July 2, 2015

In 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano announced plans for the entire University of California system to achieve carbon neutrality of buildings and vehicle fleets by 2025. In order to help achieve this zero net energy goal, the Office of the President has created a fellowship program to help make an action plan and provide channels for communication among the 10 UC campuses and associated facilities. Several UC Berkeley students have been working on various aspects of the carbon neutrality initiative.

Communications and Student Engagement fellows spent the second half of the spring semester working to get a solid understanding of the level of student engagement in the carbon neutrality initiative. In order to gather this data, fellows reached out to student groups to lead discussions and sent out surveys. 

From the survey and meetings, which reached around 100 students, fellows discovered that although students exhibited a high level of concern for environmental issues, there was little to no knowledge of the initiative. Additionally, many students believe that campus sustainability is out of their hands and depends solely on the administration. From the data gathered, fellows made recommendations for stronger marketing plans and new campaigns to revamp the initiative in the fall and allow students to play a role in achieving the goal. In addition to working with UC Berkeley students, communication fellows are part of a larger network of UC students, and periodically meet with fellows from other UC schools to discuss strategies and goals for increasing student engagement. Their report can be found here.

Research fellows have also been working to move forward the initiative. Fellow Pascal Polonik created a presentation about the science of climate change and its effects in Berkeley that can be used to further educate students and other interested individuals on the science behind the challenges we face. Additionally, fellow Mikela Topey has been working to analyze the change in  UC Berkeley’s fleet of vehicles to predict the average fuel economy of the fleet by 2025.