Graham Sustainability Institute

Climate & Energy

Climate change is arguably the most significant and important challenge facing humankind. In a recent report, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that global warming must be limited to 1.5˚C to avoid catastrophic consequences for the planet and to stay within those limits requires major and immediate societal and technological transformations. Through a variety of activities highlighted below, the Graham Institute is collaborating with a wide range of partners to help address this monumental challenge.

Energy Future Initiative

Transitioning society away from fossil fuels is a complex challenge with technical, social, economic, and political components. The Graham Energy Future Initiative draws upon University of Michigan’s world-class research in all of these fields—engineering, natural systems, social sciences, climate science, business, law, public policy—in collaboration with external partners from the public and private sectors, to provide sustainable solutions to solve the challenge.

A flagship project of this initiative focuses on Community Energy Management in Michigan. In a partnership with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the Graham Energy Future Initiative is helping communities across Michigan plan for energy infrastructure, from solar and wind energy projects, to energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure. We assist communities by providing templates, case studies, and answers to common questions about how clean energy infrastructure impacts communities. We can also provide technical assistance through in-person presentations, phone and email consultations, and webinars.

While many of the materials are still under development, this work builds on earlier work, specifically on wind energy from U-M’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

For more information or to request technical assistance, contact Dr. Sarah Mills at 734-763-0726 or by email to

President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality

In February 2019, President Schlissel launched the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, which brings together the U-M community and regional partners to develop recommendations for reducing U-M’s carbon emissions to levels that are environmentally sustainable, achieved in a fiscally responsible manner, and in the context of its mission of education, research, service and patient care. The Graham Institute is playing a central part in this important effort, with members of our team serving as co-chair, administrative director, and project coordinator for the commission through completion of its final report in the fall of 2020. The Commission is charged with developing solutions that are scalable and transferable, and the Graham Institute is well-positioned to help foster that broader dissemination throughout the region.

Carbon Neutrality Research Fund

In October 2019, President Schlissel stated that U-M must harness its incredible research capabilities for our carbon neutrality efforts to make a real difference. Toward this end, and with a generous gift from an anonymous donor, the president asked the Graham Institute to establish and administer a fund of several million dollars to support faculty research focused on solutions that could help our campuses, cities and other entities achieve carbon neutrality. These funds will be available to faculty across all U-M schools and colleges, and will help us ensure that Michigan’s carbon neutrality work will indeed be scalable and transferable beyond our campuses. …MORE DETAILS TO COME IN WINTER 2020.