A new series of websites highlight the University of Michigan’s research, engagement and leadership across an array of sustainability topics.

The sites, collectively known as Planet Blue Global Impact, serve as a comprehensive hub for major sustainability news at U-M.

They include stories and resources from various schools, colleges and units, covering eight distinct subtopics: Climate & Energy, Conservation & Restoration, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy & Business, Food Systems, Human Health, Sustainable Infrastructure and Water.

Each subtopic site provides information about human impacts on the natural and built environment, and demonstrates how U-M researchers and community members are taking action. The websites also feature leading sustainability initiatives and efforts across U-M, providing entry points for users to learn more and get involved.

“Planet Blue Global Impact demonstrates the breadth and depth of multidisciplinary expertise and commitment that U-M is counting on as we strive to achieve carbon neutrality and instill a culture of sustainability throughout our entire university,” President Mark Schlissel said.

“I commend the many U-M faculty, staff and students who are working to make our planet healthy and habitable for future generations.”

“University of Michigan researchers from all across campus are bringing their expertise together toward a more sustainable world,” added Jonathan Overpeck, Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability.

“The Planet Blue Global Impact websites are tremendous resources, particularly because they involve stories and efforts from many schools, colleges and initiatives, all brought together to demonstrate universitywide leadership on our planet’s most pressing problems.

“Within a couple minutes, any user can gain an introductory understanding of a given sustainability topic and how U-M is engaged, across sectors, in pursuit of innovative and just solutions.”

The websites are managed by the Office of the Vice President for Communications, with contributions from several schools, colleges and units across U-M.

Complementing Planet Blue Global Impact is Planet Blue Campus, which provides resources and information for students, staff, faculty and community members interested in getting involved in campus-focused sustainability efforts.

Progress toward sustainability goals

The formal launch of the Planet Blue Global Impact websites follows an announcement, made at the May 20 Board of Regents meeting, that U-M will achieve carbon neutrality across all greenhouse gas emission scopes.

Among other actions, the university committed to geothermal heating and cooling projects, electric buses, the creation of a revolving fund for energy-efficiency projects and the appointment of a new executive-level leader, reporting to the president, focusing on carbon neutrality-related efforts.

That announcement came on the heels of the final recommendations of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, which were released in March. Over the course of its two-year process, the commission received and considered more than 700 public comments from more than 400 U-M students, staff, faculty members, alumni and community members.

U-M also announced revised fossil fuel investment strategies in March that called for a net-zero endowment, discontinuing direct investments into publicly traded companies that are the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, a shift in U-M’s natural resources investment focus toward renewable energy, and discontinuing investments into funds primarily focused on oil reserves, oil extraction or thermal coal extraction.

Furthermore, U-M continues to progress toward its previously established goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the Ann Arbor campus by 25 percent by 2025. U-M will meet this target, set in 2011, later this year, largely due to a new high-efficiency turbine at the Central Power Plant, and the procurement of wind power from new DTE Energy wind parks. The wind parks will provide approximately half of the purchased electricity for the Ann Arbor campus.

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