Berkeley is a city with over 120,000 residents located in California’s East Bay. It is home to the oldest campus of the University of California as well as the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, making it a center for innovation in energy and sustainability. The City of Berkeley has also long been a leader in local climate action, with voters endorsing a ballot measure in 2006 to reduce Berkeley’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% from 2000 levels by 2050—becoming one of the first cities in the U.S. to commit to this ambitious goal.
Since then, Berkeley released a climate action plan and has committed to the additional goals to procure 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve these goals, Berkeley has committed to becoming a “fossil fuel free city,” which means phasing out the use of oil, gas, and other fossil fuels in both cars and buildings.
Berkeley has implemented several innovative policies to place it on a path to achieving these goals, including its award-winning Berkeley Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO), which requires Berkeley’s building owners to complete energy efficiency opportunity assessments and publicly report the building’s energy efficiency information. Berkeley is also committed to increasing equity and affordability throughout the city, integrating the advancement of social and racial equity goals into its Resilience Strategy, Strategic Plan, and Health Inequity Report.
To help achieve its dual climate and equity goals, Berkeley is assessing its local building stock for overlapping opportunities to convert heating and hot water systems away from fossil fuels while also providing needed investments to improve the health, quality, resiliency, and affordability of these buildings. Berkeley is also working closely with StopWaste, a regional environmental organization, to develop and implement a pilot program for Alameda County to accelerate installations of heat pump water heaters, which will include training for contractors and incentives.