The University of Michigan has promoted a culture of sustainability for over 130 years. U-M began offering courses in forestry in 1881 — the first university in the United States to do so.
Today, there are more than 2,400 “Planet Blue Ambassadors” on U-M’s campus — students, faculty, and staff who have undergone training and pledged their commitment to living more sustainability. This year they completed nearly 22,000 individual sustainable actions, such as using reusable water bottles or turning off their computers at night.
Inside the Dana Building, home to SEAS, environmental principles are not only taught but also upheld and demonstrated to the community. The building is a state-of-the-art example of a green renovation, featuring materials that were recycled or manufactured from renewable resources. It was the first academic building in Michigan to earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Krutarth Jhaveri, MS/ESS ’18: I'm really happy with the sustainability efforts that are going on at the Dana. People are always trying to think of new ways to improve their sustainability efforts here.
Bradley J. Cardinale, Professor: Of course we have the LEED-certified building. All of our individual laboratories go out of our way to minimize our ecological and environmental footprint.
Dahlia Rockowitz, MS ’18: What I appreciate is that we have compost here that's actually in partnership between students and staff. So it's great that we're able to put our learning into action.
Bob Grese, Professor: Growth of the campus farm has been a real delight. It's a program that grew out of student interest in sustainable agriculture. And this summer for the first time, we're actually selling produce to campus dining, really closing the loop and engaging students growing food, and that's eating it in the dining halls. So that's pretty exciting.
Krutarth Jhaveri, MS/ESS ’18: There's a big push for using more environmentally-friendly materials. And there's a big effort to promote sustainability in the Dana. And it kind of percolates across the university, I feel.
Jim Gawron, MS/MBA ’19: W e've been doing it pretty well within the school itself. But now it's time to expand that further out into all schools—all 19 schools at the University of Michigan, to have a focus on that waste production and diverting waste from landfill to composting, to recycling.
Bradley J. Cardinale, Professor: I think the new school is trying to push the University of Michigan to become the international leader in that particular area. In five years, we'll probably be there.
Shannon Sylte, MLA ’19: The more interdisciplinary collaboration we can get, the more they'll be able to meet those sustainability goals. And I really admire the fact that the university is pushing interdisciplinary collaboration for that reason.