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Equity in the Built Environment

Though everyone should have equal access to a healthy built environment, long-standing discriminatory practices have crowded racial and ethnic minorities into areas disportionately closer to toxic waste facilities and farther from green spaces. Concurrently, aging pipeline infrastructure and the impacts of legacy coal and oil power plants threatens these communities’ access to clean water and air. University of Michigan researchers are focusing on how environmental degradation affects different communities differently and working at the grassroots level to highlight environmental injustices wherever they exist. Key to this effort are analysts at Poverty Solutions, the Urban Energy Justice Lab (UEJ), the Center for Sustainable Systems and the Center for Low Carbon Built Environment.

News and Impact

SEAS Sustainability Clinic in Detroit
Sustainability Clinic in Detroit to help combat impacts of climate change
Coaster display at Cass Community Social Services in Detroit. Image credit: Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography
Cass coasters: Reclaiming glass and wood and purpose
Michigan state capitol
Municipal takeover in Michigan: A rational, apolitical response to financial distress, or something else?
1930s map of Detroit, Michigan, which graded land based on race. The “least desirable” neighborhoods were color-coded as red. Map courtesy of “Mapping Inequality” and the National Archives and Records Administration.
Redlining and environmental racism
Downtown Detroit skyline; credit: Benjamin Morse
Eisenberg examines housing sector in Detroit
Shobita Parthasarathy
Equity considerations must be an integral part of energy research and development, Parthasarathy tells Congressional committee
Sharon Haar
Exploring social activism in architecture practice and education
Robert Hampshire
‘Transportation is a form of freedom’: How to make it more equitable
Dolores Perales
Dolores Perales receives statewide young climate leader award
a University of Michigan flag
U-M commits to universitywide carbon neutrality
Two people discuss the Alley Activation program
New Catalyst Grants Focus on environment, equity
crucial conversations
Crucial Conversations: Understanding and Addressing Climate Change
Kyle Whyte
Professor Kyle Whyte named to White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
Catherine Hausman
Understanding Carbon Tax
Forest restoration opportunity areas in the tropics. (a) Forest restoration opportunity areas by estimated carbon removal, 2020 to 2050, under a scenario in which a moderate carbon tax is implemented to promote forest restoration. (b) Forest restoration opportunity areas by population density. (c) Forest restoration opportunity areas by country-level income categories. Image credit: Erbaugh et al. in Nature Ecology & Evolution 2020
Global forest restoration and the importance of empowering local communities
a utility worket examining a wastewater pipe
Leiser and Mills contribute to resources for new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule
Small tanks of water outside of a home in the desert
Solving water access issues with solar energy
Illustration of four people, one with their hand on their forehead
Can segregated neighborhoods change people’s genes?
Urban Energy Justice Lab founder Dr. Tony Reames
Energy access is not created equal. This Ann Arbor organization is trying to change that