The Sustainability Innovation Science and Technology Center facilitates collaborative development and deployment of sustainability innovations in multiple sectors in order to address Arizona’s most pressing societal and environmental challenges and foster sustainable economic growth. The STC advances Sustainability Innovation, a transdisciplinary field focused on the design and implementation of new ideas, products, services, policies and business models that help ensure prosperity for all people and the long-term health of the ecosystems that support them.
The SI STC brings together faculty, staff and students from across disciplines, as well as industry partners and government, to co-create innovations that meet sustainability challenges such as resource security (water, food, clean air and raw materials), renewable and just energy transitions, net zero carbon, regenerative design, and sustainability planning and implementation.
The SI STC works across three areas of solutions development and implementation:
Data and Digital Insight
Lead: Margaret Garcia
Opportunities and tools for digital and information system innovation are rapidly expanding. The SI STC’s Data and Digital Insight focus area leverages ASU’s capacity for digital technology, spatial analytics, visualization, artificial intelligence and assimilating large social and environmental datasets. SI STC researchers collaborate with partners to understand their operating environment, determine impacts of key decisions and identify challenges and opportunities for sustainability innovation.
Computational Modeling for Foresight
Lead: Bhavik Bakshi
Developing scenarios and computational models of innovations and Arizona futures is essential for guiding decisions to a sustainable future. The SI STC’s Computational Modeling for Foresight focus area develops and applies computational models and methods at multiple scales ranging from individual technologies and policies to manufacturing and economic activities and their life cycles, as well as the economy and the biosphere. This research will result in a next-generation futures platform to facilitate transitions to a sustainable circular economy with net-zero emissions and nature- and people-positive decisions.
Action for Sustainability Implementation
Lead: Rajesh Buch
Integrating sustainability into innovation is crucial for creating solutions that not only meet current needs, but also contribute positively to the environment and society in the long-term. In collaboration with industry, government and non-governmental partners, SI STC researchers in Action for Sustainability Implementation co-create scalable solutions that are pilot tested in different environments to understand the conditions needed for successful scaling. These include holistic strategies that define shared values, goals and targets, with deployment of sustainability tools such as life-cycle analysis, greenhouse gas emissions inventories and standardized reporting to monitor and evaluate performance.
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Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine: advancing environmental resiliency and economic opportunity
ASU is the leader of the Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine (SWSIE), a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Regional Innovation Engine, that aims to simultaneously drive climate solutions and catalyze economic growth in Arizona and across the Southwest. SWSIE leverages transdisciplinary experts from the Sustainability Innovation STC and across the university, along with more than 50 academic, private sector, civic, and state and local partners in Arizona, Nevada and Utah, to foster resiliency to extreme heat and aridity, enable equitable and sustainable access to water and energy, and bring high-wage industries to the region.
The NSF’s selection of ASU to lead SWSIE reflects the university’s ability to convene diverse partners that bring a breadth and depth of capabilities to bear on challenges confronting the nation. SWSIE’s broad coalition will establish the Southwest as a leader in carbon capture, water security and renewable energy by helping to take groundbreaking technology to market while advancing policy solutions in collaboration with governments and civic organizations across the region.
Inaugurated with a $15 million NSF investment, SWSIE is among the first proposals selected under the Regional Innovation Engines program, which aims to develop regional science and technology capacity to build new industries and workforces. The White House describes the program as “one of the broadest and most significant investments in regional science and technology innovation capacity in our nation’s history, since Congress created the modern university system over 150 years ago with the Morrill Land-Grant Acts.” Along with nine other Regional Innovation Engines, SWSIE will be supported by funding, technical assistance and planning resources from over a dozen federal agencies.