Greg Keoleian, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Systems

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, 1987, University of Michigan
M.S.E. Chemical Engineering, 1982, University of Michigan
B.S.E. Chemical Engineering, 1980, University of Michigan
B.S. Chemistry, 1980, University of Michigan

Greg Keoleian is the Peter M. Wege Professor of Sustainable Systems.  Dr. Keoleian co-founded and serves as director of the Center for Sustainable Systems. His research focuses on the development and application of life cycle models and metrics to enhance the sustainability of products and technology. He has pioneered new methods in life cycle design, life cycle optimization of product replacement, life cycle cost analysis and life cycle based sustainability assessments ranging from energy analysis and carbon footprints to social indicators. Systems studied include alternative vehicle technology, renewable energy systems such as wind farms, photovoltaics and willow biomass electricity, buildings and infrastructure, information technology, food and agricultural systems, household appliances, and packaging alternatives.

Professor Keoleian currently teaches interdisciplinary graduate courses on Sustainable Energy Systems and Industrial Ecology and co-directs the Engineering Sustainable Systems Dual Degree Program and the Rackham Graduate Certificate Program in Industry Ecology.

Research Interest

Keoleian’s research has been developing and applying life cycle models to a wide range of products and technology for over 25 years.  The environmental impacts, costs and other outputs from these models are used to inform design decisions, policy and regulations, marketing and product labeling and consumer choices.  He led the development of the first comprehensive life cycle models of large complex systems including a mid-sized automobile, a single family home, and road infrastructure.  His research explores multiple pathways and options for advancing sustainability of new emerging technology and topics that often involve complex tradeoffs and stakeholder perspectives.  More information about past and current research  can be found at Examples of systems and topics being studied include:

  • Mobility systems:  vehicle lightweighting, autonomous vehicles, wireless charging
  • Energy Systems: energy storage for renewable energy integration; offshore wind energy siting
  • Consumer products:  optimal replacement policy
  • Food Systems:  sustainable diets, food and packaging waste

Current/Recent Research

Clean Energy Research Center, Clean Vehicle Consortium
Principal Investigators: H. Peng (Center Director), J. Ni (Deputy) Thrust Leaders: G. Keoleian, D. Manley, I. Hiskens, A. Violi, G. Rizzoni, D. Siegel, K. Saitou
Sponsor:  DOE
Duration: October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2016

Road Map of Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Priorities in Ann Arbor: Travel Demand, Vehicle Design and Sustainability Performance
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian, J. Stein, L. Kostyniuk, T. Ersal, R. DeKleine
Sponsor:  University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center
Duration:  5/1/2014 to 4/30/2016

Life Cycle Assessment of Food Packaging and Waste
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian, M.C. Heller
Sponsor:  Dow Chemical Company
Duration:  7/1/2014- 12/31/2015

Optimizing the Environmental Performance of Food Product-Package Systems: A life Cycle Assessment of the Trade-offs Between Packaging Design and Food Waste
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian, M.C. Heller, S.E. Selke
Sponsor:  Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability (Michigan State University)
Duration:  8/1/2014 - 7/31/2017

University of Michigan's Technical Management of ALMMII (American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute)
Principal Investigators: A. Taub, M. Collette, M. Banu, N. Vlahopoulos, J. Allison, G.A. Keoleian, R. Kapuscinski
Sponsor:  Department of the Navy
Duration:  2/21/2014 - 2/21/2019

Sustainable Materials Selection Tool: Life Cycle Assessment of Natural Fibers For Auto Applications
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian, C. Kim, T. Wallington, E. Lee, D. Mielewski
Sponsor:  Ford Motor Company
Duration:  1/1/2013-12/31/2014

Advancing Offshore Wind Power Sitting through Multi-criteria Assessment Integration
Principal Investigators: J. Kelly,  M.R. Moore, G.A. Keoleian, S. Adlerstein-Gonzalez
Sponsor:  NSF
Duration:  9/1/2012 – 8/31/2015

Detroit Climate Action Collaborative: Greenhouse Gas Inventory For the City of Detroit
Principal Investrigators: G.A. Keoleian
Sponsor: DTE Energy Foundation
Duration: May 1, 2013 – April 30, 2013.

Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Battery Chemistries for Sustainable Energy Storage
Principal Investigators: L. Thompson, M.S. Sanford, R.F. Savinell, G.A. Keoleian
Sponsor:  NSF
Duration:  9/15/2012 to 8/31/2016

Update Material Production Modules: GREET 2 Model
Principal Investigators: G. Keoleian, S. Miller
Sponsor:  Argonne National Lab
Duration: March 15, 2010 – September 30, 2011

The Science and Engineering of Microalgae Hydrothermal Processing
Sponsor: NSF EFRI-HyBi
Principal Investigators: P. Savage, G. Keoleian, A. Matzger, S. Linic, N. Lin, N. Love, H. Wang
Duration: September 1, 2009 – August 31, 2013

A Multi-Scale Design and Control Framework for Dynamically Coupled Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructures, with Application to Vehicle-to-Grid Integration
Sponsor: NSF Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure (RESIN) Program
Principal Investigators: J. Stein, Mechanical Engineering; Co-PIs: Z. Filipi; G. Keoleian; H. Peng; M. Crow; Participating Investigators: D. Callaway; H. Fathy; C. Simon; J. Sullivan; J. Sun
Duration:  September 15, 2008 – September 14, 2013

Teaching Interests

Teaching provides a unique opportunity to influence sustainable development by preparing leaders for careers in fields such as sustainable product development, sustainable mobility, renewable energy systems, green manufacturing, sustainable food systems, and sustainable architecture. My special interest is to facilitate interdisciplinary learning at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels.

My current teaching and research activities are tightly interconnected and my courses draw heavily from a variety of research projects conducted with the Center for Sustainable Systems. Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Energy Systems are two core courses that I have developed. Both courses combine lectures, discussion, and term projects for students interested in sustainable production and consumption. They emphasize systems thinking, problem solving skills, technology assessment, thermodynamic principles, and the integration of environmental science, technology, policy, and design.

I also serve as Co-Director of the Engineering Sustainable Systems Dual Degree Program between the College of Engineering and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.  This program trains graduate students to protect, restore, and create engineered and natural systems that are socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable.  This dual degree (MS from SNRE) and (MSE from CoE) includes specializations ranging from sustainable energy systems to sustainable design and manufacturing and sustainable water systems.  For more information visit:

I also serve as Co-Director of the Graduate Certificate in Industrial Ecology.  The Program is designed to be an attractive complement for students seeking graduate degrees in business, engineering, natural resources, environmental health sciences, and public policy. The graduate certificate can be pursued by current University of Michigan graduate students or anyone else who has received a graduate degree within the last five years. For more information download the PIE brochure at:

Current/Recent Teaching

Industrial Ecology (Natural Resources and Environment 557/Civil and Environmental Engineering 586) is an interdisciplinary graduate course that brings together students from natural resources, business, engineering, and public health.  Specific topics covered include life cycle assessment (LCA) of products and technology, life cycle costing, sustainable supply chain management, environmental accounting, and environmental labeling. These methods are used to examine emerging technologies (e.g., biobased products, electrified vehicles) and alternative design strategies (e.g., remanufacturing, dematerialization). Term projects, which facilitate peer learning, are organized with teams of four students from different disciplinary backgrounds.

Sustainable Energy Systems (NRE 574/ Physics 419/ Public Policy 519/ RCNSCI 419) examines the production and consumption of energy from a systems perspective. Sustainability issues are examined by studying global and regional environmental impacts, energy economics, energy efficiency, consumption patterns, and energy policy. The physics of energy and energy accounting methods are introduced and applied to the U.S. energy system, which encompasses resource extraction, conversion processes and end-uses. Responses to current challenges such as declining fossil fuels, local air pollution and climate change are explored. These responses include unconventional fossil fuels, carbon sequestration, a hydrogen economy, emerging technologies (e.g., renewable sources: biomass, wind, and photovoltaics; fuel cells) and end-use efficiency and conservation.

Selected Publications

Heller, M.C., and  G.A. Keoleian, “Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimates of U.S. Dietary Choices and Food Loss.” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2015) DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12174.

Orfield, N.D., R.B. Levine, R.B., G.A. Keoleian, S.A. Miller, P.E. Savage, “Growing algae for biodiesel on direct sunlight or sugars: A comparative life cycle assessment” ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (2015): 3(3): 386-395.

Bi, Z., L. Song; R. De Kleine; C.C. Mi; G.A. Keoleian “Plug-in vs. wireless charging: Life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions for an electric bus system” Applied Energy. (2015) 146: 11-19.

Arbabzadeh, M., J.X. Johnson, R. De Kleine, G.A. Keoleian “Vanadium redox flow batteries to reach greenhouse gas emissions targets in an off-grid configuration” Applied Energy (2015) 146: 397–408.

Keoleian, G.A., J.P. Newell, M.Xu and E. Dreps “Sustainability strategies for consumer products in cities” Chapter 5 in Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities: Strategies, methods and outlook D. Mazmanian and H. Blanco, Editors, Edward Elgar: Northhampton MA., (2014) p. 86-115.

Lewis, A.M., J.C. Kelly, G.A. Keoleian, “Vehicle lightweighting vs. electrification: Life cycle energy and GHG emissions results for diverse powertrain vehicles” Applied Energy (2014) 126: 13–20.

Keoleian, G.A., “Life Cycle Optimization Methods for Enhancing the Sustainability of Design and Policy Decisions” in Treatise on Sustainability Science and Engineering, I.S. Jawahir, Y. Huang, S.K. Sikdar, Eds., Springer, (2013) p 3-17.

Zhang, H., G.A. Keoleian, M.D. Lepech  “Network-Level Pavement Asset Management System Integrated with Life-Cycle Analysis and Life-Cycle Optimization” Journal of Infrastructure Systems (2013) 19(1): 99–107.

MacPherson, N.D., G.A. Keoleian, and J.C. Kelly, “Fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions labeling for plug-in hybrid vehicles from a life cycle perspective” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2012) 16(5): 761-773.

Keoleian, G.A. and J.L. Sullivan, “Materials challenges and opportunities for enhancing the sustainability of automobiles” Material Research Society Bulletin, (2012) 37(4): 365- 373.

Kelly, J.C., J.S. MacDonald, and G.A. Keoleian, “Time-dependent plug-in hybrid electric vehicle charging based on national driving patterns and demographics” Applied Energy (2012) 94: 395-405.

Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian” Exploring a Water/Energy Trade-off in Regional Sourcing of Livestock Feed Crops” Environmental Science and Technology (2011) 45, 10619–10626.

De Kleine, R., G.A. Keoleian, J.C. Kelly “Optimal replacement of residential air conditioning equipment to minimize energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer cost in the US” Energy Policy (2011) 39(6): 3144-3153.

Mazor, M.H., J.D. Mutton, D.A.M. Russell, G.A. Keoleian, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction From Rigid Thermal Insulation Use in Buildings” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2011) 15(2): 284-99.  

Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian Life Cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gas Analysis of a Large-Scale Vertically Integrated Organic Dairy in the United States 2011, Environmental Science and Technology (2011) 45 (5): 1903–1910.

Sivaraman, D. and G.A. Keoleian “Photovoltaic (PV) Electricity: Comparative Analyses of CO2 Abatement at Different Fuel Mix Scales in the U.S.” Energy Policy (2010) 38 (10): 5708 – 5718.

Kim, H-J., C. McMillan, G. Keoleian, S.J. Skerlos, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Payback for Lightweighted Vehicles using Aluminum and High Strength Steel” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2010) 14(6): 929-946.

Lenski, S., G.A. Keoleian, K. Bolon, “The impact of 'Cash for Clunkers' on greenhouse gas emissions: a life cycle perspective” Environmental Research Letters (2010) 5: 044003 (8pp).

Zhang, H., M.D.Lepech, G.A. Keoleian, S. Qian, and V. C. Li “Dynamic Life Cycle Modeling of Pavement Overlay Systems: Capturing the Impacts of Users, Construction, and Roadway Deterioration” Journal of Infrastructure Systems (2010) 16(4): 299-309.

Kendall, A., S.E. Kesler, G.A. Keoleian “Megaquarry versus decentralized mineral production: network analysis of cement production in the Great Lakes region, USA” Journal of Transport Geography (2010) 18:  322–330.

Bolon K., Keoleian G., and Kostyniuk L.P. “Vehicle capacity and fuel consumption in household fleets: A constraint-based micro-simulation model.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board (2009) 2139: 73–80.

McMillan, C. and G.A. Keoleian “Not all Primary Aluminum is Created Equal:  Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 1990 to 2005” Environmental Science and Technology (2009) 43 (5): 1571–1577.

Grimes-Casey, H., G.A. Keoleian, and B. Willcox “Carbon Emission Targets for Driving Sustainable Mobility with US Light Duty Vehicles” Environmental Science and Technology (2009) 43(3): 585-590.

Kendall, A., G.A. Keoleian, M. Lepech “Material Design for Sustainability through Life Cycle Modeling of Engineered Cementitious Composites” Materials and Structures (2008) 41(6): 1117-1131.

S. Pacca, D. Sivaraman, and G.A. Keoleian “Parameters Affecting the Life Cycle Performance of PV Technologies and Systems” Energy Policy (2007) 35(60): 3316-3326.

Kim, H.C., G.A. Keoleian, Y.A. Horie, “Optimal household refrigerator replacement policy for life cycle energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and cost” Energy Policy (2006) 34(15): 2310-2323.

Keoleian, Gregory A., Timothy A. Volk. “Renewable Energy from Willow Biomass Crops: Life Cycle Energy, Environmental and Economic Performance.” Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, (2005) 24:385–406.

Keoleian, G.A., A. Kendall, J.E. Dettling, V. M. Smith, R. F. Chandler, M.D. Lepech, V.C. Li "Life Cycle Modeling of Concrete Bridge Design: A Comparison of Engineered Cementitious Composite Link Slabs and Conventional Steel Expansion Joints" Journal of Infrastructure Systems (2005) 11(1): 51-60.

Spitzley, D.V., D.E. Grande, G.A. Keoleian , H.C. Kim "Life cycle optimization of ownership costs and emissions reduction in US vehicle retirement decisions" Transportation Research Part D 10 (2005) 161-175.

Keoleian, G.A., A. Phipps, T. Dritz, D. Brachfeld "Life Cycle Environmental Performance and Improvement of a Yogurt Product Delivery System" Packaging Technology and Science (2004) 17: 85-103.

Kim, H. C., G. A. Keoleian, D. E. Grande, and J. C. Bean. "Life Cycle Optimization of Automobile Replacement: Model & Application" Environmental Science & Technology (2003): 5407-5413.

Scheuer, C., G. Keoleian, and P. Reppe. "Life Cycle Energy and Environmental Performance of a New University Building." Energy and Buildings (2003) 35: 1049-1064.

Heller, M.C., G.A. Keoleian, T.A. Volk, and M.K. Mann "Life cycle assessment of a willow agriculture and biomass energy conversion system" Biomass and Bioenergy (2003) 25: 147-165.

Heller, M. and G. Keoleian "Assessing the sustainability of the U. S. food system: A life cycle perspective"Agricultural Systems (2003) 76: 1007-1041.

Keoleian, G.A., and G.McD. Lewis. "Modeling the Life Cycle Energy and Environmental Performance of Amorphous Silicon BIPV Roofing in the US," Renewable Energy (2003) 28: 271-293.

Keoleian, G.A., and K. Kar, "Elucidating complex design and management tradeoffs through life cycle design: air intake manifold demonstration project" Journal of Cleaner Production (2003) 11: 61-77.

Gard, D.L. and G.A. Keoleian "Digital vs. Print :Energy Performance in the Selection and Use of Scholarly Journals" Journal of Industrial Ecology (2002) 6(2): 115-132.

Bjorklund, A. M. Melaina, and G. Keoleian, "Hydrogen as a transportation fuel produced from thermal gasification of municipal solid waste: an examination of two integrated technologies", International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, (2001) 26: 1209-1221.

Keoleian, G.A., S. Blanchard, and P. Reppe "Life Cycle Energy, Costs, and Strategies for Improving a Single Family House" Journal of Industrial Ecology (2000) 4(2): 135-156.

Keoleian, G.A., and D. Menerey. "Sustainable Development by Design: Review of Life Cycle Design and Related Approaches." Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association (1994) 44: 644-668.