The Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge program has recognized University of California, Berkeley for its leadership in energy efficiency. The University achieved 65% energy savings at its Jacobs Hall facility, the College of Engineering’s interdisciplinary hub where students and teachers from across the university work at the intersection of design and technology. Through its Energy Management Initiative (EMI) — an innovative approach to linking energy costs to building occupants — UC Berkeley has achieved campus-wide energy savings of $6.5 million and now has a practice in place to help benchmark energy performance in its buildings.

UC Berkeley joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2016 as a way to improve efficiencies in its academic facilities, reduce energy consumption, and associated environmental and community impacts by 20% in ten years. UC Berkeley operates over 100 buildings, including wet and dry laboratories, offices, classroom, sports and recreational facilities. Twenty percent of campus buildings make up 75% of the school’s energy profile.  Through the EMI, the campus has already achieved a significant percent drop in energy use intensity.

“UC Berkeley’s energy efficiency work is proof that any large institution can set ambitious energy savings goals,” said Maria T. Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge. “Even with historically energy-intensive and complex buildings, UC Berkeley is committed to sharing innovative and successful models and approaches so that other higher education institutions can replicate their gains in efficiency.”

Today, the Department’s Jason Hartke, the Commercial Buildings Integration program manager, toured Jacobs Hall, a collaborative, project-based educational space featuring open-plan workshops for hands-on interdisciplinary learning. In addition to its energy-efficient design, Jacobs Hall incorporates many other best practices in green building and after just five months in operation, the building expects energy savings of 65%, or $41,000 dollars.

“Working with the Better Buildings Challenge has helped us further improve our existing energy program and has supported our efforts to continue to implement our energy-savings programs that require the participation of building occupants, including students, staff and faculty as well as facilities staff such as operators and building managers,” said Kevin Ng, energy manager, UC Berkeley. “One important result of our work is our campus energy policy, which applies a set of behavioral and operational standards across the university covering HVAC, lighting, procurement and building design and construction.”

UC Berkeley pursued a variety of strategies to lower energy use in Jacobs Hall. The floor plan allows daylight harvesting and natural ventilation through operable windows. Sixty percent of the building’s energy needs are provided by a 74kW photovoltaic solar array. The building envelope includes external shading devices tailored to the south, east and west exposures, with high performance glazing and cool roofing. Although relatively bright lighting is required by the workshop, efficient fixtures and controls are used to manage lighting energy use.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the Energy Department aims to achieve the goal of doubling American energy productivity by 2030 while motivating corporate and public-sector leaders across the country to save energy through commitments and investments. More than 310 organizations are partnering with the Energy Department to achieve 20% portfolio-wide energy savings and share successful strategies that maximize efficiency over the next decade. Across the country, partners have shared energy data for more than 34,000 properties and are reporting energy savings of 20% or more at 5,500 properties, and 10% or more at 12,600 properties.