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2020 Dow Sustainability Fellows Annual ReportIn the Seventh Annual Report, Collaborative Leadership for Sustainability, made possible by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan (U-M) engaged 11 of U-M's 19 schools and colleges this past year.

Working with Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit, a Dow Fellows student team assessed how the social, economic, and environmental benefits have developed from Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO). CBO’s are tools that ensure that developers confirm the community benefits from a project to prevent harmful development and planning decisions. The team researched large-scale development projects and compared two projects from before and two from after the passage of Detroit’s CBO. They analyzed their data and determined recommendations are needed to improve the CBO process with additional resources being allocated to improve the quality of public participation. 

Location: Detroit, Michigan
Project Advisor: Barbara Israel
Project Team: Sharon Hu, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Karen Goldburg, SEAS; Julia Brennan, School of Medicine and College of Engineering; Melanie Meisenheimer, School of Public Health (SPH); and Melissa Robinson, SPH

  • A Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) is enacted to represent the impacted community and bring community concerns to the developer. 
  • Students analyzed benefits that have resulted and processes used to engage community members before and after the CBO. The team conducted their research through interviews and focus groups.

To facilitate interdisciplinary work in environmentalism, a Dow Distinguished Awards student team established a plan for a net-zero carbon research and education center in Costa Rica. This field station brings together scientists and students from the United States and Costa Rica and provides researchers with a place to investigate relevant sustainability and ecological topics. Working with Sustainability Without Borders, the U-M team constructed a thorough energy forecast that included present and desired electricity demand, gathered data on local renewable energy resources, and created a model to determine how energy could be harnessed most efficiently from crop residue. Compiling the data, the team created a blueprint for a microgrid system that will allow the station to become carbon neutral. This project comprises four phases with the first phase slated for completion in April 2020, and the project will be completed by April 2023. 

Location: Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Disciplines Represented: Environment, Mathematics, Engineering
Project Team: Jake Picardat, Thomas Hayek, Maya Lapp, and Andrew Harrison (Team Lead)
Faculty Advisor: Jose Alfaro, School for Environment and Sustainability; Thore Bergman, Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Jacinta Beehner, Psychology and Anthropology
Project Client/Sponsor: Sustainability Without Borders

SPOUTS is a ceramic water filter manufacturer based in Uganda that aims to provide an effective and affordable water filter to households that lack access to clean water. A Dow Distinguished Award student team is working with Sustainability Without Borders to conduct consumer surveys and a social life cycle assessment to develop a deeper understanding of the social and environmental impact of SPOUTS water filters. This past summer, the U-M team traveled to Uganda to interview community members, distribute the filters and surveys, and train enumerators so they could survey the people after the team left. The team also purchased and donated 12 water filters to two primary schools to engage with the community. They helped install the filters, demonstrated use and maintenance, and provided education on water-borne illnesses. Since this is a four-year project, a more comprehensive social life cycle assessment will be conducted in the future to include additional factors such as end-of-life responsibility.

Location: Uganda
Disciplines Represented: Environment, Public Health, Sociology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Business, Public Policy
Project Team: Ebony Johnson, Alexa White, Quinn Favret, Annalisa Wilder, Addison Carr, and Fantasia Williams (Team Lead)
Faculty Advisor: Jose Alfaro, School for Environment and Sustainability
Project Client/Sponsor: Sustainability Without Borders

SPOUTS is a ceramic water filter manufacturer based in Uganda that aims to provide an effective and affordable water filter to households that lack access to clean water. A Dow Distinguished Award student team is working with Sustainability Without Borders to conduct consumer surveys and a social life cycle assessment to develop a deeper understanding of the social and environmental impact of SPOUTS water filters. This past summer, the U-M team traveled to Uganda to interview community members, distribute the filters and surveys, and train enumerators so they could survey the people after the team left. The team also purchased and donated 12 water filters to two primary schools to engage with the community. They helped install the filters, demonstrated use and maintenance, and provided education on water-borne illnesses. Since this is a four-year project, a more comprehensive social life cycle assessment will be conducted in the future to include additional factors such as end-of-life responsibility.

Location: Uganda
Disciplines Represented: Environment, Public Health, Sociology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Business, Public Policy
Project Team: Ebony Johnson, Alexa White, Quinn Favret, Annalisa Wilder, Addison Carr, and Fantasia Williams (Team Lead)
Faculty Advisor: Jose Alfaro, School for Environment and Sustainability
Project Client/Sponsor: Sustainability Without Borders

To facilitate interdisciplinary work in environmentalism, a Dow Distinguished Awards student team established a plan for a net-zero carbon research and education center in Costa Rica. This field station brings together scientists and students from the United States and Costa Rica and provides researchers with a place to investigate relevant sustainability and ecological topics. Working with Sustainability Without Borders, the U-M team constructed a thorough energy forecast that included present and desired electricity demand, gathered data on local renewable energy resources, and created a model to determine how energy could be harnessed most efficiently from crop residue. Compiling the data, the team created a blueprint for a microgrid system that will allow the station to become carbon neutral. This project comprises four phases with the first phase slated for completion in April 2020, and the project will be completed by April 2023. 

Location: Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Disciplines Represented: Environment, Mathematics, Engineering
Project Team: Jake Picardat, Thomas Hayek, Maya Lapp, and Andrew Harrison (Team Lead)
Faculty Advisor: Jose Alfaro, School for Environment and Sustainability; Thore Bergman, Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Jacinta Beehner, Psychology and Anthropology
Project Client/Sponsor: Sustainability Without Borders

Healthy and sustainable local food systems foster a productive and functional global food system. A Dow Sustainability Fellows team looked into two key aspects of the food system. One part of this project focused on ethnobotany and edible perennial landscape in partnership with the U-M Campus Farm. The second part of this project focused on addressing food insecurity. About 12% of American households experience food insecurity. At the University of Michigan, a staggering 32% of students are food insecure. Working with the U-M Campus farm, the Dow Fellows team created the Maize and Blue Cupboard Donation Garden to provide locally-grown produce to the Maize and Blue Cupboard, U-M’s food pantry. 

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Project Advisor: Jeremy Moghtader
Project Team: Zoe Fullem, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Savannah Boerger, School of Public Health; Dany Zemmel, School of Public Health; Katharine Asta, School of Medicine and School of Public Health; Brooke Callaghan, School of Public Health; Katharine Shiffler, SEAS
Project Consultant: Elizabeth LaPorte

Carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon dioxide is removed or stored to reduce the effects of climate change. Forests are considered an important factor in storing carbon, and the carbon sink potential, the degree to which carbon dioxide is absorbed through natural processes, of Michigan forests can be quite large. A Dow Fellows team worked with the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to explore the possibility of selling sequestered carbon in the form of carbon credits from improved forest management strategies in the Michigan State Forest system. The team completed multiple interviews to gain a baseline knowledge of how carbon offset markets work. They developed a set of recommendations for the state of Michigan to pursue carbon offsets. This work can serve as a template for other states to implement carbon offsets. 

Location: Michigan
Project Advisor: Prof. Michael Moore
Project Team: Marc Jaruzel, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; Clare Cutler, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Amanda Willis, Ross School of Business; and Kanchan Swaroop, College of Engineering and SEAS

The Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan is rural and residents are experiencing significant food insecurity. A Dow Fellows team worked with the Western Upper Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) and the Western UP Food Systems Council to advance sustainable food systems planning in the region. To develop a comprehensive plan for the region, the team created individual community health profiles to better understand the needs of the community concerning access to food. The Dow team also developed a food systems planning tool kit for local municipalities. They created a Master Planning Addendum Template that can serve as a prelude to a food policy section of a city or county master plan. They also developed a Food Policy Master Planning Catalog to assist WUPPDR in engaging with local food systems planners who wish to incorporate aspects of sustainability into their food systems. The team anticipates that WUPPDR will use these tools to work with partner communities on food systems planning.

Location: Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Project Advisor: Prof. Margaret Wooldridge
Project Team: Maxwell Woody, College of Engineering and School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Adriane Kline, School of Public Health; Emily Johnson, School of Medicine; Nick Kemp, SEAS; and Joshua Childs, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

An increasing number of major employers are moving to the suburbs of Detroit, making it more difficult for residents of the City of Detroit to access these jobs easily. Residents are spending an excessive amount of time and money traveling to and from work. A Dow Fellows team worked to propose a small-scale alternative to bridge the transportation gap. They envisioned a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and Wayne County. The team analyzed case studies of other cities that implemented innovative solutions. They also communicated with various Chamber of Commerce workforce agencies and evaluated data to identify demand and plan the logistics of a mobility solution. The team developed a process document for the City of Detroit that is intended to serve as a stepping stone for the implementation of this short-term program. 

Location: Western Detroit, Michigan
Project Advisor: Prof. Margaret Wooldridge
Project Team: Farhan Nuruzzaman, Ross School of Business; Kimberly Higgins, Taubman College of Urban and Regional Planning; Mukul Sajnani, Ross School of Business; Youngsoo Choy, Ross School of Business and School of Information; Lea Sarment, School of Dentistry; Christopher LeFlore, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Taubman College of Urban and Regional Planning

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