Combating climate change requires developing new strategies for human settlement and activity. After all, more than half of total global carbon emissions come from the construction and maintenance of buildings, bridges, and roads. U-M experts, and initiatives like the Center for Low Carbon Built Environment and the Global CO2 Initiative, are driving new innovations in sustainable architecture, materials, transportation, and construction to secure a built environment better for human health, human connectivity, and the natural environment.
U-M commits to universitywide carbon neutrality
U-M will achieve carbon neutrality across all greenhouse gas emission scopes, committing to geothermal heating and cooling projects, electric buses, the creation of a revolving fund for energy-efficiency projects and the appointment of a new executive-level leader, reporting to the president, focusing on carbon neutrality-related efforts.
New Catalyst Grants Focus on environment, equity
Three projects have been selected to receive funding through the Graham Sustainability Institute’s catalyst grants, which provide support for small-scale, collaborative, interdisciplinary sustainability research. The projects seek to, respectively, improve urban stream quality in Washtenaw County and beyond, convert alleys in Detroit into net-zero community spaces, and protect nail salon workers from toxic exposure.
The future of Line 5: Engineering under Lake Michigan
As the deadline approaches for Canadian oil company Enbridge to shut down a 4.5-mile section of the Line 5 pipeline that runs beneath Lake Michigan, U-M engineering researchers offered insights into how the company might go about doing that, and also how they might construct a tunnel under the lakebed for a replacement section of the line.
GPS tracking could help tigers and traffic coexist in Asia
Thanks to focused conservation efforts, tiger numbers have rebounded in some parts of their range. In Nepal, for example, the wild tiger population has nearly doubled from 121 in 2009 to 235 in 2018. But a road-building boom in Asia could undo this progress.
Great Lakes Water Levels
How will fluctuating water levels across the Great Lakes impact the growth of cities, people moving to the region, changes in water supply and the overall economy? Professor Drew Gronewold is working with researchers across U-M to answer those critical questions.
U-M carbon neutrality commission submits final recommendations
The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality at the University of Michigan has submitted its final report, which contains recommendations to help the university achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The report includes 50 recommendations that U-M could take to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.
U-M Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program awards $1.75M in grants to seven research projects
The Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program at U-M’s Graham Sustainability Institute has awarded research grants to seven projects aimed at reducing net carbon emissions. The first round of funding was awarded to projects that investigate groundbreaking energy-storage and carbon-capture technologies, innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions in agriculture, and new options for lowering the carbon footprint of U-M student diets.
Air pollution impacts on Latinx communities in California caused by beef production
A study published by U-M researchers quantifies the air pollution that impacts Latinx communities in California due to beef production. The study focuses on Costco's beef supply chain in California and explores the environmental impacts of air pollution resulting from beef production in the San Joaquin Valley, a region that has some of the worst air quality in the United States.
Implementing resilience hubs in Ypsilanti, Michigan
In the 2010s, global conditions including increasing temperatures, worsening income inequality, and insufficient access to social services catalyzed improved community building and localized solutions for climate-related challenges. This led to the conceptualization of resilience hubs—spaces that support residents and aid in distribution of resources before, during, and after a climate-related stressor.
The Benefits of Spontaneous Vegetation
Two U-M experts are investigating “informal green spaces” across Detroit. Such spaces, sometimes referred to pejoratively as ‘vacant lots,’ have emerged across the city in part because of cuts to public services. These areas now serve as homes for spontaneous vegetation, better known as weeds, which tend to thrive in such urban, resource-depleted environments.
Mills and Craig selected for Department of Energy grant to study utility-scale solar
Sarah Mills, senior project manager at the Center on Local, State, and Urban Policy, and Michael Craig, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability, have been selected for a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The two will research how rural communities in the Great Lakes region learn about and decide whether to zone for utility-scale solar.
Carbon neutrality commission releases draft recommendations
The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, charged with recommending scalable and transferable strategies for U-M to achieve net-zero emissions, has released its preliminary draft recommendations for public comment. The draft report includes a collection of steps that U-M could take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the Flint, Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses, including Michigan Medicine.
Research into action: Hausman’s research key to new legislation
Methane is the primary component of natural gas, a greenhouse gas with 34 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. More than one percent of methane in the U.S. supply chain escapes into the atmosphere, much of which is caused by degraded pipes and loose-fitting components during distribution of natural gas. Ford School professor Catherine Hausman’s research has been cited as the primary influence of a law that passed in Washington state to address the problem.
‘Peecycling’ payoff: Urine diversion shows multiple environmental benefits when used at city scale
Diverting urine away from municipal wastewater treatment plants and recycling the nutrient-rich liquid to make crop fertilizer would result in multiple environmental benefits when used at city scale, according to a new UM-led study. Researchers found that urine diversion and recycling led to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, freshwater consumption and the potential to fuel algal blooms in lakes and other water bodies.
Citizen-Designed Neighborhood Resilience
Help citizens help themselves. That’s the intent behind neighborhood resilience, a planning initiative in which communities become climate resilient in order to more effectively respond to and rebound from natural or other disasters.
Removing and reusing phosphorus from agricultural runoff
By using a biological system to capture phosphorus from agricultural runoff, U-M researchers have created a process that would allow treatment plants to remove it from wastewater in a concentrated form that can then be reused as fertilizer.
Plastics, waste and recycling: It’s not just a packaging problem
Discussions of the growing plastic waste problem often focus on reducing the volume of single-use plastic packaging items such as bags, bottles, tubs and films. But a new U-M study shows that two-thirds of the plastic put into use in the U.S. in 2017 was used for other purposes, including electronics, furniture, building construction, automobiles and various consumer products.
Carbon footprint hotspots: Mapping China’s export-driven emissions
China is the world’s largest emitter of climate-altering carbon dioxide gas, generated by the burning of fossil fuels. A new study details the links between China’s exports and its emissions by mapping the in-country sources of carbon dioxide emissions tied to products consumed overseas.
Bringing wind turbine research to Michigan communities
By 2021, 15 percent of Michigan’s energy will come from renewable sources, creating statewide economic impact of $6.3 billion. The wind turbines in the state have steadily grown since 2008, when the first turbine was set up. Michigan is now home to 1,100 wind turbines.
Energy Poverty in the United States
Households that are unable to meet their energy needs—such as heating, cooling, and electric—are known as “energy poor.” But despite the prevalence of energy poor households in the U.S, energy poverty is not recognized as a distinct problem on the federal level. This results in limited responses—and little assistance—to households in need.
U-M study suggests impact of urbanization on wild bees underestimated
Wild bees are indispensable pollinators, supporting both agricultural productivity and the diversity of flowering plants worldwide. But wild bees are experiencing widespread declines resulting from multiple interacting factors. A new U-M led study suggests that the effects of one of those factors—urbanization—may have been underestimated.
Smart infrastructure financing: Why data could be the answer
Smart stormwater controls using water quantity and quality data from agricultural or urban runoff, coupled to weather forecasts, can manage drainage and discharge in receiving waters, thus reducing the need for expensive grey infrastructure systems.
Prof. Nassauer secures $1.8M to develop smart, connected stormwater systems
Professor Joan Nassauer is co-PI with U-M Environmental Engineering Professor Branko Kerkez on a $1.8 million NSF grant to develop “the internet of water.” They are part of a team of engineers, design and social scientists, computer scientists, and environmental experts working in tight collaboration with decision-makers and citizens across four communities in Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, and Virginia.