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SustainAbility Newsletter

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University of Michigan Commits $100 Million to Sustainability

The University of Michigan will add 37 hybrid vehicles to its fleet of buses and install solar panels on its North Campus as part of an additional $14 million commitment to greening the campus. 

University of Michigan The plan, announced yesterday by President Mary Sue Coleman, brings the University's expenditures on behalf of sustainability to almost $100 million.

The University has already devoted $64 million for green buildings and $20 million to support the Office of Campus Sustainability and M-ride, a free campus transportation system that aims to lower emissions and noise pollution by reducing vehicular traffic.

The expenditures announced yesterday followed a two-year study, known as the Campus Sustainability Integration Assessment, to which more than 500 students, faculty, and staff contributed.

The 37 vehicles - the first of which will be delivered in December - will result in one of six University buses being a hybrid. And in addition to the solar panels, a new golf course on the South Campus will be powered by geothermal energy, a first for the University.

"I want the message to be clear: sustainability defines the University of Michigan," Coleman says.

Coleman also says that by 2025, the University will reduce carbon emissions 25%, and reduce waste sent to landfills 40%. UM will also reduce reliance on landscaping chemicals by 40% and adopt state-of-the-art storm runoff strategies to protect the Huron River.

A cogeneration facility supplies half of the energy for its Ann Arbor campus, and UM has pledged to meet LEED Silver standards for major new construction projects of $10 million or more. Its Dana Building is rated LEED-Gold and Ross School, LEED-Silver.

Planet Blue Operations, its energy efficiency program, has retrofited 70 campus buildings so far, saving $4 million annually. Up to 120 buildings will be completed by FY 2012.

Another priority is to promote sustainable agriculture and  support local Michigan farmers. From the residence halls to the unions and hospitals, the university is introducing purchasing guidelines to ensure at least 20% of its food comes from local,  sustainable sources.

UM is also proud of its recycling program, now in its third decade. 30 tons of recyclable waste are collected each season at Michigan Stadium, and nearly five times that amount is gathered when students move out of the residence halls.

However, Coleman says UM can't sign the American Colleges and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, an agreement to eliminate emissions on college campuses nationwide.

"We have concluded we cannot set a date by which we will achieve carbon neutrality," she explains.

It will join STARS, she says, which measures sustainability on college campuses worldwide. And, in a further effort at transparency and to track effectiveness, the university will turn to its Institute for Social Research. ISR, the world's largest survey research organization, to measure the sustainability attitudes and behaviors of students, faculty and staff, as well as identify where improvements can occur.

In addition to meeting the requirements of its campus operations through green energy, the University is intent upon sending a new generation of sustainability experts out into the world.  It offers 640 courses that feature content about sustainability, and 670 faculty members have expertise in the subject. The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts offers a minor in sustainability.

It launched Planet Blue Ambassadors, which trains students and staff to teach the 80,000 members of the Michigan community to save energy, reuse and recycle, and reduce waste.

"The goal commitments are certainly important, but more impressive to me is the emerging culture shift on campus," says Donald Scavia, director of the Graham Institute and Special Counsel to the President on Sustainability.

"I believe the high levels of focus, energy, and collaboration now in place throughout the university are the most significant steps in driving progress toward all of our sustainability goals-in education, research, and operations," he says.

Coleman also emphasizes the role UM students play in moving the university toward sustainability. She cites the Student Sustainability Initiative, in particular, for pulling together dozens of student groups together to address the issues.

"But of equal importance is the collaborative manner in which our students, faculty and staff come together to work on this difficult challenge," says Terry Alexander, executive director of UM's Office of Campus Sustainability. "That's something you just don't see in other large, diverse institutions like UM, and it is what sets us apart as a world-class leader."

UM got an "A" grade for its work on climate change and energy in the latest College Sustainability Scorecard
    


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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org 
  
The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Toyota
www.toyota.com

Ford Motors
www.ford.com

Girl Scouts of America
www.girlscouts.org

Austin Ranch
www.austinranch.com

Turf Feeding Systems
www.turffeeding.com

The University of Michigan
www.umich.edu

The Dodson Group
www.thedodsongrp.com      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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