University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Northstar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise

Unlike other roundtable discussions addressing sustainability, NiSE meetings are supported by parallel ongoing research agendas. They target the key insights and informational needs of the participants. NiSE research projects are roughly one, two, or three years in scope, reflect information needs of multiple participants, and are developed collaboratively through academic-practitioner partnerships. We are the “honest broker” bringing together competitors when needed or requested so that impactful, meaningful, and lasting solutions can be developed, benefiting the entire industry.

We use our innovative network collaboration model to learn with our partners about real world concerns and questions they face.  These initiatives include the broad concept areas of sustainable innovation, sustainable consumer behavior, embedded organizational sustainability, energy use and more. Together, through in-house knowledge, real world expertise from our partners,  and collaboration with academic experts in the field, we tackle sustainability challenges.

Current Initiatives

Embedded Sustainability

Embedded sustainability can be thought of as an internal capability that is expressed through the process of interaction. To understand this, NiSE focuses on the research question, “How do firms learn to integrate and manage sustainability across their business?

Financing Sustainability

NiSE is working to understand how sustainability initiatives might be financed. Identifying and utilizing these opportunities provides an important foundation for understanding how to bundle and aggregate sustainability improvements such as a “saved kilowatt hour”, a “saved gallon of water”, or “saved unit of toxic material.”

Materials Cycling

Through the extension of a modeling approach developed by the NiSE, this initiative explicitly addresses factors critical to both firm-level capital investment and material sourcing decisions and the broader institutional-level governance and policy supporting these decisions.

The Mobile Shared Economy

With the advent of social media, we are virtually denser than perhaps any other time in our history. NiSE explores the opportunities in virtual density through two projects that utilize mobile devices to revolutionize transportation and delivery systems, in effect reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable Procurement

The goal of achieving sustainable consumption in the marketplace requires a series of decisions by both producers and purchasers. NiSE’s goal is to develop a tool to analyze how environmental claims impact a product’s life cycle environmental performance, informing both producers and purchasers.

Archived Initiatives

A Matter of Time

NiSE researchers investigated correlations between work hour/income reductions and changes in consumption behavior, activities, quality of life, and environmental impacts. From this research, we gained insight into the relation between time, money, and the environment.

Integrated Water Policy

This initiative proposed the development of a systems water policy map for two to three geographically strategic states that more equitably allocates water resources between natural ecosystem functions and societal needs, while maintaining healthy water quality.

NiSE is a program of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

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