Annual fact sheet tracks Ann Arbor campus sustainability


As the University of Michigan works to eliminate campus greenhouse gas emissions on all campuses by 2040 and procure 100% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, the Ann Arbor campus continues to progress toward a range of longstanding sustainability goals.

In an annual fact sheet for FY ’23, the Office of Campus Sustainability reported significant progress in several areas, including that the campus reduced operational emissions by 30% and landscape chemical applications by 61% — each relative to a 2006 baseline.

The publication also noted several community engagement initiatives designed to advance a culture of sustainability.

“Together we are on the path of cultivating care for place, people and planet as integral to the campus community fabric, and we’re excited about the actions we’ve taken and those ahead of us,” said Shana S. Weber, associate vice president for campus sustainability.

“While we have updated our climate action goal to carbon neutrality by 2040, and have expanded our approach to cover all of our campuses, we continue to honor 2025 as an interim milestone. Our performance toward these goals has informed the road ahead, and many new initiatives are taking shape that will move us toward our shared leadership commitments.”

Other 2025 goals for the Ann Arbor campus pertain to fuel efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable food.

2025 Ann Arbor sustainability goals and progress

Data in the fact sheet show the following movement toward the 2025 sustainability goals, on the path to carbon neutrality:

Goal: Cut U-M greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2006 baseline.

Status: Surpassed goal with a 30% reduction in emissions.

U-M first achieved this goal in FY ’22 — three years early. Notable efforts advancing U-M toward carbon neutrality include:

  • Renewable power purchases, including 150,000 megawatt hours produced by wind parks in Michigan (equivalent to the electricity used by more than 10,000 homes per year) and plans underway to purchase additional Michigan-based renewable electricity. 
  • Expanding energy conservation projects through a shared revolving energy fund, which supported 35 LED retrofit projects in General Fund, Student Life, NCRC, Flint and Dearborn buildings last year. Forty additional energy conservation projects are currently underway.
  • The planning and construction of all-electric geo-exchange heating and cooling systems and plans to install 25 megawatts of solar power across all U-M campuses.
  • A U-M Health initiative to reduce the use of anesthetic gases with high global warming potential, which has resulted in an 88% reduction in point-of-care nitrous oxide use.

U-M is on pace to reduce campus emissions by 50% by 2025, primarily via the purchase of Michigan-based renewable energy and campus energy conservation work.

Goal: Decrease vehicle carbon output per passenger trip on U-M transportation options by 30% from the 2006 baseline.

Status: No reduction in FY ’23.

Progress on this goal, which measures emissions per passenger trip on U-M buses, vanpools and U-M use of Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority buses, has nearly recovered from pandemic lows. Work remains, including ongoing efforts to decarbonize the U-M vehicle fleet as part of the university’s 2040 carbon neutrality goal.

To that end, Logistics, Transportation & Parking has thus far deployed four electric buses and 47 electric fleet vehicles on the Ann Arbor campus, ordered eight more electric buses and 11 additional fleet EVs, and installed 88 electric vehicle chargers for fleet and public use. Efforts are underway to install more than 65 additional charger ports by the end of FY ’24. 

Goal: Shrink the amount of waste sent to landfills by 40% from the 2006 baseline.

Status: Reduced waste levels by 10%.

A growing campus population challenges this goal, despite continuous waste reduction efforts. For example, the Office of Campus Sustainability expanded compost collection services to include 158 buildings and more than 1,100 bins, including dozens of new public-facing bins to increase compost access for students.

U-M Health launched a reusable sharps container program estimated to eliminate 100,000 disposable containers and 258,000 pounds of plastic waste annually. OCS is conducting a comprehensive waste audit to inform new waste reduction targets and strategies.

Goal: Protect the Huron River through stormwater-control strategies and apply 40% less chemicals to campus landscapes from the 2006 baseline.

Status: Surpassed the goal with a 61% reduction in chemical applications.

In FY ’23, U-M continued a five-year streak of exceeding its 2025 Huron River protection goal. Successful strategies include organic fertilizer use, expanding natural areas, and implementing best practices to minimize chemical use.

As a certified Bee Campus, U-M increased pollinator awareness via tours and podcasts and expanded collaboration between students and operational staff.

Goal: Invest in programs to educate our community, track behavior, and report progress over time toward a campus-wide ethic of sustainability.

Status: Sustainability engagement programs have both spurred and responded to a growing interest in sustainability at U-M. For example:

  • The Planet Blue Ambassador program established a sustainability resource toolkit, hosted tours of geo-exchange installations, and launched a specialized training for laboratory-based staff. Currently, more than 9,200 people across all three U-M campuses are certified Planet Blue Ambassadors.
  • Student Life launched a Sustainability Cultural Organizers program, featuring students who leverage the power of the arts to envision a more just and sustainable world. One of their first major initiatives was an art exhibition at Michigan Union.
  • The weekly Farm Stand, jointly operated by the U-M Sustainable Food Program and the Campus Farm, engaged more than 2,000 students in hands-on food systems education and sold more than $10,000 worth of produce to students.
  • The Student Sustainability Coalition granted $98,000 in Planet Blue Student Innovation Funds to five student-centered initiatives, including an electric vehicle and solar charging infrastructure for the Campus Farm, a mobile farm stand built from fallen timber, a mushroom farm for the Sustainable Living Experience, a prototype for microbial carbon capture and a bat house on North Campus. In addition, the Social and Environmental Sustainability program funded nine student-led justice-oriented projects.


  1. Rebecca Liss
    on February 20, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Kudos to everyone who has researched, organized and committed to this very important initiative. as “Leaders and Best,” UM must lead by example.

  2. Kenneth Clark
    on February 20, 2024 at 1:32 pm

    The University was supposed to revisit transportation emissions this year, I believe. Where is that process? Currently, the University is ignoring scope 3 category 9 emissions from transportation – those emissions required to provide services, but not created by the University itself. The University provides over 30,000 car parking spaces – we can’t claim the University plays no role in the decisions of staff, students, and visitors to drive to campus, take flights to get to Ann Arbor for University activities, or flights to other places of UM staff and students.

    The standard accounting would attribute half of the emissions of those trips to the University, which would dwarf the emissions from most other UM activities. But it would be honest, and would strongly encourage the University to build more housing (and less parking) on campus and use telecommute/teleconference options. It could also at least provide a lot more EV-only parking and better bike parking.

  3. Jesse Swan
    on February 21, 2024 at 11:10 am

    This is great. I would love to see some of these initiatives trickle-down more to the off-site locations. For example: I work at NHC and we don’t have any EV charging options ( I realize that we don’t own this property).

Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.