UC Berkeley News


 This year's winners of the campus Sustainability Award include (from left) Jessica Huang, Kameron Kitajima, Desirae Early, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Edward Arens, Paul Black, and Vi Do. (Deborah Stalford photo)

Greenhouse-gas emissions: How low can we go?
Campus sets new goal, and honors its green leaders, at Sustainability Summit

| 02 May 2007

Last week Chancellor Birgeneau announced that that the Berkeley campus has committed to reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014 - six years earlier than the target set by California Assembly Bill 32, the Global Solutions Warming Act. The chancellor made the announcement at the campus's fourth annual Sustainability Summit to an enthusiastic audience that packed the Wells Fargo Room in the Haas School of Business.

Sharing of the green: a baker's dozen of newly funded projects

This new emissions benchmark is the next step in the campus's drive to "play a pivotal role in California's climate strategy and action," said Birgeneau. The effort the campus made in pursuing and securing a $500 million grant from BP to fund the Energy Biosciences Institute exemplifies that commitment, he added.

In March, Birgeneau, along with other UC chancellors, signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which calls for the University of California to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, with the ultimate goal of making all 10 UC campuses carbon-neutral. Berkeley's new emissions target "not only meets [the] ACUPCC criteria but emphasizes Berkeley's leadership in sound analysis and actionable policy," said Birgeneau.

A feasibility study commissioned at last year's summit, undertaken by Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP) - a collaboration of faculty, administration, staff, and students to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions at Berkeley - indicates that the campus can meet the new objective by increasing energy efficiency and conservation.

Proposed emission-reduction projects include implementing Energy Star (EPA) computer settings, retrofitting bathrooms to better conserve water, installing more- efficient lighting, and improving the campus's steam-heating plant, located north of Haas Pavillion.

Steps to encourage individuals to conserve energy include expanding the number of the campus's electric vehicles, introducing a fleet of shared campus bicycles, encouraging a department-level energy reduction effort, and bolstering use of videoconferencing rooms.

The Sustainability Summit not only focused on future actions but celebrated the exemplary accomplishments of students, faculty, staff - and one key administrator - who are dedicated to improving the campus's sustainable energy practices. Those honored included:

Edward Arens, professor of architecture, for "his leadership in sustainable design and development." Arens, who directs the Center for Environmental Design Research and the Center for the Built Environment, was recognized for integrating the topic of environmental sustainability in all of his building-design teachings.

Paul Black, a utility-engineering manager in Physical Plant - Campus Services, for his long-term dedication to energy conservation and his role as a leader in the Energy Intern program. Black has played a key role in many of the campus's energy-conservation projects: lighting retrofits, steam-trap replacement, and testing building efficiency.

Rebecca Jones, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, for her efforts in solar-cell research and the Green Initiative Fund, as well as her work with the United Nations Industrial Develop-ment Organization (UNIDO) in China. At Berkeley, Jones researches new materials for solar-cell production. She has also co-founded the campaign to create the Green Initiative Fund here. Pending approval from the chancellor and the Regents, this modest student fee will generate $200,000 annually for sustainability projects over 10 years. As a 2004 fellow in China, Jones worked on a project to make solar-powered flashlights available to rural communities that would otherwise rely on highly polluting, unhealthy diesel torches.

The students behind Berkeley Green Campus - Desirae Early, Vi Do, Jessica Huang, and Kameron Kitajima - for their dedication to campus education and leadership in energy-conservation projects. Berkeley Green Campus's energy-education efforts include outreach to residence-hall staff as well as a DeCal course, Energy 101, which provides students the opportunity to participate in a variety of campus projects. The group has also worked in the dorms to replace light bulbs with the compact-fluorescent variety and to create excitement about resource conservation through energy competitions.

Chancellor Birgeneau received a special recognition for his leadership in sustainability, and for making the commitment not only to act locally but to work globally as well.

For more information on the campus's sustainability efforts, visit

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