In 2013/14 the following five projects were selected for support:
CLIMATE, WEATHER, AND FIRE: PROJECTED WILDFIRE EVENTS IN A WARMER WORLD
- Professor David Ackerly (Integrative Biology)
- Professor Max Moritz (Environmental Science, Policy and Management)
- Professor William Collins (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division)
This project team aims to develop and calibrate a new model for the occurrence and severity of large wildfires (>1000 acres) using historical data for California, and then to use the model to project the frequency and distribution of fire events under warmer future climates. The project will fill a gap in existing models of fire frequency and distribution, combining the PIs skills in modeling of vegetation, fire and global climate. The calibrated and extensible model we propose to develop would address the critical need for improved prediction of extreme events at local to regional scales enhancing societal resilience and contributing to climate adaptation planning to reduce loss of infrastructure in the face of rapid climate change.
IMPROVING ELECTRIC AND HYBRID SYSTEM EFFICIENCY
Improving our energy efficiency has become an important focus area in reducing our energy demand, which will require a multi-pronged approach if it is to have a major impact. The ability to both capture and reuse currently wasted energy presents an exciting opportunity for inter-disciplinary innovation geared toward increasing system efficiency, especially in transportation and manufacturing, areas that consume over 70% of worldwide energy production. INSTAR (Inertial Storage and Recovery) Research Group at UC Berkeley is using funding from the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute’s Innovation Seed Fund to design and manufacture the first full-scale prototype of a cost-effective, high-power, flywheel energy storage system with initial application for improving electric and hybrid vehicle system efficiency.
LEVERAGING ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY AND THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES TO INSTITUTE LONG-TERM TRAVEL BEHAVIOR CHANGE
- Professor Joan Walker (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
- Professor John Canny (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
- Professor Dan Chatman (City and Regional Planning)
- Professor Raja Sengupta (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
The transportation sector is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Fostering permanent changes towards sustainable travel patterns will require a fundamental shift in modality styles and mobility decisions. The Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute has elected to support research which seeks to achieve such changes using information, behavioral science, and technology. The project approach focuses on efforts that intervene when individuals are making a residential location decision (i.e., moving) as a household’s location in relation to other destinations has a profound impact on the availability and feasibility of alternative travel modes and the resources spent on travel.
The team is currently designing the specific intervention strategies, which are based on findings in the literature on biases and behavior change. For example, counteracting focal and cognitive biases that tend to drive people toward suboptimal decision-makings for residential relocations. In actuality, movers often tend to overestimate the visible and physical attributes of one housing place and neglect the impacts of the geographical situation on their travel behaviors, living environment and global quality of life.
DEVELOPMENT OF A RESEARCH AND OUTREACH STRATEGY ON WATER, CLIMATE, AND SOCIETY
- Professor David Sedlak (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
- Professor Isha Ray (Energy and Resources Group)
Building upon the momentum and success of the 2013 Philomathia Forum, “Water, Climate, and Society: Challenges and Strategies in a Rapidly Changing World”, this project seeks to identify critical interdisciplinary research opportunities and to foster efforts to direct the efforts of faculty members toward the solution of problems related to water, climate, and society.
Initially the project team will develop a roadmap for research activities related to the two themes that we refer to as (1) California’s Water Future and (2) Global Water Challenges. The initial step in this analysis will involve an effort to delineate research needs in these two areas that have been identified by key decision-makers. The second task will be the development of a plan to foster more interdisciplinary interactions among members of the Berkeley research community who have interest relevant to the topics described above. Faculty members representing a range of disciplines will identify practices needed to foster more interdisciplinary collaborations that enhance our ability to deliver solutions that serve society and enhance the educational mission of BECI. Lastly, the development of a specific communication effort that highlights Berkeley’s many accomplishments in the area of water, climate and society. This communication effort also will serve as a means of developing better recognition of Berkeley’s contribution to relevant solutions-based research in this area.
A COMMUNITY CLIMATE ACTION TOOL FOR U.S. CITIES AND COUNTIES
- Professor Dan Kammen (Energy and Resources Group)
- Chris Jones (Energy and Resources Group)
The goal of this project is to create a user-‐friendly online platform for city planners, residents, businesses and other actors to quickly identify the most promising greenhouse gas reduction strategies for any U.S. city. This project will build upon work previously conducted for the California Air Resources Board to develop a Local Government Decision-‐Support Tool (LGDST) for California. The LGDST is a spreadsheet-‐based tool that allows cities to 1) instantly view an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from all households, businesses and local government operations in the community, 2) evaluate the greenhouse gas reductions and financial costs and savings from a list of 60+ common measures, and 3) adjust any assumptions in the tool to develop a customized climate action plan for the community.
Unlike other GHG planning tools the LGDST’s smart default settings allow analysts to instantly engage with a default climate action plan that highlights the actions with the most potential in each community. The project team specifically intends to: 1) extend the smart default settings in the tool to all U.S. cities or counties, 2) increase the number of GHG mitigation measures from 40 to at least 60, and 3) develop an integrated open source application programming interface (API) that can be used to develop multiple third party software tools, (4) create a user-‐friendly user interface so city planners and residents can quickly develop customized climate action plans for each city, while learning from the input of other users, and 5) document the work in papers and public fora to increase transparency and public awareness of the tool’s benefits and limitations.