Energy, Climate & Environment

Centers and Institutes

Areas of Focus

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Supply
As the world's need for energy grows, research focuses on developing clean fuel initiatives to make the most of traditional fossil fuels while investing in cutting edge research to develop sustainable technologies which can be produced from diverse sources, including biofuels, wind and solar energy.
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Demand
Developing energy efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems and industry is a key component of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Researchers at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab work on bringing clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace; and making a difference in the everyday lives of consumers by enhancing their energy choices and their quality of life.
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Environment
Energy technologies can have profound consequences for the environment both over the long term, as evidenced by the global climate change from fossil fuel carbon emissions, and immediately, as was made vividly clear by the historic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Sustainable energy technologies will carry their own environmental impacts that must be understood before widespread implementation.
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Policy
Even the most innovative and effective technologies cannot solve the world’s energy and climate problems without commensurate changes in public policy. Understanding the potential social and economic impacts of sustainable energy technologies will be critical to their success.

 

The Berkeley centers and programs highlighted here are exploring a wide range of research related to energy production

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Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI)
EBI is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois. Funded by a $500 million, ten-year grant from the energy company BP, researchers at EBI are charged with using biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and environmental and social sciences to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels on global warming. The world’s first research institution solely dedicated to energy bioscience, EBI research is initially focused on the development of next-generation biofuels, but is also looking into various applications of biology to the energy sector. 

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Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI)
JBEI is one of the three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Research Centers. This scientific partnership is led by Berkeley Lab and includes the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California (UC) campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). JBEI’s five-year mission, which DOE has funded at $135 million, is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels. JBEI carries out its research through four interlocking divisions: Feedstocks, Deconstruction, Fuels Synthesis, and Technologies.


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Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC)
The Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) is a multi-institution research effort to lay the foundation for the emerging field of synthetic biology. SynBERC’s vision is to catalyze biology as an engineering discipline by developing the foundational understanding and technologies to allow researchers to design and build standardized, integrated biological systems to accomplish many particular tasks. In essence, we are making biology easier to engineer.

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HELIOS
The Helios effort is a solar energy initiative at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and UC Berkeley. The primary goal of this effort is to develop methods to “store” solar energy in the form of renewable transportation fuel. Several approaches under investigation include the generation of biofuels from biomass, the generation of biofuels by algae, and the direct conversion of water and carbon dioxide to fuels by the use of solar energy.


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Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC)
The Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC) is the Graduated National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Microsensors and Microactuators.  We conduct industry-relevant, interdisciplinary research on micro- and nano-scale sensors, moving mechanical elements, microfluidics, materials, processes & systems that take advantage of progress made in integrated-circuit, bio, and polymer technologies.

Energy and Resources Group (ERG)
ERG is an interdisciplinary academic unit at UC Berkeley. ERG's mission is to develop, transmit and apply critical knowledge to enable a future in which human material needs and a healthy environment are mutually and sustainably satisfied. Established in 1973, ERG offers programs of study in Energy and Resources for graduate students leading to MA, MS, and PhD degrees. ERG also offers an undergraduate minor.


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Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)
RAEL focuses on designing, testing, and disseminating renewable and appropriate energy systems. The laboratory's mission is to help these technologies realize their full potential to contribute to environmentally sustainable development in both industrialized and developing nations while also addressing the cultural context and range of potential social impacts of any new technology or resource management system.

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Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute (BNNI)
The Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute (BNNI) is the umbrella organization for expanding and coordinating Berkeley research and educational activities in nanoscale science and engineering.  UC Berkeley has a number of unique strengths in this rapidly expanding field with over 90 faculty with active research programs in nanoscale science and engineering.

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California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3)
QB3 harnesses the quantitative sciences of physics and engineering to unify our understanding of biological systems at all levels of complexity—from atoms and molecules to cells, tissues, and entire living organisms. QB3 scientists make discoveries that drive the development of new technologies, products, and industries, ensuring that California remains competitive in the 21st century. In addition to driving California’s economic development, a major goal of QB3 is to train a new generation of students able to fully integrate the quantitative sciences with biological research.


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i4Energy Center
The mission of the i4Energy Center is to facilitate and promote research on system-integrated enabling technologies that will achieve better energy efficiency, improved demand / response, and dramatic improvements in energy distribution. The i4Energy Center is a collaboration among CITRIS; the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE); and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).


Two Department of Energy Frontier Research Centers have also recently been established:
Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2
The objective of this center is to use new investigative tools, combined with experiments and computational methods, to build a next generation understanding of molecular – to – pore scale processes in fluid-rock systems, and to demonstrate the ability to control critical aspects of flow and transport in porous rock media, in particular as applied to geologic sequestration of CO2. It is a collaborative effort led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of California campus at Davis (UC Davis) and Washington University in St. Louis.


Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies
In order to achieve a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) plays a significant role, as the predicted use of fossil fuels will continue to grow. There are two factors that determine the success of large-scale employment of CCS: the uncertainties associated with the sequestration in geological formations and the costs associated with carbon capture. This work of researchers at this Center focuses on the energy costs associated with the separation of CO2 from gas mixtures.  The vision of our EFRC is to develop the science to create, understand, and predict novel materials that are tailor-made with exactly the right molecular properties to separate gasses relevant for clean energy technologies.


 

Research activities related to energy demand are concentrated in the following Berkeley centers and institutes:

 

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California Institute for Energy and the Environment (CIEE)
CIEE is a University of California partnership of energy agencies, utilities, building industry, non-profits, and research entities. CIEE's mission is to increase the security and sustainability of energy systems in California, to help assure continued access to reliable, affordable energy services for all Californians, to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of California's agricultural, manufacturing, and service industries, and to contribute to improving the environment, including regional air and water quality and quality of the indoor built environment, while remaining sensitive to global warming issues. CIEE is a branch of the University of California Energy Institute.


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Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC)
BSAC is the Graduated National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Microsensors and Microactuators.  BSAC researchers conduct industry-relevant, interdisciplinary research on micro- and nano-scale sensors, moving mechanical elements, microfluidics, materials, processes & systems that take advantage of progress made in integrated-circuit, bio, and polymer technologies


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Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)
RAEL is a unique new research, development, project implementation, and community outreach facility that focuses on designing, testing, and disseminating renewable and appropriate energy systems. The laboratory's mission is to help these technologies realize their full potential to contribute to environmentally sustainable development in both industrialized and developing nations while also addressing the cultural context and range of potential social impacts of any new technology or resource management system.


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i4Energy Center
The mission of the i4Energy Center is to facilitate and promote research on system-integrated enabling technologies that will achieve better energy efficiency, improved demand / response, and dramatic improvements in energy distribution. The i4Energy Center is a collaboration among CITRIS; the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE); and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).


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California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH)
PATH is administered by the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with Caltrans. PATH is a multi-disciplinary program with staff, faculty, and students from universities statewide, and cooperative projects with private industry, state and local agencies, and non-profit institutions.


Center for Environmental Design Research (CEDR)
CEDR's mission is to foster research in environmental planning and design and to promote innnovations   energy efficiency and green design and sustainability. The scope of environmental planning and design is broad, ranging from the local environments of people within buildings to region-wide ecosystems, from small details of building construction to large-scale urban planning, from the history of the built environment to the design process itself.


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Center for the Built Environment (CBE)
CBE aims to improve the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings by providing timely, unbiased information on building technologies and design techniques. The CBE research team and industry partners are developing ways to "take the pulse" of occupied buildings - looking at how people use space, asking them what they like and don't like about their indoor environment, and linking these responses to physical measurements of indoor environmental quality. This feedback is highly valuable those who manage, operate, and design buildings. They also study technologies that hold promise for making buildings more environmentally friendly, more productive to work in, and more economical to operate.


The Green Building Research Center (GBRC)
GBRC was created to advance and promote sustainable building design and operation on the UC Berkeley campus, and provide resources to aid other universities in similar efforts across the state.


Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry
The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry is advancing green chemistry through research, teaching and engagement in three interdisciplinary areas of inquiry: New Chemistries, Health and Environment, and Policy and Economy. Investigators in chemistry, the environmental health sciences, public policy, business, and law are developing new science and scholarship that is placing green chemistry, alongside carbon-neutral technologies, as a cornerstone of environmentally sustainable development and the green economy.


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Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability (LMAS)
Research in the LMAS is concerned with the analysis and improvement of manufacturing processes and the development of tools to analyze sustainability. Specifically, research is focused on minimizing/removing contaminants and machining defects during manufacture, improving the precision and repeatability of chemical mechanical polishing, and modeling sustainable, environmentally-conscious manufacturing processes and systems.


 

The Berkeley centers and programs highlighted here facilitate a wide range of research projects related to the environment:

 
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Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry
The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry is advancing green chemistry through research, teaching and engagement in three interdisciplinary areas of inquiry: New Chemistries, Health and Environment, and Policy and Economy. Investigators in chemistry, the environmental health sciences, public policy, business, and law are developing new science and scholarship that is placing green chemistry, alongside carbon-neutral technologies, as a cornerstone of environmentally sustainable development and the green economy.


Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology
The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BiGCB) aims to facilitate and coordinate cutting-edge research in Global Change Biology. The approach of the Initiative emphasizes using integrated analyses of fossil, historic, and modern biological data, much of which is unique to UC Berkeley. By applying new technologies to understand past responses, researchers affiliated with the Initiative hope to develop predictions of future biological change.


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Berkeley Water Center
The Berkeley Water Center takes a comprehensive approach to water resources research and management that reflects the conditions of the 21st Century: variable and uncertain supply, increasing demand and inadequate structural and institutional infrastructure. Researchers seek to develop and demonstrate the application of new concepts, information and engineering technology and computational tools that serve diverse water interests. The Center is comprised of researchers from several UC Berkeley Colleges and Departments, including more than 70 faculty members with water-related expertise.

Center for Environmental Design Research (CEDR)
CEDR's mission is to foster research in environmental planning and design and to promote innnovations   energy efficiency and green design and sustainability. The scope of environmental planning and design is broad, ranging from the local environments of people within buildings to region-wide ecosystems, from small details of building construction to large-scale urban planning, from the history of the built environment to the design process itself.


CBE Logo

Center for the Built Environment (CBE)
CBE aims to improve the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings by providing timely, unbiased information on building technologies and design techniques. The CBE research team and industry partners are developing ways to "take the pulse" of occupied buildings - looking at how people use space, asking them what they like and don't like about their indoor environment, and linking these responses to physical measurements of indoor environmental quality. This feedback is highly valuable those who manage, operate, and design buildings. They also study technologies that hold promise for making buildings more environmentally friendly, more productive to work in, and more economical to operate.


GBRC Logo

Green Building Research Center (GBRC)
GBRC was created to advance and promote sustainable building design and operation on the UC Berkeley campus, and provide resources to aid other universities in similar efforts across the state.

 

 


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Center for Ecosystem Modeling, Measuring and Modeling (EM3)
EM3 is a collaboration of principle investigators, post-docs and graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley. The mission of EM3 is to understand the dynamics of society, nature and the environment by quantifying and predicting temporal and spatial trends. Research is conducted in three primary areas: effects of climate change on ecosystem, effects of society on ecosystem and ecosystem value.


LMAS Logo

Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability (LMAS)
Research in the LMAS is concerned with the analysis and improvement of manufacturing processes and the development of tools to analyze sustainability. Specifically, research is focused on minimizing/removing contaminants and machining defects during manufacture, improving the precision and repeatability of chemical mechanical polishing, and modeling sustainable, environmentally-conscious manufacturing processes and systems.


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Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF)
The Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources provides leadership and training across a broad array of integrated mapping technologies. These technologies include Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and modeling. The GIF offers innovative geospatial approaches to environmental research projects and grant opportunities.


 

Work on energy policy is coordinated by researchers affiliated with the following  Berkeley centers and institutes:

 

Energy Biosciences Institute

Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI)
EBI
is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois. Funded by a $500 million, ten-year grant from the energy company BP, researchers at EBI are charged with using biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and environmental
and social sciences to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels on global warming. The world’s first research institution solely dedicated to energy bioscience, EBI research is initially focused on the development of next-generation biofuels, but is also looking into various applications of biology to the energy sector.

 

Energy and Resources Group (ERG)
ERG is an interdisciplinary academic unit at UC Berkeley. ERG's mission is to develop, transmit and apply critical knowledge to enable a future in which human material needs and a healthy environment are mutually and sustainably satisfied. Established in 1973, ERG offers programs of study in Energy and Resources for graduate students leading to MA, MS, and PhD degrees. ERG also offers an undergraduate minor.

 

Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory

Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)
RAEL is a unique new research, development, project implementation, and community outreach facility that focuses on designing, testing, and disseminating renewable and appropriate energy systems. The laboratory's mission is to help these technologies realize their full potential to contribute to environmentally sustainable development in both industrialized and developing nations while also addressing the cultural context and range of potential social impacts of any new technology or resource management system.

 

University of California Energy Institute

University of California Energy Institute (UCEI)
UCEI, located on the Berkeley campus, is a multi-campus research unit of the University of California system. Since its inception in 1980, UCEI's mission has been to foster research and educate students and policy makers on energy issues that are crucial to the future of California, the nation, and the world.

 

Energy Institute at Haas

Energy Institute at Haas
The Energy Institute at Haas is a joint venture of the Haas School of Business and the UC Energy Institute that brings together research and curricular programs on energy business, policy and technology commercialization. The goal of EI @ Haas is to bridge the gap between the frontiers of economic and scientific energy research and the marketplace.

 

University of California Center for Energy and Environmental Economics (UCE3)
UCE3 functions as a hub of research excellence at the intersection of energy and environmental economics within the UC system. It is a joint venture of the UC Energy Institute and the Bren School of Environmental Management at UC Santa Barbara. UCE3 brings together researchers - through both shorter collaborative research events and longer-term visits - to share their knowledge in the pursuit of more comprehensive approaches to some of today's most challenging energy and environmental issues.

 

California Institute for Energy and Environment

California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE)
CIEE, an innovative UC partnership of energy agencies, utilities, building industry, non-profits, and research entities designed to advance energy efficiency science and technology for the benefit of California and other energy consumers and the environment. CIEE is a branch of the University of California Energy Institute.

 

Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE)
BRIE brings together UC Faculty, policymakers, business leaders, and scholars from around the world to analyze competition in the development and use of new technologies and exploring the impact of new technologies on economic growth.

 

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Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE)
CLEE channels the expertise and creativity of the Berkeley Law community into pragmatic policy solutions to critical environmental and energy challenges. We work across campus and across institutional borders on interdisciplinary research to identify equitable and effective solutions to persistent and emerging problems.  On the Climate & Energy side, CLEE focuses on helping California and other jurisdictions meet their ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets by fostering collaboration with government, business, and nonprofits. Other research areas at CLEE include water, oceans, and sustainable land use. 

 

Center for Environmental Public Policy (CEPP)
CEPP at the Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP) aims to bridge the gap between environmental theory and policy implementation.  It integrates interdisciplinary environmental theory and policy implementation through its seminars, workshops, and conferences. CEPP’s programs seek to educate, direct and motivate those in environmental public policy.  In particular, CEPP activities are geared to help fill the local and global need for competent environmental managers who are adept at policy-making within the context of limited and varying resources.

 

California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways

California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH)
PATH is administered by the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with Caltrans. PATH is a multi-disciplinary program with staff, faculty, and students from universities statewide, and cooperative projects with private industry, state and local agencies, and non-profit institutions.