About Berkeley Air
We are an independent organization that does not promote any particular technology or fuel.
Across the globe approximately three billion people rely on solid fuels – charcoal, wood, coal, or crop waste — to meet their household energy needs. These low-grade fuels paired with inefficient cookstoves or fires result in household air pollution, which causes some 4 million premature deaths each year. Air pollution from all sources is the leading environmental health risk globally, and communities in both wealthy and developing countries suffer from its effects.
Berkeley Air’s mission is to provide rigorous, scientific, and cost-effective monitoring and evaluation services to household energy and air pollution initiatives. We carry out high-impact field studies to measure impacts on climate, health, livelihoods, and gender dynamics.
We are a social enterprise consultancy incorporated in California, USA (incorporated 2008) with clients in the public and private sectors, both in the US and abroad. We are connected to a network of technical and academic partners in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, who partner with us to collect data around the world.
Our vision is the widespread adoption of cleaner and more efficient household energy solutions in developing countries for global health and climate benefits, and the empowerment of North American communities to better understand and address threats from air pollution. Our goal is to meet the needs of our clients for credible, cost-effective monitoring and evaluation to measure and inform progress.
At our first-ever company-wide retreat in 2018, Berkeley Air’s staff crafted the following six vision statements to guide our current and future operations.
We provide them here as an insider peek for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper into how we approach our work.
1. Tackle energy poverty
We assess changes in efficiency, access, and well-being resulting from technology and fuel interventions primarily in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs)but potentially in North America as well.
Why? Reducing energy poverty in LMICs contributes to multiple Global Goals. Assessments include technical lab and field measurements of fuel and technology performance as well as three-dimensional assessments of impacts on time and other gender metrics. Assessment methods are technical and specialized, creating the need for our expertise.
2. Reduce environmental impacts of air pollution
We build the evidence base on how to limit the contributions of household energy to climate change and increasingly explore adaptation strategies.
Why? Climate change is a major global threat to humanity. Household energy affects climate through multiple pathway including emissions of climate damaging pollutants and changes to the landscape from fuel harvesting.
3. Improve health outcomes related to air pollution and Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH):
We support implementers in choosing interventions that address health risks and participate in research activities to more fully characterize the global burden of disease from environmental health risks and the potential impacts of a wide spectrum of solutions.
Why? While household air pollution is now more fully recognized as a global health risk, the evidence base is still far from complete relative to other risks of similar magnitude. Further the health risk is now understood to be larger and broader than originally estimated, including exposures through ambient air quality, outcomes related to more diseases, and impacts on well-being. The bulk of the disease burden is still in LMICs, but there is growing interest in health impacts of indoor air quality in North America, especially in vulnerable population groups, such as native American and resource-poor communities. There is the potential to add WASH outcomes opportunistically, as affected populations and geographies are often the same as for air pollution risks.
4. Promote and develop high quality information & methods
Our strength is in study design, training, field support, quality control, and data analysis, which we apply, either in sum or individually, to answer the sector’s research questions with high quality information. We promote progress and truth, recognizing there is no one solution. While we see the need for fit-for-purpose instrumentation, we are not an instrumentation company.
Why? Emphasizing quality and consistent integrity and neutrality in our work has allowed us to develop a reputation as a fair, transparent, and reliable research partner. Our trustworthy outputs allow us to influence policy, regulations, and standards. These skills are transferable from the international development context that we have worked in for the past ten years and will continue to focus on, as well as the domestic environment that we want to enter in the next ten.
5. Sustain a successful social venture
Our successful social venture aims to be mission driven, highly competent and well regarded, financially solvent with a steady pipeline of work, and effectively structured to deliver quality products and services.
Why? Keeping our business fundamentals strong allows us to retain and attract excellent staff and deliver on our mission.
6. Empower a motivated, creative, productive team
We are a tight knit staff that is geographically dispersed but aligned on values and vision, and we are committed to a flexible work/life balance.
Why? Connectivity of staff is key to good research and quality for clients, as well as being important to keeping our own energy, commitment, and enjoyment strong.
Berkeley Air and the Global Goals
Berkeley Air’s activities are closely linked to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN as a framework for development activities worldwide through 2030. Clearly successful household energy initiatives in low- and middle-income countries can make valuable contributions to Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. Yet their potential actually stretches far beyond just goal 7, where cleaner and more efficient cooking, heating, and lighting options can spur progress in many other areas of global development.
The following graphics shows other Global Goals that can be enhanced by well adopted and sustained household energy initiatives and the approximate relative size of those impacts based on current evidence. Berkeley Air can provide guidance on how to measure the effects of household energy programs and projects on any or all of these outcome areas.
1. No Poverty: Clean cooking is part of basic services necessary to lead a healthy and productive life and saves house-holds time and money.
2. Zero Hunger: Efficient cookstoves reduce the amount of fuel needed to cook, thus reducing the burden on families who would otherwise have to collect it, buy it, or trade their food for it.
3. Good Health and Well-being: Reducing smoke emissions from cooking decreases the burden of disease associated with household air pollution and improves well-being, especially for women and children.
4. Quality Education: Children, particularly girls, are often kept out of school so that they can contribute to household tasks, like cooking and collecting fuel.
5. Gender Equality: Unpaid work, including collecting fuel and cooking, remain a major cause of gender inequality.
7: Affordable and Clean Energy: Clean cooking is essential to addressing energy poverty and ensuring sustainable energy security for billions of people.
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth: Energy access enables enhanced productivity and inclusive economic growth. The clean cooking sector offers many job opportunities.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities: Clean cooking addresses household and ambient air pollution, resource efficiency, and climate vulnerability.
13: Climate Action: Up to 25% of black carbon emissions come from burning solid fuels for household energy needs. Clean cooking solutions address the most basic needs of the poor, while also delivering climate benefits.
15: Life On Land: Up to 34% of woodfuel harvested is unsustainable, contributing to forest degradation, deforestation, and climate change.