The Campaign for Haas

Ask the Donor

Powering Cleantech at Haas and Goldman Sachs

Bay Area residents Marcella and Stuart Bernstein, BS 85, are committed to sustainable living. They try to minimize their impact on the environment by biking or walking most places, retrofitting their home for energy efficiency, and promoting the slow food movement. Stuart Bernstein is the global head of the clean technology and renewables business for Goldman Sachs. Since 2005, Goldman has helped raise more than $19 billion in financing for clean technology and renewables clients and invested more than $3 billion in clean energy and environmentally beneficial projects.


In addition to being a mother of three, Marcella Bernstein has realized three impressive careers–as an astrophysicist at Lockheed Martin and the Harvard Center for Astrophysics, a veterinarian, and a jewelry designer. Her work is showcased at galleries in Palo Alto and Sundance and has attracted some high-profile clients.

The Bernsteins made a significant contribution this summer to create an endowment for the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI), a campus-wide institute that provides a coordinating hub for all of Berkeley’s energy and climate efforts, integrating science, engineering, social science, market, and policy research. The Bernstein’s gift to BECI will support, among other things, the Cleantech to Market Program (C2M) at the Energy Institute at Haas. C2M is a partnership between students, scientists, and professionals to help convert cleantech research into market opportunities.

Q: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for clean technology companies today?

Stuart: The industry holds great promise, but some cleantech companies are at risk of succumbing to “the valley of death,” a term used to describe the obstacles capital-intensive industries face in securing the financing needed to succeed.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to help establish BECI?

Stuart: Addressing the world’s energy needs and global climate problems requires a multidisciplinary approach. We are confident Berkeley is the right place for BECI because of the university’s outstanding reputation for innovative research and interdisciplinary cooperation. The creation of BECI will allow the university to bring together the necessary scientific and economic resources with the ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Q: What is the vision for BECI?

Stuart: The university has many outstanding schools of academic study. At BECI, we hope to connect those valuable resources so that Berkeley can better coordinate and engage with the Bay Area’s vibrant venture capital community, talented entrepreneurs and executives, and cleantech companies. 

Q: How will BECI benefit the Haas School of Business?

Stuart: Our commitment to BECI is specifically directed to the Energy Institute at Haas and the Cleantech to Market Program at the Haas School of Business. We hope others will be encouraged to give to BECI, which can help support research across the university, including at the business school.

Q: What are some of the practices that you and your family follow in order to minimize your impact on the environment?

Stuart: We renovated our 1930s house about six years ago, and where we could, made changes to minimize our impact. We installed insulation, energy efficient lighting, water efficient appliances and plumbing, double-paned low-E windows, photovoltaic panels, a solar hot water heater, and an attic heat exchange. The last item is interesting. We started to think about the conflict between heating pools and cooling homes and wondered if there was a more environmentally friendly manner to do both. I Googled “heat exchange attic to pool” and found a patent which allowed us to use the attic’s hot air to heat the pool and the pool’s cold water to cool the house, all without the use of an air conditioner or a gas heater. Aside from the house, we try our best to not use any kind of motor vehicle whenever we can. In fact, Palo Alto was very attractive to us because we can bike or walk most places. I currently drive a Prius and will soon be getting an electric vehicle.

Marcella: We’re a recycling and composting family. We really try to minimize our trash. We have a small garden and shop at the local farmers’ markets (on our bikes!). We also try to avoid pre-packaged foods, preferring to cook mainly from scratch.

Stuart: We try to do the best we can and know we can do even more, but like the phrase “think globally, act locally.”