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Sustainability in the Built Environment

The built environment plays an integral role in meeting society’s most basic needs of shelter, security, mobility, community, and water and waste treatment, but it also contributes significantly to the sustainability challenges of climate change, pollution, resource consumption and land use.

As society and government policy increase pressure to reduce the environmental impacts of our everyday activities, individuals must increasingly understand how the built environment they design and maintain fits into the complex environmental and human systems in which we live.

This minor provides a guiding framework for educating individuals who will design and maintain our future built environment in the challenges and potential solutions for improved sustainability.

The minor is designed to develop awareness of students in the three core themes of sustainability: Engineering & Science, Social Context, and Policy & Economics. The aim is both to foster the social context of engineering and to attract students from a range of departments and programs across campus to grow trans-disciplinary interactions. Students must take the required courses ECI123 Urban Systems and Sustainability as well as electives as specified in the three core themes. 

The minor is designed to attract students from a range of departments and programs across campus, including, but not limited to, Environmental Science and Policy, Urban Planning, Plant Sciences, Landscape Architecture, Design, Engineering, Community and Regional Development, Anthropology, Agriculture and Resource Economics, Atmospheric Science, Environmental Remote Sensing, Environmental Toxicology, Applied Biological Systems Technology, Geology, Hydrology, and Nature and Culture. Students enrolled in the minor will acquire fundamental skills and knowledge of the elements and integrated processes necessary for a sustainable built environment.

  • Successful completion and transcript notation of the minor requires both a minimum overall UC GPA of 2.0 and a minimum 2.0 GPA for the coursework completed for the minor, with no grade lower than a C- for any course used for the minor.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Up to 4 of the units can be lower division, all other units must be upper division.
  • Substitute courses in the thematic areas may be proposed by students for the minor and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 
  • The online Minor Declaration form is available via the Online Advising Student Information System (OASIS).
  • Course overlap - Please refer to your college’s policies regarding overlap rules.
  • Transcript notation must be requested no later than the quarter preceding graduation, and will appear as a minor in Sustainability in the Built Environment. 

18 units

  1. Take ECI 123 (4 units); and
  2. Take one additional course, of at least 3 units each, in each of the 3 core thematic areas of the minor: Engineering & Science, Social Context, and Policy & Economics; and
  3. Take at least 1 additional course in any of the 3 core thematic areas of the minor (can be any number of units); and
  4. Complete at least 14 units of coursework from the core thematic areas of the minor. May include 1-3 units of ECI 198 sustainable design project, by approval of advisor.

Complete the following required core course

  • ECI 123 Urban Systems and Sustainability (4 units)

At least one course from the following list (Engineering and Science)

  • ECI 40 Introduction to Environmental Engineering (4 units)
  • ECI 125 Building Energy Performance (4 units)
  • ECI 140A Environmental Analysis of Aqueous Systems (4 units)
  • ECI 140B Aquatic Chemistry (4 units)
  • ECI 143 Green Engineering Design and Sustainability (4 units)
  • ECI 149 Air Pollution (4 units)
  • ECI 155 Water Resources Engineering Planning (4 units)
  • ECI 163 Energy and Environmental Aspects of Transportation (4 units)
  • ECI 165 Transportation Policy (3 units)
  • ENG 188 Science and Technology of Sustainable Power Generation (4 units)
  • ATM 116 Climate Change (3 units)​
  • DES 127A Sustainable Design (4 units)
  • DES 127B Studio Practice in Sustainable Design (4 units)
  • ETX 101 Principles of Environmental Toxicology (4 units)
  • LDA 140 Green Building, Design, and Materials (4 units)
  • DES 156 Graphitecture (4 units)
  • GEL 130 Non-Renewable Natural Resources (3 units)

At least one course from the following list (Social Context)

  • ANT/ESP 101 Ecology, Nature and Society (4 units)
  • ANT 142 Cultural Politics of the Environment (4 units)
  • CRD 142 Rural Change in the Industrialized World (4 units)
  • CRD 149 Community Development Perspectives on Environmental Justice (4 units)
  • CRD 154 Social Theory and Community Change (4 units)
  • CRD 158 Small Community Governance (4 units)
  • CRD 172 Social Inequality: Issues and Innovations (4 units)
  • LDA 003 Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice (4 units)
  • PLS 162 Urban Ecology (3 units)

At least one course from the following list (Policy and Economics)

  • ARE 175 Natural Resource Economics (4 Units)
  • ARE 176 Environmental Economics (4 Units)
  • ESP 161 Environmental Law (4 Units)
  • ESP 162 Environmental Policy (4 Units)
  • ESP 171 Urban and Regional Planning (4 Units)
  • PLS 150 Sustainability and Agroecosystem Management (4 Units)
  • ESP 173 Land Use and Growth Controls (4 Units)

Total = 18 units


Minor Advisors

Please contact the Undergraduate Advisers in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, for more information:
2015 Ghausi Hall.