David Auston is leading collaboration between scientists and stake-holders to apply innovative energy-saving, emission-reducing solutions. His leadership is helping achieve the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative’s goal of reaching zero net carbon emissions by the year 2025.

David is an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Materials at UC Santa Barbara. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley. David is actively involved in a number of campus projects: he is Executive Director for the Chemical Life Cycle Collaborative, participates in the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council, and co-chairs the council’s Working Group on Applied Research. He was selected as the first UC-wide Sustainability Champion in 2015.

To learn more about David visit his profile page.

David is working with the UC community to find practical solutions for achieving zero net CO2 emissions for the UC System by 2025. His work translates the ambitious aims of the UC Carbon Neutrality Project into concrete goals, and finds ways to reach them.

As Director of the TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project, David works to develop solutions to some of the most challenging aspects of the ambitious UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, from finding a viable alternative-energy model to communicating effectively with stakeholders. He oversees teams made up of faculty, students, and staff from a variety of fields at the ten UC campuses and its three affiliated laboratories. The teams evaluate emerging technologies, create information resources, and develop applicable sustainability strategies.

David brought people together to develop practical solutions for carbon neutrality, both within the UC community and across the West Coast.

He served on the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council and chaired its Subcommittee on Applied Research.

For the UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality, which David helped organize, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders gathered to examine practical ideas for greater sustainability. Participants included Gov. Jerry Brown, Nobel Laureate Mario Medina, and Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program.

The conference showcased UC-developed climate solutions and explored scaling up the UC sustainability model to help the state of California—and the larger world—combat greenhouse gas emissions. Topics included technology and policy, as well as economic issues and strategies for behavioral adaptation.

David Auston receiving his 2015 Sustainability Champion Award

David Auston accepting the 2015 Sustainability Champion Award from UC Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava.


What is a common misperception from non-scientists about climate research?

I think the most common misperception is that non-scientists become confused when scientists acknowledge that their calculations & predictions are not 100% certain (which is true of all scientific research). When coupled with intentionally misleading information from others, non-scientists then often perceive this as a “debate” and wrongly assume that each point of view is equally valid.

What is the most rewarding part about being a UC Climate Action Champion?

For me, the most rewarding aspect of being a Sustainability Champion is the opportunities it provides to interact with faculty, staff & students at both my home campus and other campuses of the UC System.

What do you hope your project contributes to your university, the UC-system, and society?

I hope the work I do will help faculty, staff & students better understand the importance and complexity of the UC President’s Carbon Neutrality initiative, and stimulate them to become engaged in it.

What is one thing you want to tell non-scientists about climate change?

I think it is important for all of us, scientists and non-scientists alike to appreciate the enormity of this issue as an existential crisis for our planet, and to become personally engaged in some way, however small, to do something about it.


• Helped organize the UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality, which offered concrete solutions to sustainability issues

• Coordinated practical solutions to help the UC Carbon Neutrality Project achieve its goals for 2025

• Member of the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council and Chair of its Subcommittee on Applied Research


"We’re learning a lot along the way, and there is great educational value for students. They’re a key part of it. It’s their future."
"We can accomplish many wonderful things if we can harness the full potential of the UC system. I’m very optimistic that we will achieve the goal, as ambitious as it is."
To get involved, contact us


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Bold solutions: UCSB’s TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project to combat climate change

June 20th, 2017|0 Comments

The University of California launched the TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project with a $300,000 gift from the TomKat Foundation which

  • David Auston receiving award

Santa Barbara energy expert named 2015 Sustainability Champion

June 20th, 2017|0 Comments

For his new and innovative kinds of collaborations between researchers and facilities managers systemwide, David Auston was awarded the University of

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Toward Carbon Neutrality

June 20th, 2017|0 Comments

In 2015, the very first UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality was held at UC San Diego. The summit

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Carbon Neutrality: The UC President’s Initiative to Achieve Zero Carbon Emissions by 2025

June 20th, 2017|0 Comments

David Auston's 2014-2015 seminar series discussing key features of the Initiative launched by President Janet Napolitano to achieve zero net carbon