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.