On Tuesday, September 27, UM President, Mary Sue Coleman announced some major goals toward sustainability:

  • Reduce UM’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.
  • Make the UM campus transit system more efficient – decreasing vehicle carbon output by 30 percent for every person in the car, truck or bus.
  • Shrink the amount of waste sent to landfills by 40 percent.
  • Protect the Huron River, a beloved natural feature of our community–apply 40 percent fewer chemicals to grass, trees and walkways; ensure that at least 30 percent of our stormwater runoff does not flow into the Huron.
  • Promote a healthier environment by supporting more Michigan farmers and producers–committing that at least 20 percent of their food will come from local and sustainable sources.

All this by the year 2025.

This leadership on sustainability and river stewardship issues specifically, from a large university is key to the protection and resilience of the Huron River watershed.  Many people have asked me what this means and if UM can meet these goals.  In practice, this could mean less salt application in the winter due to better weather forecasting, better application methods, and less caustic solutions.  It could mean more focus and installations of native plants and trees that require less fertilizers and nutrients to keep them alive.  It could mean rain barrels, rain gardens, bioswales or permiable pavers that soak up and infiltrate  stormwater.  In terms of meeting these goals, if UM continues to show the leadership, commit the financial resources, and tap in to the ingenuity of faculty, staff, and students, I believe they will meet these goals and I look forward to partnering on these efforts.