The University of Michigan (U-M) has launched an online certification program in an effort to promote sustainable behaviors and culture among its community. Open to all faculty, staff, and students, the Planet Blue Ambassador program is part of President Mary Sue Coleman’s Sustainability Initiative known as Planet Blue, and is available online at: sustainability.umich.edu/pba.
The online tool consists of five training modules directly connected to U-M’s sustainability goals in energy, food, waste, water, and community. This program trains U-M community members in sustainable culture and behavior. Each 5-10 minute module includes an interactive game with suggestions to get involved, as well as information about U-M’s goals and progress to date. The first 400 members of the University community to complete the certification will receive a Planet Blue reusable water bottle.
“Building a culture of sustainability is critical to our collective effort at U-M,” stated Don Scavia, Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute and President Coleman’s Special Counsel on Sustainability. “This online certification is a key mechanism to engage the entire U-M community.”
Once certified, Planet Blue Ambassadors will have access to a personal online dashboard where they can track their progress and access resources about sustainable behaviors. Planet Blue Ambassadors will also be invited to bi-annual meetings to share best practices and experiences, as well as other events to receive further sustainability training, discuss issues, share ideas, and discover resources.
“Engaging community members through the Planet Blue Ambassadors will be of great benefit to our operational sustainability efforts,” stated Terry Alexander, Executive Director of U-M’s Office of Campus Sustainability. “Behavior change that complements our technological efforts will push our sustainability initiative to the next level.”
With funding from the Provost’s Office, the Planet Blue Ambassador program evolved from the Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment‘s “Culture Team”. The PBA program began last academic year as a partnership between the Graham Sustainability Institute, Office of Campus Sustainability, University Housing, and the Student Sustainability Initiative with a peer-to-peer sustainability leadership program in student housing now known as the Planet Blue Student Leaders.
“What we need now are sustainable behavior entrepreneurs,” stated Raymond De Young, an Associate Professor of Natural Resources & Environment, and an expert in environmental psychology and behavior change. “The Planet Blue Ambassadors online training and related activities provide a powerful tool to empower our community to discover sustainable behaviors throughout the campus.”
As of Wednesday, January 23, more than 1,000 inidivduals have started their training and more than 820 of those have become fully certified as Planet Blue Ambassadors. Planet Blue Ambassadors have made over 20,000 sustainability pledges, and completed nearly 9,000. If you are interested in joining your fellow U-M faculty, staff, and students as a Planet Blue Ambassador, you can begin your certification at sustainability.umich.edu/pba.