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

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 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 Engeering Sustainable Systems Dual Degree Program and the Rackham Graduate Certificate Program in Industry Ecology.

Research Interests

Life Cycle Design Life cycle design is a framework for integrating environmental considerations into the development of products. Successful environmental integration often must be achieved within the context of shortening time to market cycles, more stringent regulations, and global competitiveness. The objective of life cycle design is to minimize environmental burdens across the life cycle while also optimizing, meeting performance, cost, and legal requirements that influence the product system. The product life cycle encompasses raw material acquisition and processing, manufacturing, use and service, and end-of-life management. A multi-criteria matrix has been developed to elucidate conflicts and tradeoffs between requirements.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) LCA is a analytical tool for quantifying and characterizing the environmental burdens associated with a product life cycle. Research challenges involve large scale modeling of complex product systems, data quality issues and uncertainty analysis, and impact assessment.

Life Cycle Optimization(LCO) Life Cycle Optimization is a tool recently developed by CSS that integrates life cycle assessment with dynamic programming to analyze the optimal service life of products. Evaluating the optimal life of a product poses a challenging resource and environmental management problem. Extending the service life of an existing product avoids the additional resource investments and environmental impacts associated with the production of a new product. On the other hand, replacement of older, inefficient product with newer, more efficient product is an important mechanism for reducing environmental impacts. LCO addresses the dynamic nature of technological innovation and can be used to analyze optimal service life and the effects of technology turnover on environmental performance.

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) Life Cycle Costing is a tool for evaluating the full array of monetary costs associated with a system from acquisition, operation, maintenance, service and retirement. LCC addresses both private costs including hidden, contingent/liabilities and less-tangible costs as well as social costs that include user costs and externalities such as health impacts of pollution.

Sustainability Indicators and Metrics The life cycle modeling methods described above provide scientifically based approaches for developing sustainability indicators and metrics. The life cycle is a useful framework for identifying and organizing environmental, economic and social indicators for sustainability. The ultimate goal is to bring a broad base of scientific understanding to inform policy.

Industrial Ecology Industrial ecology is the systematic analysis of global, regional and local material and energy flows and uses that are associated with products, processes, industrial sectors, economies,communities, and other complex system boundaries. A biophysical model traces human needs to the production and consumption activities that meet these needs, and the resultant ecosystem consequences that affect the planets life support system. This model provides a foundation for evaluating technological, economic, social, and policy issues and opportunities from a systems perspective.

Current/Recent Research

Title: Clean Energy Research Center, Clean Vehicle Technology
Sponsor:  DOE
Principal Investigators: D. Assanis (Center Director), J. Ni (Deputy) Thrust Leaders: G. Keoleian, D. Manley, I. Hiskens, Ian, H. Peng, A. Violi, G. Rizzoni, D. Siegel, K. Saitou
Duration: October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2015

Title: 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

Title: 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

Title: 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.

Title: 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

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

Title: 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

Title: US Fluid Milk beyond Carbon LCA Study
Sponsor: Dairy Mangement Inc. (DMI)
Principal Investigators: O. Jolliett, G. Keoleian,
Duration: February 1, 2010 – April 30, 2012

Principal Investigators: L. Raskin, J. Diana, G. Keoleian
Title: Improving the Environmental Sustainability of Shrimp Aquaculture Systems Through Microbial Resource Management
Sponsor: Dairy Mangement Inc. (DMI)
Duration: March 15, 2010 – February 28, 2013

Title: 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

Title: DTE Energy- MPSC PHEV Pilot Project
Sponsor: Michigan Public Service Commission
Principal Investigators: G. Was, MMPEI; CoPIs: D. Callaway; H. Fathy; I. Hiskens; G. Keoleian; J. Lee; T. Lyon; C. Mi; J. Sullivan; Z. Filipi
Duration:  September 1, 2008 – December 31, 2010

Title: Life Cycle Optimization for Residential Air Conditioning Replacement
Sponsor: Energy Foundation
Principal Investigators: G. Keoleian
Duration:  December 1, 2008 – November 30, 2009

Title: Michigan at a Climate Crossroads: Strategies for Guiding the State in a Carbon Constrained World
Sponsor: National Environmental Trust, Energy Foundation
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian
Project Duration: October, 2005 - May 2007

Title: Sustainable Concrete Infrastructure Materials and Systems: Developing an Integrated Life Cycle Design Framework
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, MUSES (Materials Use: Science, Engineering, and Society), Biocomplexity Program
Principal Investigators: G.A. Keoleian, V. Li, R. Robertson, S. Batterman, S. Kessler, G. Helfand
Project Duration: September 1, 2003 - August 31, 2009

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, biobased products, 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 asCo-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. The Program is supported by faculty and course offerings from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, College of Engineering, School of Public Health, the School of Business Administration and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.  For more information download the PIE brochure at:

Current/Recent Teaching

Industrial Ecology (Natural Resources and Environment 557/Civil and Environmental Engineering 586) Industrial Ecology is an interdisciplinary graduate course that brings together students from natural resources, business, engineering, and public health. This was the first full semester course on industrial ecology offered at a university. I developed this course in 1994 through a competitive grant from the AT&T Industrial Ecology Faculty Fellowship Program.

Specific topics covered include life cycle modeling of products and industrial processes, material and energy balances for large complex systems, environmental accounting, and life cycle costing. These methods are used to examine emerging technologies (e.g., biobased products, photovoltaics) 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.

Over 200 students have enrolled in this course since 1994, with an average class size above 30 students. I plan to continue teaching this course, as it is a core course for CEMP, other SNRE students interested in sustainable systems, the Rackham Certificate Program in Industrial Ecology, and the College of Engineering ConsEnSus (Concentrations in Environmental Sustainability).

Sustainable Energy Systems (NRE 574/ Physics 419/ Public Policy 519/ RCNSCI 419) This course 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

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.

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.

McMillan, C.A., S.J. Skerlos, and G.A. Keoleian, “Evaluation of the Metals Industry’s Position on Recycling and its Implications for Environmental Emissions” Journal of Industrial Ecology (2012) 16(3): 324 – 333.

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.

McMillan, Colin A., M.R. Moore, G.A. Keoleian, and J.W. Bulkley, “Quantifying U.S. aluminum in-use stocks and their relationship with economic output” Ecological Economics (2010) 69(12): 2606-2613.

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., M.H. Ross, and G.A. Keoleian "Optimal Fleet Conversion Policy from a Life Cycle Perspective" Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment (2004) 9: 229-249.

Heller, M.C., G.A. Keoleian, M.K. Mann, and T.A. Volk "Life Cycle Energy and Environmental Benefits of Generating Electricity from Willow Biomass" Renewable Energy (2004) 29: 1023-1042.

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., S. Spatari, R. Beal, R. Stephens, R. Williams, "Application of Life Cycle Inventory Analysis to Fuel Tank System Design" Intl. J. LCA (1998) 3(1): 18-28.