By the numbers: University of Michigan tries to balance sustainability with growing campus
The University of Michigan is working to balance an increasing focus on sustainable practices with a growing facility and student body size, a balance that, according to data from a recent university-generated report, is not always easy to strike.
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman in September pledged to greatly reduce the amount of waste, emissions, toxic run-off and energy consumed by the university, saying that sustainability "will begin to infuse everything" at the Ann Arbor campus.
Upholding the pledge, however, is no easy feat, according to the 2011 U-M Sustainability Report.
During the course of seven years, the university's student body has increased 8 percent since 2004, growing from 39,533 to 42,716. Simultaneously, the school's square footage has increased tremendously with the construction of North Quad, South and Weill halls and the acquisition of the former Pfizer buildings, among several other projects.
New data shows that the university still has many changes to implement if it's going to succeed in reducing its waste and meeting its ambitious sustainability goals.
AnnArbor.com picked some numbers that reflect the university's progress in waste reduction, as well as areas it still needs to work on to reach those goals.
2: The number of consecutive years U-M's greenhouse gas emissions have increased.
According to the recently released report, greenhouse gas emissions increased 7.5 percent this year, marking the second-straight year of increase and bringing the school's total emissions increase since 2004 to 28 percent.
However the school's emissions, when normalized for growth, showed a 5.8 percent decrease since 2004 and a 4.9 percent increase from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2011.
The report says the university's acquisition of the Pfizer building, renamed the North Campus Research Complex, is the primary reason behind the 2011 emissions increase.
7: The number of hybrid buses the school plans to roll out this year.
AnnArbor.com file photo
University figures show bus ridership on campus rose from 6.5 million rides in fiscal 2010 to 6.9 million rides in fiscal 2011. Although the number of riders has increased, the school has been able to curb the amount of energy and fuel used per rider, the report asserts.
The school owns more than 1,050 vehicles, including 96 biodiesel buses and trucks, 55 hybrid sedans and 15 electric vehicles. U-M will be adding seven hybrid buses to its fleet this year as a part of its sustainability initiative.
18: The percentage decrease in energy consumption at Angell Hall, one of U-M's largest classroom and faculty office buildings, during fiscal 2011.
Energy consumption of 387 surveyed buildings increased 8.2 percent from 2004 to 2011, according to the report. From 2010 to 2011, the increase in energy usage at those buildings was 3.8 percent.
The university has concentrated its energy-reduction efforts on 71 existing buildings since 2004. The result is an 8 percent decrease of energy consumption in those buildings, the report states. Angell Hall, one of those buildings, saw an 18 percent energy consumption decrease; the Alumni Center saw a 16 percent decrease, and the Crisler Center saw a 30 percent reduction.
U-M plans to install a field of solar panels on North Campus in the coming year. The panels will create enough energy to power about 50 households, Coleman said in September.
430: How many pounds of waste the university generated per person in fiscal 2011.
The university decreased its waste 2.7 percent from 2010, to 17,000 tons in fiscal 2011. That number, however, is a 19 percent increase from 2004. In 2011, the university produced 1.2 pounds per student, staff and faculty per day, or 430 pounds per person during the year.
According to the report, the school has a 30 percent recycling rate. In September, the university reinstalled recycling bins on the Diag. The bins had previously been removed because they were often used for waste. After Ann Arbor moved to single-stream recycling, the university reinstalled the bins, optimistic they'd be used for mostly recyclable waste.
The school also composts most of its pre-consumption food waste and uses recycled napkins in dining halls.
1.3 billion: The number of gallons of water used at the university in fiscal 2011
Water use at the university increased by 6.2 percent from fiscal 2010, rising to 1.3 billion gallons in 2011, or about 16,000 gallons per person. However, when normalized for population growth, the number actually marks a 7.1 percent reduction in usage from 2004, the report asserts.
U-M's sprinkler systems are computer monitored to reflect recent rainfall. The university says that saves about 22 million gallons of water per year.
Officials from U-M's Office of Campus Sustainability could not be reached for comment on the report today.