Meeting Summaries

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
June 28, 2019


Andrew Berki, Brandon Hofmeister, Andrew Horning, Austin Glass, Barry Rabe, Gregory Keoleian, Henry Baier, Jennifer Haverkamp, Lisa Wozniak, Liz Barry, Stephen Forrest

Regrets: James Holloway, Anthony Denton, Larissa Larsen, Missy Stults, Anna Stefanopoulou, Logan Vear, Camilo Serna Meeting began at 1:32pm

Subgroup Updates

Heat and Power Infrastructure RFP

The sub group recently met and discussed details that needed to be added to the draft RFP (e.g., timelines, deliverables, etc.). The sub group is now reviewing a revised draft and is aiming to issue a final RFP in early/mid July.

Internal Analysis Team Faculty Leads

The sub group has identified potential faculty leaders for the internal analysis teams and will begin the process of securing their commitments. The Commission decided that serving as a faculty lead need not preclude a faculty member from also serving on the faculty advisory panel. Next steps for the sub group include creating a formal charge for each internal team that adequately explains the expectations, scope of work, etc. The Commission anticipates an iterative process of engagement with and guidance of the internal analysis teams throughout the project timeline.

Carbon Accounting

The sub group recently met and preliminarily discussed a variety of key issues, such as lifecycle accounting of fuels, global warming potential time horizons for methane, etc. Next steps for the sub group will be to secure additional research assistance support and develop a good benchmark of what U-M and other universities are doing within the carbon accounting space.

Fleet Electrification

The sub group is currently working on a feasibility study identifying good routes for electric buses, a cost assessment study for en-route chargers to mitigate risks on cold-weather ranges, and identifying external funding sources to subsidize electric bus purchases.

Early Actions

The sub group is prioritizing the list of activities that have been identified as potential early actions for the Commission to recommend.

Faculty Advisory Panel

The sub group will meet in early July to consider the structure and process of the Faculty Advisory Panel. There is a strong desire to include disciplines and spaces not currently represented on the Commission (e.g., arts and humanities, economics, U-M Flint, U-M Dearborn, etc.).

Defining Scope – Initial Discussion

Emission Categories

The Commission discussed possible criteria for deciding which categories of GHG emissions should be included in U-M’s accounting and goals. Commissioners were in general agreement that efforts should be taken to mitigate emissions across all relevant scopes and categories, but that their inclusion in, and timelines for, the University’s carbon neutrality goals may vary based on a variety of key factors, including the ability to measure, relative GHG footprint, U-M’s influence in affecting change, and the experiences of other institutions.

With Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions clearly within the Commission’s charge, the discussion of categories focused largely on how to address Scope 3 emissions. It was noted that universities with GHG reduction or neutrality goals typically include emissions from commuting, university- sponsored travel, and waste disposal, and that UM has means for measuring (with relative ease though varying degees of accuracy) these types of emissions. Emissions from general purchasing (e.g., food, equipment, supplies, etc.) could be estimated using general input/output models. A discussion of emissions related to off-campus student housing noted the opportunities to work creatively with the City of Ann Arbor as well as the challenges of measurement and question of whether such emissions fit within the GHG Protocol.

Geographic Boundaries

The Commission also held an initial discussion of which U-M properties and facilities should be included in its charge, in light of the wide range of U-M’s land and building footprint that exists beyond the boundaries of U-M’s primary campuses. Those properties within the boundaries of U-M Ann Arbor campus are already included in the 2025 goal, but those beyond are not. Commission members noted the GHG sequestration properties of U-M’s many field stations and preserves. Leased facilities and Michigan Medicine satellite units were discussed briefly. There are many different types of leased space throughout the state, and even a few nationally and globally. Michigan Medicine also has a wide range of facilities throughout the state, some of which are wholly-owned, some that are leased, and some where U-M has affiliation agreements with other providers.

As next steps, the Commission plans to develop principles for recommending what should be included and excluded from our GHG accounting and goals, and Facilities and Operations were asked to generate a list of university properties to help determine materiality and scope.

Meeting ended at 3:30 pm

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
May 31, 2019


Andrew Berki, Andrew Horning, Anna Stefanopoulou, Austin Glass, Barry Rabe, Camilo Serna, Gregory Keoleian, Henry Baier, Jennifer Haverkamp, Lisa Wozniak, Liz Barry, Logan Vear, Missy Stults, Jonathan Overpeck, Stephen Forrest Regrets: Anthony Denton, Brandon Hofmeister, James Holloway, Larissa Larsen

Meeting started at 1:35pm


There was a discussion about the definition and framing of early actions the Commission might take and recommend to the Administration. Those considered most likely to be favorably received by the Administration at this stage in the Commission’s work are interim actions that support the Commission in its efforts to develop a robust plan, as opposed to one-off technical solutions or actions that might constrain the range of options the Commission could consider down the road.

University Engagement Ideas

There was a brief discussion of non-technical actions the commission might consider supporting to pave the way for the plan that will emerge from its work. There was general support for creating an onboarding module for new U-M community members to educate them on climate change and how U-M is addressing it. . As a next step, this idea will likely be a topic for the Culture and Communications analysis team but some would prefer to move more quickly.

University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)

Gina Stovall from Second Nature joined the meeting by phone to brief the commission on the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). A description of the coalition is available here: This presentation was followed by a commission- only discussion about the merits of joining the coalition, with members supporting further exploration of the idea.

Commission Sub-group updates

A variety of commission sub-groups have been formed and will be meeting in the coming weeks to begin their work. Topics include: fleet electrification, carbon accounting and methane leakage, potential interim actions, and internal analysis team faculty lead selection.

External Infrastructure Analysis

There was a discussion regarding the urgency of commissioning an external analysis to evaluate options for transitioning campus energy infrastructure to carbon neutral outcomes. A decision was made to proceed with developing and issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) on this issue as soon as possible. Also discussed was the likely need to commission an additional external analysis concerning developing an institution-level approach and strategies for high-performance buildings (new and existing facilities). Some additional exploration that is required before drafting the buildings RFP will be a significant focus in the coming weeks.

Advisory Panels Status

  • Student panel – Up and running and meeting regularly. Still seeking representation from Flint and Dearborn
  • University Units panel – Units representing the breadth of U-M’s activities have been identified. The next step is to reach out to these units to identify representatives
  • External panel – This group primarily will comprise external experts consulted at the commission or analysis team level. These advisors will not likely meet as a group but a subset could conceivably be convened at a major milestone or around a particular issue.
  • Faculty Panel –Commission is identifying liaison(s) to help define the role, composition, and function. This will be a priority in the coming weeks.

Meeting ended at 3:32 pm

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
May 3, 2019


Jennifer Haverkamp, Steve Forrest, Drew Horning, Anna Stefanopoulou, Gregory Keoleian, Hank Baier, Larissa Larsen, Missy Stults, Jonathan Overpeck, Logan Vear, Austin Glass, Brandon Hofmeister, Lisa Wozniak, Barry Rabe, Tony Denton, Liz Barry, James Holloway


Regrets: Camilo Serna, Andrew Berki

1:33pm Meeting begins

Updates on developments since the last meeting

The meeting opened with an update on the work plan, which is now posted on the website.

While the work plan emphasizes the criticality of stakeholder involvement, one member further emphasized the importance of ensuring that internal and external analyses directly involve non-technical experts who are likely to be affected by recommended actions.

An update was also provided regarding a mini Town Hall involving people from the Taubman College and Stamps school communities.

It was announced that the Commission’s Project Coordinator has been hired and will begin on May 29, 2019.

Externally-Commissioned Infrastructure Analysis

This discussion focused on shaping the process for conducting an externally-commissioned analysis to evaluate campus infrastructure and what would be required to move it toward carbon neutrality. Commissioners touched on several key elements they felt should be addressed as part of the analysis, including:

  • Recognize the scale involved given the inclusion of the Health System and the Flint and Dearborn campuses (note: Dearborn & Flint do not yet have an emissions inventory)
  • Distinguish between campus-wide energy infrastructure and building-level considerations
  • Segment building stock based on usage type (e.g., office/classroom, residential, low-tech lab, hi-tech lab, patient care, data centers, etc.)
  • Assess optimal usage of existing building stock
  • Assess energy distribution infrastructure capacity, needs, etc.
  • Address transportation infrastructure opportunities extending beyond the campus alongside local and regional partners
  • Identify opportunities that could spur companies to develop new clean energy capacity in the State
  • Identify opportunities where infrastructure decisions could support the circular economy
  • Incorporate consideration of planned future construction in the analysis

Commissioners proposed to begin with a “Request for Information” to identify what firms have to offer and follow up with more specific “Request for Proposals” based on what services are available and most useful. A sub-group was formed to draft the RFI and bring it back to the Commission to finalize.

Potential “Early Wins”

This discussion focused on developing ideas for actions that could potentially be recommended for implementation prior to the completion of the Commission’s work. This began with a discussion to collectively define what the group means by an “early win”. Key elements included:

  • Visible
  • Substantive
  • Virtue signaling
  • Directional
  • Complementary
  • Educational
  • Does not impede future directions or decisions
  • Achievable in the next 6-12 months

Commissioners also had an initial discussion of various “early win” ideas they had collected prior to the meeting. A commission sub-group is being formed to develop a short list of priorities that align with the Commission’s definition that will be proposed to the full membership for consideration.

A subgroup was also established to explore the accuracy of UM’s carbon accounting, including assessing losses/leakages throughout the supply chain, as well as fugitive emissions on campus.

Another subgroup was established to explore possible short-term actions to help accelerate electric vehicle transportation infrastructure on campus.

3:35pm Meeting adjourned

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
April 12, 2019


Hank Baier, Andrew Berki, Steve Forrest, Austin Glass, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Drew Horning, Gregory Keoleian, Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Overpeck, Barry Rabe, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Missy Stults, Logan Vear, Lisa Wozniak

Regrets: Liz Barry, Tony Denton, James Holloway

Started promptly at 1:30pm

Updates on engagement efforts since the last meeting

The co-chairs opened with a summary of engagement conducted since the previous meeting, which included engagement with:

  • Academic Planning Group (i.e., U-M Deans)
  • Associate Deans Group
  • Graham Sustainability Institute External Advisory Board
  • Global CO2 Initiative Advisory Group
  • Local A2 citizens advocacy group
  • 2 Town Hall events with roundtable conversations
  • Special Public Session with President Schlissel

Future engagement:

  • Ongoing engagement and communication in many forms and with many different stakeholders will be essential
  • There are conceptual plans for a town-gown engagement geared toward the broader A2 area community – perhaps in June around the A2 Green Fair
  • Engaging with key decision makers (e.g., President, Board of Regents) at key milestones will be important

Presentation and discussion on U-M GHG emission reduction – past progress and current status, and plans (Hank Baier and Andy Berki)


Key notes:

  • Data shown is for Ann Arbor campus only. It does not include Flint and Dearborn which are also in scope for the Commission
  • Forecasts reflect “business as usual” approach and could change based on Commission recommendations that are adopted by the university
  • U-M’s heating infrastructure, which is currently fueled by natural gas, will be a key issue for the Commission to address
  • The State of Michigan and much of the U.S. face similar challenges related to current reliance on natural gas heating infrastructure

Discussion of Draft Work Plan

All Commission members had the opportunity to comment on a draft work plan in advance of the meeting, and a revised draft reflecting that input was shared prior to the meeting. This revised draft plan was discussed in detail at the meeting. Based on that discussion further refinements will be made to the work plan with a goal of finalizing it before the next Commission meeting and moving quickly to implementation. The final work plan will be made public.

Meeting ended 3:05pm.

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
March 11, 2019

3:30pm – Meeting began

Co-chairs opened the meeting by summarizing the agenda. This was followed an update from the commission’s administrative director on plans for the Town Hall immediately following the meeting.

Representatives from U-M’s Office of General Counsel and FOIA Office then briefed the Commission on how the FOIA process works at U-M.

This was followed by a discussion of the Commission’s operating principles and guidelines

The co-chairs described engagement efforts to date with students and turned it over to the student commission members to outline the progress being made in developing the student advisory panel. The primary goal is to ensure the panel has diverse representation across university programs, campuses, and topical areas of interest related to climate change and carbon reduction.

Next, there was a discussion of the potential composition and purpose of the University Advisory Panel. The goal is to make this group large enough that it is representative of all three campuses and all types of major U-M units, while also keeping it small enough to be highly functional.

Professor Greg Keoleian then gave an informative presentation on GHG emission scopes and their components. Those slides are posted on the Commission’s public website. View/download slides (PDF)

The presentation was followed by a preliminary discussion of UM GHG emissions by scope, with a particular focus on Scope 3 emissions, which come from a variety of sources including commuting, business travel, solid waste disposal, etc. Commission members discussed the importance and challenges of creating accurate metrics for tracking Scope 3 emissions, and benchmarking how other universities, industries, and communities are addressing Scope 3 emissions. This discussion also included recognition that potential approaches need to be mindful of socio-economic impacts.

5pm – Meeting adjourned

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
February 22, 2019

The meeting opened with President Schlissel giving the charge to the Commission to begin its work on carbon neutrality. He stressed the importance of the objectives of the Commission as set forth in the Charge document, and the commitment of the university to ensuring that we meet the goals set forth in the objectives. He reminded the Commission that its purpose was advisory, to recommend actions that will lead to meeting the university’s goals. The university administration and the Board of Regents’ duty will be to act on those recommendations in a responsible manner, balancing the top priorities of the university, which include setting and meeting goals for carbon neutrality. President Schlissel reviewed the scope of the Commission which includes all three campuses (Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn). President Schlissel also reiterated the university’s commitment to and expectation of achieving the 2025 goal of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a 2006 baseline, and charged the Commission with focusing its efforts on the path forward beyond 2025.

After President Schlissel departed, the Commission members introduced themselves to each other, describing their backgrounds, relevant areas of expertise, and interests in working to achieve the Commission's objectives.

This was followed by the co-chairs setting forth the responsibilities of the Commission members as the work proceeds, and a discussion of the initial focus of work. Topics to be addressed over the next few meetings will include formation of the advisory panels and exploring the scope of the Commission’s work, which will include briefings on how emission scopes are defined and familiarizing members with the baseline, history and status of UM efforts to date.

The Commission suggested and agreed to host a first public “Town Hall” session as soon as possible to gain additional input from the broader stakeholder community.