Arizona State University

Student Preparedness

Arizona State University provides arguably the most comprehensive, transdisciplinary, solutions-focused sustainability education and research offerings in the U.S., and it continues to grow:

2015-16 Sustainability Enrollment: 1,666 ASU students enrolled in-person and online.

  • ASU School of Sustainability offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • The university offers a sustainability minor and sustainability-related degrees, concentrations and dual-degrees in business, design, engineering, humanities, journalism, law, life sciences, public affairs, social sciences, and more.

Applied learning:

  • Internships with university, municipalities, or private businesses – At least one internship required for every sustainability major; dedicated sustainability internship coordinator.
  • Campus as a Living Laboratory – Through ASU’s $15 million sustainability fund, students learn to apply for funding and execute their plans, while providing practical solutions to on-campus sustainability needs.

Outside the classroom:

  • Over 20 sustainability student groups
  • Honors Society for Sustainability
  • Co-ed sustainability fraternity
  • Sustainability residential community
  • Study abroad – 337 students have studied sustainability in over ten countries on six continents, with programs related to climate change and adaptation, the green economy, public policy, urban planning, and more.


  • Funding – 870 faculty involved in sustainability-related research encompassing over $306 million in research dollars.
  • Research themes – Climate change and adaptation, business and economics, biodiversity and conservation, urban dynamics, society, policy and governance, international development, food systems, energy, materials and technology.

Community partnerships:

Solutions-focused partnerships provide student experience and connect the university with diverse communities locally, nationally and globally.

  • K-12 and teacher education
  • Global solutions extension service
  • Research collaboration with community stakeholders
  • Lectures and public events

Climate Innovation

ASU has built a robust internal structure to educate, address, and prepare the campus and surrounding community to a changing climate:

  • The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability advances research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs focused on finding practical solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges.
  • ASU’s department of University Sustainability Practices (USP), led by the Chief Sustainability Operations Officer, integrates sustainability into the daily practices of the university to meet its own sustainability goals, as well as educates and engages the ASU and surrounding communities in sustainability.
  • Facilities Development and Management (FDM) integrates sustainability into operations, maintenance, design, and construction. FDM also houses the Zero Waste department and Energy Innovations.

Recent ASU Initiatives:

  • Investigating opportunities to naturally treat and repurpose wastewater on campus
  • Established task forces to conduct a resilience assessment and update climate action plan
  • Hosting hundreds of sustainability lectures and other events for the ASU and broader community for example The Sustainability Solutions Festival
  • Sustainable Cities Network is supporting regional and City of Tempe tree and shade initiatives
  • Sustainability Consortium drives innovation in sustainability of consumer products.
  • Several members of the Tempe Sustainability Commission are from ASU
  • Sustainability Teachers’ Academy

Education and engagement:

  • All student orientation events are striving for zero waste to drive culture
  • Staff performance evaluations include sustainability expectations
  • Students, faculty, and staff can apply for Green Events, Labs, Offices, Shops, Housing, and Classroom certifications

Creating Opportunity


Scope 1 and 2 emissions – ASU has far surpassed national climate neutrality trends, according to a 2016 Sightlines report:

  • ASU energy use down 19.6% (national average 2%)
  • ASU emissions down 11% (national average 5%)
  • ASU emissions-per-1,000-GSF down 32% (national average 13%) Total emissions – Since signing the Climate Commitment in 2007:
  • ASU emissions down 18%, despite adding 33% GSF and increasing enrollment 37%

Energy Investments:

  • 88 solar installations across ASU campuses, with 24 MWdc capacity, one of the largest on-campus portfolios in the nation.
  • ASU has multiplied its renewable-energy capacity through innovative parking-lot “parasols,” solar tracking systems, and solar arrays that shade campus.
  • Energy efficiency retrofits were implemented through $73MM in energy services performance contracts.
  • 26 LEED projects – bringing ASU’s total to 45 – encompassing nearly 17% of all GSF. The last five were LEED Gold or Platinum.


ASU extends its social and political capital to reduce emissions through countless partnerships. Highlights include:

  • Reimagine Phoenix: An initiative to increase the city’s waste diversion rate to 40% by 2020.
  • Energize Phoenix: A partnership with APS and Phoenix resulting in 95,256 MT CO2e of avoided emissions annually
  • FutureH20: an initiative with corporations to restore water and train new leaders

Reducing emissions outside university control:

Signing the first Power Purchase Agreement in the Phoenix area, ASU catalyzed the commercial-scale solar PV market in Arizona.

  • ASU and PayPal are now partnering with utility APS to build a solar plant that will increase ASU’s renewable energy portfolio 150% by the end of 2016.