UC Berkeley News


Campus signs on to state climate registry
Berkeley will reduce its carbon footprint, inventory greenhouse-gas emissions

| 16 November 2006

The Berkeley campus has joined the California Climate Action Registry, pledging to measure, report, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions as a means of mitigating climate change. The registry, created by the California Legislature in 2000 to help companies and organizations throughout the United States track, publicly report, and reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, is the recognized gold standard for public reporting of greenhouse gases.

The campus joins more than 75 major companies, cities, and government and non-governmental agencies that have committed to tracking and making public their greenhouse-gas emissions through the registry. Three other UC campuses - San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Davis - joined earlier this year.

"Our decision to join the climate registry is an important early milestone in our longer-term effort to address the effects our campus has on climate change," says Edward Denton, vice chancellor for facilities services. Denton signed a statement of intent to join the registry last month, with reporting starting in 2007.

At the campus's third annual Sustainability Summit in April, Chancellor Birgeneau announced the initiation of a program to implement a campuswide climate-protection plan, which had been recommended by a Campus Climate Protection Steering Committee. The chancellor's support of this steering committee, made up of faculty, staff, and students, expands the administration's action toward a "greener Berkeley" and recognizes the coalitions that have developed in the campus community around sustainability issues.

These actions began three years ago, when then-Chancellor Robert Berdahl established CACS - the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Sustainability (sustainability.berkeley.edu) - to integrate principles of sustainability into existing campus educational, operational, research, and public-service programs, and to instill a culture of sustainability into the campus's long-range planning and design.

CalCAP to set strategy

Two years ago the committee published a Campus Sustainability Assessment, providing a snapshot of Berkeley's sustainable performance, recognizing recent accomplishments, and identifying potential opportunities for decreasing our environmental footprint. Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is an important step in that direction, and the committee's goal is to quantify the campus's emissions - and possible ways to reduce them - by next April.

Earlier this year, in partnership with the Berkeley Institute of the Environment (BIE), the committee launched the Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP) to develop and implement a long-term strategy to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the campus.

"CalCAP is a student-faculty-staff-administration collaboration that demonstrates the university community's commitment to developing solutions to society's greatest challenges," says Daniel Kammen, co-director of BIE and a professor of energy and resources, public policy, and nuclear engineering.

Fahmida Ahmed, project manager for CalCAP, says that with the commitment to identify greenhouse-gas-reduction possibilities, Berkeley will create an interdisciplinary and innovative model for climate-change mitigation that other universities and organizations committed to such mitigation can adopt.

Membership in the climate registry also prepares the campus for emissions regulations that could be mandated by the state. California Assembly Bill 32, the first law to limit comprehensively greenhouse-gas emissions at the state level, recognizes organizations that take early action in reporting their greenhouse-gas emissions with the registry. It further calls for registry members to "receive appropriate credit for early voluntary reductions" in their emissions.

As part of its ongoing effort to bring Berkeley closer to sustainability, CACS has funded 14 student interns who are working on projects that could help the campus reduce carbon emissions. These include a pilot program to reduce energy use through education and behavior change; development of an "energy dashboard" for campus buildings; and a search for green chemicals that can be used by campus custodians. Other internships in partnership with the community include work on understanding the "green collar" job sector and managing pharmaceutical waste, which means fewer pills dumped into the bay.