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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.

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 environmental and sustainability activities housed at Planet Blue Campus.

Partnerships and Initiatives

U-M engages in a broad spectrum of research 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 relating to cities, mobility, and the built environment include:

President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality

The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, established in 2019, is charged with recommending strategies for U-M to achieve carbon neutrality, that are scalable and transferable for other institutions and larger communities to achieve the same goal. The commission’s work spans all three U-M campuses and Michigan Medicine, and encompasses emissions from direct, purchased and indirect sources.

Jennifer Haverkamp and Stephen Forrest

Battery Lab

The Battery Lab is 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

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 initiative offers 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

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.

people wearing lab coats and safety glasses

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.

graphic of large buildings

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.

solar panels

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.

Volker Sick, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Victor Li, James R Rice Distinguished University Professor of Engineering, E Benjamin Wylie Collegiate Professor of Civil Engineering, chat about a part of the CO2 Initiative, a Blue Sky project, in the GG Brown Building on North Campus of the University of Michigan on February 25, 2019.

Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research

Hosted by U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), CIGLR is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), universities, nongovernmental organizations and businesses. Together, they work to achieve environmental, economic and social sustainability in the Great Lakes. CIGLR consists of a research institute and a regional consortium.

lake erie


Mcity is leading the transition to a new world of connected and automated vehicles, going beyond technology and considering all aspects of the future of transportation and mobility. Launched in 2014, Mcity cultivates the diverse expertise and resources required to realize the potential of emerging mobility technologies, and their commercial and economic viability. Mcity conducts early-stage testing in its labs, funding a wide-range of research, and carries a broad commitment to education and outreach for partners in industry, government, and academia.

traffic circle in mcity

Urban Collaboratory

The Urban Collaboratory draws together a community of scholars from across the University of Michigan campus to collaborate directly with city stakeholders to address targeted challenges that impact the health and livability of urban centers.

glwa real time

Urban Energy Justice Lab (UEJ)

UEJ examines energy-related topics through a justice lens, primarily in an urban context. Its research focuses on the production and persistence of spatial, racial, and socioeconomic disparities in accessibility and affordability of energy services, technology, and programs.

tony reames