Dear Alumni and Friends,
The University of Michigan’s commitment to the public good extends not only to the people this institution serves, but also to the world in which we live. More than a century ago – long before current concerns about melting sea ice and carbon footprints – U-M responded to the environmental threat of deforestation in our state and beyond when it became the first university in the nation to offer forestry courses in 1881. A Department of Forestry was established in 1903, a forerunner of today’s U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.
The decades afterward only further solidified the University of Michigan’s legacy of scholarship and leadership in addressing the most pressing environmental challenges of the time.
In 1970, students played a critical role in the first “Teach-In on the Environment,” which coalesced into what we now call “Earth Day.” In the early 1990s, the university played a key role in advancing environmental justice as a formal discipline. And today, as our planet grows warmer and our environment deteriorates due to the devastating effects of global climate changes, we are more committed than ever to doing our part – and much more – to address these challenges, and inspire others to do the same.
In our own operations, we are working toward carbon neutrality on all three campuses – Flint, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor – as well as the Athletic Department and the Michigan Medicine health system. We will procure 100% of our purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and eliminate all of our greenhouse gas emissions from direct campus sources by 2040.
One way we are doing this is by seeking 25 megawatts in on-campus solar power installations on all of our campuses, and collaborating closely in this effort on our main campus with the city of Ann Arbor. The total electricity generated would be equal to the power consumed by approximately 3,000 homes each year.
Our environmental efforts across the region include measures to protect our amazing Great Lakes. With support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U-M researchers work with partners to forecast harmful Lake Erie algal blooms that pose risks to human and wildlife health. This information is especially helpful to water treatment plants dealing with the risk of toxins in their source waters.
As a public university, an unwavering dedication to the public good is at the core of our mission. That means doing all that we can to sustain and protect our environment and world, for today and for our future.