ANN ARBOR—In just one month, more than 1,000 University of Michigan faculty, staff and students have become certified as "Planet Blue Ambassadors," receiving training on effective ways to reduce environmental impact and to lead sustainability efforts on campus and beyond.
As part of the program, ambassadors pledge to take environmentally responsible actions in each of the university's five sustainability commitment areas: energy, food, waste, water and community awareness. To date, the more than 1,000 inaugural ambassadors have made more than 26,000 pledges of action, with more than 12,000 actions completed.
The Planet Blue Ambassador program is coordinated through the U-M Graham Sustainability Institute as the key behavioral change component of Planet Blue, the multifaceted presidential sustainability initiative at the university.
"Perhaps even more impressive than the number of certifications is that we have seen engagement from an extremely diverse set of stakeholders at the university, including strong participation from the University of Michigan Health System," said Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute and special counsel to the U-M president on sustainability.
Participants come from across U-M's Ann Arbor campus, including more than 600 staff members, nearly 350 students and 55 faculty members.
To become certified, U-M community members complete five online training modules focused on the university's sustainability goal areas. The most popular and unique element of each module is the interactive activity or game, such as the "Reduce Your Food Impact" game where users create a virtual meal and calculate the carbon emissions of their food selections. Users are then challenged to reduce their impact by exchanging foods.
Ambassadors can update their pledges, access additional resources about sustainability and revisit training content on their personalized online dashboard. Each month, the program hosts information sessions, training, outings and discussions for ambassadors. Some ambassadors are also forming "Planet Blue Green Teams," working with friends and co-workers to discover the best path to sustainability for themselves and their workplace.
"With the wide range of individuals in our community, we can share experiences, interests and knowledge to create a culture of sustainability here at U-M," said program coordinator Nicole Berg. "The tens of thousands of individual and collective actions being taken, as well as the innovative leadership of these ambassadors, will greatly impact our campus beyond what we could achieve with technological and operational changes alone."
- Planet Blue Ambassadors: http://www.sustainability.umich.edu/pba/planet-blue-ambassadors
U-M Sustainability fosters a more sustainable world through collaborations across campus and beyond aimed at educating students, generating new knowledge, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Learn more at sustainability.umich.edu.