Sustainability Business Case (2014)

Client Organization: 
General Motors Company
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor and surrounding Detroit Metropolitan area
Summary of Project Idea: 

The purpose of our project is to evaluate and articulate the business case for sustainability for General Motors Company. In particular, our team will be identifying and creating sustainable practices that present opportunities for tangible and substantial financial benefit. This project is motivated by the necessity to assess risk (which includes environmental valuation) more comprehensively, to make GM more attractive to the Socially Responsible Investing community, and to link sustainability efforts to the company’s bottom-line improvements, top-line growth, and market capitalization.  The target audience for the project will be GM’s corporate leadership, particularly GM’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Risk Officer (CRO). Our report will discuss why sustainability matters from a dollars and cents perspective. The team’s “pitch” will be substantiated by data that shows how sustainability drives value into the business, while improving the company’s overall environmental and social impact.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

This project would require a combination of business/finance skills, accounting, sustainability, and an understanding of the current work going on in the valuation of nature's services (e.g.: Dow & TNC) and/or environmental profit & loss statements (e.g.: Puma)

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

I would work closely with team, advising them on the work and mentoring them as requested, throughout the project.  In order to develop the "mini-business cases," the project team would be expected to engage with/interview a diverse group of employees throughout GM.  Any travel would likely be limited to driving to GM's Headquarters in Detroit, GM Technology Center in Warren, and possibly some nearby assembly plants.  Interviews could also be conducted by phone.  At the conclusion of the project, I would expect the team to present this to GM leadership and as well as presenting it to a global GM audience, probably via a webinar.  

Funding Sources: 

Expenses incurred as a result of this project would likely only be incidentals such as gas, printing, etc. 

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

A report and supporting material that would convince our CFO that sustainability needs to be further embedded into GM.

Contact full name: 
David Tulauskas
Job title: 
Director, Sustainability
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Tom Gladwin
Contact Phone: 
313 667 0351
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
U-M faculty member
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Rose Buss, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Heather Croteau, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Steven Davidson, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Carole Kerrey, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Janet Van De Winkle, MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project