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The University of Michigan is the nation’s largest public research university, with $1.62 billion in annual research expenditures. With three campuses, a health system and more than 200 centers and institutes, U-M researchers are working with partners on campus and beyond to address emerging problems, spur new technologies and drive the economy.

Aerial view of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

U-M researchers collaborate across a wide variety of disciplines in order to advance knowledge and solve challenging problems. The interdisciplinary environment at U-M has sparked a broad spectrum of cross-cutting projects and initiatives that address sustainability challenges related to population growth, climate change, land and water use, energy choices and poverty. Find U-M experts in sustainability and environmental science, across fields and academic units.

Putting Research to Practice

U-M has research strengths that build on advances in the basic sciences and engineering to pave the way for practical application. Translational sustainability research led by U-M spans from public health to business, policy, law and urban planning.


U-M students play a critical role in sustainability efforts at U-M, collaborating with faculty experts as part of their degree requirements. Through these undergraduate research experiences, students at all levels are advancing knowledge and developing the skills and passion to become future sustainability leaders. They are putting their knowledge and passion to work across campus through climate, environmental, and sustainability activities housed at Planet Blue.


U-M engages in a broad spectrum of partnerships with communities and government agencies to spur progress on critical issues in sustainability and environmental science around the world. Some of our key initiatives in climate and energy include:

Battery Lab

A space developed by U-M in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ford Motor Company. The lab’s aim: working with the industrial and academic energy storage user community to prototype, test and analyze batteries and the materials that go into them.

battery lab

Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative

The Kathy and Steve Berman Western Forest and Fire Initiative (WFFI) is an interdisciplinary working group that advances socially engaged, problem-oriented research on western forests, fires, and communities. Its aims: to improve understanding of the problematic relationship between wildfire, forests, and communities in a changing climate as a complex adaptive social-ecological system (SES), and to contribute to the development of better ways to manage this SES to reduce the risk of large wildfires, improve the vitality of human communities, and help society adapt to climate change.

a helicopter extinguishing a forest fire

Center for Low Carbon Built Environment

The U-M Center for Low Carbon Built Environment is an interdisciplinary effort to dramatically lower carbon emissions over the next decade. With partnerships across the value chain of building and infrastructure, it is creating a new circular economy around climate change adaptation and mitigation.

center for low carbon built environment

Center for Smart Infrastructure Finance

The Center for Smart Infrastructure Finance (CSIF) aims to change the way infrastructure is designed and financed, by harnessing the hidden value of data. By bridging infrastructure data and efficient financing models, the center aims to enable climate resilience and equity.

center for smart infrastructure finance

Center for Sustainable Systems

CSS develops and applies life cycle and systems analysis methods, models, and metrics for advancing sustainability and transforming systems to better meet human needs. It has pioneered new methods in life cycle analysis, design and optimization and has led over 200 research projects focused on a wide range of topics including alternative vehicle technology, renewable energy systems, buildings and infrastructure, appliances, information technology, food and agricultural systems, and packaging alternatives.


Fastest Path to Zero

Fastest Path to Zero is an interdisciplinary team of experts, including University of Michigan faculty, staff and students, working to support communities as they plan and pursue ambitious climate goals. The initiatives offer a variety of tools to help communities transform their energy systems while adapting to a changing climate; including big data analytics combined with a passion for human-centered design and engagement.

fastest path to zero

Global CO2 Initiative

Housed within the College of Engineering, the Global CO2 Initiative aims to identify and pursue commercially sustainable approaches that reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by 4 gigatons/year. It funds and conducts research to transform CO2 into commercially successful products using technology assessment, technology development and commercialization.

global co2 initiative

Graham Energy Futures Initiative

Part of the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Graham Energy Futures Initiative focuses on community energy management in Michigan. In partnership with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the initiatives helps communities across Michigan plan for energy infrastructure—from solar and wind energy projects to energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Graham Energy Futures Initiative

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program

GLISA is a collaboration of U-M and Michigan State University, funded by NOAA, and part of a national network of NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISAs) that focus on adaptation to climate change and variability. GLISA focuses on climate adaptation issues relevant to the Great Lakes region.


Institute for Energy Solutions

The mission of the Institute for Energy Solutions is to pursue energy science and technologies to enable, accelerate, and inform the transition to an equitable, resilient, clean, affordable, and sustainable energy future.

Institute for Energy Solutions

Institute for Global Change Biology (IGCB)

IGCB, housed at the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), strives to provide the interdisciplinary scientific bases to manage biological systems under global change. The institute helps to develop environmental policies and decision making tools to inform effective responses to global change impacts.


MI Hydrogen

MI Hydrogen, a joint venture by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Michigan Engineering and the School for Environment and Sustainability, will foster collaboration among U-M researchers, community groups, government and industry partners so they can address existing knowledge gaps and develop strategies to help society transition toward an energy future that is equitable, affordable, clean and secure. The initiative, which will engage faculty across disciplines, is designed to provide the leading research necessary to accelerate the use of hydrogen beyond current industrial limits.

MI Hydrogen gif

Michigan Power and Energy Laboratory (MPEL)

Part of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MPEL explores new opportunities in electrical energy and power systems arising with advances in materials, communications, computation, and control.


Renewable Energy Policy Initiative (REPI)

Housed within the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, REPI conducts, supports, and disseminates high-quality applied academic research on state and local policies impacting the deployment of renewable energy in the American federal system that informs both scholarship and the policy process


SEAS Sustainability Clinic

The SEAS Sustainability Clinic aims to improve the ability of the City of Detroit and nonprofits serving the City to address the impacts of climate change on the natural and built environment, human health, and the city’s finances—while working to enhance sustainability policy and action.

SEAS Sustainability Clinic

Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment

The Tishman Center is committed to transforming higher education for the sake of social justice, especially as so many communities are both threatened by climate change and locked out of the benefits of the growing renewable energy sector.

Earth Day panel