with the food is the campus harvest program, which is a partnership with ASU and grounds department to use what's called edible landscapes as ingredients in our dining halls.

David Majure: The campus harvest program is managed by ASU's grounds crew.

Ellen Newell: Talking about the campus almost being a farm. We have hundreds of citrus trees and herbs and other assorted fruit and a lot of volunteers help us pick it and we send it to the food services and let students take it home and sell the dates in the bookstore -- and in the past, it was all sent to the landfill. I think we're doing the right thing. And there's no reason why the grounds crew can't participate and we take it as a challenge. It's fun. We looked at our gas use in our vehicles and decided we wanted to spend our money on plants and not gasoline. We have 10 bicycles and two solar carts.

David Majure: It adds up in ASU's effort to reduce waste and carbon footprints. Still, ASU is far from meeting all of its goals for sustainability.

Bonnie Bentzin: For instance, what to do with our food waste. Looking at that waste footprint. Another big challenge is a zero water waste. Now we're looking at technology that will potentially move the entire landscaping footprint off of potable water on to reclaimed water and cut our water use in half. We don't have this all figured out but the beauty of the today's world with the entrepreneurialism and ideas out there, you can set high lofty goals and either you'll find the solutions or someone will help you find that solution.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow, the school of journalism and mass communication will receive a silver LEED award. Tomorrow, Arizona is among nine states barreling toward an economic disaster according to a new study. We'll talk about that and the latest suggestions to fix the state budget. That's it for now and I'm Ted Simons, thank you for joining us. You have a great evening. Captioning Performed By LNS Captioning www.LNScaptioning.com.

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