Talking Louder About Campus Sustainability

Project Leads: Kira Stoll & Lisa McNeilly
Office of Sustainability Logo
Sponsor: Office of Sustainability

TGIF Grant: $18,250

Project Theme: Education & Behavior Change

Project Location

2009 Application Submission


Project Description: Talking Louder about Campus Sustainability (a boisterous communications campaign) developed and implemented a one‐year comprehensive marketing and outreach campaign to encourage program participation and behavior changes while expanding the culture of sustainability at UC Berkeley.

Goals: Create a Facebook page to interactively engage the campus on sustainability. Train the trainers: provide training and information on sustainability to key people that are resource providers in residences and buildings, and to employees. Convene meetings for staff and faculty to provide training and information on how to incorporate sustainability practices into operations. Enhance content and create interactive elements on the Office sustainability websites. Outreach to new employees through presentations and material distribution at new staff orientations and new academic employee orientations. Produce on‐line presentation materials and training materials that can be used by other groups to promote sustainability. Outreach to faculty, staff and students through participation in campus events. Hold forums with student groups to foster collaboration. Produce a series of on‐line flyers and program cards outlining initiatives and programs. Expand the coverage and distribution of the Office newsletter, bright green news.

TGIF Blog Posts about Talking Louder About Sustainability

2009 Project Poster

Talking Louder About Campus Sustainability Website

2009-2010 Accomplishments
Expanding the culture of sustainability at UC Berkeley – a goal of the Office of Sustainability (Office) - requires improving access to information on a continuing basis, educating a broad range of community members, and empowering people to take positive action. With this in mind, the students and the Office embarked on a year-long intensive communications effort to talk louder about sustainability launched in June 2009 and implemented primarily by a team of student associates. This campaign differed from many other outreach campaigns nationwide in the effort reach out to non-traditional sustainability audiences, create more permanent solutions and partnerships, and raise the profile of UC Berkeley's work. Some of varied tactics used during the Talking Louder Campaign included developing a comprehensive marketing-communications plan, redesigning the main campus sustainability website and companion sites, creating on-line and on-campus sustainability tours, offering twice per semester student sustainability forms, and increasing coverage, frequency, and readership of the Bright Green newsletter. Many of the efforts of this year's Talking Louder about Sustainability campaign will be continued into the future – particularly those that were found to have the most impact and can be expanded to meet the demands of an ever increasingly sophisticated audience. Talking Louder about Campus Sustainability was one of the projects to present a poster at the 2010 CACS Summit.

Hired Student Team

  • Student Communication Associates: Nicole Campbell, Vickie Ly, and Joanna Young (lead)
  • Student Webmaster: Oscar Zisman
  • Student Marketing & Planning Analyst: Karen L. Salvini

Targeted Campaigns:

  1. Campus Green Department Certification Program: Outreach to departments to encourage participation in this new program and to recognize departments that certify.
  2. Campus Green Event Certification Program: Outreach to campus event planners to encourage organizers to reduce event travel, make sustainable food and beverage choices, minimize the use of disposable materials and more.
  3. Energy efficiency education programs in buildings that are undergoing upgrades as part of the Campus Strategic Energy Plan. Promote bicycle commuting programs and other alternative transportation measures offered by the campus.
  4. Expand awareness on waste reduction by promoting use of composting services and recycling. Increase awareness about water quality, conservation and efficiency measures that will be part of the CACS 2009‐2010 work program.
  5. Promote emerging sustainable purchasing and food policy guidelines for the campus.
  6. Provide communications around key aspects of the Campus Sustainability Assessment and the Campus Climate Action plans.


  • Expanded the coverage, frequency, and readership of Bright Green News – the campus sustainability newsletter.
    • The number of articles per issue has more than doubled from approximately five to over 10. The newsletter went from a bi-monthly to monthly publication. The combination of these two expansion efforts increased the amount of news coverage four-fold.
    • Bright Green News went from a subscription base of 400 to 1,400 as a result of the campaign, representing a 250% increase in readership.
  • Completed an extensive redesign of the main campus sustainability website, and its companion sites.
    • o Visits to increased by almost 20%.
  • Green Certified 30 Events and 9 Departments.
  • Created a Facebook page to interactively engage the campus on sustainability.
    • Friends of the page grew from 1 to 200 in a matter of months
  • Offered two student sustainability forums each semester.
    • Attendance at student forums grew over 400% (from 20 to 100 attendees)
    • The number of student groups presenting also doubled from last year
  • Through face to face contact by attending events, holding forums, providing campus sustainability tours, tabling at residence halls, and presenting to staff groups
    • Several thousand students and hundreds of employees learned more about campus sustainability 


Talking Louder as a Best Practice and Applicability to Other Institutions
The Talking Louder about Sustainability campaign represents a successful collaborative outreach effort by a campus department and a team of students that reaches a diverse audience through a variety of mediums. The campaign is made up of numerous small and effective projects and methods that could be mixed, matched, and replicated by other organizations. In addition to the campaign activities mentioned above, best practice highlights include:

Setting clear goals. Tasked with building a culture of sustainability on campus, The Office of Sustainability defined communications priorities, target markets, and required outcomes and secured grant funding to conduct a comprehensive student led outreach effort.

Planning up-front. Using the professional skills of an MBA graduate student, the project included the preparation of a comprehensive marketing communications plan and toolkit to guide the work of the implementation team. The Plan is designed both to be expanded on and to offer opportunity to for creative expression – making it a living document beyond the one-year campaign. The Plan is posted on-line for others to use.

Creating a diverse and motivated implementation team. The undergraduate communications associates each brought with them a unique set of experiences and interests that added depth and breadth to the effort. With the technical and aesthetic sensibilities of the webmaster, the creativity and community organizing prowess of the lead communications associate, and the journalism skills and topical interests of the other associates, the campaign has reached diverse audiences through a variety of methods.

Personalizing sustainability. Through face to face contact by attending events, holding forums, providing campus sustainability tours, tabling at residence halls, presenting to staff groups, and networking with other environmentally focused groups, the visibility and accessibility of sustainability has been brought to the local level – providing people more tangible ways to engage in sustainability.

Making sustainability newsworthy. Originally sent out to 400 people at the beginning of the campaign, Bright Green News, the campus sustainability newsletter is now sent out to over 1,400 students, staff, faculty, and the larger community. Through communication associates contributions and encouraging story submittals from other groups and organizations, the Office is able to publish more extensive, informative newsletters to a broader audience. Stories highlighted in the newsletter are now being picked up by other sustainability communication networks and listserves.

Getting feedback from your audience. The Office Facebook page is a tool for getting the word out quickly and getting real-time feedback to postings. Growing from one fan to 200 fans in just months, this communication tool is especially important for reaching students and provides an outlet to announce events and items of interest that may not fit into more traditional outlets.

Keeping substantive information current and readily available. Through a carefully crafted redesign of the campus sustainability website, the most requested background information, plans, resources, and data are readily available to the casual browser as well as the in-depth researcher seeking detail on sustainability initiatives and trends. Through the main page of this site – which is updated frequently - the most current sustainability information is shared through both announcement and media sections.

Planning for future efforts. By tracking the outcomes and metrics of the Talking Louder about Sustainability campaign, future communication initiatives and opportunities will be easier to plan and execute. To the extent possible, these metrics also quantify the environmental benefits of the campaign efforts.

As part of Talking Louder about Campus Sustainabiliy, the Office of Sustainability creates multimedia presentations highlighting campus sustainability efforts. Check out the multimedia webpage or be sure to read issues of bright green news, issued by the Office of Sustainability each month.

Final Report

This project was continued in 2011-2013 with the 2011 TGIF Grant Talking Louder about Sustainability- the Next Generation.

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.