A sign that reads "Nichols Arboretum Reader Center"
Alum Maria Deckmann/Daily. Buy this photo.

The University of Michigan released its second annual Climate Action Report Tuesday. The report details progress the University has made over fiscal year 2023 toward its carbon neutrality goals.

Throughout the past fiscal year, the University deployed four electric buses, announced 25 megawatts of on-campus solar installations and implemented the use of geo-exchange, a system for using the earth’s heat to regulate indoor temperature, in the new Central Campus residence hall and the redesigned Ginsberg Center. The University plans to continue sustainable construction as a part of Campus Plan 2050.

During FY23, the University’s overall greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1, direct on-campus emissions, and Scope 2, purchased electricity emissions, did not change from fiscal year 2022. According to a University Record article published alongside the report, the University expects Scope 2 emissions to substantially decrease after they reach an agreement to procure 100% of purchased electricity from renewable sources. This purchase agreement, announced in March 2022, contributes to the University’s goal of net zero Scope 2 emissions by 2025. According to this year’s report, the University currently sources 33% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources. 

The University announced earlier this year it will generate 25 MW of solar energy across the three campuses by the end of 2025. According to the University, the Ann Arbor campus purchased 400,000 MWh of electricity last year. The University’s 25 MW goal amounts to 219,000 MWh per year or about 67% of the current purchased electricity.

The University plans to focus on “behind the meter” solutions, which involve installing solar projects in localized areas rather than spread around the existing power grid. Electricity transmission on the grid, especially at low voltages, can lead to electricity losses.

According to University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald, the visibility of the solar projects would foster a culture of sustainability on campus.

“Onsite solar installations would also be highly visual, helping spur a campus wide culture of sustainability,” Fitzgerald said. “This is especially important given many decarbonization strategies are not visible.”

In a release, University President Santa Ono expressed his satisfaction with the progress so far.

“I’ve been so pleased to see firsthand how this university is making ambitious, multifaceted progress — advancing climate action through innovative operations, community partnerships, applied research, campus involvement and sustainable investments,” Ono said.

Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at shanbom@umich.edu.