University of Michigan OKs 'net zero' carbon emission plan | Michigan Radio
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University of Michigan OKs 'net zero' carbon emission plan

Mar 25, 2021

Michigan Union at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Updated March 25, 2021 at 5:29 p.m.

The University of Michigan is pledging to achieve "net zero" carbon status for its $12.5 billion endowment by 2050. The board of regents approved a plan Thursday that calls for shifting investments away from companies that produce fossil fuels and toward those generating renewable energy.

It pledges $140 million in new investments in wind and solar power and projects to limit carbon emissions. It would continue the current practice of not investing in the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies or those that extract tar sands oil.

Original post: March 18, 2021

A set of recommendations could lead the University of Michigan to be completely carbon neutral by 2040. The cost could be as high as $3.5 billion dollars.

The President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality at the University of Michigan is releasing its report of 50 recommendations to reduce the schools emissions and other contributions to the greenhouse gas effect which is the primary cause of climate change.

It starts with switching from a central power plant in Ann Arbor and natural gas boilers on the University’s other campuses to alternatives suggested by consultants.

“They came back with a recommendation to develop a geothermal exchange program across all the campuses that takes advantage of the heating and the cooling of the earth along with renewable electricity,” said Jennifer Haverkamp, a co-chair of the commission and Graham Family Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the university. 

“It also means the electricity that we purchase, that we want to move to buying 100 percent renewable energy electricity. And, thirdly, it includes all those emissions that are associated with the university but not actually generated by us,” she added.

That means buying carbon offsets for emissions from commuters getting to school and those created by production of food for campus cafeterias.

U-M President Mark Schlissel will review the recommendations to determine a final plan to present to the University Board of Regents.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated geothermal technology could be in place by 2025. It would be phased in over the period up to 2040.

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