What is “Energy & Resource Alternatives”?

Today, more than ever, the negative environmental and economic impact of using non-renewable energy resources such as fossil fuels and the benefits of renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and tidal energy, and biofuels that are grown and harvested without fossil fuels are well known. A strong consensus in the scientific community has affirmed that non-renewable energy is less accessible, reliable, safe, and clean than renewable alternatives. Global climate disruption, caused by human production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, has already had observable effects on the environment (i.e., shrunked glaciers, shifts in plant and animal ranges, accelerated sea level rise). In the long term, global climate disruption threatens agriculture, endangers clean drinking water, and aids in the spread of disease.

The Challenge

The challenge for this category is to encourage the adoption of clean energy and resource alternatives that are sustainable and have the potential for broad impact. The climate change crisis calls for carbon neutral solutions at scale as urgently as possible. Proposals may focus on the design, development, or delivery of sustainable energy solutions and can be aimed at campus-based, domestic or international in scope. However, all proposals should clearly demonstrate the relationship between the proposed intervention and its impact on reducing the impacts of global climate disruption.

Solutions may focus on several areas, including but not limited to: (1) clean, renewable energy technology; (2) land/watershed management; (3) climate change adaptation and resiliency; (4) ecosystem recovery and/or maintenance; (5) source reduction/waste prevention.

Examples of proposals that would fit into this category include:

  • A project to accelerate governance, policies, laws, or commerce to spur clean energy alternatives.
  • A proposal that uses art, the humanities, or social sciences to address the lack of urgency surrounding society’s commitment to addressing global climate disruption.
  • A program to create economic growth based on alternative energy production.
  • An initiative focused on low-cost clean energy solutions that foster adaptation and resilience to climate change.


The “Energy & Resource Alternatives” category is open to all matriculated undergraduate and graduate students from the following campuses:

  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego
  • UC San Francisco
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Santa Cruz

    Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.   For additional information about general contest rules, timing and how to apply, please refer to the Contest Application Requirements.

    Past Winners

    Equa (UC Berkeley)

    Equa (UC Berkeley)

    Feces to Fuel: Saving Trees, Budgets, and Lungs (UC Berkeley)

    Feces to Fuel: Saving Trees, Budgets, and Lungs (UC Berkeley)

    The Biodiesel Project (UC Berkeley)

    The Biodiesel Project (UC Berkeley)

    More Winners


    UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative
    Harnessing the resources of the University of California to address one of the critical issues of our time: UC will serve as a model for how to address global climate disruption by becoming the first major research university to achieve carbon neutrality, with a goal of reaching that milestone by 2025.


    Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative
    The Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC) is a multidisciplinary network of UC Berkeley students, alumni, faculty, industry professionals, and advisors who seek to turn world-leading research into world-changing solutions by tackling tough and timely energy and environmental challenges