Sustainable Futures Institute

  SFI Research Focus Areas

The SFI facilitates collaborative research between Michigan Tech faculty, global organizations, and industry partners in eleven countries. Research is focused on unique, multi-perspective sustainable development. 

International/Developing World Sustainable Development- How can the SFI foster sustainable development in other regions of the world and encourage best practice adoptions or creation of home-grown, localized solutions?

Manufacturing and Materials Sustainability- How can systems be developed to maximize the utility of materials while minimizing environmental and social impacts?

Systems Analysis for Sustainability- What are the best methods to use to analyze complex, interrelated sustainability issues in a particular system and how those issues might affect other systems?

Sustainable Energy- What sources of energy offer the best combination of low environmental impact, high economic return, and social acceptability?

Current Highlighted Projects

Research Coordination Network for Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (RCN-SEES)-Many communities and countries are adapting to the opportunities and challenges presented by local biofuels development. While the particular aspects of each biofuels case may be different, many aspects of these emerging markets and technologies can create useful experiences that should be shared widely to benefit many different groups. This project is focused on creating a community of researchers across the Pan-American region with interests in several aspects of bioenergy sustainability.

Partnerships for Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) -From Canada to Brazil, the international PIRE team will analyze several bioenergy development case studies to evaluate environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Similarities and differences among the case studies in different regions will be assessed to learn more broadly about biofuels development across the Pan American region.

Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) -This project is the latest in the line of SFI research activity in our “Wood to Wheels” integrated program. Research across the woody bioenergy life cycle, from plant genetics to engine research, will be combined with a broader view of the sustainability of the entire bioenergy life cycle in order to assess socioeconomic and environmental impacts of these new biofuels technologies.

Sustainability assessments with industrial partners -The SFI has developed a successful track record of consulting research with companies interested in obtaining a third party, critical reviews of their product or process configurations to assess environmental sustainability. SFI staff and affiliated faculty have expertise in life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to quantify environmental impacts of a system according to internationally-accepted standard practices. Most projects have focused on the alternative energy sector, but the approach is very adaptable, and we enjoy new challenges! Some of our current and previous project parters include: LanzaTech, UOP, GTI, General Motors Company, Frontier Renewable Resources, Wal-Mart Corporation and API.

Research Centers

Wood To Wheels


a Center for Social Innovation (CenSI)

a MUSES Project

Center for Nanostructured and Lightweight Materials

Product and Process Architecture Alignment Center

Center for Environmentally Benign Functional Materials

Education Programs

Other Sustainability Centers

Biotechnology Research Center

Center for Water and Society Center for Water and Society

Ecosystem Science Center

Advanced Power Systems Research Center





SFI Home  ||  About  ||  Research  ||  Education  ||  Publications  ||  News  ||  Campus Sustainability  ||  Contact 

Michigan Technological University 1400 Townsend Drive Houghton, Michigan 49931
Sustainable Futures Institute

Phone: 906.487.3612
Fax: 906.487.2943