SustainAbility Newsletter

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


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 


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Girl Scouts of America

Austin Ranch

Turf Feeding Systems

The University of Michigan

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SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

The 2012 Olympic Games and Sustainability

The most spectacular sporting event in the world has the power to bring together the aspirations of the finest athletes on earth and the efforts of hundreds of thousands of individuals who create the stage for their performances. It has the power to revitalize communities and shoulder the hopes and dreams of billions of people around the world who will be watching with bated breath. The

2012 Olympic Games

 vision the organizers had from the onset was to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change.

For six weeks in the summer of 2012, the eyes of the world will be on London. But for seven years before, and for many years afterwards, the organizers will be changing the way they had an impact on the people, industry and the planet.

Sustainability has been a key consideration for the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) since London started to bid for the Games. Major achievements include the creation of the Olympic Park, which is the largest new urban parkland created in Europe for one hundred and fifty years; and the construction of the Olympic Stadium, which is touted as the most sustainable Olympic stadium in history. 

In addition, London 2012 will be the first Olympic Games to measure its carbon footprint over the entire project term, and is also the first Games to commit to a zero waste-to-landfill target through the strategic Zero Waste Games Vision.

To bring the approach to life, the organizers focused on four areas that directly relate to the 2012 Olympic Game Experience for individuals who visit the games but also for people watching on television. 

Behind the scenes, there are some very interesting ways that the 2012 Olympic Games where planned, built and delivered with sustainability at the core – from the transformation of the Olympic Park and the building of world class venues, to the everyday decisions that are made at London 2012. 

All the venues at the 2012 Olympic Games in London are designed to ensure that the athletes perform to the best of their ability while also pushing the boundaries of sustainability from a knowledge and design perspective.

Where possible existing venues where used – Wimbledon, Excel, Lords and Earls Court are examples of existing facilities that are in essence being “recycled“.  Where there is a legacy need the developers built new venues - the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome are examples.  Where there was no need, they built temporary venues in iconic places such as Greenwich Park, Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade.

With millions of people on the move at the same time and extra people travelling each day in and around London, it is imperative to get everyone to their venues on time. By working with Transport for London and other partners to ensure that London’s public transport is ready these people can safely get to and from their destinations with relative ease.

London is also in and upon itself a great city for walking and cycling. They have a program called the “Active Travel Programme” which works to ensure that individuals have access to walking and cycling routes across the capital and co-host cities during the Games.

Most spectators at the London 2012 Games will want to have a bite to eat and a drink. The key aims of the food vision are to ensure that they offer affordable food that offers choice and diversity, and that they have healthy food and can cater for special dietary and cultural requirements too.

Contractors are required to serve food in compostable packaging and to source food in a way that has as low an environmental impact as possible.  For many of them this has meant implementing a fundamental change in how they source products and packaging –and is something they plan to adopt long term.

With so many people descending on London and the UK at the same time, the organizers need to ensure that  have thought long and hard about managing all that extra waste.  They created a revolutionary system for the Games, which will make it easier for us to ensure that no waste is sent to landfill during Games-time.

London 2012 seeks to optimise the opportunities to design out waste, while maximising the reuse and recycling of material arising during demolition, remediation and construction of the venues, as well as during the Games themselves. The Games and the lead-up to them present an opportunity to inspire change in waste-management practices in the events and construction sectors.

To learn more about the sustainability aspects of each venue visit





References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainable Demonstration Project Blog

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Scotland Yards Golf Club

Audubon Outdoors

Love and Dodson

Green World Parth

Turf Feeding Systems

The Dodson Group      

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This Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter sponsored in part by:

The Dodson Group

$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


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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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