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Erb Institute Furthers Green Job Creation, Achieves Record Admissions Levels in 15th Year

7/10/2009 --

Leader in sustainable business research and education sets stage for further growth.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Green job creation, top prizes in sustainable business plan competitions, and record enrollments are just some of the achievements marked by the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the close of its 15th anniversary year. In addition, the publication of important new research and a leadership role in the national discussion on sustainability have secured the Erb Institute's position as a hub of sustainable business innovation.

The Erb Institute is a 50-50 partnership between the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) and the Ross School of Business. The institute fosters professional education, public outreach, and scientific scholarship supportive of the transition to global sustainability. Students enrolled at both Ross and SNRE may pursue the dual MBA/MS degree through the institute.

With 110 students enrolled for the coming academic year, up from 82 for 2008-09, the institute will welcome its largest group of new and returning students this fall. To help address job placement challenges posed by the economic downturn, Erb recently launched an innovative internship program in partnership with corporations, non-government organizations (NGOs), and government agencies. As part of the program, Erb underwrites a portion of the salaries for students who choose NGO or government positions that might not compensate as well as jobs in the private sector.

Student Achievements

Erb students are involved in green economic transformation in other ways as well. Husk Insulation is a startup venture created by a student team whose business plan took top honors and a $200,000 prize in the MIT Clean Energy competition earlier this year. Husk is poised to convert agricultural waste (including rice husk ash) into thin, high-grade, and affordable insulation for the refrigeration industry.

In addition, Erb's Algal Scientific team was honored with first place in the DTE Clean Energy competition this spring. The students behind Algal plan to manufacture and operate turn-key water treatment systems that combine wastewater treatment with biofuel production using algal growth bioreactors and proprietary processing technology.

Erb MBA/MS candidates also played leadership roles in the Ross School's chapter of the student organization Net Impact, which was recognized in 2008 as the best chapter in the country for the third year running.

Faculty Research and Leadership

In the past year, Erb has elevated its national profile among business, academic, and nonprofit audiences through participation in numerous conferences, events, and forums. Professor and Erb Institute Director Tom Lyon spoke during a town hall discussion among CEOs of FedEx, Office Depot, and Delta Airlines at the National Summit in Detroit in early June. In May, the institute served as host and sponsor of the first annual conference of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability, which brought scholars from the University of Virginia, Dartmouth, Harvard University, and the University of Western Ontario to the Ross campus. Erb also hosted the Sustainable Energy Fellowships program in late May, which drew leading sustainable energy scholars and students together to discuss solutions to society's real energy challenges.

During the 2008-09 academic year, Erb's faculty published numerous books and articles, including Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy? (Harvard Business School Press) by Andy Hoffman, the Holcim (U.S.) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and associate director of the institute. In addition, Greenleaf Publishing recently released Hybrid Organizations, a master's project completed in 2008. Faculty members also provided leadership on master's projects such as an initiative to "green" the entire campus of the Holy Cross Abbey in Clarke County, Va., a project which draws on students' expertise in both the scientific theories of sustainability and the practical application of green building tactics.

"Thanks to the outstanding contributions of our students, faculty, and alumni the Erb Institute continues to emerge as a leading authority on sustainable business," says Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch. "The incredible achievements of the past 12 months will provide a springboard for our growth in the months and years to come, as we continue to expand our education and research programs."

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,