President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality releases first progress report

December 2, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, charged with recommending approaches and solutions for reducing U-M carbon emissions, has released its first interim progress report.

Since its formation in February, the commission has defined the many dimensions of the challenge, developed a structure and work plan, and secured the necessary expertise to carry out robust analyses across multiple geographies and subject areas: all essential steps for recommending paths to reaching carbon neutrality campus-wide.

 Among the topics covered in the report are the following:

  • The commission’s work is considering “Scope 3” emissions, which are indirect emissions associated with university-related activities. To the degree that the university can accurately measure and influence emission levels, the commission believes that these emissions should be included in U-M’s total carbon budget.
  • The commission hired Integral Group to evaluate how heat and power generation infrastructure can evolve toward carbon neutrality on all three U-M campuses. Integral Group, as part of its work, is exploring future sources that could eventually supplant the Ann Arbor campus’ central power plant.
  • A carbon accounting subgroup quantitatively estimated the amount of methane leakage in the natural gas supply chain associated with natural gas use on campus. It has identified ways that the university could assess leakage rates in southeast Michigan.
  • Internal Analysis Teams comprising faculty leads, student research assistants and U-M staff collaborators are focusing on eight key areas: biosequestration, building standards, campus culture and communication, commuting, energy consumption policies, external collaboration, food and university travel. Other subgroups are exploring additional key issues, including social justice considerations and vehicle fleet electrification.

The progress report lays out the next steps for the second phase of the commission’s work, which will take place in the coming months.