Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

Municipal Energy Conservation

How the City of Berkeley is Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Municipal Operations
While municipal operations contribute to less and 1% of the community-wide greenhouse gas inventory, the City plays an important role in providing leadership and demonstrating implementing actions. Check out current municipal projects to reduce energy usage, see: Municipal Energy Annual Report.

The following City buildings have green credentials:

  • Civic Center- US EPA Energy Star Certification; East Bay Municipal Utility District WaterSmart Certification
  • Shasta Hills Fire Station- LEED Certified
  • Berkeley Animal Shelter- LEED Gold
  • West Branch Library- International Living Future Institute Zero Net Energy Certification; LEED Rating Pending
  • South Branch Library- LEED Gold
  • North Branch Library- LEED Silver
  • Claremont Library- LEED Silver

Building Energy Use
The City of Berkeley is actively working to reduce the amount of energy used in municipal facilities. Check out progress towards reducing municipal building energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use reductions are accomplished by retrofitting existing buildings for energy efficiency, encouraging energy smart behavior, and by including energy efficient design as a key element in new construction and rehabilitation projects. The importance of design, construction, operation and maintenance of municipal buildings is reflected in the City’s Green Building Resolution, adopted by Council in 2003, the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy adopted in 2004 and the Precautionary Principal Ordinance adopted in 2006. 

  • Benchmarking with Energy Star: In order to manage energy use of municipal buildings, the City monitors consumption using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an interactive energy management tool that tracks energy usage. The City annually rates performance for all buildings using the Energy Star rating system. The rating system’s 1–100 scale allows everyone to quickly understand how a building is performing — a rating of 50 indicates average energy performance, while a rating of 75 or better indicates top performance. Top performing buildings are eligible for Energy Star Certification. The goal of the City is to have all eligible municipal buildings energy star certified.
  • Renewable Energy The City uses solar installations to offset energy consumption, including solar photovoltaic systems on the new West Berkeley Library, at the City’s Corporation Yard on Allston St., and on the Shorebird Park Nature Center at the Marina. The City installed a solar hot water system to off-set natural gas consumption at the West Campus Swimming Pool for the showers, and the Shorebird Park Nature Center, where it provides space heating as well as hot water. The City is also participating in the Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Project, a collaboration involving over 25 Bay Area agencies seeking to collectively negotiate to purchase and finance clean energy systems.
  • LED Streetlights The City is upgrading all 8,000 streetlights to energy efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. In addition, all red and green traffic signals and orange pedestrian signal lights are LEDs. See:  

Renovation and New Construction 
Berkeley requires that all new municipal construction and remodels achieve a LEED Silver certification or higher. In addition, municipal remodels and new construction must meet green specifications and use green cleaning supplies and building materials.

  • Four branch libraries have undergone major renovation work or complete rebuilding. Each project includes energy efficiency measures and employs passive energy techniques such as daylighting and natural ventilation. Where possible, renewable energy was included to reduce or eliminate energy and natural gas consumption. The West Branch is designed to be Zero Net Energy building. With both solar electric and solar thermal energy, daylighting, passive ventilation, and only minimal energy use for lighting, computers, and supplemental heating and cooling on extreme weather event days, this site promises to be the most efficient municipal building in California. Projects have also taken advantage of utility rebates to reduce project costs. 

Environmental Preferable Purchasing and the Precautionary Principle
The Precautionary Principle serves as a guide to making decisions involving the acquisition and use of commodities, services, and activities that minimize the negative impacts on human health and the environment. The City implements the Precautionary Principle by specifying standards for environmentally preferable products and services, as well as adopting maintenance and operations procedures.    

Precautionary Principle procurement activities include:

  • Office Supplies and Equipment – City uses 100% recycled content, chlorine-free paper and polyvinyl chloride (pvc)-free office products. Our IT department sets printer defaults at duplex.
  • Janitorial Supplies and Services - City operations and contract janitorial services specify Green Seal Certified products.
  • Building Maintenance and Construction – Staff monitor all new construction and renovations, to assure that LEED-Existing Building Operation and Maintenance Standards and LEED New Construction criteria are met.
  • Landscape – Municipal landscapes are maintained to Bay Friendly standards, which include integrated pest management and water efficiency. 

The Berkeley City government has an active alternative fuel vehicle program, including electric, natural gas, and bio-diesel vehicles. Berkeley reduced its conventional fleet vehicles and replaced them with City CarShare hybrid-electric, plug-in electric vehicles and bicycles and refuse and greenwaste trucks run on compressed natural gas (CNG).The City is making it easier for City employees to commute by public transit, cycling or walking (see: employee trip reduction) by supplying employees with AC transit bus passes and pre-tax Commuter Checks and offering employees.

Waste Reduction & Recycling
All City buildings have active recycling service. Compost collection is encouraged with compost collections kitchens and paper towel collections in each restrooms. The Parks Department also separates all plant debris for compost. In addition, single-use water bottles and polystyrene foam are prohibited at all City sponsored events.

Water Conservation
In response to the drought, the City has scaled back water use, fixed leaks, and is exploring the use of recycled water. Berkeley's Civic Center Building and the adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Park received a Water Smart award from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for drastically reducing water use during the 2013-2014 drought. According to EBMUD, the Civic Center Building is one of the most water-efficient buildings in the East Bay.

The City of Berkeley is committed to meeting its Climate Action Plan goals of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 33% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050 and by creating a healthy and sustainable community. Track our progress at

Resources and More Information:

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Office of Energy and Sustainable Development, 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7439
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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