A certain level of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, keep our planet at a temperature that is hospitable, but too many greenhouse gases, primarily those caused by excessive fossil fuel usage, cause rising temperatures (global warming) and associated changes in our weather patterns (climate change). In our region, this can cause an increase in extreme weather events, spread of warmer climate diseases, shifting vegetation types and an influx of invasive species. These effects put our vulnerable populations at risk, and can come with great economic costs. At the University of Michigan, we emit over 700,000 metric tons of C02 each year.
As seen in the video above, the University of Michigan is already taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but these can be improved with your ideas and actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions both on campus and off, as well as to be prepared for climate change effects.
Our Guiding Principle: We will pursue energy efficiency and fiscally-responsible energy sourcing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions toward long-term carbon neutrality.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025.
- Decrease the carbon intensity (greenhouse gas emissions per person) of passenger trips 30% by 2025.
Our Progress: Total greenhouse gas emissions in FY2013 were 709,982 MTCO2 (and rising) -- well above the 510,000 MTCO2 goal for 2025 even after accounting for the acquisition of the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC). The carbon intensity of university passenger trips is steadily decreasing, at 0.911 kg/trip and approaching the .82kg/trip goal.
University of Michigan's LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified buildings have features such as innovative energy efficient lighting, solar panels, and green roofs. Most major new buildings must reach the standards for at least LEED Silver designation. Several buildings are under reivew for LEED certification, and seven have already been designated:
- Samuel T. Dana Building - Gold Certification
- Ross School of Business - Silver Certification
- C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voightlander Women's Hospital - Silver Certification
- Law School's South Hall - Gold Certification
- Crisler Center Expansion- Gold Certification
- U-M Energy Institute (Phoenix Memorial Lab)- Gold Certification
- Institute for Social Research (ISR) Addition - Gold Certification
You can see the electricity and other utility usage for your building through the Planet Blue Operations website. Our electricity is sourced from local utility DTE (which uses coal to generate the majority of electricity) and our own Central Campus Power Plant (which runs on natural gas).
U-M currently has two sites with solar panels through DTE Energy's SolarCurrents program. These panels are owned by DTE and generate power for all DTE customers. Both sites are on North Campus (one along Plymouth Rd. and another on Fuller Rd.). Interactive kiosks about these installations can be found in Building 18 of the NCRC and in the Duderstadt Center. In addition, the Dana Building has a small solar installation on its roof.
The Central Power Plant (located near the Undergraduate Science Building) provides steam, electricity, compressed air, and hot water for Central and Medical campuses very efficiently for a fossil-fuel based plant, producing half as much carbon dioxide, and much less nitrogen and sulfur oxide emissions compared to coal (equivalent to taking more than 23,000 automobiles off the road a year).
The Planet Blue Operations Team saved around $4 million in utility costs last year by decreasing energy consumption 8% in general fund buildings on campus with the help of occupants reporting energy waste and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even with upgraded technology, occupants in a building have great impact on energy use.
U-M Hospitals and Health Centers increased energy efficiency by 6% last year, and for seven years has received the Environmental Leadership Circle Award (Practice Greenhealth's most prestigious honor). Share ideas for further energy savings with the Environmental Stewards Committee.
Sustainable Computing: Using proper power management settings on a computer can save up to 23% of its energy use, while shutting down office equipment in the evening will save another 9%. U-M offers more information and support through sustainablecomputing.umich.edu. Currently only half of faculty/staff turn off their computers regularly or use power saving settings, so this is an easy way to get friends and colleagues engaged in energy-saving action.
Print Smart: Procurement Services offers Print Smart, a free service to help U-M offices optimize their document production process, saving up to 30% of energy expenses.
Sustainable Labs: Labs consume 4-5 times the amount of energy as classrooms or traditional offices. For example, closing the fume hood when not in use saves a massive amount of energy. Learn more energy-saving tips through the Sustainable Lab Recognition Program from the Office of Campus Sustainability.
Over 60% of faculty/staff and over 30% of students report knowing very little about our bus systems. Over 70% of faculty and staff commute in single-occupancy vehicles. Very few faculty/staff are aware that U-M offers vanpools and carpool resources. Spread the word and try one of these options today!
U-M provides an Emergency Ride Home option for emergencies such as personal or family illness, unscheduled overtime, and stranded carpool or vanpool riders. Have a worry-free sustainable commute!
- Take the Blue Buses and/or AAATA (free!) around U-M and the Ann Arbor area. For those individuals commuting from afar, try out one of the free Park & Ride locations on the outskirts of town.
- Ride your bike to and around our award-winning bike friendly community. 19% of faculty and 60% of students walk or bike regularly to campus. You can rent a “Blue Bike” for the day, weekend, or even for a semester. Or try out the new bike share program, ArborBike, for short trips between meetings or classes where you check out a bike from one of 14 kiosks around town, and return to any kiosk.
- Try a energy-conscious commute! Parking and Transportation provides resources for more energy-conscious commute options such as zipcars and carpooling, as well as bus and bike guides. Faculty/staff can save money and prevent emissions by organizing a subsidized Vanpool through PTS. No annual parking pass needed! Over 100 vanpools are currently active on campus.
- Have an electric vehicle? Three lot/structure locations have Electric Vehicle Charging Stations open to both permit holders and visitors. Find out where on Parking and Transportation Service's (PTS) website.