Timeline of Sustainability Achievements

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

Some milestones include:

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 2013President 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,

January 2012: Cal Student Store stops selling bottled water.

October 2011: ReUSE hosted Free Days with Building Sustainability @ Cal, CRRS, and Capital Projects to reuse furniture from the recently vacated Campbell Hall.

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

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

May 2011: The Strawberry Creek Restoration Program opened a new native plant nursery.

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.

Spring 2010: UC Berkeley doctoral students began submitting their dissertations electronically.

April 2010: The BEARS Initiative – a campaign to revitalize Lower Sproul, emphasize sustainability, and promote student interests – was passed.

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.

October 2008: The second Campus Sustainability Assessment is completed, and the campus commits to report annually on sustainability metrics.

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. Chancellor Birgeneau testifies before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate.

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

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

April 2007: The CalCAP Feasibility Plan was released and Chancellor Birgeneau committed the campus to reaching 1990 GHG emission levels by 2014. 

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. 

November 2005: First campus residential Green Room opens for tours. 

May 2005: The Sustainable Water Plan for UC Berkeley was completed. 

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

October 2004: BEAN, the Berkeley Environmental Alumni Network, held their first event. 

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

  • 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
  • 2015-2017 UC Berkeley won third year in a row Green Sports Alliance/ Pac-12 Zero Waste Road to Zero Waste Basketball Competition.
  • 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.
  • “Exemplary Programs in On-Campus Clean Energy Sources & Cogeneration, Plans to Do More with Recycling, Solid Waste, & Materials, and Plans to Do More with Green Landscaping & Grounds,” Campus Environment 2008: A National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education. National Wildlife Federation.
  • Environmental Achievement Award, 2008. Region 9, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • “Green College,” 2009-2012. Green Rating Honor Roll, 2010, 2011. Princeton Review.
  • Campus Sustainability Leadership Award – Honorable Mention, 2007. American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.
  • “Fifty schools that will help your kids help the planet,” 2007. Kiwi Magazine.
  • “Greenest Colleges and Universities – Runner Up,” 2007. Grist.
  • “Best Overall,” 4th Annual Flex Your Power Award, 2006. Flex Your Power.
  • Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Achievement (water pollution prevention efforts), 2004. California Water Environment Association.
  •  Industrial Pollution Prevention Award, 2002. East Bay Municipal Utility District.
  • Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award, 1996. California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Pesticide Regulation.


  • 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 (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.
  • Best Practice Award (Sustainable Foods Service for LeanPath), 2013. University of California.
  • Student Energy Efficiency Award, 2013, 2012, 2008. University of California.
  • Student Sustainability Program Award, 2008, 2007, 2006. University of California.