Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.72
Liaison Kira Stoll
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of California, Berkeley
PRE-2: Points of Distinction

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete N/A Mikayla Tran
SDG & OS Engagement Fellow
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name of the institution’s featured sustainability program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Students advancing sustainability on campus

A brief description of the institution’s featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Outside the classroom, students, staff and faculty are engaged in a multitude of activities to ensure that sustainability is institutionalized on campus. The vibrant environmental community at UC Berkeley is a key feature of our progress towards a more sustainable campus, where students partake in community-building projects, research, and advocacy efforts to create a more sustainable and equitable world.

UC Berkeley offers more than 55 student sustainability related groups (https://serc.berkeley.edu/student-organizations/), covering a wide breadth of topics ranging from sustainability-focused consulting to supporting environmentalists of color. As part of these campus efforts, the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) cultivates a collaborative space to strengthen the collective effectiveness of the sustainability community, and provides resources for students to actualize their visions of a more equitable, socially just, and resilient future. SERC’s student staff has grown into a thriving force of over 25 students, managing the day-to-day operations and environmental programs for the campus. UC Berkeley’s campus green fund, The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), provides funding, via grants, for projects that improve and support UC Berkeley’s campus sustainability efforts. Since its inaugural grant cycle in spring 2008, TGIF has awarded more than $3.4 million in grants to 251 grant projects. These projects have included the funding of 464 student sustainability internships.

At UC Berkeley, we take pride in our history of student activism and advocacy. Our environmental community is no different, as many of our student environmentalists have paved the way to sustainable progress on campus. Students have consistently centered environmental justice at the forefront of campus sustainability efforts, raising awareness of the communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and advocating for greater representation and diversity in the environmental community at Cal. Student representatives are central to the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS) and it’s Working Group on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Sustainability that is tasked with the mission to identify and recommend policies, practices and strategies that elevate and integrate an intersectional approach towards diversity, equity, and inclusivity in campus sustainability initiatives.

As a result of passionate student advocacy, UC Berkeley committed to the strongest plastic ban in the country in April 2020. This comprehensive target will eliminate all non-essential single-use plastic with viable alternatives by 2030. Unlike other plastic bans, UC Berkeley’s initiative goes beyond previously existing plastic reduction targets focused on foodware and plastic bags, and addresses the spectrum of products and packaging used in campus academics, research, administration, and events. UC students provided valuable input as the University crafted this more environmentally friendly policy. Since August 2019, CALPIRG’s Plastic-Free Seas Campaign has collected more than 12,000 student signatures and sponsored resolutions with the UC Student Association and local student government on several UC campuses to support phasing out non-essential, single-use plastic on all UC campuses.

Students are also central to the UC-wide movement to find environmentally friendly alternatives to herbicide use. Students founded Herbicide Free Campus at UC Berkeley in 2017, where the campaign first started as Herbicide-Free Cal. With the expansion of the program, Herbicide-Free Campus’ mission is to stop the use of toxic herbicides across all University of California campuses. In May 2019, these efforts were rewarded when the University of California issued a ban on the use of glyphosate-based herbicides at all UC locations.

Which of the following impact areas does the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Campus Engagement
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
AC8: Campus as a Living Laboratory, EN3: Student Life, OP9: Landscape Management, OP18: Waste Minimization and Diversion, PA1: Sustainability Coordination, PA2: Sustainability Planning, IN32: Single-Use Plastic Ban, IN40: Sustainability Projects Fund

A photograph or document associated with the featured program, initiative, or accomplishment:
Name of a second highlighted sustainability program/initiative/accomplishment:
Climate Action and Planning for a Sustainable Future

A brief description of the second program/initiative/accomplishment:
Berkeley has more than 15 years of demonstrated climate action results. Berkeley has produced three climate action plans, and met its first carbon reduction target, bringing carbon emissions to levels lower than they were 30 years ago.

UC Berkeley has:
- Implemented energy efficiency measures that have reduced carbon emission by 15,000 tons and saved millions of dollars.
- Added twenty-one (21) LEED certified building projects with energy reduction features, representing over 14% of the total square footage.
- Reduced energy intensity per square foot by 15% since 1990, while actual building space has grown 27%.
- Over 130 campus buildings have real-time energy use dashboards to visualize cumulative impact of individual energy savings and identify malfunctions quickly.
- Today, 35% of the Berkeley vehicle fleet is green, either hybrid or powered by alternative fuels.
- Added over a megawatt of on-site solar power at six campus locations and four more on-site solar installations are in planning.

UC Berkeley is in flight to a carbon free future as we strive for carbon-free energy use by 2035. When the University of California, Berkeley was founded more than 150 years ago, its classrooms, offices and residence halls were lit by oil lamps and heated with woodfire, then followed by coal in later years, and in 1985 the campus built a natural gas-powered co-generation plant providing both steam for heat and electricity. Now, UC Berkeley is on the cusp of another energy transformation. The campus is aiming to move to a zero-carbon, electrified system that will serve 12 million square feet of classrooms, labs, residence halls and offices, where 55,000 people work everyday. The new system would use electrified heat pumps to supply hot and chilled water, expand on-site and off-site renewables, deploy building efficiency measures, install battery storage and purchase more utility-supplied clean electricity. Transitioning to such a system would move UC Berkeley beyond the University of California’s 2025 carbon neutrality goals and achieve true carbon-free energy in the next decade. It would also empower UC Berkeley to fulfill its historic mission of global climate, energy and environmental leadership.

Additionally, big strides are being made in planning for a comprehensive sustainable UC Berkeley future. In 2020 the campus published a comprehensive update to its UC Berkeley Sustainability Plan, setting key stretch goals and strategies reaching beyond systemwide policy. The plan addresses new intersectional topics, including health and sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion in sustainability. The campus also published its first Green Labs Action Plan and formed a cross-departmental steering group to guide its implementation. And importantly, looking out to 2035 and beyond, sustainability is a cornerstone feature of the Long Range Development and Campus Master Planning that is underway. This comprehensive effort is engaging many community members in visioning activities to inform climate resilience, active mobility and accessibility, sustainable water and more in the plans.

Sustainability Plan: https://sustainability.berkeley.edu/plans-reports/sustainability-planning

Green Labs Action Plan: https://sustainability.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/uc_berkeley_green_labs_action_plan_may_2020.pdf

Long Range Development and Campus Master Planning: https://lrdp.berkeley.edu/documents

Which impact areas does the second program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Air & Climate
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the second program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the second program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
PA-1: Sustainability Coordination, PA-2: Sustainability Planning, OP-1: Emissions Inventory & Disclosure; OP-2: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A photograph or document associated with the second program/initiative/accomplishment:
Name of a third highlighted program/initiative/accomplishment:
Environmental Change, Sustainability, and Justice in Academics & Research

A brief description of the third program/initiative/accomplishment:
UC Berkeley’s renowned scholarship and teaching include breakthrough understandings of natural resources, technical solutions to climate change, and policy and law strategies that lessen environmental impacts and improve lives. Our campus leads the way in sustainability research, with more than 25% of employees and more than 60% of departments engaged in sustainability research. We offer over 900 sustainability-focused courses with a wide array of academic departments expanding climate literacy among students. UC Berkeley has been consistently rated the top school in the world in environmental sciences, where our renowned Rausser College of Natural Resources strives to provide students the tools to protect the Earth's natural resources and ensure economic and ecological sustainability for future generations.

UC Berkeley’s 2018 Strategic Academic Plan outlines signature initiatives that analyze the critical issues and challenges facing our state, our nation, and our world that Berkeley is particularly well suited to address. One of the six signature initiatives is Environmental Change, Sustainability, and Justice. The initiative states: Many of the greatest economic, societal, and political challenges of our century revolve around environmental issues, including energy, climate change, water, land use and scarcity, food production, resource extraction, biodiversity loss, diseases, and human health. This initiative proposes a wide coordination of units—stretching from the humanities and social sciences to STEM and the professional schools—to examine, predict, and mitigate these challenges, and in the process become an international leader in solution-based scholarship that fosters societal change. The campus is activating this signature environmental initiative through its latest capital campaign, Light the Way. Leads for this initiative also share with potential contributors information on planning efforts to develop a zero-carbon campus energy system.

UC Berkeley offers a robust selection of sustainability-focused graduate programs. With its four-decade his­tory of trans­for­ma­tive teach­ing and research, the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) has reframed eco­log­i­cal and social prob­lems in terms that span across tra­di­tion­ally sep­a­rate dis­ci­pli­nary cul­tures. The graduate programs in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management offer a chance to work with award-winning faculty in climate science, biodiversity, environmental policy, land use, and community outreach – and to prepare for exciting careers addressing the complex environmental problems we face. Moreover, Berkeley Law was one of the first major law schools to enter the field of environmental law, and our Environmental & Energy Law Program remains as strong as ever today.

In terms of campus research, Berkeley hosts a multitude of programs to promote social and environmental sustainability-focused research. The Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) program encourages faculty and undergraduate students in the Rausser College of Natural Resources to collaborate on research projects by providing a grant to support their joint project. The SDG Undergraduate Research Group (SURG), affiliated with the Office of Sustainability and guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, strives to research local cross-cutting issues and increase the accessibility of research on campus. Several organizations and programs at UC Berkeley support and incentivize faculty applying for external sustainability research funding. The California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) conducts public-interest energy research and implements energy research programs involving experts at the University of California, other universities, government, industry and nonprofit groups. Other UC Berkeley organizations that support sustainability research include the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), an interdisciplinary program that connects academia, government, industry and civil society in international sustainability research. The Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) supports and develops interdisciplinary research and programming on the Berkeley campus and beyond.

Which impact areas does the third program/initiative/accomplishment most closely relate to?:
Public Engagement
Coordination & Planning

Website URL where more information about the third program/initiative/accomplishment may be found:
STARS credit in which the third program/initiative/accomplishment is reported (if applicable):
AC-4: Graduate Program, AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory, AC-9: Research and Scholarship, AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research, PA-2: Sustainability Planning; IN-47: Innovation A

A photograph or document associated with the third program/initiative/accomplishment:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.