Graham Sustainability Institute

Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund Projects

Blueprints For Pangaea, a 501(c)(3) medical surplus recovery organization, works with health systems by taking their costly overflow of supplies destined for landfills and reallocating them to countries with poor healthcare infrastructure.  The student chapter at the University of Michigan has partnered with Michigan Medicine and neighboring state university institutions to divert medical surplus supplies. Using funds from PBSIF, they are able to more effectively identify hospitals in need of medical supplies and coordinate their efforts accordingly while bridging the gaps between humanity and sustainability.

By providing a drive-up e-waste collection event on campus, this project team aims to both provide a free, easy-to-use service to the campus community and increase awareness about the sustainability and global environmental justice issues surrounding the disposal of e-waste. Ultimately, their hope is to establish a recurring e-waste event to be funded by the university.

This team will be installing a Block ‘M’ solar array in a visible and student-centric location on campus in order to symbolize the university’s commitment to carbon neutrality and educate students about the value of renewable energy. The ultimate hope is to integrate a visual symbol of what renewable energy can look on our campus while endeavoring to change the campus culture around sustainability and energy use.

The living wall at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens aims to use space creatively and promote vertical gardening techniques while demonstrating sustainable architecture that can reduce carbon emissions and purify the air. After its completion, visitors will be able to observe how solar pumps and rainwater catchments conserve water in this sustainable art installation.

Student Lead: Shawn Farrell

Administrative Support: Professor Robert Grese, Theodore Roosevelt Chair of Ecosystem Management, Director, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

The University of Michigan Strawbale Project at the Campus Farm is an off-grid strawbale building that will embrace natural building techniques, emphasize experiential learning, and expand sustainable food operations. This project will take place at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in May of 2018 and will be the first permanent student-constructed building on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus. The building will be constructed by a combination of Program in the Environment, College of Engineering, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Stamps School of Art & Design students who are enrolled in either a 300 level or 400 level green building course. This building will serve as the heart of the University of Michigan Campus Farm and provide a multi-functional space for students, volunteers, public visitors, and members of the U-M community. The building will provide a number of different uses including a location for hosting events, a lunchroom, meeting space, weather shelter, and an exhibition space intended to educate visitors about sustainability and natural building. Ultimately, the University of Michigan Strawbale Project at the Campus Farm will act as a benchmark, setting the standard for sustainability efforts and engaged learning practices at the University of Michigan.

Student Team: Margaret Lemak, Ian Crowley, Kingsli Kraft, Lian Wardrop, Rachel Beglin, Kate Samra, Connor Kippe, Lauren Hoff, Aaron Brodkey, Sara Farooqui, Wendy Zhuo, and Jennifer Siciliano.

Administrative Support: Joseph Trumpey, Associate Professor, School of Art & Design; Bob Grese, Professor, Theodore Roosevelt Chair in Ecosystem Management and Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum; Jeremy Moghtader, U-M Campus Farm Manager; Alex Bryan, U-M Sustainable Food Program Manager

Food Recovery Network’s project aims to to recover food from Martha Cook, Oxford, and other dining halls on campus by buying refrigerators and coolers to keep the food cool before recoveries. The PBSIF grant will allow FRN to begin recovering food from every dining hall on campus in the next year.

This project will help reduce the amount of food wasted on campus, decreasing the carbon footprint of the university, and work towards the university wide sustainability goals. Food waste contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, and while Michigan Dining has made great strides to handle post-consumer food waste through composting and other efforts, Food Recovery Network helps reduce waste on a pre-consumer level. This project will help Michigan Dining comply with the EPA’s Food Recovery hierarchy model by helping feed hungry people with the unused food. FRN continues to transform the way communities view and handle surplus food with hopes that food recovery will become as commonplace as recycling.

Student Team: Anne Grech, Jenna Endsley, Jenny Pieczynski, Max Gaegauf, Jordan Priest, Sachie Kakehi, Monica Nedeltchev, and Josh Kim.

The primary goal of the EVOLVE conference is to display to the University of Michigan how sustainability and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies are essential considerations in everyone’s careers and daily lives. On campus, concerns for the planet have been relegated to a periphery of students in the environmental sciences. This is a dangerous conclusion as the challenges of climate change will inevitably impact everyone. At this annual conference, students will discover how sustainability directly or indirectly applies to them. This will happen through a series of speakers, panel discussions, debates, and presentations from professionals. Top level business professionals, government officials, and renowned leaders will be brought in to urgently communicate the necessity of collective action in the face of climate change.

Student Team: Jack Hyland, Peter Dolan, Brooke Kahl, and Abby Potts

The primary goal of the EVOLVE conference is to display to the University of Michigan how sustainability and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies are essential considerations in everyone’s careers and daily lives. On campus, concerns for the planet have been relegated to a periphery of students in the environmental sciences. This is a dangerous conclusion as the challenges of climate change will inevitably impact everyone. At this annual conference, students will discover how sustainability directly or indirectly applies to them. This will happen through a series of speakers, panel discussions, debates, and presentations from professionals. Top level business professionals, government officials, and renowned leaders will be brought in to urgently communicate the necessity of collective action in the face of climate change.

Student Team: Jack Hyland, Peter Dolan, Brooke Kahl, and Abby Potts

An insect operation that will raise black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), a non-pest type of fly native to tropical and temperate regions of the world. As the larvae consume organic waste from the campus and Ann Arbor community, the project facility will divert waste from landfills such as fruit and vegetable scraps and spent brewers grains. Moreover, it will serve as an educational initiative to showcase sustainable alternative food for students and Ann Arbor community members. The facility will generate 50 pounds of BSFL per month and in the process divert 500 pounds of local organic waste, preventing the equivalent of nearly 5 tons of C02 emissions per year that would be created by our community. Excess insects not utilized for programming and community outreach are sold as feed to the agricultural community to keep the operation running and to foster sustainable relations even off campus.

Student Team: Eric Katz, William Horne III, Jonathan Luthy, Robert Pigg, and Timothy Schumacher.

External Partners: Arbor Brewing Company, Kulisha, Mad Agriculture, International Centre of Insect Physiology, and Ecology, Washtenaw Food Hub, and the greater Washtenaw community.

The University of Michigan Campus Farm is a project of the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program (UMSFP). The mission of UMSFP is to foster collaborative leadership that empowers students to create a sustainable food system at the U-M and become change agents for a vibrant planet. The Campus Farm provides a living-learning laboratory, offering educational resources for volunteers, classes and community members in organic farming, sustainability, small business practices and more. Fostering a culture of sustainability on campus, the Campus Farm reduces food waste, and delivers student-grown produce to campus dining locations.

A new partnership with Michigan Dining through Fields Café in Palmer Commons shows great promise. In order to effectively supply food to Fields Café during the academic year, the Campus Farm will need to both extend its growing season into the academic year as well as streamline delivery processes. We will explore the possibility of season extension of the Farm operations to increase faculty and student engagement during the fall and spring. This would provide more time for class visits and other engaged learning opportunities.

Student team: Jacob Grochowski, Nicholas Machinski. Administrative Support: Robert Grese, M.S.L.A, Director, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, Professor of Landscape Architecture at University of Michigan SNRE; Catriona Mortell-Windecker, Academic Programs Team Lead, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Supporting Student Group: Cultivating Community, University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program.

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