Big strides have been made in planning for a sustainable UC Berkeley future. 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.   

Led by students aiming for zero waste and eliminating global plastic pollution, UC Berkeley has committed to one of the strongest plastic bans in the country, setting a comprehensive target to eliminate all nonessential single-use plastic by 2030. Unlike other plastic bans, this initiative goes beyond existing targets focused on foodware and plastic bags, and addresses the spectrum of products and packaging used in campus academics, research, administration and events.

The UC Berkeley community received a number of accolades this year, including again a coveted spot among the top 20 greenest universities according to the Sierra Club. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability honored six graduating seniors as change-makers and leaders in climate action, environmental justice, sustainable food, ending plastic pollution and moving UC away from harmful pesticide use. 

In 2020, the campus also launched a number of impressive initiatives on climate change solutions. Beginning in fall 2020, the Letters and Science Division is offering an undergraduate minor in climate science. UC Berkeley’s new fundraising campaign, Light the Way, includes a research priority to understand the depths of environmental change, accelerate mitigation and adaptation, and ensure that vulnerable populations can participate in the transition to clean energy. And underway is the former architecturally significant art museum’s conversion to a life sciences innovation lab; when open, this will be UC Berkeley’s first carbon-free building operating on 100% clean electricity.

Stories
Student wearing a mask works in student garden

Students Leveraging Sustainability Resources to Respond to the Coronavirus

During spring 2020, many of UC Berkeley’s operations and programs were put on hold due to COVID-19 and the subsequent shelter-in-place orders. The Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) and The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) at UC Berkeley cultivated resources for students to practice personal and community resilience related to environmental justice issues and initiatives. SERC […]

Orange poppies blooming in front of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley

Returning Used N95 Masks to Duty Quickly — and Safely

UC Berkeley bioengineering professor Amy Herr is part of a multi-university research consortium, N95Decon, providing a scientific consensus on existing and emerging decontamination methods of N95 masks. The consortium is assessing existing research, designing new systems and — importantly — actively debunking misinformation, with the goal of providing health care staff with scientifically proven ways […]

CLIMATE PROTECTION – EMISSIONS

Line graph depicting emissions levels between 2009 and 2025, with projected goals through 2025, and split into two categories. Scopes 1+2 decreased from 153,107 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 137,711 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2025. Scopes 1+2+3 decreased from 193,631 metric tons CO₂e in 2009 to 188,759 metric tons CO₂e by 2019, with a goal of 0 emissions by 2050.

Year
Metric tons CO₂e in Thousands
ENERGY – RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GENERATION

Bar graph depicting Renewable Electricity Generation levels, split into four categories: On-Campus Systems (1,315 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Contracts (0 Mwh/year), Off-Campus Opt-in Utility Programs (4,771 Mwh/year), and Off-Campus UC Wholesale Power Program (5,198 Mwh/year).

Mwh/year
ENERGY USE INTENSITY (EUI)

Line graph depicting energy use intensity (EUI) between 2016 and 2019, split into two categories: EUI Target and EUI Actual. EUI Actual has remained close to the EUI target goal until 2019 when it rose above the target.

Year
EUI (kBtu/Sqft)
Transportation

UC Berkeley continued to make strides in its efforts to use alternative transportation methods and support the use of electric vehicles in 2020.

Riding a bike icon

56%

of UCB employees are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle charing station icon

12

EV charging stations at this location for 2019-2020

Electric vehicle with charger icon

7%

of light-duty vehicles acquired in 2020 were electric (zero-emission) and hybrid vehicles

Water

Stacked bar graph depicting average water usage for FY 2019-2020. The water usage reduction goal for 2025 has already been met in 2020.

Thousands of gallons per capita
ZERO WASTE – GENERATED

Bar graph depicting waste generated between 2016 and 2020, split between three categories: Recycle, Organics, and Landfill. During this period, Landfill decreasing significantly, Recycling decreased slightly, and Organics has remained generally consistent.

Year
Pounds
ZERO WASTE – DIVERTED

Line graph depicting total waste diverted between 2011 and 2020, split into Diversion rate (no C&D) – Calculated and Calculated Diversion rate (MSW+C&D). Diversion rates in 2020 were 54% in both categories, with a goal of 90%. 

Year
Percent
Food
Salad bar zoomed in on bowl of spinach image

$11.3M+

total spend on food and beverages

11.5%

of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria in fiscal year 2019-20

UC Berkeley continues to set ambitious goals, with a goal for 2030 of 25% spend on sustainable food and beverages.

procurement
Desk Chair icon

98%

green spend on indoor office furniture

Cleaning supplies in a bucket with a leaf

60%

green spend
on cleaning supplies

Desktop computer and smart phone icon

40%

green spend on electronics

UC Berkeley’s goals for procurement include 25% green spend on electronics and indoor office furniture, and 75% green spend on cleaning supplies.

Green building

UC Berkeley also received 1 Silver LEED certification in 2020.

2 Platinum, 12 Gold, 8 Silver and 1 Certified

Total number of LEED certifications

Sustainable Building & Laboratory Operations
Two laboratory beakers with stems with leaves coming out the top

16

total assessed research labs

UC Berkeley has met the goal of assessing three labs.

Awards

UC Berkeley was the proud recipient of several sustainability awards in 2020.

A full list of awards is here.