2017 Sustainability Progress Report


Planet Blue is the University of Michigan’s unified commitment to sustainability education, research, operations and community engagement.

It isn’t a department or unit, but rather the sum total of work being done by U-M students, faculty and staff across the university to meet the global challenges of sustainability.

This sustainability progress report offers a snapshot of our collective efforts in 2017 toward: Goal Progress, Student Engagement and Research Innovation. To learn how we’ve built the foundation for where we are today, view our Historic Milestones.

Message from President

Dear Friends,

8/5/15 University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel.


The University of Michigan has begun its third century with strong momentum and progress toward our 2025 campus sustainability goals – thanks to the powerful shared commitment of students, faculty, staff, friends and visitors in the U-M family.

In climate action, waste prevention, healthy environments and community engagement, we have marshaled our academic and campus communities to extend our leadership in sustainability education, research and impact.

Launched last year, our School for Environment and Sustainability’s mission “is to contribute to the protection of the Earth’s resources and the achievement of a sustainable society.” SEAS unites students and faculty from across many academic disciplines and encourages collaboration in research and societal impact. 

The success of Planet Blue would not be possible without a university-wide commitment to ensuring that future generations will inherit a sustainable and verdant planet.  For instance, we have surpassed our goal to protect Huron River water quality by reducing chemicals used on campus landscapes by 40 percent below 2006 levels. This commendable achievement required deep commitments from multiple U-M units. Additional recent accomplishments include:

  • Diverting 6,600 tons of campus waste from landfills in 2017 through recycling, composting and other waste-prevention efforts, including 100 percent implementation at MDining facilities.
  • Continuing collaborations with Consumers Energy and DTE to promote renewable power sources to achieve campus greenhouse gas reduction goals.
  • Providing grants to test new ideas through the Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project in addition to existing grant programs for faculty, staff and students.

I appreciate our many partners who support our sustainability efforts – including the Fred and Barbara Erb family, The Dow Chemical Company and Foundation, Peter M. Wege, and Donald Graham. I also applaud our Planet Blue Ambassadors, and all those who lead and participate in Planet Blue initiatives across our university.

Thank you for your engagement in Planet Blue. Your dedication to U-M, our students, and the future of our world is an inspiration to our entire community.


Mark Schlissel

Planet Blue begins with you

Living, learning, discovering.

A more sustainable, healthier world won’t just happen by itself. It’s going to take people, ideas and action. That’s what Planet Blue is all about. Helping you and our campus make a difference. There are many different ways to get involved: take a course, conduct research, volunteer, join a student group and support our campus sustainability efforts.

U-M’s AASHE gold STARS rating

One of 80 institutions in the world

The University of Michigan’s sustainability performance received a gold rating by the international Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System in 2015. U-M was one of 80 institutions earning a gold rating, and among more than 700 colleges and universities around the globe using the STARS reporting tool to compare sustainability in higher education.

Developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, STARS uses a self-reporting framework to benchmark sustainability efforts in the areas of academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation.