Innovation fund expands to faculty, staff projects


The Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund, which supports universitywide carbon neutrality and climate action by funding select on-campus projects to reduce U-M’s environmental impact, is expanding to include faculty and staff projects.

In the past, the fund has offered up to $25,000 each semester, predominantly funding student projects. Now, a total of $50,000 will be available each semester — half for student-led sustainability projects and half for projects led by faculty or staff.

“PBSIF projects are a wonderful opportunity for the U-M community to rally around sustainable solutions,” said Alex Bryan, sustainability programs manager for Student Life.

“Sustainability itself is such a broad topic that you can really plug in anywhere — from waste diversion to clean energy to sustainable produce. PBSIF gives students, faculty and staff funding to implement — and ideally scale — new approaches across a variety of fields.”

PBSIF projects often serve as pilots for subsequent broader adoption at U-M and beyond. Past initiatives that received funding include the Campus Farm, the Campus Farm straw-bale building, the Maize & Blue Cupboard and the Food Recovery Network.

The Student Sustainability Coalition, which manages the fund, aims to connect students and student groups with university sustainability efforts. Student Life and the Graham Sustainability Institute co-facilitate SSC and help it review PBSIF applications.

Applicants are directed to propose projects that address campus sustainability challenges, have a lasting impact, and enhance student engagement with sustainability topics. Letters of intent are due Nov. 6, and full applications are due Nov. 27.

In addition to administering the fund, SSC released an annual report in July covering student-led environmental work and collaborations at U-M. SSC also communicates with the campus community via a weekly newsletter, dedicated social media accounts, summits and informal coffee chats.

In September, U-M released its inaugural Climate Action at the University of Michigan report, which covers carbon neutrality and sustainability efforts taken during the 2021-22 fiscal year. The report includes details on targets for renewable purchased electricity, widespread geo-exchange heating and cooling plans, innovative financing mechanisms and other environmental initiatives.

Since 2010, the university has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. U-M is on pace to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions — those from direct sources and purchased power, respectively — by 50% by 2025, exceeding Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidance to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030.


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