Key initiatives: Sustainability


Building on the strong foundation laid by predecessors, President Mary Sue Coleman strengthened the university’s commitment to sustainability by broadening U-M’s approach to include education, research and operations under an initiative known as Planet Blue.

Coleman established the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Office of Campus Sustainability, the Sustainability Executive Council and a special counsel to the president for sustainability, which collectively provide the structure to coordinate efforts and launch new initiatives.

“Under President Coleman’s leadership, Michigan has become a premier university for sustainability research and education, and for providing opportunities to make a positive difference in the world,” said Don Scavia, special counsel to the president for sustainability and director of the Graham Institute.

In addition to more than 600 sustainability-related courses, students can now pursue a sustainability minor or dive deeper as Graham Undergraduate Scholars or Dow Sustainability Fellows, competitive interdisciplinary programs that prepare students for sustainability leadership.

Under Coleman, sustainability research funding grew to more than $60 million per year, a 200-percent increase since 2003. More than 850 faculty teach and research in related fields, and specialized units address important topics such as energy, water, transportation, risk, life cycle assessment, and sustainable enterprise.

Coleman deepened the institution’s long-standing commitment to sustainability with the announcement of the university’s 2025 stretch goals for climate action, waste reduction, healthy environments and community awareness.

Six LEED-certified buildings and 37 hybrid vehicles have been added to the campus, and nearly all dining halls eliminated trays to reduce food waste. In the last year alone, more than 1,300 faculty, staff and students became certified Planet Blue Ambassadors, and more than 80 offices earned Sustainable Workplace Certifications.   

The university also conducts the Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program to collect data on sustainability knowledge and behaviors throughout the U-M community to better identify and act upon opportunities to reach campus goals.  

See the recently released 2013 Sustainability Progress Report at


Leave a comment

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