Ann Arbor, U.S.

Bringing the circular economy to Ann Arbor’s food sector

About Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a hub of sustainability in Michigan and a model community for others. It is a bustling university town, culinary hotspot, and a tech hub with a walkable downtown that includes world-class arts and culture. Located in southeast Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Ann Arbor lies at the center of a greater collection of communities in Washtenaw County. With so many thriving communities nearby, Ann Arbor has become a cultural melting pot and urban oasis. With a population of 123,000 and a GDP of 22,186 MM USD, Ann Arbor, Michigan is the home of the University of Michigan, a top-ranked public university. It is 55% rentals and has a median household income of $69,000. The City of Ann Arbor, or as residents affectionately call it “Tree Town”, is home to over 1.5 million trees and over 125 parks. The city has a Natural Areas Preservation, Parks, and Forestry departments that care for these trees and land, including thousands of acres of farmland and open space that has been preserved around the city.

Ann Arbor's sustainability challenges

  • City-wide carbon neutrality by 2030

    Ann Arbor’s goal is to achieve city-wide carbon neutrality by 2030. To achieve this, the entire community must eliminate 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually – this is the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions they emitted, as an entire community, in 2018. Although the City recognizes the importance of upstream and embedded emissions, this figure does not include emissions associated with the production of the goods and services Ann Arborites use. Vital to reaching this goal is the centering of traditionally under-served populations, i.e. the city cannot obtain these goals unless they are obtained for all residents.

  • Other sustainability challenges

    Other challenges include greening a grid that is still 91% fossil fuel based, switching to electric heating and cooling equipment in cold climates, electrifying single occupancy vehicles and moving towards public and non-motorized transit, and consuming less in a capitalist economy. This all must be accomplished within a changing climate that will require adaptation as well as mitigation. Specifically, Ann Arbor will face rising temperatures, increased number of hot days, more precipitation, and more extreme precipitation events.

Ann Arbor's existing sustainability commitments and targets

  • A2ZERO Plan

    Ann Arbor is a leader in climate action commitments, and is currently implementing its A2ZERO Plan, a bold, ambitious, and comprehensive roadmap to reach a just transition to community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030 aligned with science-based targets. Strategies outlined in the plan include securing 100% renewable energy, transitioning from fossil fuels to clean electric alternative technologies, improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, responsibly consuming and using materials, and improving the resilience of our community to climate change.

    Through the plan, Ann Arbor has increased local solar installations fourfold, planted thousands of trees on private property, and invested in comprehensive energy efficiency and electrification retrofits in an underserved neighborhood. Specific targets include:


    • Move toward a circular economy
    • 100% clean and renewable energy, community-wide
    • Fully electrifying 30% of homes
    • Fully electrifying 100% of municipal operations
    • 80% of homes reach a 20% improvement in energy efficiency
    • A resilience hub in every ward
    • Planting of 10,000 trees on private property, in addition to plantings on City property