Sustainability Town Hall explores climate change adaptation


More than 120 students, faculty and staff attended Wednesday’s sustainability town hall to learn about climate change adaptation practices and how the university’s efforts address climate change.

The event was hosted by the Office of Campus Sustainability and included presentations by climate change experts from the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities, Great Lakes Integrated Science and Assessments, and the environmental consulting service Keiser and Associates LLC.

Beth Gibbons, project manager for Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities, shared key climate change impacts affecting Ann Arbor, including warmer average and nighttime temperatures, shorter winters and increased total precipitation with more severe weather events.

Storm-water management was presented as an area of importance for protecting the campus and the Huron River, with flooding risks more likely due to increased precipitation in the area.  

Climate change adaptation best practices were outlined, including:

• Maintaining and increasing campus tree canopy and species diversification.

• On-site storm-water management and use of porous surfaces.

• Alternative energy.

• Green infrastructure and building upgrades.

• Local food movement integration.

Examples of adaptation practices underway on campus include:

• Forestry efforts involving some 16,000 – 17,000 trees from at least five different specifies.

• North Campus storm-water management system.

• The U-M Soccer Complex’s porous pavement.

• Joint solar energy projects with DTE Energy on North Campus.

• Planet Blue building upgrades, including updates to heating and cooling systems.

• Seven green roofs on campus.

• MFarmers’ Market and the Campus Farm.

Andy Berki, manager of the Office of Campus Sustainability, said U-M’s climate change adaptation efforts span beyond those focused on energy efficient technology to include programs geared toward behavior adjustments, such as the Sustainable Workplace Program.

Following the presentation, attendees browsed information boards with progress updates on the university’s long-term sustainability goals in the areas of climate action, waste prevention, healthy environments and community awareness.

The town hall is one of several campus events occurring this week as part of the Climate Adaptation series presented by the Graham Sustainability Institute in collaboration with Office of Campus Sustainability and the City of Ann Arbor.

Ken Keeler, with the Office of Campus Sustainability, discusses university’s climate action efforts with students at the Sustainability Town Hall. Photo by Dana Elger.

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