Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, February 25, 2013

More than 1,000 U-M community members certified as Planet Blue Ambassadors

In one month, more than 1,000 faculty, staff, and students have become certified as Planet Blue Ambassadors. Certification involves training on effective ways to reduce environmental impact and lead sustainability efforts on campus and beyond

These inaugural ambassadors have made more than 26,000 pledges of action, with more than 12,000 actions completed to date.


The Planet Blue Ambassador program launched in January as the key behavioral change component of the U-M Sustainability Initiative.

“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, 55 faculty members and 300 students.

To become certified, U-M community members complete five online training modules focused on the university’s sustainability goal areas: energy, food, waste, water and building community.

The most popular and unique element of each module is the interactive activity or game, such as the “Reduce Your Food Impact” game where the user creates a virtual meal and calculates 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, trainings, outings and discussion opportunities for ambassadors.

Some ambassadors also are forming Planet Blue Green Teams, working with friends and co-workers to discover the best path to sustainability for themselves and their workplace. This approach has proven to be very effective in inducing lasting behavioral changes across diverse settings.

“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.”