About Sustainability at U-M

Sustainability is a mindset and framework for ensuring that current and future generations have equitable access to the resources for a full and vibrant life without the exploitation of people, society or the environment. In research, advocacy, operations, and other related efforts at the University of Michigan, we strive to protect our planet’s life-support systems so that future generations can thrive.

Planet Blue is what we call U-M's commitment to sustainability. It’s everyone’s responsibility—from the individual to the institution.

In Spring 2021, U-M announced a comprehensive commitment to achieving carbon neutrality, unveiling an array of new actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foster sustainability university-wide. The announcement came on the heels of a change in U-M’s investment strategies that excludes the worst carbon polluters.

Sustainability efforts are inherently interdisciplinary, drawing from the natural, social, and health sciences; the humanities; from professions such as engineering, public health, and social work; from the social and business sectors; from local communities, and all levels of government.

The highly complex environmental problems we face today can only be tackled through these highly-integrated approaches in order to make a lasting positive impact in our communities and worldwide.

A Gold STARS Institution

The University of Michigan’s sustainability performance is recognized with a Gold rating by the international Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. U-M is one of 167 institutions earning a gold STARS rating, and among more than 1000 colleges and universities around the globe using the STARS reporting tool.

Developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, STARS uses a self-reporting framework to benchmark sustainability efforts in the areas of academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation.

Featured units in our sustainability ecosystem

Many units at U-M contribute to our sustainability efforts in research, education, community engagement, and operations. Among these are:

  • The School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) is the primary ​academic home for faculty and students whose work focuses on these topics. As an interdisciplinary school, SEAS spans the university and brings together students and faculty from all of our schools to contribute their ideas and talents to this important work. All of our other schools and colleges also do important work related to the environment and sustainability.
  • The Graham Sustainability Institute is a boundary-spanning organization that helps to connect external stakeholders to the considerable intellectual capacity of faculty, students, and staff throughout the university, with a focus on catalyzing and supporting sustainability-oriented collaborations that lead to real-world impact.
  • The Erb Institute is U-M’s business-sustainability partnership between the Ross School of Business and SEAS. The Institute works with business leaders to improve the social, environmental, and economic performance of their companies; does cutting-edge research on sustainability; and helps form the next generation of business-sustainability leaders through graduate and undergraduate sustainability degree programs.
  • The Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) coordinates sustainable campus operations and collaborates with academic and auxiliary units and student groups in pursuit of U-M’s sustainability goals. OCS is responsible for tracking and reporting progress and communicating with campus and community stakeholders.
  • Student Life is the home for many different units that support students needs outside the classroom. From Housing, Dining, and Rec Sports to University Health Services, Wolverine Wellness and the Dean of Students, Student Life is committed to providing sustainable operations and student focused sustainability leadership development and experiential learning.
  • Michigan Medicine is committed to conducting business in an efficient, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective manner. Through education and cooperation with U-M partners and national and local regulatory agencies, Michigan Medicine serves as a nationally recognized leader for implementing and continuing to improve upon its environmentally friendly practices.
  • The Planet Blue Ambassador (PBA) program is the entry point to sustainability at the University of Michigan. Its goal is to empower U-M community members with the information and resources they need to live, work, and learn sustainably at U-M.