The Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management faces changes in the future with Dean Ernst von Weizsäcker’s announcement of his plans to step down from the position.

A search committee has been formed to fill his spot, according to Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Council Nominations Co-Chair Eve Rothfarb. Weizsäcker had recently notified Chancellor Henry T. Yang of his decision to step down and return to his native Germany.

Dean Weizsäcker, who joined the Bren School in 2006, said he only planned to work here for about three years. He said he has tentatively set his retirement date for next year, but that he may extend his time as dean if necessary.

“Next year I will be 70, but I want to do my homework properly, so if I need to stay a little longer, I will.” Weizsäcker said. “For the Bren School, I have many plans. One important thing is to finally establish a specialization on climate and energy. We also want to continue improving the connection between the Bren School and the other excellent programs on campus.”

The Bren School is recognized as one of the top graduate programs in the nation for researching environmental issues, solving environmental problems and training in environmental management, according to

When it was completed in 2002, the Bren School was the second laboratory building in the nation to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Award, the highest certification of green design attainable in the nation. The building is still a benchmark of sustainable construction and design, Bren Media Liaison James Bradham said.

“It’s really one of the greenest buildings around,” Bradham said. “I think there are only one or two other buildings like it in the nation.”

Other campus buildings are also becoming greener this year, as Bren Hall, North Hall, Life Sciences Building and Embarcadero Hall will undergo renovations to achieve at least a rating of LEED silver, and over the next five years, 21 other buildings are set for a retrofit, according to

Weizsäcker said the state-of-the-art design of the Bren School triggered this campus-wide improvement in construction standards.

“I believe that the success of the Bren School triggered the idea to retrofit other buildings,” Weizsäcker said. “The minimum standard for all new buildings is now LEED silver, which is less expensive to produce than [the gold standard certification] LEED platinum, but is still very sustainable design.”

The Bren School offers a Ph.D. mentor program and a Masters program. The school currently has an estimated 150 graduate students in the Master of Environmental Science and Management program and approximately 35 Ph.D. students.