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WRCC - Our Study, In the News

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Jean McLain, Associate Director of the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), is leading an investigation into the biological and chemical quality of harvested rainwater in Arizona. Along with Leif Abrell (Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science) and Nathan Allen (Biosphere 2 Center), McLain is assessing if inline filtration devices increase the quality of the harvested rainwater and decrease health risks.
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Project/Paper Session Announcement: Association of American Geographers, 2014


Abstract Title:

Heat Islanding Around Solar Energy Installations ~ Valid Concern or Unnecessary Worry About Renewable Energy Expansion

is part of the Paper Session:
Measurement and modeling of environmental degradation and pollution

scheduled on Tuesday, 4/8/2014 at 12:40 PM.

Greg A. Barron-Gafford, PhD* - University of Arizona, School of Geography & Development; College of Science Biosphere 2, Institute of the Environment
Rebecca L. Minor - Biosphere 2, College of Science, University of Arizona
Nathan Allen - Biosphere 2, College of Science, University of Arizona
Maggie Heard - Biosphere 2, College of Science, University of Arizona
Adria E. Brooks - Department of Physics, University of Arizona
Alex Cronin, PhD - Department of Physics, University of Arizona
Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, PhD - Biosphere 2, College of Science, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona

This project is aimed at developing an understanding of the impacts of large-scale renewable energy installations on localized temperature. “Solar heat islanding” may be similar to that of an “Urban Heat Island”, in which a developed area is significantly warmer than the surrounding natural wildlands. Two similarities between these concepts center around the fact that natural systems undergo and anthropogenic change such that the resulting landscape (i) uses materials which absorb more solar radiation than previously existing vegetation and (ii) these materials may cause a greater storage and emission of the resulting heat energy. Recent efforts have found that large solar arrays do absorb slightly more incoming radiation, but a portion of this is intentionally converted into electricity, rather than sensible heat. More importantly, with regards to the second point, studies have found that PV panels dissipate heat quickly while earth and concrete dissipate heat slowly. Therefore, while solar arrays can reach high operating temperatures during the day, their thin and lightweight construction should not store a large amount of heat. As such, panels could cool shortly after sunset, but natural systems may take longer to meet this point, potentially creating diurnal variability in any heat islanding. Experimental field and observational (satellite) data from co-located sites experiencing the same incoming climate regime are necessary to test these conflicting hypotheses at multiple scales. Beyond a physical science question, this is a regional development challenge, as concerns over heat islanding impacts on local housing values are beginning to limit renewable energy expansion.

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FERN: Farm Education Resource Network

Not unlike a lot of people, I use my weekends to support my hobbies. And sustainable agriculture is one of them. This is well established enough that FERN, the Farm Education Resource Network, has tapped me to help get their message out and support them anyway I can - and I’m happy to do it.

So head’s up Tucson. And go eat downtown at Proper - who’s supporting FERN throughout 2014.


Read this terrific synopsis about what FERN & Proper are about, and also what their aiming to accomplish.

First published on, January 22, 2014
by James J. Jefferies

The early 21st century finds us putting more thought than ever before into what comes across our plates. Not simply a matter of eating healthfully, but in terms of people questioning where the food came from, and by what processes was the food raised or grown. Horror stories of lessened USDA oversight, fast food misadventures in bacteria, and rising concerns over genetically-modified seed crops have placed new premiums on information pertaining to an easily traceable, local point of origin for what we’re eating.

The Downtown Tucson food scene has already seen a rise in restauranteurs responding to this kind of demand, offering a variety of dishes with meats, poultry, and produce sourced from a number of in-state farmers. At the forefront of this movement would be the fine folks at Proper Tucson, whose owner, Paul Moir, is bullish on the sustainable local food movement. “I grew up with a Mom who was a tremendous cook,” said Moir, “…and we weren’t on a farm by any means, but we gardened a lot, and grew a lot of food.”

Already a well-received fixture nestled firmly at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Congress Street, Proper has designs on not only bringing you their great menu of American-style spins on classic dishes and trendy favorites, made solely from locally-sourced meat, dairy, and produce, but also has plans in the works to extend that outreach via an alliance with FERN, the Farm Education Resource Network. Developed by Tina Bartsch and Debbie Weingarten, FERN’s mission is to sow the seeds for the future of agriculture in Arizona, by offering apprenticeship and scholarship programs to young people with an interest in farming. “Beyond the food side of this,” said Moir, “…is really an attempt to rebuild local economies. When you spend locally, versus spending money with national chains, you see so much more of a direct impact when that money stays at home.”

The brand new Proper Meatery will be like Sam the Butcher, bringin’ Alice the meat. Shake your…rump roast?

The first fruit yielded by this alliance is the forthcoming “Cash Mob” kick-off event, taking place on this Thursday evening, January 23rd. Proper has pledged 1% of their cash sales throughout 2014 to fund FERN’s apprenticeship program, and this kickoff event will allow Proper diners to have a meet-and-greet cocktail reception with the participating farmers. Guests are encouraged to dine at their leisure and, of course, use cash. This is a prime opportunity for people to sample some of Proper’s excellent fare, and to help support a cause that is very much in line with the locally-minded spirit of Downtown Tucson’s revival.

Further evidence of Proper Tucson’s locavore mission can be found in the immediate space between them and (like-minded) neighbor Diablo Burger. It is in this very spot that later this year will bring forth the brand new Proper Meatery, slated to open sometime in September. Downtown has long been in need of additional grocery options, and this new retail storefront will bring about a terrific source for people living in the area to acquire fantastically fresh meats and charcuterie from a bevy of small farms across Arizona. “Our vision is for a 100% locally sourced, whole animal butchery… for wholesale to restaurants and the retail end as well,” said Moir. “We’ll offer charcuterie and prepared foods to go with that.” With socially-conscious restauranteurs like Paul Moir building their menus on great-tasting locally-sourced food, these are very interesting times to be a food enthusiast living in the Old Pueblo! For more, check out Proper’s homepage, as well as that of the Farm Education Resource Network. Proper is located at 300 E. Congress Street.

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B2 Events Announcement: Discovery Nights, Spring 2014

Spring Discovery Nights
Saturday evenings Mar. 1, 8, and 29, 2014. 4:00 – 8:00 PM

Discovery Nights

Beginning Saturday, March 1st, Biosphere 2 will continue Discovery Nights and be open for extended hours on three Saturday evenings this March. Each evening will be a family-friendly night of stargazing, hands-on activities, nighttime tours of the facility, and special exhibits just being opened to the public for the first time.

The Saturday evening Discovery Night events will run from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and no RSVP or registration is required. All activities are included in the standard admission price. In addition to telescopes for examining the heavens and after-dark exploration of Biosphere 2 itself, other features will include special exhibit grand openings and a QR-code scavenger hunt. Other UA departments and community partner entities will provide hands-on content as well, including live reptiles, marine creatures, and tree-ring science. The exhibit grand openings will change on a week-to-week basis – please check the Biosphere 2 website for detailed offerings and updates. Food and beverages will be available for purchase inside Biosphere 2 at the original Kitchen from a local restaurant beginning at 4pm.

Biosphere 2 Discovery Night activities are included with the price of Biosphere 2 admission (food is an additional cost) from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.

March 1st, 2014: The Amazing Amazon

Come explore the world of the Amazon rainforest as we unveil our Amazon Rainforest research photo exhibit.

March 8th, 2014: Into the Desert Sea

Join us for the exciting grand re-opening of the Ocean Gallery, with windows looking into the Biosphere 2 Ocean, and the launch of our new “Return to the Sea of Cortez” exhibit. Travel down to the Sea of Cortez and learn about the sea life that lives there. Ribbon cutting at 5:00 p.m.

March 29th, 2014: The Future is Now

The world of Science Fiction has slowly become reality! Join us for a movie (screening at 5:30 p.m.) followed by a discussion panel of scientists who are helping move us forward.

Please check website regularly as offerings are subject to change.

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B2 Internship Opportunities/Announcement

Biosphere 2 Internships - Spring 2014

UA Science: Biosphere 2, in partnership with the Honors College at the University of Arizona, has developed internship opportunities for ten Honors students per semester. The internships for spring 2014 are suited for Honors students interested in exploring and engaging in the scientific research being conducted at the Biosphere 2 facility. Continuation of projects beyond the initial semester internship is encouraged.

Students participating in this 3-unit, semester-long, Biosphere 2 Honors internship will do the following: work under the guidance of faculty/staff members at Biosphere 2 and in the Honors College to conduct research projects that culminate in a presentation and publicly accessible poster (or publication) by semester’s end, on a regular basis, explain their work and interact with the public visiting Biosphere 2, meet regularly with their fellow interns and faculty/staff members at Biosphere 2, to discuss research progress and learn about the various research projects and interactions with the public.

[FYI: link here for additional internship opportunities at B2 and application details]
Smart Cities, Water Harvesting, Solar Electricity
Nathan Allen,, Biosphere 2

Allen currently coordinates the Biosphere 2 Model City research program utilizing the B2 campus as a test bed for research and development of green technology integration including renewable energy, smart grid, rainwater and grey water systems, building management, and cyber security systems. He studies the performance of novel solar PV installation methods; the ability of forecasting to reduce costs of variable energy generated by renewables; the environmental impacts of large-scale solar development; and the water energy nexus. He manages corporate partnerships within the solar PV, rainwater catchment, water and electric utilities, infrastructure monitoring and control, and data analytics industries. He collaborates with academics from multiple universities in physics, optics, architecture, systems and industrial engineering, electrical and power engineering, education, political science, economics, and earth, environmental and ecological sciences.

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USGBC Arizona Chapter, Board Candidates

24 Oct 2013

US Green Building Council® – Arizona Chapter announces the following candidates for At-large terms on the Board of Directors and each Branch Governing Council:

Board of Directors:
Nathan Allen
Gonzo Gonzalez
Blaine Miller
Dori Morales
Grady Bailey

Central Branch Governing Council:
Thomas Cochran
Jessica Hauer

Northern Branch Governing Council:

Sonoran Branch Governing Council:
Clayton Trevillyan
Scott Sind
Alexis Gyenge
Frank Slingerland

- See more at:

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Webinar: Introduction to big data for smarter asset and facilities management

Webinar announcement via:

Posted August 5, 2013

Audience: Professionals and executives in enterprise asset management, building management, facility management, facility maintenance and operations, corporate real estate management, energy management, environmental sustainability and IT

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
10:00 – 11:00AM PDT / 1:00 – 2:00PM EDT


John Clark - Worldwide Manager, Smarter Buildings - IBM Corporation

John Clark – Worldwide Manager, Smarter Buildings – IBM Corporation


Nathan Allen - Assistant Staff Scientist and Sustainability Coordinator - University of Arizona Biosphere 2

Erick Brethenoux – Director of Business Analytics and Decision Management Strategies – IBM Corporation

Erick Brethenoux - Director of Business Analytics and Decision Management Strategies - IBM Corporation

Nathan Allen – Assistant Staff Scientist and Sustainability Coordinator – University of Arizona Biosphere 2

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Big Data – Smarter Infrastructures – Webinar

Arizona BioIndustry Association

Direct Link, AZBIO - I’ll be participating in the event (see below).

Date/Time Date(s) - 14 Aug 2013 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Location Webcast: Introduction of Big Data for Smarter Asset and Facilities Management Find out how leading organizations use big data analytics to generate real return. Register for the free webcast.

Register for the Webcast: Introduction of Big Data for Smarter Asset and Facilities Management Today’s emergence of big data fuels the basis of significant opportunity to support smarter management of facilities and assets—everything from office buildings to oil-drilling platforms to fleets of ships. The ability to effectively channel and analyze the massive amounts of data generated from facilities and assets can help increase revenue, power operational efficiency, ensure service availability and mitigate risk.

Join leading experts in a live webcast session on Wednesday, August 14 to learn the following: Case studies of leading organizations that successfully used big data generated by their facilities and assets to generate real return Register and attend this webcast to receive complimentary access to IBM’s new whitepaper Harness the value of big data to build smarter infrastructures!

Register for the Webcast: Introduction of Big Data for Smarter Asset and Facilities Management Please Note: This live webcast will be recorded and all registrants will be able to access the webcast on-demand!

Webcast Details: Wednesday, Aug 14th, 2013 10AM PT / 1PM ET Duration: 1 hour

Speakers: Erick Brethenoux Director of Business Analytics & Decision Management Strategy IBM Corporation John Clark Worldwide Manager, Smarter Buildings IBM Corporation Nathan Allen Assistant Staff Scientist & Sustainability Coordinator University of Arizona Biosphere 2

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Scientific Tucsonan: Multiple-Media Magazine by UA School of Journalism

We hosted the UA School of Journalism at B2 as one part of a media blitz, using grant money. The result is a great example of student engagement - not just creative publicity.

Scientific Tucsonan is the University of Arizona School of Journalism’s first multimedia magazine for iPad. This inaugural edition is packed with stories, photos, videos and infographics contributed by students in our Spring 2013 Multimedia Storytelling: Science and Technology class. The course, open to all majors and grade levels, drew an eclectic mix of journalism and science students ranging from undergrads to Ph.Ds. Inside Scientific Tucsonan, you’ll find a range of science and technology pieces, including a trip to a modern observatory, tales of ornery wildlife, primers on sustainable living and the heart-wrenching story of a family ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. A user guide is included to help first-time digital readers navigate the magazine.

Read more: Scientific Tucsonan - Free download and software reviews - CNET

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Upcoming Courses through the UA Outreach College

Nathan Allen, Meredith Sattler
Monday, June 17, 2013 - Friday, June 21, 2013

Sustainable Building Systems course at Biosphere 2, June 17-21, 2013! For building managers, sustainability professionals and architects, this week-long training will focus on integrating natural environment dynamics with built environmental control systems.

To register, visit

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Final Presentations

Wrapped up the Sustainable Planning Workshop today with a presentation of findings for B2 stakeholders (couple of findings below).

Great job guys!

The student team will return to Boston for final presentations at MIT. I’ll share further details of our findings in the weeks to come - but in the mean time, sincere thanks and appreciation to Dave Bartlett of IBM (corporate sponsor) and to MIT Sloan Leadership Lap students: Michael Seelhof, Ku’ uipo Curry, Allan Donelly, and Goeun Sea.