Berkeley, California

Population: 122,324

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 2045, in alignment with State goals. To help achieve these goals, in July 2019, Berkeley became the first city in the United States to ban natural gas in new buildings, which is a significant and critical step in achieving the commitment to become a “fossil fuel free city.”

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Over the years, Berkeley has implemented several other innovative policies, including its award-winning Building Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO), which requires  building owners to complete energy efficiency opportunity assessments and publicly report their 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 Status Report.

Berkeley is now working with BEI to assess 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. The analysis will guide Berkeley in developing new programs and revenue streams that will be needed to equitably accelerate electrification and decarbonization in its community. Berkeley is also working closely with regional partners including the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), East Bay Community Energy, and the Building Decarbonization Coalition to develop and implement pilot programs for Alameda County and the rest of the state.