Innovative Projects in Sustainability

Architecture Course Sets out to Audit CCA's Energy Use

"Energy Analysis" is a current Architecture course that represents collaboration among college administrators, faculty, and students to uphold the college's agreement as stated by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which President Beal signed in 2010.

Working as a team, participants are investigating the 25 active facilities that make up the San Francisco and Oakland campuses to audit the energy output of each facility.

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ENGAGE at CCA is an innovative initiative combining CCA's Community Arts Program’s successful model of community engagement with the project-based learning approach of the architecture and design disciplines. Activated across academic programs, ENGAGE at CCA serves as a hub to connect interested faculty and students to community partners and relevant outside experts. Read about specific ENGAGE at CCA projects.


Ecological Theory and Practice (EcoTAP) is a network of courses, faculty, and events that focuses on the study of environmentalism, ecology, and sustainability within an art and design school context. EcoTAP courses can be found in any program.


IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards program, one of the anchor initiatives of CCA's Center for Art and Public Life, enables interdisciplinary teams of CCA students to develop and implement social innovations through their studies in art, architecture, design, and writing.

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Craft Forward Symposium

CCA's Craft Forward symposium took place April 1–3, 2011, to examine the multifaceted practices that both distinguish and blur the historically charged boundaries between craft, art, design, architecture, and writing. The symposium brought together a diverse group of makers and thinkers to explore the ethos of craft and its resurgence in the 21st century. (Visit the Craft Forward website)

Maria Ryan (Sculpture 2005)

Maria Ryan (Sculpture 2005) used her Center Student Grants (now IMPACT Social Entrepreneurship Awards) to study plants in the Sierra Nevada and teach a complementary course, titled "Quilting Indigenous Plant Life of the Sierra Foothills." Read the feature »

New Professional Development Course: Fashion Sustainability

The Fashion Sustainability Workshop Series and Certificate Program integrates principles of ecology with design strategy and leadership to create a framework that enables participants to lead positive change for themselves, their company, and the fashion industry.

Water Works: "Science at CCA" Initiative

Water Works is a theme-based selection of courses that encourages students to address ecological concerns such as water usage and conservation. It is part of the college's newest "science at CCA" initiative to implement scientific instruction into the studio curricula of the four major academic disciplines: architecture, design, fine arts, and writing.

Levi Strauss & Co. Case Competition: Closing the Loop on Sustainability

Students in the Fashion Design Program paired with students of UC Berkeley's Center for Responsible Business at Haas School of Business students to compete in a Levi Strauss & Co. case competition on sustainability.

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Leading by Design Fellows Sees First Cohort Graduate

Leading by Design Fellows Program is a highly immersive, creative educational experience for senior professionals and business managers who want to accelerate and deepen their capacity to innovate, solve complex problems, and lead positive change.

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Interdisciplinary Studio Course: “Fashioning Functional Gear”

“Fashioning Functional Gear” is an interdisciplinary studio uniting the Fashion Design and Industrial Design programs in eco-conscious investigation and technological innovation. Read the feature »

Caroline Preibe (BFA Fashion Design 2004)

Caroline Preibe (BFA Fashion Design 2004), whose New York–based online knitwear company Uluru has been featured in such high-profile magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky, Vogue, and New York magazine, is now a contributor to Ecouterre, a website devoted to the future of sustainable fashion design.

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Access to Eco-sustainable materials

CCA's New Materials Resource Center houses a wide-ranging collection of eco-sustainable materials.

2009 Solar Decathlon

CCA paired with Santa Clara University to offer design and architecture expertise in the U.S. Department of Engergy-sponsored international competition

CCA architecture and design students partnered with Santa Clara University as Team California in the Solar Decathlon, a high-profile competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The competition focuses on a crucial global problem—the ever-increasing need for energy—and offers real solutions, including renewable energy sources and ways to use energy more efficiently.

(Look for an announcement this fall for Director of Architecture Ila Berman's forthcoming publication that highlights the Refract House project.)

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FARM Day Project

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, more than 50 CCA students, staff, and community members gathered to build a 66-foot-long farm on a toxic strip of land. Participants gathered at 8 a.m. on Hooper Street, the neglected side street running adjacent to the college's Montgomery campus in San Francisco.

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Radical Jewelry Makeover

In fall 2008 CCA’s Jewelry / Metal Arts Program is participating in the Radical Jewelry Makeover, a national program founded by the nonprofit organization Ethical Metalsmiths in which students and artists remake old, donated jewelry into new and unique pieces.

Ethical Metalsmiths is dedicated to mining industry reform and to educating the public about alternatives to traditional mining practices and jewelry production.

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PPR Sponsored Studio on "Green" Luxury

Also in fall 2008, CCA architecture and design students are examining the concept of “green luxury” and interacting with top industry professionals in a studio sponsored by the French worldwide group PPR, the parent company of Gucci, Puma, and Redcats.

Green luxury may seem like a contradiction in terms, but luxury brands offer a unique opportunity to work with new materials and processes, and to influence culture in interesting, ecologically sound ways.

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Living & Dyeing

Students in CCA’s Textiles Program are creating a crop garden of traditional dye and fiber plants at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. The project is part of the Soil to Studio workshop being taught this fall by faculty member Sasha Duerr.

Duerr is the founder and executive director of the Permacouture Institute an organization dedicated to preserving traditional methods of textile and clothing production and to using recycled and plant-based fibers and dyes.

Students in the workshop will also collect and use trimmings from fiber- and dye-producing plants on CCA’s Oakland campus. A public exhibition highlighting the entire project and featuring student works will take place at the end of the semester.

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