University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment launches NorthStar Initiative to address grand sustainability challenges

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Todd Reubold, Institute on the Environment, (612) 624-6140
Jeff Falk, University News Service, (612) 626-1720

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (5/17/2010) – The University of Minnesota is launching a unique new collaboration with some of the world’s most influential decision makers from the private sector, government, consulting and non-governmental organizations. As part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, members of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NISE) will collectively work toward solutions to global sustainability challenges.

NorthStar’s consortium participants, along with University of Minnesota faculty are meeting every six months to identify barriers to, and opportunities for, environmental and social innovation. This ongoing dialogue informs a parallel research agenda, generating new and actionable knowledge. Research projects currently underway focus on identifying drivers for increased material cycling and metrics for framing sustainable consumer choices.

“Ultimately, we are attempting to transform how the University works with practitioner experts to create and apply knowledge,” said Tim Smith, director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise. “Today’s environmental and social challenges are too big for any single organization, so we need to develop new ways of leveraging existing understanding, tackling information gaps and sharing innovative solutions across sectors.”

NorthStar participants represent some of the nation’s leading companies and organizations including 3M, Accenture, Andersen Corp., Aurora Strategic Advisors, Aveda, Best Buy, Cities Management, Dell Inc., Domini Social Investment LLC, Faegre & Benson LLP, General Mills, Great Plains Institute, Green Seal Inc., The Heinz Center, InterfaceRAISE, The Marvin Companies, Medtronic Inc., Minnesota Environmental Initiative (MEI), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Procter and Gamble, Science Museum of Minnesota, Tennant, The Nature Conservancy, Tunheim Partners, Tysvar LLC, United Nations Foundation, U.S. EPA, Worldwatch Institute and ZipCar/GoLoco.

The Initiative’s next meeting will take place May 20-21 at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Greg Allgood, director of Proctor and Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water program will deliver the keynote address. Discussion panels will focus on designing for sustainable consumption, creating value through exchange relationships and energy, water & ecosystem integration. Outcomes from these discussions will form a series of research projects to be announced by mid-summer.

The meeting is by invitation-only. Members of the media are encouraged to contact Todd Reubold, Institute on the Environment director of communications, for interview requests and further information.

The NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NISE), a unique program of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, is helping organizations address complex sustainability challenges by aligning both private and public interests. NISE takes a collaborative approach to research and information exchange, leveraging expertise from multiple sectors to address complex environmental issues. NISE provides an opportunity for industries, governments and individuals to move beyond incremental solutions and marginal “greening” efforts to more meaningful, systemic change, by sharing knew knowledge and pioneering solutions without diminishing the market’s power to innovate. For more information, please visit: