Professor David Dornfeld is the Will C. Hall Family Chair in Engineering and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at UC-Berkeley, where he has taught for over 30 years. Professor Dornfeld has been working in and teaching sustainable manufacturing for over a decade and writes a green manufacturing blog. His interest in hands-on experiences in sustainability encouraged the establishment of a student-led carbon emissions footprinting project for the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability (LMAS) at UC-Berkeley.
In 2008, Professor Dornfeld and his students launched the program to assess, estimate and attempt to reduce LMAS’ annual carbon footprint. The students were tasked to come up with the carbon footprinting methodology, set the project boundaries, and calibrate the emission source calculations.
As part of the project’s development, students surveyed carbon offset providers and selected to work with Carbonfund.org, due to competitive pricing for offsets, name recognition, transparency of operations, and ease of working with Carbonfund.org staff.
The project’s goal to reduce the lab’s carbon footprint is challenged as the lab is part of a larger university facility. Neither Professor Dornfeld nor any of the mechanical engineering students can directly control the lab’s energy consumption, although the lab benefits from broader University sustainability measures such as energy efficient lighting installations. One of largest components of the department’s annual carbon footprint is emissions related to travel for conferences and meetings, so efforts are made to use video conferencing versus in-person event attendance. This illustrates one of the benefits of the project — to make students more aware of personal choices and resulting carbon emissions.
After five years of assessing and neutralizing the lab’s annual carbon emissions, the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability in the Mechanical Engineering Department at UC Berkeley has mitigated the same quantity of carbon dioxide as is sequestered by 6 acres of preserved US forestland.
The UC-Berkeley Mechanical Engineering Department’s experiential learning project to assess, reduce and offset its annual carbon footprint has had a real and measurable impact, and Carbonfund.org is proud to be a partner in these efforts.