ASU sustainability efforts to shine at annual conference


Connor Pelton

Arizona State University will be represented at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) annual conference this month, as staff from Environmental Health and Safety, University Sustainability Practices, Energy Innovation and the Zero Waste departments will shine a light on the ASU's broad range of sustainability programs. 

Environmental Health and Safety's John Svenson and Michael Ochs will be participating in the event for ASU, delivering a 30-minute presentation on ASU's Laboratory Standard and Design Guide. They will be exploring everything from lab ventilation and conditioning to talking about how a proper lab is monitored.

“All of our laboratories need adequate ventilation so chemicals don’t create exposure,” Ochs said. “There are regulations that require us to meet a certain minimum air changes in the lab while still keeping within regulatory requirements.”

With help from Svenson and Ochs, ASU is pushing to make as big of an impact on environmental safety as possible.

“There are so many different departments here,” Svenson said. “Everyone is always very open in collaborating and wants to reach similar goals as they try to make a positive impact on our environment.”

The university is also working towards improving air quality while conserving energy. Laboratories are designed to make a certain number of air changes per hour in an attempt to minimize the effects of hazardous chemicals, so Svenson and Ochs updated the EHS design guide to make those changes as small as possible.

“It’s important because if you do it properly you can reduce your carbon footprint and energy usage,” Svenson said. “Doing that while maintaining a safe environment to work in is critical.” 

This will be the fifth consecutive year that University Sustainability Practices has presented at the AASHE.

Not only does the conference provide a chance for ASU to shine on a national stage, but learning and networking opportunities also come with the trip.

“Networking with others who work in sustainability is a huge benefit for ASU,” Svenson said. “We also get to learn about some of the methods and procedures that other universities use and compare them to the programs we have here.”

This year’s conference will be held in San Antonio from October 15-18.