Campus sustainability goals set for review by working groups


The university will convene working groups on greenhouse gas, waste reduction and campus culture as part of a review of its Campus Sustainability Goals and to generate new ideas to accelerate progress.

President Mark Schlissel asked Don Scavia, special counsel to the president for sustainability and director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, and Hank Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations, to lead the overall review of the university’s progress toward sustainability goals set in 2011.  

“To be the model public university — and to be a responsible leader in the communities we serve — we must achieve our full potential in sustainability,” Schlissel said.

“I have heard from many faculty, staff and students concerned with this issue and am confident that we have the expertise, focus on the future and commitment as a campus to ensure a strong sustainable future for U-M.”

Significant gains have been made toward goals including lowering the carbon intensity of passenger trips on U-M transportation and increasing the availability of sustainably sourced foods on campus. Other goals have been more difficult to achieve.

One team of faculty, staff and students will focus on greenhouse gases while a second reviews waste reduction.

“Greenhouse gas and waste reduction are priorities because those goals require the greatest investment to achieve, and our progress is not as rapid as we’d like,” said Baier.

A third group will examine the culture of sustainability on campus by reviewing the initiatives established during the past two years.

“These new programs allow us to better understand behavior patterns across campus and to engage more effectively throughout the U-M community,” said Scavia. “It’s now time to assess the effectiveness of those efforts to pinpoint opportunities for improvement going forward.”

The groups will begin work immediately to assess the university’s progress, identify barriers and make recommendations about possible new approaches that could speed progress toward a more sustainable campus. Recommendations to the president and executive officers are expected after the end of the academic year.



  1. Ann Vernier
    on November 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for asking.

    I am concerned about two things:

    1) the amount of waste that is generated in my workplace every day, and
    2) the amount of energy that is used unnecessarily every day.

    With regards to 1) waste, my workplace has frequent gatherings where food is served. This food is served with plastic plates, plasticware, and plastic and styrofoam cups. There is a LOT of waste that is generated from these events.
    I would like to see staff encouraged to at least bring their own mug, if not their own serving ware, to these parties.
    Another big waste generator is meetings – oftentimes, bottled water is supplied for participants. I would like this to stop. It is easy for people to bring their own water bottles filled with drinking fountain water. It is possible that people do not like/trust the quality of drinking fountain water. If that is the case, then maybe we could have filters installed at least some of the drinking fountains.

    With regard to 2) energy listed above, a great amount of energy is wasted every day in my workplace. Lights are left on overnight, and many people leave their computers on. Lights are left on in bathrooms overnight, and it seems that most people are not concerned about these things. If one person volunteered in each work area to turn off lights at the end of the day, this would result in energy savings.

    I feel the leader of my organization and the staff here are not concerned about these things. If they are, they are not voicing their concerns. I think the leader should encourage an open forum of thoughts about these issues, and implement some ways of addressing them.

  2. Denyse DuBrucq
    on November 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Your campus projects are encouraging. May I ask if you have a full compus heating system like is used at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where I had my learning experience?

    If you do, would U-M like to install our smoke abatement equipment which will, rather than put the smoke in the air, run it through a system separating the components and putting what can be useful to enhance plant growth in greenhouse environments so the net effect is air with Oxygen generated through photosynthesis and water condensed from the smoke keeping the veges and fruits coming for campus cuisine. The technology is developed under my patent USP 7,631,506. There will be no carbon tax, were it to apply to non-profit universities. And I am sure the various departments that can appropriately participate will enjoy the experience.

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