Active Projects

DONE! Rainwater Harvesting and Bioswale System

The Rainwater Harvesting System and Bioswale project (2016-2022) was created to improve stormwater retention and water conservation at UC Berkeley’s campus.

We are concluding this project – check out its multi-year history and our progress!

Hoover Elementary School Garden (HOPES)

Fight food insecurity in the Bay Area by building nutritional literacy, an outdoor curriculum, rain garden, chicken coop out of recycled materials, and much more with campus partners and students at Hoover Elementary School in Oakland.

3D Printed Waste Recycling

Despite being technology of the future, the 100+ 3D printers on campus create piles of plastic trash. Through a series of recycling projects in collaboration with SERC, Green Labs, Richmond High School, and many more, we can convert vetoed prototypes and tangled spools into new filament and materials research – providing educational opportunities alongside a zero-waste future.

ESS Greenwall

The wall outside the Engineering Student Services is a little barren, isn’t it? We are designing a green alternative in conjunction with the building’s remodeling, coming soon!

Repair Cafe

The Repair Cafe is partnered with the local organization Transition Berkeley. Together we aim to teach useful repair skills to high school students of Berkeley Technology Academy. With instruction from various community repair experts, we learn skills such as hand sewing, patching a flat bike tire, diagnosing a toilet, and more!

NEW! Liquid Gold

Work in a lab, create educational media, assist in the development and automation of the urine processing system, facilitate hydroponic experiments to test the vitality of the fertilizer, or design a plan to scale for campus-wide nutrient capture with Civil Engineering professor and researcher Dr. Kara Nelson! As our newest initiative, we will be implementing a urine diverting toilet in O’Brien Hall to research the potential for wide scale urine nutrient recovery for agricultural fertilizers.

While we always welcome new faces, this project in particular would love to recruit you!

Past & Evolved Projects

Some of our projects have evolved into larger entities – securing seed funding, long-term partnerships, or turning into independent organizations. We are proud of their accomplishments and welcome you to look them up separately.

Paper Towels to Energy

The purpose of this project was to produce bioethanol from waste paper towels from bathrooms around campus. By using fungal cellulases to unlock the sugars within the lignocellulose contained, paper towels can grow the fungal species necessary to produce bioethanol.

ESW 2020 Zero Waste Team

Headed by Nicole U., this dynamic team is motivated to assist engineering departments and organizations to align with the UC Zero Waste by 2020 goals. The team works with the Student Environmental Resource Center and Zero Waste Research Center for hosting zero waste events, workshops, and socials. They will leverage existing resources with a goal of creating awareness and institutionalizing zero waste practices. This team also consults with all other ESW projects to ensure long-term waste-free meetings and build days.

From Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY 1.0) to 3.0 and SHAC

Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) is an interdisciplinary team of UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students who design, prototype, and develop long-term and sustainable models for tiny home communities. They started by building an award-winning, sustainable tiny house for the 2016 SMUD Tiny House Competition and are now focusing everything they have learned on tiny house solutions for homelessness as an independent organization: Sustainable Housing at California (SHAC).

Floating Island – Man Made Wetlands

In the last year alone, all of the lakes within a 30 mile radius of Berkeley have had toxic algae blooms at least once. Even non-toxic blooms cause dead-zones or spontaneously turn toxic, killing multiple dogs in the area! To prevent this, we work with the parks department in order to plan, construct and implement man made wetlands (“Floating Islands”) on lake Temescal in Oakland and make real impact on reducing the algae in the lake.

Gill Tract Farm (Fall 2018)

The Gill Tract project was to build an automated broadfork to help lift, break up, and aerate densely packed soil on farms. The goal was to incorporate both mechanical and electrical components into the design and also build a working prototype to present to the client.

Toxics App (Fall 2018)

ESW partnered with the Center for Environmental Health to create an app about toxic chemicals in products, so that you can use your phone to scan a product and see what kind of health risks the chemicals in the product cause.

The Center for Environmental Health was supporting a bill in the California state legislature to increase disclosure about toxic chemicals in household products, and the app was part of the educational efforts around this bill. The app was also meant to be translated into Vietnamese and Spanish due to the higher exposure to toxins faced by workers in the cleaning and salon industries.

Clark Kerr Rain Garden

Because of poor landscaping and irrigation, water is constantly flooding directly into the entrance of the Building 2 Courtyard at the Clark Kerr Campus and off into the street. Recently, an orchard was planted in the courtyard; however, when it rains, the water flows directly down the side of the building to the door, rather than to the newly planted trees. This is an opportunity to reduce runoff and flooding and to improve water quality while educating Clark Kerr residents on campus issues.

Food Waste App (2017-2019)

Food waste is responsible for emitting a large amount of greenhouse gasses and wasting billions of dollars. The Food Waste App’s ultimate goal is to reduce food waste by on-campus clubs and organizations. If clubs and organizations order too much food for a meeting, instead of throwing it out, they can send out a notification through the Food Waste App to alert users about food on campus, hopefully reducing not only food waste but also empty stomachs.

Exercise Machine Generator

Got an exercise machine but no incentive to exercise? Why not use it to generate electricity!

CalSoChill Solar Charging Station

Renewable tech is all over the news… but integrating it into everyday life is not that simple. By researching, designing, and building a functional off-grid mobile solar charging station, CalSoChill creates a space for students to charge their phones, work – and chill!

Algae Biofuel Renewables (2015-2016)

The purpose of the Algae Biofuels project is to develop a simple, low-cost system for growing algae and producing biofuels!

Greek Life Energy Use Efficiency

The goal of this project is to audit and suggest energy efficiency improvements for Greek housing off-campus.

Air Quality Monitoring

As part of the Innovation team with the goal of creating novel sustainability projects that blend multiple areas of expertise, this group developed an array of air quality monitors to evaluate the quality of the campus environment.

Project Rishi Water Purification in India

The goal of this project was to develop a clean water drinking system for a village in rural India, in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Project Rishi.

Compost For All

We are a team of 6 engineering and chemistry students spanning from freshman to seniors. Our mission is to establish composting systems in student co ops so that organic waste can be diverted from landfills and ultimately used instead in student gardens. We are building 5 durable, weatherproof, turn composters out of recycled wine barrels! We aim for our design to be long lasting, producing compost for years to come. We also aim for it to be a beautiful conversation starter, something that students will be excited to use and will fit well into any backyard. We are currently working on a collaboration with the Student Organic Gardening Association to find a way to encourage student gardening projects at co ops.​

Bike Generator

A bicycle generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Using a drive belt to connect a bike’s back rim to a motor, a spinning of the bike’s tire will rotate the motor’s shaft, producing a current through the motor’s leads. The leads can connect to a battery to store power, or connect to a battery and an inverter to power low-watt devices directly, including laptops, cell phones, and blenders. The purpose of the bike generator project is to give bike riding a sense of purpose, in addition to giving members hands-on experience on a sustainability project. Once construction and testing is complete, the team plans to do exciting educational demonstrations with it.

Anaerobic Digester (2015-2016)

At the end of the Back to the Future trilogy, the DeLorean time machine, with the help of the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor, runs completely on household waste. Though the Anaerobic digester won’t take you back to 1955 to attend an Enchantment under the Sea dance, it is aiming to do exactly what the DeLorean did: find a way to turn our waste into fuel.

Green Hand Dryers for Waste Reduction

The goal of this project was to identify and suggest replacements for paper towels on campus towards the overarching goal of reducing landfill waste.

Community Education Outreach

This was a team dedicated to educating local students and communities on sustainability issues! It has not evolved into other projects.