Sustainable Environmental Design

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Sustainable Environmental Design major recognizes that the emergent, multidisciplinary field of sustainable design is growing rapidly. As the world population urbanizes, the planning and design of resilient, resource-efficient, healthy and socially just cities and metropolitan regions is profoundly important. The College of Environmental Design, with its long-standing expertise in sustainable urbanism and design, is an ideal setting for an undergraduate major in sustainable environmental design, with a focus on the built environment.

The major offers students a critical understanding of the sustainability challenges facing urban regions in California and around the globe and equips them with the technical, analytic, and design tools key to devising creative solutions. Graduates have many career paths and fields of graduate study open to them. Students who complete this major will:

  1. Understand the application of physical, biological, and social science in the design of sustainable cities and metropolitan regions.
  2. Understand sustainable urban technologies and design strategies.
  3. Comprehend issues of equity and social justice as they relate to sustainable cities and regions.
  4. Evaluate and monitor the present state and future potential of built environments in terms of sustainability.
  5. Comprehend the implications of policy and institutions and their potential to shape future sustainable cities and regions.

Program Overview

Features of the major include the following:

  • The gateway course, ENV DES 110 is taken by all incoming SED first years and transfer students. The course is an opportunity to meet your cohort and explores varying interpretations of sustainability through the fields of design, economics, law, and advocacy.  Guest speakers will walk students through various career and life paths in the field of sustainability, and demonstrate how the field is being constructed in real time.  The course will also introduce students to various concentrations, dual-degrees and certificate programs available to SED majors.
  • LD ARCH 12, Environmental Science for Sustainable Development, introduces students to the scientific basis of sustainability as explored through the study of energy, water, food, natural resources and the built environment, with a focus on the application of scientific insights to sustainable development strategies. The course emphasizes hands-on learning through field-based exercises such as measurement of atmospheric particulate matter, micro-climates, channel form, aquatic insects and water quality, and direct observations of green infrastructure, green building methods, and urban agriculture.
  • A Critical Approaches course, ENV DES 102, Climate Changes and City Planning: Adaptation and Resilience . The course challenges students to think critically about the idea of sustainability, develop critiques of current sustainable urbanism/design practice, and envision the institutional and behavioral changes required for a more sustainable future.
  • A Methods/Technology course, LD ARCH C188 /GEOG C188, Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS has become a basic tool for a wide range of analytic tasks across all environmental design fields. The course addresses both GIS theory and applications, offering a dynamic analytical framework for gathering, integrating, interpreting, and manipulating temporal and spatial data.
  • A set of upper division courses on energy and environment, deep green design, the nature of cities, planning for sustainability, ecological analysis, and sustainable cities and landscapes.
  • A capstone workshop course, ENV DES 106, Sustainable Environmental Design Workshop. Linking sustainability science and technology with urban form and social dynamics, the workshop requires independent and collaborative research with an external client organization to offer innovative strategies for sustainable environmental design.

Admission to the Major

Students must declare one of the CED majors at the time of application to the college; however, current UC Berkeley students may apply to change into CED. Transfer applicants must complete two years worth of lower division coursework to be considered for admission to CED. For information regarding admission to the major for freshmen, transfer students, and current students who wish to change majors or colleges, please see the College of Environmental Design (CED) page in this Guide or the CED website.

Sustainable Design Minor Program

The Department of Architecture and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning jointly offer a Sustainable Design Minor program. This minor program is open to undergraduate students at UC Berkeley except those in the Sustainable Environmental Design Major.

View Program Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

The Sustainable Environmental Design major requirements differ by students’ admit year to UC Berkeley. The major requirements listed below are the most recent. In the Berkeley Academic Guide Archive, refer to the year you were admitted to UC Berkeley for your major requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. Courses taken to fulfill lower division major requirements may also be used to fulfill Seven-Course Breadth.
  2. All lower division courses taken in fulfillment of major requirements must be completed with a grade of C- or better. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
  3. A minimum overall GPA of 2.0 for all courses taken at UC Berkeley is required for graduation.
  4. Courses used to fulfill an upper division major requirement may not simultaneously fulfill a breadth requirement.
  5. Up to two upper division courses taken at another institution, including an approved study abroad program, may be applied to the major requirements below (if transferable and approved in advance).

For information regarding residency requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Summary of Major Requirements

Lower Division Requirements: Six Courses
Upper Division Sustainable Environmental Design Core: Nine Courses
Recommended Sustainable Environmental Design Area Concentrations

Lower Division Major Requirements: Freshman and Sophomore Year

ENV DES 110Designing Sustainability3
LD ARCH 12Environmental Science for Sustainable Development4
MATH 16AAnalytic Geometry and Calculus3-4
or MATH 1A Calculus
STAT 2Introduction to Statistics (or higher)4
or STAT C8 Foundations of Data Science
PHYSICS 7APhysics for Scientists and Engineers4
or PHYSICS 8A Introductory Physics
ENVECON C1/ECON C3Introduction to Environmental Economics and Policy4
(ECON 1 or 2: permission needed from SED Advisor)

Upper Division Sustainable Environmental Design Core (Courses Inside CED)

ARCH 140Energy and Environment4
ARCH 142Sustainability Colloquium2
or ARCH 242 Sustainability Colloquium
CY PLAN 119Planning for Sustainability3-4
or CY PLAN 140 Urban Design: City-Building and Place-Making
ENV DES 100The City: Theories and Methods in Urban Studies4
ENV DES 102Climate Change and City Planning: Adaptation and Resilience3
ENV DES 104Design Frameworks3
ENV DES 106Sustainable Environmental Design Workshop4
LD ARCH 140Social and Psychological Factors in Open Space Design3
or LD ARCH 130 Sustainable Landscapes and Cities
LD ARCH/GEOG C188Geographic Information Science4

Recommended Sustainable Environmental Design Area Concentrations

The intent of recommended area courses is to provide students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge about specific issues in sustainability. Each of the area courses focuses on an essential aspect of sustainability with the premise that urban sustainability is a multi-dimensional problem and sustainable environments emerge from the intersection of technology, design, economics, policy, and societal change.

Economics, Business and Policy
CY PLAN 113AEconomic Analysis for Planning3
CY PLAN 113BCommunity and Economic Development4
CY PLAN 114Introduction to Urban and Regional Transportation3
CY PLAN 115Urbanization in Developing Countries4
CY PLAN 120Community Planning and Public Policy for Disability3
ECON C125Environmental Economics4
ENE,RES 190Seminar in Energy and Resources Issues3
ENVECON 100Intermediate Microeconomics with Applications to Sustainability4
ENVECON 147Regulation of Energy and the Environment4
ENVECON 162Economics of Water Resources3
ENVECON C176Climate Change Economics4
ESPM 60Environmental Policy, Administration, and Law4
ESPM 168Political Ecology4
ESPM 169International Environmental Politics4
UGBA 107The Social, Political, and Ethical Environment of Business3
UGBA 180Introduction to Real Estate and Urban Land Economics3
Society, Culture and Ethics
ANTHRO 137Energy, Culture and Social Organization4
ARCH 110ACThe Social and Cultural Processes in Architecture & Urban Design3
CY PLAN 117ACUrban & Community Health3
CY PLAN 118ACThe Urban Community4
ENE,RES C100Energy and Society4
ENE,RES 101Ecology and Society3
ESPM 151Society, Environment, and Culture4
ESPM 161Environmental Philosophy and Ethics4
ESPM 163ACEnvironmental Justice: Race, Class, Equity, and the Environment4
ESPM C167/PB HLTH C160Environmental Health and Development4
ESPM 168Political Ecology4
LD ARCH 140Social and Psychological Factors in Open Space Design3
LD ARCH 170History and Literature of Landscape Architecture3
LD ARCH C171The American Designed Landscape Since 18503
NUSCTX 104Food, Culture, and the Environment2
NUSCTX W104Food, Culture, and the Environment AC3
SOCIOL 121Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Social and Cultural Context4
SOCIOL 136Urban Sociology4
SOCIOL 137ACEnvironmental Justice: Race, Class, Equity, and the Environment4
Environmental Planning and Management
ENE,RES 102Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems4
ESPM 50ACIntroduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management4
ESPM 102CResource Management4
ESPM 102DClimate and Energy Policy4
ESPM 117Urban Garden Ecosystems4
LD ARCH 122Hydrology for Planners4
LD ARCH 289Applied Remote Sensing (instructor consent required)3
Design and Technology
Note: LD ARCH 140 course from the Society, Culture and Ethics AREA list above, can also be used for Design and Technology AREA list
ARCH 11AIntroduction to Visual Representation and Drawing (Formerly ENV DES 11A)4
ARCH 11BIntroduction to Design (Formerly ENV DES 11B)5
ARCH 124AIntroduction to Digital Design Methods2
ARCH 130Introduction to Architectural Design Theory and Criticism4
ARCH 149/249Special Topics in Energy and Environment4
ARCH 160Introduction to Construction4
ART 100Collaborative Innovation4
CY PLAN 110Introduction to City Planning4
CY PLAN 140Urban Design: City-Building and Place-Making3
DES INV 190Special Topics in Design Innovation1-4
ENV DES 104Design Frameworks3
IND ENG 186Course Not Available3
LD ARCH 1Drawing a Green Future: Fundamentals of Visual Representation and Creativity4
LD ARCH 111Plants in Design3

College Requirements

For College Requirements, please refer to the College of Environmental Design.

Plan of Study

Each student’s plan will vary depending on interests. Students should see their adviser if they are interested in applying for graduate school, studying abroad, attending summer school, or pursuing a minor or second major.

For more detailed information regarding the courses listed below (e.g., elective information or GPA requirements), please see the Major Requirements tab.

ENV DES 1103Reading & Composition A4-6
LD ARCH 12 (Breadth #1: BIO SCI)4Breadth #2 3
MATH 16A or 1A3-4University Elective, if needed2-4
 13-14 13-17
ECON C3 (Breadth #3: SOC-BHV SCI)4STAT 24
Reading & Composition B4ENV DES 1043
Breadth #43-4PHYSICS 8A (Breadth #6: PHYS SCI)4
Breath #53-4Breadth #73-4
 14-16 14-15
ARCH 1422ARCH 1404
LD ARCH C1884LD ARCH 130 or 1404
CY PLAN 119 or 1403-4Recommended SED Area Concentration (ENV DES 104 for transfer students)2-4
ENV DES 110 (transfer students)3-4CED Upper Div Non-Major #12-4
 12-14 12-16
ENV DES 1023ENV DES 1004
CED Upper Div Non-Major #23-4ENV DES 1064
CED Upper Div Non-Major #33-4Recommended SED Area Concentration (or elective)3-4
Recommended SED Area Concentration3University Elective, if needed1-3
 12-14 12-15
Total Units: 102-121

Students must complete 120 units to graduate. 

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals of the Major

  1. Understand the application of physical, biological, and social science in the design of sustainable cities and metropolitan regions
  2. Understand sustainable urban technologies and design strategies
  3. Comprehend issues of equity and social justice as they relate to sustainable cities and regions
  4. Evaluate and monitor the present state and future potential of built environments in terms of sustainability
  5. Comprehend the implications of policy and institutions and their potential to shape future sustainable cities and regions

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Sustainable Environmental Design Major Map PDF.


The CED Office of Undergraduate Advising provides a wide array of programmatic and individual advising services to prospective and current students as well as to students in other colleges who are pursuing CED minors or taking CED courses. The professional advising team assists students with a range of issues including course selection, academic decision-making, achieving personal and academic goals, and maximizing the Berkeley experience.

Advising Staff

Architecture Major Advisor: Mel Barbers
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Landscape Architecture Major Advisor: Kristian Dawson
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Sustainable Environmental Design Major Advisor: Heather Grothjan
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Urban Studies Major Advisor: Kristian Dawson
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

College Evaluator: Heather Grothjan
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Undergraduate Advising Director: Omar Ramirez
250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies: Kyle Steinfeld
345 Bauer Wurster Hall

Advising Office

Fall/spring: Monday through Friday, 10 to noon (office opens at 9 a.m.) & 1 to 4 p.m.
Summer: Monday through Friday, 10 to noon  & 1 to 3 p.m.


Office of Undergraduate Advising
College of Environmental Design
250 Bauer Wurster Hall #1800
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1800

CED Career Services

The CED Career Services Center (CSC) offers personalized career counseling, a yearly CED Career Fair, and a wide variety of professional development workshops on topics such as licensure, internships, and applying for graduate school. To schedule an appointment with the Career Counselor or for more information on CED CSC, please click here.

Office of Undergraduate Advising


The College of Environmental Design (CED) Office of Undergraduate Advising:

  • Supports students holistically as they earn their degree,
  • Advocates for just and equitable policies and practices,
  • Connects current and prospective students with resources and opportunities,
  • Fosters a sense of belonging and community.

Advising Values

The CED Office of Undergraduate Advising aspires to the following core values:


We provide support services centered on student self-actualization. We aim to hold a welcoming space in which students are encouraged to explore their minds and their hearts, do their best work, realize their talents and passions, and achieve their goals. We put the student voice and experience first.

Justice & Equity

We actively seek to eradicate all forms of individual and institutionalized discrimination and oppression. We aim to provide students with an equitable experience in complete appreciation of their identities, economic status, and immigration status.

Health & Well-Being

We strive to build and sustain a culture in which our community can thrive in all aspects of life: intellectual, emotional, social, physical, occupational, spiritual and environmental.

Courage & Vulnerability

By learning from our own experiences, educating ourselves on developments in the field, collaborating with our communities, and taking strategic risks, we aim to improve our advising services and the student experience. We are committed to continuous self-reflection, growth, and development.

Academic Opportunities

Student Groups and Organizations

The college provides opportunities for students to be involved in student chapters of professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIAS), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) as well as other student groups like the Chican@/Latin@ Architecture Student Association (CASA), Global Architecture Brigades, and more. For information regarding student groups, please see the Getting Involved page of the CED website.

Study Abroad

The College of Environmental Design (CED) encourages all undergraduates in the college to study abroad. Whether students are interested in fulfilling general education requirements, taking courses related to their major/career, or simply living and studying in a country that is of interest to them, the department will work with students to make it happen. For information about study abroad programs, please see the Berkeley Study Abroad website.

CED Career Services

The CED Career Services Center (CSC) offers personalized career counseling, a yearly CED Career Fair, and a wide variety of professional development workshops on topics such as licensure, internships, and applying for graduate school. For further information, please see the CED Career Services website.

Prizes and Awards

CED offers a number of annual prizes, awards, scholarships, fellowships, and grants to its currently enrolled students. Some of these prizes and awards are college-wide and some are geared toward students in specific majors. For general information regarding CED prizes and awards, including application instructions and a deadline calendar, please click here.

CED Events and Exhibits Calendar

CED and Wurster Hall are home to a variety of events, lectures, and exhibitions that welcome professors, professionals, and friends to the college to discuss and celebrate the community and professions. Through events and media, the College of Environmental Design is constantly creating ways to keep the college connected and up-to-date. To view this calendar, please click here.

CED on Facebook

CED Lecture Series

The Departments of Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning each sponsor lecture series, which offers students the opportunity to hear internationally-acclaimed speakers. These speakers often also participate in classes and seminars as part of their visit to campus. For a schedule of speakers and events in these lecture series, please see the CED website.

Research Opportunities, Internships, Public Service, and Volunteer Opportunities

Check out the CED Office of Undergraduate Advising website for additional opportunities.

Contact Information

Sustainable Environmental Design Program

250 Wurster Hall

Phone: 510-642-0928

View Program Website

Director, Institute of Urban and Regional Development

Kristina Hill

Director of the SED Major Program; Minor Program Faculty Advisor

Eric Cesal

SED Major/SD Minor Advisor, College Evaluator

Heather Grothjan (Peng)

250 Bauer Wurster Hall

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

Kyle Steinfeld

345 Bauer Wurster Hall

Director, Office of Undergraduate Advising

Omar Ramirez

250 Bauer Wurster Hall

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