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  • Plug-in vs. wireless charging: life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions for an electric bus system

    A study comparing conventional plug-in charging vs. wireless charging for all-electric buses from a life cycle perspective was recently published in Applied Energy.  The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area bus system (AATA bus) is used as a case study.

  • Considering the Future of Michigan's RPS

    A study lead by Jeremiah Johnson analyzing the real impacts of raising Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard was recently released. The project, sponsored by the University of Michigan Energy Institute, analyzes several scenarios, detailing the changes to different power generation sources such as coal and natural gas, the environmental benefits to the state, and the associated costs under each.

  • Using Autonomous Vehicles to Solve the Last Mile Problem

    The challenge of getting from a public transit node to a final destination is a well-documented problem in transportation theory known as the last mile problem. Research at CSS is analyzing the environmental implications of using autonomous vehicles to bridge this gap and thus, improve the use of public transit services.

  • EPA Carbon Rules

    CSS Researcher, Rachel Chalat, has developed an open-access tool for states to assess compliance options for the EPA's proposed rules to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.  Her work has been honored with a Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Award and has gained considerable interest with stakeholders across the Midwest.

  • UPdated Sustainability Factsheets Released

    The latest versions of CSS factsheets are now available including a new factsheet on Critical Materials. Published since 2001, the factsheets are designed to inform an audience of policymakers, business and industry leaders, educational institutions, and members of the public looking for concise information regarding sustainability challenges and solutions in the U.S.


    A team of graduate researchers conducted the first ever comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory for the City of Detroit. The inventory found that the city emitted the equivalent of 10.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2011 and 2012. These results will enable the development of climate plans for the city.

  • From ClassRooM to the Field

    Built on preliminary analysis from class projects in Sustainable Systems core courses - NRE 574 and NRE 597 - Dow Sustainability Fellows Adithya Dahagama, John Monnat and Leon Espira are conducting a study on sustainability implications of minor irrigation pond desilting on the base-of-the-pyramid populations of South Indian villages.

  • Sustainable Solutions in Liberia

    Sustainability Without Borders, a UM student organization sponsored by the CSS, is developing and deploying sustainable energy, water, and agricultural technologies in Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world.  Students in Liberia work along side students from University of Michigan to promote environmental, social, and economic development in the region.

The need for global solutions to environmental, social, and economic challenges is greater than ever. The Center for Sustainable Systems, within the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, leads interdisciplinary research to support the design, assessment, and management of systems that meet societal needs in a more sustainable manner.


The Center for Sustainable Systems develops and applies life cycle and systems analysis methods, models, and metrics for advancing sustainability and transforming systems to better meet human needs.  The Center has pioneered new methods in life cycle analysis, design and optimization and has led over 150 research projects focused on a wide range of topics including alternative vehicle technology, renewable energy systems, buildings and infrastructure, appliances, information technology, food and agricultural systems, and packaging alternatives.  Both basic and applied research is conducted in collaboration with stakeholders from the private and public sectors. 


The Center contributes to interdisciplinary education at undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels at the University of Michigan through curriculum development, internships, research opportunities and special workshops in the areas of industrial ecology and sustainability.  


The Center also organizes outreach activities for the university including the Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability and the Sustainable Systems Forum as well as developing and updating a collection of Sustainability Factsheets that are freely available for anyone to download.

Images adapted courtesy of David JoyceThe TAS Partnership LtdMartini DK, and Andrew Langdal via Flickr