The Center for Sustainable Systems advances concepts of sustainability through interdisciplinary research and education. CSS collaborates with diverse stakeholders to develop and apply life cycle based models and sustainability metrics for systems that meet societal needs. CSS promotes tools and knowledge that support the design, evaluation, and improvement of complex systems.


The University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems at the School of Natural Resources and Environment will be a global leader in systems-based approaches to sustainability through creative and effective teaching and research.

CSS Core Values

Fundamental to our success in realizing this mission are the values we believe in and practice:

* Applying systems analysis to establish metrics

Evaluation of the full life cycle consequences and opportunities of a product system or activity establishes a basis for measuring progress towards sustainability.

* Promoting change through education and communication

Change is best achieved through education and training. We maintain a strong commitment to integrating novel curricula, fostering student participation in research and developing teamwork and communication skills.

* Restoring and enhancing ecosystem health, structure and function

Protecting ecosystem health through stewardship is critical to the planet`s life support system and is a fundamental condition for sustainability. Sustaining ecosystem health ultimately serves as a basis for social and economic sustainability.

* Meeting basic needs with inter- and intra-generational equity

Meeting basic needs among current and future members of the global society is a fundamental condition of sustainability.

* Valuing ecologically and socially sustainable systems in the marketplace

Policies and markets which value and respect ecological services and human well-being are necessary to encourage products and services that meet sustainability conditions.

* Using nature as a model

The natural world can be an inspiration for the design of sustainable systems.

* Using interdisciplinary, multi-objective approach and multi-stakeholder participation

Guiding the development of sustainable systems demands a broad expertise base. Progress towards sustainability also requires resolving a diverse and often conflicting set of performance, environmental, economic and social goals through stakeholder participation.