Buildings in the Energy Transition: Resilient, Clean and Just (808U)

Clients: Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) as well as legislative and California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) decision makers.

Buildings play a central role in protecting us from extreme climate events and in governing our consumption of energy via the natural gas and electric system. It is in our buildings, especially our homes, that climate resilience and climate mitigation meet. But at present, these conversations — about the policy pathways to greater climate resilience and options for faster building decarbonization — are largely conducted separately. The goal of Buildings in the Energy Transition is to develop policy analyses that optimize for affordability, resilience and mitigation, incorporating energy modelling, public health and energy regulatory perspectives. We will conduct our work from the perspective of and informed by the needs of our client, APEN, an environmental justice organization that is actively involved in resilience and decarbonization policy.

In this course, students will learn the basics of key policy areas related to buildings including resilience to heat and smoke, building electrification, net energy metering (NEM), and customer bill affordability programs. Lectures will focus on technical, economic and legal aspects of the challenge. In addition, students will work in groups on legal and regulatory analysis aimed at supporting better decision making on buildings policy in both California and the Northeast. Students will work in partnership with postdocs and legal fellows on their group projects and may have the opportunity to present the results of their work to both APEN and CPUC staff.

The course is intended for students interested in multi-disciplinary approaches to public policy problems. No background in either energy law or energy modelling is required. Students will engage in weekly lecture and discussion of building resilience and decarbonization science and policy, including student presentations and guest lectures by scientists, practitioners and policymakers. Students will also meet additionally once per week with Professors Sivas and Wara in working sessions to discuss progress on team projects. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Performance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper.

CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form available at See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline. This course is cross-listed with Environment and Resources (ENVRES TBA).

Course Catalogue
Consent of Instructor – Application Portal


Deborah A. Sivas 1

Deborah A. Sivas

  • Luke W. Cole Professor of Environmental Law
  • Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program
  • Director, Environmental Law Clinic
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
  • Affiliated Researcher, Center for Ocean Solutions
  • Faculty Advisor, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
  • Professor, Doerr School of Sustainability

Clients & Deliverables

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) as well as legislative and California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) decision makers.