Sustainability through Academic Partnerships


When companies and universities work collaboratively to push the frontiers of knowledge, they become a powerful engine for innovation in urban development and sustainability. For decades U-Haul has collaborated with many of the respected universities. Our contributions include partnering on and funding research programs, sharing technical expertise, and offering specialized internships.

In the summer of 2012, U-Haul engaged Wayne State University to conduct a research project looking into the impact of an adaptive building reuse project on the New Center neighborhood and the city of Detroit. Professors and Graduate students from the Master of Urban Planning program have chosen to lead the two-phase study since then.

The research project studies the social, environmental and economic effects of U-Haul’s adaptation of the 90-plus-year-old, formerly vacant National Biscuit Company (NBC) building (Nabisco) into a self-storage and rental facility. The scholars from Wayne State University believe that adapting an existing building nearly always has lower environmental costs than building a new one. U-Haul adaptive reuse initiative in Midtown Detroit helps avoid enormous amounts of C&D waste and greenhouse gas emissions.


“We will be a national brand name investing in the New Center community. We will provide a safe, acceptable refuge for urban pioneers as they reenter and secure their new residences and businesses in the area,” says Joe Shoen, CEO of U-Haul International. “Our entry will reinforce efforts made by others to stabilize the area.”

Another objective of the sponsored research is to determine whether people used U-Haul services to move to more stable and thriving neighborhoods nationwide. A Phase II study will be launched soon to build a case study focusing on profound social and economic changes accompanying adaptive reuse of existing buildings like the NBC building.

This is a publication of U-Haul Corporate Sustainability


What sustainability projects have you worked on? Tell us in the comments!

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