Beginning of Sustainability Assessment and Reporting Project at U-M
Sustainability reporting at the University of Michigan began with a 2001-2002 master’s project advised by the late Jonathan Bulkley and Gregory Keoleian (then co-directors of the Center for Sustainable Systems). The project involved input from over thirty units on the Ann Arbor campus and proposed a framework to measure campus sustainability across fifty indicators (twenty-five environmental, twenty social, and five economic).
President Coleman assembles the U-M Environmental Task Force
In 2003, President Mary Sue Coleman assembled the U-M Environmental Task Force, which compiled an Environmental Task Force Advisory Report in April 2004. The report recommended that U-M focus on eight key environmental performance indicators and forty-six specific operational performance metrics to report out annually, including: primary energy consumption, renewable energy contribution, water use, impervious surface area, greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste, percent of solid waste recycled, and building utilization.
“This is truly a grass roots effort emanating from a School of Natural Resources and Environment student master’s project on U-M sustainability in 2001...” – Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment (2003)
Provost and Center for Sustainable Systems develop the U-M Environmental Data Repository (EDR)
The 2003 Environmental Task Force Advisory Report called for an environmental assessment and reporting system to aid U-M in evaluating its environmental performance. In 2005, researchers from the Center for Sustainable Systems, with support from the Office of the Provost, developed Excel-based software to automatically gather and input data across 46 operational metrics from Ann Arbor campus units. The software, known as the U-M Environmental Data Repository (EDR), facilitated data collection and analysis for the eight environmental performance indicators recommended by the 2003 Environmental Task Force Advisory Report.
President Coleman launches the integrated assessment of the Ann Arbor campus.
In October 2009, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman elevated the university’s commitment to sustainability in teaching, research, operations, and engagement through the creation of the Sustainability Executive Council. One of the council’s first actions was to task a new Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment (CSIA) with conducting a comprehensive assessment that would lead to new goals and action plans to advance sustainability across the Ann Arbor campus. The U-M Graham Sustainability Institute, established in 2006, and the U-M Office of Campus Sustainability, established in 2009, supported this work.
U-M President Mark Schlissel establishes Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee
In 2015, U-M President Mark Schlissel established the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee, charged with evaluating and making recommendations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, U-M aims to reduce Ann Arbor scope 1 and 2 emissions (direct and purchased-power emissions, respectively) from FY2006 by 25 percent by 2025.
Bio sequestration Analysis Team
The bio sequestration internal analysis team was charged with evaluating and recommending optimal approaches for potential biological sequestration projects on- and off-campus. The scope of the group's work had three overarching goals, 1) assessment of current U-M landholdings; 2) categorization of land use on the U-M properties; 3) evaluation of land-use changes, where possible, that would maximize bio sequestration at multiple scales, to increase carbon sequestration.
Building Standards Analysis Team
The building standards analysis team was charged with evaluating current and emerging best practices regarding the adoption, implementation, and long-term efficacy of building code policies to improve sustainable building performance outcomes with an emphasis on achieving carbon emissions reductions. Analysis focused on improvements to new building design construction and approaches to major renovations that have the potential to contribute significantly to carbon emissions reductions for the most affordable cost. Additionally, secondary dimensions, whose contributions to emissions are often overlooked, were considered, including: occupant behavior, water conservation measures, stormwater management practices, and alignments between site design and sequestration.
Commuting Analysis Team
The commuting analysis team was charged with developing an approach to measure the carbon impact of the commute to the three U-M campuses; studying approaches used by peer institutions to reduce the carbon intensity of the commute; adapting promising approaches used elsewhere to the specific conditions of the U-M campuses and their surrounding areas; and developing prioritized recommendations for reducing the commute's carbon footprint, including metrics and indicators for tracking progress.
University Food Analysis Team
The food analysis team was charged with evaluating and recommending approaches to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions footprint associated with food consumption at U-M. Considerations included sourcing, certifications, volume reduction and disposal. The work focused attention on the role that dining services play in shaping the U-M food system and included mapping U-M’s dining services supply chains, existing data and current practices relevant to greenhouse gas emissions reductions across U-M dining services.
University-Sponsored Travel Analysis Team
The university-sponsored travel team's work was guided by six goals: 1) to compile existing published literature on travel footprints, footprints of academic meetings, university and other travel policies; 2) to determine quantitatively the amount of University travel and its associated carbon footprint; 3) to understand why University personnel travel; 4) to propose ways to educate the University community of the environmental impact of travel and relevant alternatives; 5) To propose a system of offsets for travelers to use; and 6) to propose changes for travel-related data management systems.