Meeting Summaries

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
December 13, 2019


In Person:
Henry Baier, Liz Barry, Andrew Berki, Valeria Bertacco, Anthony Denton, Stephen Forrest, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Andrew Horning, Greg Keoleian, Jonathan Overpeck, Barry Rabe, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Missy Stults, Logan Vear, Lisa Wozniak.

By Phone (for part or all of the meeting):
Stephen Forrest, Barry Rabe

Austin Glass, Larissa Larsen



Welcome Valeria Bertacco

The Commission welcomed Valeria Bertacco, the Vice Provost for Engaged Learning, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, as a new member of the Commission. She replaces James Holloway, who departed U-M to become Provost at the University of New Mexico.

Commission 2020 Meeting Schedule

The Commission will increase the cadence of meetings in 2020. January meetings will focus on Commission deliberation and decision-making processes and a discussion with the Integral Group analysis team regarding their work to date. February meetings will include discussions with the internal analysis team faculty leads on their work to date, and March meetings are expected to focus on level-setting topics, as described below.

PCCN Fall Interim Progress Report

The Commission’s fall interim progress report was released on December 2, 2019. See here for the report executive summary. A Commission co-chair briefed the UM Regents on the contents of the interim report, and the work to be completed in the course of developing final recommendations by Fall 2020.

Internal Analysis Teams

The Commission approved adding Lars Junghans, an associate professor in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, as a faculty co-lead with Jen Maigret of the building standards internal analysis team. Professor Junghans is an engineer whose research focuses on the development and optimization of high-performance buildings with a comprehensive view of all aspects of the building’s thermal behavior.

Potential Future Level-Setting Sessions

The Commission discussed which topics should be priorities for future level-setting sessions during phase 2 of its work. The purpose of these sessions is to establish a shared baseline for understanding key issues among all Commissioners. Topics considered for future sessions included carbon offsets, utility plans for renewable energy development and transition away from natural gas, goal-setting frameworks, state and local policy and considerations, geothermal power, and green finance.

UM Budget Model

Amy Dittmar, the Acting Provost and Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, delivered a presentation designed to provide all commissioners with a baseline understanding of how the UM Budget Model works. Following her presentation and discussion, Tony Denton, Sr. Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, gave a presentation describing the budget and capital allocation process in Michigan Medicine. Then, Kambiz Khalili, Associate Vice President, Student Life; and Michael Wellman, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Engineering, explained how their units address trade-offs and priorities when making decisions on capital and operations projects.

In their remarks, Khalili and Wellman spoke about the various tradeoffs associated with decision-making on capital projects. For example, limited budgets can force decisions between increasing the energy efficiency of a building or including more rooms and programming in the building project. It was noted that some institutions address this by making additional funding available for up-front energy efficiency investments that exceed the minimum thresholds that are mandated by the institution. Also noted was the importance of identifying and correcting misaligned incentives that lead to localized decisions that conflict with systems-level objectives. For example, without proper incentives, research labs may be inclined to purchase less energy efficient equipment because of its lower purchase price.

During these sessions, Commissioners explored how future volatility and risk relating to climate change is factored in to unit-level decisions, and ways UM could potentially garner more favorable financing terms for projects with larger up-front costs but which have significantly lower operating costs. Alternative financing models for future carbon neutral building projects were briefly discussed.

For Acting Provost Dittmar’s slide deck on the UM Budget Model, see here. For Vice President Denton’s slide deck on the UM Health System, see here.

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
November 15, 2019


In Person:
Henry Baier, Liz Barry, Andrew Berki, Anthony Denton, Austin Glass, Stephen Forrest, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Drew Horning, Greg Keoleian, Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Overpeck, Barry Rabe, Camilo Serna, Missy Stults, Logan Vear, Lisa Wozniak.

Valeria Bertacco, Anna Stefanopoulou



Student Advisory Panel

The co-chairs recently met with the PCCN student representatives regarding the Student Advisory Panel concerns shared at the October 25 Commission meeting. They are working to schedule a meeting with the Student Advisory Panel in the near future to discuss further.

Ross Net Impact Engagement

The co-chairs met with the student leaders of the Ross School Net Impact organization. They shared that their group (of ~70 students) is interested in exploring how business and carbon neutrality can work together to get the job done. The co-chairs and a couple analysis team faculty leads agreed to participate on a panel on this topic at a December 10th event Net Impact is organizing.

Internal Analysis Teams

The eight internal analysis teams have been working throughout the month. The first all-faculty leads meeting was held on November 8. The group plans to meet monthly to aid in collaboration and information sharing among the different teams. These meetings are open to the Commissioners to facilitate engagement between the Commission and the internal analysis teams.

UM Dearborn and UM Flint Engagement

Following the engagement event at UM Dearborn in October, the co-chairs met with the new Chancellor of UM Flint, Debasish Dutta. The three are arranging a talk at UM Flint similar to the engagement event at UM Dearborn for early in the new year.

City of Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality

The City of Ann Arbor declared a climate emergency on November 4, and with that began their planning process towards attaining climate neutrality by 2030. On November 13 the City of Ann Arbor held a Carbon Neutrality Summit which consisted of three separate meetings throughout the day, of which one was a session with partner organizations including U-M. The event included approximately 400 people, and the city plans to host another engagement event in winter 2020.

Next Phase of PCCN’s Work

A major topic of this meeting was a discussion of what the next phase of the Commission’s work would entail, and how it would help prepare the PCCN to develop recommendations once the various analyses were completed and reported back to it. Commissioners began by reviewing their timetable.


The co-chairs then introduced the work plans for the coming months that will be the focus of the meetings in spring until fall. They are outlined below.


Commissioners discussed how, during the Commission’s second phase, they will begin to engage U-M administration leadership on how some of the potential recommendations could impact current business models and structures of the University. Beginning this process well in advance will provide a foundational level for considering implementation issues more expeditiously once the PCCN submits its recommendations.

Commission Meeting Process

The Commission will increase the cadence of its meetings in 2020, seeking to meet every 2 weeks for 90 minutes each.

The co-chairs will distribute a list of key ”level-setting” topics which the Commission still needs to explore in upcoming meetings, and will seek commissioner input regarding additions to the list. Subject area experts will be invited to join these meetings to inform the conversation.

There was a brief conversation around the Commission’s decision-making process, a topic the Commission will return to in future meetings.

The commissioners were given a final opportunity to comment on the PCCN fall interim progress report during the weekend immediately following the meeting. The interim progress report is posted here.

Interim Actions

Commissioners shared views on what would make a potential interim action a “no brainer”, and how to evaluate when an interim action made sense to pursue. This was part of a longer discussion regarding the PCCN’s role relative to University actions currently underway or in active planning, including construction projects like the new Clinical Inpatient Tower (CIT). Concerns were raised about the potentially high costs of waiting to retrofit such buildings for carbon neutrality down the road, along with the potentially high financial and social costs of pausing construction or reopening design processes. The Commission will work to gain a deeper understanding of carbon neutral building design, including through the work of the building standards internal analysis team and the Integral Group’s external heat and power analysis.

The Commission is also considering identifying a set of case studies, in addition to its current workstreams, to examine ways of decarbonizing different types of UM buildings. An outstanding question is whether such case studies should be undertaken in the near future or later when they could be used to help evaluate specific options and recommendations from the analysis teams.

Integral Group Progress Report

Commissioners received an update on the external heat and power infrastructure analysis being performed by Integral Group. Integral Group is looking at the entire heat and power infrastructure for UM Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint, including individual building boiler systems, the North Campus Research Center (NCRC), Central Energy Plant, and the Central Campus Power Plant (CPP). Integral Group is looking into geofield technology, along with other types of technologies (e.g., biogas, carbon capture), to determine what would best meet UM’s needs. Members of the PCCN hosted the Integral Group team for a kickoff meeting on October 24. Since then, a team of UM Office of Campus Sustainability staff has been providing key data and information to Integral Group to help them begin the work.

There was also discussion about learning from the experiences of institutions that may have already implemented some of the technologies that Integral Group is evaluating for U-M’s adoption. One such example would be the geothermal heating and cooling system installed at Ball State University in 2012.

The external analysis work necessitates 2 phases:

  • Phase 1 will consist of the group evaluating the technology options, analyzing the data and determining the best combination of technologies to transition UM’s heat and power infrastructure towards carbon neutrality. Their initial analyses and recommendations will be presented to the Commission in early 2020.
  • Phase 2 will include exploring and quantifying the implications of selected recommendations. Integral group will quantify the costs, disruptions to campus life and work, etc. Some more specific case studies could potentially emerge from this phase. The final analysis results will be delivered to the Commission in April of 2020.
Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
October 25, 2019


In Person:
Liz Barry, Andy Berki, Steve Forrest, Austin Glass, Drew Horning, Jonathan Overpeck, Barry Rabe, Missy Stults, Logan Vear.

By Phone (for part or all of the meeting):
Jennifer Haverkamp, Greg Keoleian, Lisa Wozniak

Hank Baier, Anthony Denton, Brandon Hofmeister, Larissa Larsen, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou


External Engagement Events

The Commission co-chairs, Steve Forrest and Jennifer Haverkamp, spoke at UM Dearborn on October 18 as a part of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Strategic Planning Thought Leader Series. The co-chairs presented on the scientific urgency, universities’ actions on carbon neutrality, and a general overview of the Commission and its progress so far to Dearborn administrators, faculty and students. The talk concluded with around 30 minutes of Q&A. UM Dearborn communications published an article about the visit here.

The co-chairs are working with the Chancellor of the Flint campus to hold an informational meeting with Flint faculty and students on the PCCN and its progress.

On October 21 and 22, several PCCN commissioners and affiliates served as judges for a Ross Business School (Zell-Lurie Institute) business pitch competition focused on carbon neutrality, and Co-chair Haverkamp delivered the event’s keynote on the work of the PCCN. As part of the core curriculum, all (~ 600) BBA juniors were charged with coming up with entrepreneurial solutions to address carbon neutrality in the areas of building standards, energy consumption, transportation, and university dining.

The Commission also discussed the best way to bring external carbon neutrality leaders to campus to benefit both the Commission’s work, the internal analysis teams, and the broader UM community.

The university will be working with the City of Ann Arbor to organize town-gown engagements focused on carbon neutrality at a city-wide level, as a part of its recent commitment to joining UC3, and in recognition that the university is a significant part of the local community.

The city is kicking off a series of events focused on carbon neutrality on November 13, which includes a public session from 5:30 - 7pm at Cobblestone Farm. Register here.

Heat and Power Infrastructure External Analysis

The Commission has selected Integral Group to evaluate potential pathways for evolving UM’s heating and power generation infrastructure toward carbon neutrality. Four of Integral Group’s team members visited the UM Ann Arbor campus on October 24. The group toured the power generation plants on campus and furthered their understanding of how the UM Ann Arbor campus functions. The group will also visit the UM Flint and UM Dearborn campuses throughout their analysis process.

Social Justice Sub Group

A social justice subgroup of the Commission was recently formed, led by Prof. Larissa Larsen and including a team of four students. The group will explore and work to understand social equity impacts arising from the Commission’s recommendations, and how these may be addressed in the course of efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

Faculty Advisory Panel

The PCCN’s charge references a faculty advisory panel that was originally intended to create a mechanism through which faculty could contribute their specialized expertise on various topics. This role is now largely being filled via their participation on Internal Analysis Teams and Commission sub groups. However, the Commission sees value in also establishing a panel of faculty with more broadly representative perspectives and interests to provide feedback as recommendations begin to take shape. Work to define this panel’s mandate and membership is underway.

Internal Analysis Teams

The PCCN Internal Analysis Teams are fully staffed and span eight different topic areas including building standards, energy consumption, commuting, university travel, food, bio sequestration, campus culture and communication, and external collaboration. The teams include thirteen faculty members that span nine different schools and colleges across UM Ann Arbor and UM-Flint, along with forty-five students from ten different schools and colleges across UM Ann Arbor, UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn. Twenty-seven graduate students and eighteen undergraduate students comprise the eight teams. The work has begun and will finish in April 2020.

Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program (SCIP) Presentation and Discussion

John Callewaert and Bob Marans, co-PIs for the SCIP survey, presented to the Commission on their work measuring sustainability awareness and behaviors at UM. Each annual survey measures a set of indicators covering awareness, behaviors, commitment, and engagement. The measures relate to UM’s 2012 Sustainability Goals including: travel and transportation, energy conservation, waste prevention, protecting the natural environment and sustainable foods.

The conversation focused on ways that the survey could contribute to the Commission’s work and to the University’s ongoing carbon neutrality efforts into the future. Based on past findings, survey respondents (students, faculty, and staff) increasingly acknowledge the importance of addressing climate change, but this sense of urgency is not yet reflected in individual behaviors across campus. The SCIP team is considering how to expand their survey to better encompass current UM priorities, like carbon neutrality, and how to reach the UM Flint and UM Dearborn communities more directly through their survey. The next iteration of the survey will go out to students in Fall 2020 and to faculty and staff in Fall 2021.

Student Advisory Panel Feedback and Discussion

A set of six concerns from members of the Student Advisory Panel were conveyed to the Commission, spanning the topics of urgency, transparency and responsiveness, past and future recommendations, expert involvement, City of Ann Arbor – UM partnership, and internal restructuring.

The Commission began a preliminary conversation regarding these concerns, with various Commissioners offering their initial thoughts and perspectives. There was insufficient time to explore these issues in-depth, and the Commission will address them further at a future meeting.

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
September 27, 2019


Andrew Berki, Steve Forrest, Austin Glass, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Andrew Horning, Greg Keoleian, Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Overpeck, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Logan Vear, Lisa Wozniak

Liz Barry, Hank Baier, Anthony Denton, Barry Rabe, Missy Stults

General Updates

University Climate Change Coalition

Following the Commission’s recommendation, UM has officially signed on to the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), and established the four required liaisons (Executive, Operations, Research and Communications) who have since participated in an onboarding call. UM plans to partner with the City of Ann Arbor to host a “Town-Gown” community engagement event in the late fall as its first deliverable as a UC3 member.

Ivy +/Listening Post Group

UM is a member of Ivy Plus/Listening Post, a group of sustainability representatives from various universities across the United States that come together to discuss sustainability progress and programs. UM has agreed to participate in a 2-year proxy carbon tax study spearheaded by Smith College and Princeton. The purpose of the study is to provide information to create a catalog of real-world case studies that could inform and guide future policy decisions.


UM’s Office of the Vice President for Communications is hiring a new staffer to focus exclusively on university-level sustainability communications, with a significant part of that effort being dedicated to the work of the Commission.

Faculty Advisory Panel

The Commission Co Chairs are working to identify leadership for the advisory panel, who will then help to shape the mission and membership of the panel.

Fall Progress Report Outline

The Commission is actively working on putting together the mandated Fall Progress Report. The report will be released this fall and will detail the work the Commission has completed thus far and what the Commission’s work will entail looking forward.

Community Forum Reflections

The Commission’s most recent Community Forum event took place on September 25 in the Rackham Amphitheater and Assembly Hall. For the recording and slides presented, click here.

In response to the comments and questions received during the forum, the Commission will develop a frequently asked questions document, which will be accessible to community members on the website. In addition to these public events, the Commission and analysis teams will seek opportunities to engage with preexisting groups across campus who may not usually engage with such topics as carbon neutrality at UM.

There was also discussion of ongoing concerns in some circles regarding accountability, and in particular, whether the administration will ultimately accept Commission recommendations. The consensus was that the Commission needs to focus first on developing robust analyses that inform compelling recommendations. Decisions on whether recommendations are accepted reside with the President and the Regents, but the Commission will keep university leaders up to date on our progress and pathway to ensure decision-makers are well informed throughout the process.

Fleet Electrification

A concept was presented for an Electric Bus Pilot on the U-M campus that aligns with an active faculty-led research proposal (see slides). The Commission supports the pursuit of this pilot study and hopes it will inform potential recommendations for fleet electrification. A sub group is working to iron out logistical details associated with the pilot program in anticipation of a state-run funding opportunity later this fall.

Electric Utility Fuel Mix Projections

Consumers Energy presented information on their current plan for moving toward decarbonization. Find Consumers’ 2019 Climate Assessment Report here.

DTE Energy presented information on their current plan for moving toward decarbonization (see slides).

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
September 13, 2019


Samer Ali, Hank Baier, Liz Barry, Andy Berki, Heather Dawson, Tony Denton, Stephen Forrest, Austin Glass, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Drew Horning, Gregory Keoleian, Trish Koman, Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Levine, Tom Lyon, Steven Mangan, Jen Maigret, Jonathan Overpeck, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Missy Stults, Rebecca Tonietto, Joseph Trumpey, Logan Vear, John Williams, Lisa Wozniak, Ming Xu

Regrets: Lesli Hoey, Andy Hoffman, Andrew Jones, Barry Rabe


University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)

President Schlissel accepted the commission’s recommendation to join 20 other North American universities in the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). A key responsibility of UC3 membership will be a public climate forum focused on city and university climate goals and plans, which is being organized in partnership with the City of Ann Arbor during the 2019-20 school year.

Heat and Power Infrastructure RFP

A sub group of the Commission will meet with an external firm in the coming weeks regarding their proposal to evaluate options for transitioning from natural gas infrastructure to carbon neutral alternatives.

Carbon Accounting Sub Group

The carbon accounting sub group gave a brief presentation of their work regarding methane and other emissions resulting throughout the supply chain.

Transportation Fleet Electrification Sub Group

The sub group is working to understand the best route, suppliers and financial options for a potential electric fleet of campus vehicles. The group hopes to have a preliminary construction cost for electric bus fleet charging infrastructure within the next few weeks.

Internal Analysis Team Faculty Lead Session

The Internal Analysis Team faculty leads and co leads were invited to join the Commission’s meeting to briefly present each team’s proposed scope of work to the Commission. Following these presentations, there was a Q&A and discussion session between the Commission and the faculty leads.

Building Standards, Jen Maigret

The building standards team has narrowed its scope down to four areas of building design and construction: energy, water, site, and materials. Within these four topic areas, the team will focus on four different dimensions of analysis: prescriptive versus performance-based code; economics; specifications; and post-construction commissioning.

Energy Consumption Policies, Tom Lyon

The energy consumption policies team will begin their work by looking at baseline information, then understanding explicit and implicit policies we have here at UM regarding energy usage. The team will take note of best practices at other universities and non-university organizations.

Commuting, Jonathan Levine

The commuting team will examine the daily travel of students, faculty and staff to and from campus. Using data from the Sustainability Cultural Indicators survey (SCIP), the team will determine an approach to measure the carbon impact of the commute and identify potential opportunities to refine the survey going forward. The team has identified two potential approaches to reducing the carbon emissions of the commute:

  • Reduce the impact of each vehicle mile traveled
  • Reduce the total vehicle miles traveled

University Travel, John Williams and Ming Xu

The university travel team will quantify the amount of travel and survey travelers to understand the purposes of the travel, how much they know about how travel affects the environment and how receptive travelers are to making changes in travel choices based on environmental impacts.

Food, Lesli Hoey and Andrew Jones

The food team will focus on the role University Dining plays in food choices, and will map out dining service supply chains across the three UM campuses. The team will likely use M-Dining as a proof of concept and case study throughout the analysis.

Biosequestration, Heather Dawson and Rebecca Tonietto

The team will assess UM land holdings and their potential uses for increased biosequestration. The team will consider two different scales of biosequestration:

  • Large tracts of land: what types of land would sequester the most amount of carbon
  • Small tracks of land: cultural shift throughout the community with small-scale projects

Campus Culture and Communication, Samer Ali and Joseph Trumpey

The campus culture and communication team will begin by trying to understand all existing programs at UM related to sustainability. From there, the team will partner with stakeholders, the SCIP survey and other internal analysis teams to create key collaborations and partnerships across campus. The ultimate goal is to inform communications and education strategies for campus-wide buy-in around carbon neutrality efforts.

External Collaboration, Andy Hoffman and Trish Koman

The external collaboration team will work with other internal analysis teams to identify external partners to bring the proper skills and knowledge into the effort, for the near and longer-term. The team will also work with different groups within UM to leverage preexisting relationships with external stakeholders and groups.

General Observations and Comments from the Commission Related to the IAT Work

Commissioners noted that while IATs should factor current structures and practices into their analyses and recommendations for achieving carbon neutrality, they should also think boldly about alternative possibilities. Rules and structures generally evolve over time in response to changing circumstances, and we are currently contemplating some of the biggest changes that U-M has ever undertaken.

Environmental justice was emphasized as needing to be an underlying theme throughout all of the IAT work. U-M has the unique ability to do many things that other groups or institutions may not be able to do, so the University has the opportunity to be a leader to change policies for the better that currently inhibit other institutions. Through the IAT process, this should be prioritized.

Carbon offsets is an issue relevant to many of the IATs and will be explored at the Commission level by bringing in a range of internal and external experts to share their knowledge.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to hear from and provide input to the IAT faculty leads at the September 25th community forum.

Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
August 2, 2019


Hank Baier, Liz Barry, Andrew Berki, Anthony Denton, Austin Glass, Steve Forrest, Jennifer Haverkamp, Brandon Hofmeister, Drew Horning, Greg Keoleian, Camilo Serna, Logan Vear

Regrets: Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Overpeck, Barry Rabe, Missy Stults, Anna Stefanopoulou, Lisa Wozniak


Meeting began at 1:33 pm


Heat and Power Infrastructure Request for Proposal (RFP)

The UM Procurement office issued the Heat and Power Infrastructure RFP last week. It will be out for a month to allow firms to ask questions and submit bids. A commission subgroup will review the proposals and identify finalists to interview in September. The selected firm will likely begin work in October.

Internal Analysis Teams

Most of the faculty leads for the internal analysis teams have agreed to serve.

The first internal analysis team deliverable will be due August 18 and will contain information related to the scope of each team’s work, desired student intern qualifications to aid in hiring, and recommendations on UM staff roles that will be key to the success of the team. A draft charter document has been created to guide and standardize the internal analysis team work. This document is currently going through revisions based on team feedback, and will be shared with the Commission members for comment. The student advisory panel will also be invited to comment. A final version of this document will be included in the PCCN fall interim report in October.

Michigan Medicine

A subset of the Commission recently met with SVP/COO Tony Denton and other members of the UM Health System team. While there, they learned about the health system’s work with Practice Green Health, the health system’s energy efficiency, and waste reduction programs, and the health system’s sustainability initiatives moving forward. It was an informative conversation that will help guide future Commission discussion.

Fall Engagement and Communications


The Commission is developing an engagement strategy and roadmap for the fall semester and into 2020. There was also discussion of developing a short informational video about the PCCN scope, composition, and each individual internal analysis team to quickly inform people who may not be able to participate in engagement events.

The Commission is working towards a joint event with the City of Ann Arbor that would optimally take place following the release of the fall interim report. There was emphasis on a community education event focused around how to practically achieve carbon neutrality (i.e., transportation, natural gas, electric grid, etc.). It was also mentioned that discussing the scope of the PCCN, in the context of UM being a key part of the City, could be a beneficial topic for the Commission on which to receive feedback.

There was a discussion on targeted engagement ideas. Some of those mentioned include:

  • UM Flint and UM Dearborn
  • UM alumni groups
  • UM schools and colleges
  • Internal analysis team engagements (e.g., commuting)
  • Regional partners and players
  • Different constituencies who don’t normally engage in carbon neutrality discussions


The Office of Vice President for Communications is hiring into a new position focused on sustainability issues who will assist in communications for the PCCN. An early task for this individual will be to put together a communication plan for the PCCN.

    Emission Scope Considerations

    The Commission discussed a range of options, unknowns and potential next steps regarding scope 1 and 2 emissions. Comparable discussions around Scope 3 emissions will occur after the internal analysis teams begin their activities.

    Fossil-fuel powered equipment (non-transportation)

    This category includes emissions from gasoline-powered maintenance equipment such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers, for which the University has data and which are included in the 2025 goal. Efforts are underway to transition this equipment to electric power when comparably performing substitutes are available.  This category also includes compressed gases used in research labs, which are not included in the 2025 goal and need further investigation to quantify.

    On-campus Fugitive Emissions

    Efforts to assess the status and importance of fugitive methane emissions to the new power plant are underway. To accurately quantify these emissions, UM may need to rely on federal data to estimate emissions and/or perform localized tests across campus.

    Purchased electricity

    Purchased electricity is already included in UM Ann Arbor’s 2025 goal. UM has a commitment with DTE for supplying more of our energy needs with wind power beginning in 2021, but needs to identify the right time to further invest in renewables. The Commission will form a sub group to begin looking into this. At a future Commission meeting, DTE and Consumers will help the Commission understand the constraints to their capacity to build and buy renewables in the future.

    Reducing Energy Use

    Members discussed the need for energy conservation and efficiency.  The Commission will form a sub group to consider the contents for a potential energy efficiency RFP to look at a systems-level approach to energy efficiency. Energy conservation and efficiency is also expected to be a significant focus of two internal analysis teams – Building Standards, and Energy Consumption Policies.

    Developing Processes for Recommending Carbon Neutrality Timelines

    The commission discussed a range of factors to consider in recommending a date for carbon neutrality, such as environmental and economic realities and technological developments. There could be different phased goals to reach carbon neutrality depending on factors such as scope categories and UM campus boundaries. Members noted the possibility of revisiting any date selected in light of changes in technology.

    The Commission had a preliminary discussion around the role of offsets in carbon neutrality. UM could take actions focused on minimizing scope 3 emissions that are out of UM’s full control, and thus will require the purchase of offsets to neutralize them. There was a understanding that some offsets would be needed to get to carbon neutrality, but that offsets have less impact than direct reductions. Concerns were raised about the potential costs and sources of funding for offsets, should they be looked to as a significant way of meeting an ambitious goal. 

    Meeting adjourned 3:35 pm

    Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
    July 19, 2019


    Liz Barry, Andrew Berki, Anthony Denton, Stephen Forrest, Austin Glass, Brandon Hofmeister, Andrew Horning, Gregory Keoleian, Barry Rabe, Missy Stults, Lisa Wozniak

    Regrets: Henry Baier, Jennifer Haverkamp, Larissa Larsen, Jonathan Overpeck, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Logan Vear

    Meeting began 1:33 pm



    The co-chairs will consult soon with President Schlissel regarding the merits of joining the University Climate Change Coalition, and the responsibilities associated with membership.

    Faculty Advisory Panel

    A sub-group reported on its initial discussions regarding the optimal roles and potential make-up of the panel. Members view the panel as a conduit between the Commission and the university units, and as an important sounding board representing a key stakeholder group (UM faculty). In addition, the panel might take on particular initiatives (e.g., developing recommendations on organizational structure considerations, best practices for faculty engagement, theme semester ideas, etc.). Views regarding panel membership included that it should be representative of the breadth of expertise across the university, and should include some faculty who are not steeped in sustainability and bring other important perspectives and experience.

    Carbon Accounting Sub Group

    The sub-group is developing a recommendation regarding fugitive methane emissions for the Commission to consider. The sub-group is also working to identify methodologies, data gaps and uncertainties regarding scope 3 emissions. The group plans to work with several internal analysis teams to ensure activities are complementary throughout the process. This work should help in informing boundary definitions and establishing baselines.

    RFP Status

    The scope of work document for the carbon neutral heat and power analysis is now complete and will be distributed shortly by UM Procurement to external bidders.

    Internal Analysis Teams

    PCCN staff is close to finalizing commitments from faculty leads/co-leads (as identified by the Commission) for the analysis teams, and has put together a team charter with uniform expectations, timelines and deliverables. The Commission’s discussion of the internal analysis teams included how it would oversee their work and emphasized the need to find multiple ways for UM Flint and UM Dearborn to engage with the projects.

    Ross Integrative Semester Project

    Commissioners were advised that carbon neutrality will be the theme of the fall integrative semester experience for Ross Business School undergraduates, and that Ross would welcome commissioners’ help in judging student project presentations in October.

    Fall PCCN Public Engagement

    The Commission agreed to prioritize public engagement throughout the fall, and discussed ways to engage the broader community and identify opportunities to foster awareness, buy-in, and involvement across all constituencies. Examples include:

    • Holding a UM-Ann Arbor campus town hall in September
    • Hosting similar community gatherings on the Dearborn and Flint campuses
    • Possible inclusion in new faculty orientation during the last week of August.
    • Possible inclusion in new student orientation, which is already exploring ways to incorporate more sustainability content into their programming
    • UM’s Office of Communications is hiring a new position to focus exclusively on sustainability which will include working to communicate the Commission’s work.

    System Boundaries – Continuing Discussion

    Scope Category Boundaries

    Commission members continued their discussion of which categories of emissions to include in their scope, with a strong preference for inclusivity. There was general agreement regarding how various types of Scope 3 emissions (e.g., waste disposal, commuting, food purchasing, etc.) should be classified with respect to the ability to accurately calculate their GHG footprint and control reductions.

    Geographic Boundaries

    Commissioners were briefed on U-M property holdings and discussed which to include in the scope. Approximately 95% of UM’s facility square footage is owned, while 5% is leased. In addition, 86% of UM facilities are already included in the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emission accounting for the 2025 GHG emissions reductions goal. Those not included are outside the Ann Abor area, with a handful located in other U.S. states and countries. There was strong support for including all owned facilities in GHG emissions calculations and associated goals going forward.

    There was support for including leased facilities in the scope, but recognition that more analysis needs to be done. There was agreement that if a facility is owned or leased and already included in the current goal, UM should continue accounting for it and include it in the scope. There was interest in considering how to ensure future leased facilities will be held up to UM’s environmental standards. A next step is to map UM GHG emissions by building categories.

    Meeting adjourned 3:29 pm

    Co-Chairs Summary of Commission Meeting
    June 28, 2019


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

    Regrets: Anthony Denton, Larissa Larsen, Camilo Serna, Anna Stefanopoulou, Missy Stults, Logan Vear

    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.