Berkeley can build a clean electrified campus energy system, and demonstrate novel technologies and a decarbonized microgrid at scale

Berkeley is committed to sustainable practices in its campus operations. As home to a legacy of research in renewable and efficient energy, the campus’s carbon emissions are less today than three decades ago, despite 30% higher student enrollment.

In terms of population and number of structures, the Berkeley campus is similar in size and complexity to a mid-sized California city; indeed, if Berkeley were its own city, it would be among the top ten percent of cities in the state by population.

Clean energy experts and Berkeley’s faculty and staff have studied the increasing energy, decarbonization and resiliency needs of the campus, identifying viable solutions to electrify the campus for the next 30 to 40 years. A shovel ready plan- the Integrated Resource & Activation Plan- is underway.

Berkeley can build a clean electrified campus energy system by: 

  • Replacing the campus' natural gas-fired cogeneration plant with electric heat pumps.
  • Providing the campus microgrid with power from on-site and utility-distributed clean electricity. 
  • Additional efficiency and renewable energy will be accomplished through solar photovoltaic panels, advanced building controls and other technologies like fuel cells, geothermal and hydrogen resources to bolster resiliency. 
  • New battery and thermal storage supporting peak energy demand, emergency shutdowns, and return clean energy to the grid. 
  • Activating Berkeley’s brain-trust for on-going research, and a spectrum of living lab opportunities.
  • Serving as a model for other colleges, universities, and public institutions.

Funding strategies under consideration include debt, public-private partnerships, gifts, grants, state and federal funding, and impact investment.

Leadership Team

Marc Fisher, Vice Chancellor of Administration(link is external)

Sally McGarrahan, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Services(link is external)

Kira Stoll, Chief Sustainability & Carbon Solutions Officer

Berkeley Clean Energy Campus Advisory Committee

The committee includes faculty, staff, administrators and student representatives to advise on the initiative. The initial focus will be to provide input on the project's Integrated Resource and Activation Plan (IRAP), a 12-month effort to create a technical and financial blueprint that will enable the campus to creatively fund and build the new energy system. The committee is chaired by the leadership team. See the committee charge and membership. 

UC Berkeley solar panels

Why Berkeley needs a new energy system

Berkeley must decarbonize its campus energy system to meet the urgent climate, operational, and educational goals of the next decade. The university currently depends on steam and electricity from its on-campus cogeneration plant that serves over 100 buildings and 12 million square feet. Campus power is necessarily supplemented by electricity from the utility, and recent wildfire-related Public Safety Power Shut Offs have shown, campus resiliency and microgrid independence to outages is critical. The campus' 30-plus year-old cogeneration plant is nearing the end of its useful life and is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, responsible for 71% of the 190,00 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent produced by the campus every year. Replacing that system with a clean alternative will make Berkeley the first University of California campus to achieve on-site zero-carbon energy goals and meet the State's intent to get large emitters to reduce emissions to levels below Cap-and-Trade thresholds.