Timeline of Sustainability Achievements

A historical timeline shows an increasing awareness of sustainability issues among students, faculty, and administration.

Students at Berkeley's student-run food coop

Some milestones include:

March 2021: UC Berkeley Receives the Highest STARS Rating - Platinum for Sustainability Achievements

November 2020: New Office of Sustainability Staff Training and Certfication Program launched

November 2020: The newest UC Berkeley Sustainability Plan is published

April 2020: UC Berkeley leads the way with country’s strongest single-use plastic ban

July 2019: Kevin and Connie Chou Hall earns a trifecta of green building credentials, True Zero Waste, LEED Platinum, and Well.

May 2019: UC Berkeley crowned Coolest Campus in 2019 Cool Campus Challenge

February 2019: UC Berkeley becomes biggest American university to fully commit to clean energy

December 2018: UC Berkeley reaches STARS Gold

Dec 2016:  Jacobs Hall becomes Berkeley's first LEED platinum building.

April 2016:  The Green Initiative Fund was renewed for an additional 10 years by a 68% ‘yes’ vote.

2015-2017:  Solar PV systems at MLK Student Union, the new Eshleman, the Recreation Sports complex, and the University Village apartments and Jacobs Hall, begin generating 1 MW of power from the sun.

Fall 2015:  New ESPM Food Systems minor offered.

2014:  Berkeley made the strategic decision to voluntarily opt into the state Cap and Trade program.

November 2013:  President Janet Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which commits UC to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025.

2013: Berkeley meets its first carbon reduction target bringing emissions lower then they were in 1990.

October 2012: The Student Environmental Resource Center opened its first temporary space in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building,

Fall 2011: WORKbright green staff sustainability training offered for first time. Campus installs 800 exterior LED lamps in all of the iconic exterior lamp posts.

June 2011: Cal Dining achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification for their seafood purchases.

April 2011: Chancellor Birgeneau committed to reducing potable water usage by 10% by 2020.

February 2011: Cal Energy Corps is launched.

November 2010: The Berkeley Student Food Collective opened the doors to its new storefront in the fall.

2010: Goal of reducing fuel use from fleet and commute by 25% was met and exceeded; use is currently 30% below 1990 levels.

July 2009: The Campus Sustainability Plan is published.

April 2009: The campus certified the first Green Departments and Green Events.

March 2009: The 2009 Climate Action Plan is completed.

July 2008: The campus Strategic Energy Plan is completed, outlining almost 200 energy efficiency projects that the campus is implementing.

April 2008: Haste Street Child Development Center is first campus LEED certified building project.

January 2008: The UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability was formed.

November 2007: UC Berkeley adopted a Statement of Commitment to the Environment.

March 2007: UC President Dynes signs the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

Spring 2007: The student fee referendum for the Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) passes by 69%.

September 2006: The Society & Environment major was created in the Department of Environment Science, Policy, and Management. The campus releases its first Bicycle Plan.

April 2006: The Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP) was announced. Crossroads certifies organic-certified salad bar – the first on an American university campus.

April 2005: The first UC Berkeley Campus Sustainability Assessment was completed. First Sustainability Award and Green Fund Grant winners announced.

April 2004: CACS holds first Sustainability Summit.

October 2003: The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS) formed. 59 kilowatt photovoltaic system installed on the MLK student union, funded by the Graduate Assembly and ASUC.

July 2003: The UC Regents signed the “Green Building Policy and Clean Energy Standard,” the first sustainability policy for the University of California.

2001: First UC Berkeley Recycling Summit held. Residential Sustainability Education Coordinators (RSECs) program formed.

UC Berkeley Sustainability Awards and Honors

  • 2019 Berkeley earns a coveted spot in the top 20 greenest universities

    by the both Sierra Club and the Princeton Review.

  • 2015-2019 We have won for the fifth year in a row Green Sports Alliance/ Pac-12 Zero Waste Road to Zero Waste Basketball Competition and Best Improved for Football.
  • 2019 The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), was a finalist for the Green Gown Student Engagement Award, hosted by a partnership with the United Nations.
  • 2016-2017 Jacobs Hall receives three awards/honors: 1) UC Best Practice Award for energy efficiency in new construction. 2) The 2016 Top Ten award from the American Institute of Architects. 3) Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge program recognizes University of California, Berkeley and Jacobs Hall for its leadership in energy efficiency. 
  • 2017 UC Berkeley Lower Sproul Redevelopment project received the first ever Jury’s Choice Award by the Society for College and University Planning, SCUP
  • 2014 UC Berkeley ranked the top university in Environment/Ecology by the U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural international rankings.
  • 2012 Clean Air Award (Cal Climate Action Partnership). Breathe California.
  •  “Go Beyond Award,” 2012. International Institute for Sustainability Laboratories.
  • Student Sustainability Research Award, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lifecycle, 2012 (Kelley Doyle). Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
  • ‘Real Food Pioneer,” 2012. Real Food Challenge.
  • First Place (tie). Great Power Race (a clean energy competition between students in China, India and the United States).
  • Bicycle Friendly University, Honorable Mention. 2011. League of American Bicyclists.
  • World’s “Greenest” University, 2010. University of Indonesia.
  • “Top 10 Cleantech Universities in the U.S. for 2010.” Cleantech Forum.
  • Five-Star Rating (2), “Relevant Coursework Available” and “Relevant Courses on For-Profit Impact,” The Sustainable MBA: A Guide to Business Schools Making A Difference, 2010-2011. Aspen Institute.
  • “Campus Sustainability Leader,” The College Sustainability Report Card, 2010 (Grade B), 2009 (Grade B), 2008 (Grade B+). Sustainable Endowments Institute.
  • “Cool School,” 8th place, 2009. Sierra Magazine.
  • Environmental Achievement Award, 2008. Region 9, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


  • Five best practice awards, 2019 at the annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference in Santa Barbara.
  • Best Practice Award, 2018 in the category of Social Justice; #Environmentalismsowhite.
  • Best Practice Awards: Overall Sustainable Design for the new Campbell Hall; Student Energy Efficiency Program for LED Microscope Retrofits, 2015.
  • Best Practice Award: Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP) Wins Sustainability Innovations Award, 2014. 
  • Best Practice Award (Best Overall Design for Maximino Martinez Commons), 2013. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Sustainable Foods Service for LeanPath), 2013. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Best Overall Design for Energy Biosciences Building), 2012. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Monitoring-Based Commissioning for Davis Hall), 2012. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Monitoring-Based Commissioning for LeConte Hall), 2010. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Monitoring-Based Commissioning for Tang Health Center), 2009. University of California.
  • Best Practice Awards (2 – HVAC Design and Lighting Design/Retrofit), 2008. University of California.
  • Best Practice Awards (Materials Reuse for LeConte Renovation; Honorable Mention, Best Sustainable Design for University Village Housing), 2007. University of California.
  • Best Practice Award (Integrated Design Process), 2006. University of California.
  • Student Energy Efficiency Award, 2013, 2012, 2008. University of California.
  • Student Sustainability Program Award, 2008, 2007, 2006. University of California.

Updated September 2018

Moving Toward the Future

solar panels at UC

UC continues to build upon solar production.

graphic to save trees by conserving paper towels

Emphasizing conservation never goes out of fashion.

TGIF climate justice graphic

Awareness of the interrelationship between environmental concerns and social justice is growing on campus and among the greater public.