UC Davis Students and Faculty Attend Microgrid Master Class

UC Davis Students and Faculty Attend Microgrid Master Class

On June 18, 2018, UC Davis students and faculty participated in a hands-on, microgrid training at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. UC Davis’ participation in the training was sponsored by the Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence (NEPTUNE) program, which helps the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps improve energy conservation, generate renewable energy, and implement energy-efficient technologies.

Participating in hands-on exercises on solar-storage integration.

Developed by Arizona State University researcher Nathan Johnson, the microgrid training taught participants how to use grid modernization software and energy resource technology to streamline microgrid development. Participants then used these methods to design, implement and test scalable microgrids in a timely, cost-efficient manner.

Microgrids offer a number of important benefits; they can help increase reliable energy access to low income and rural areas, which often experience financial barriers to traditional power grid access, and can provide energy in situations that require mobile or temporary energy solutions. The reduced cost for developing microgrids is also beneficial for situations that require mobile, temporary solutions.

This training will help inform a UC Davis NEPTUNE research project that is examining ways to improve plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure on military bases.


Launching New Project to Increase Adoption of Emerging Clean Energy Technologies through Procurement

With few rigorous product evaluations to inform purchasing decisions, large commercial and institutional customers face enormous uncertainty and high costs associated with purchasing advanced energy efficiency, renewable distributed energy generation and energy storage products (collectively defined as distributed energy resource (DER) products). Existing third-party resources do not typically provide information on specific products, nor do they allow for side-by-side comparisons of similar products or provide all of the information consumers need to make informed buying decisions. Relying on manufacturers’ studies is also problematic given the potential biases in such studies. There is little incentive for market actors to fill this gap, which hinders the diffusion of promising DER products on a large scale.

With funding from the California Energy Commission, the Energy and Efficiency Institute will develop the California Energy Product Evaluation (Cal-EPE) Hub to:

1) evaluate selected DER products in a rigorous and transparent manner, and

2) disseminate widely evaluation results to large commercial and institutional customers that use a formal procurement process.

The evaluations will allow ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons of similar products, as well as comparisons to existing government and industry standards. Testing will be completed at respected and experienced institutions with comprehensive test facilities including UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The evaluations, and the supporting data, will be made available through a public web platform.

Providing detailed, comprehensive, and generalizable information in a format that facilitates comparisons, will provide buyers with far more valuable information on which to base their procurement decisions. By providing large customers with the tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions, the Hub will stimulate more widespread adoption of proven DER products, reducing California’s overall energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Partnering with Mexican Institutions to Advance Energy Efficiency Goals

UC Davis received three awards from Mexico’s Ministry of Energy and its National Council for Science Technology to work in partnership with Mexican research institutions on energy efficiency projects. These projects will help grow capacity in Mexico to meet ambitious clean energy goals.

Award ceremony held at Casa de California in Mexico City

  • Project 1: UC Davis will work with the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara (UAG) to establish a sister Lighting Technology Center for the development of demonstration projects of new lighting systems to improve energy efficiency.
  • Project 2: UC Davis will work with Tec de Monterrey (ITESM) to develop a consortium for demonstrations of energy efficiency in non-residential buildings.
  • Project 3: UC Davis will work with the Center for Research and Teaching of Economics (CIDE) on the analysis of improvements in energy efficiency and energy conservation in the non-residential electrical sector.

Joint research projects will increase collaboration on energy efficiency and economic development and will help reinforce the strong partnerships the UC System has developed with Mexico’s Ministry of Energy and Mexican academic institutions in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency.


New Report Released: How the University of California can Replace Natural Gas with Climate-Friendlier Options

A three-step plan for carbon neutrality

New strategy to wean off natural gas paves way for the University of California to be a global leader

By Jenny Seifert

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. – Universities across the United States have set ambitious goals to shrink their carbon footprints, including the University of California, which launched its Carbon Neutrality Initiative in 2013, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2025. But amid broad support for climate action within the UC system, a big question looms: how to actually hit that target.

Now, a 27-member team uniquely comprised of researchers, facilities managers, sustainability officers and students from across the UC campuses has released a report that helps answer this important “how” question. They present a feasible strategy to achieve a measure that would be especially game changing: replacing natural gas with climate-friendlier options.

“Some decarbonization pathways are surprisingly economical,” said the report’s lead author Alan Meier, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (a US Department of Energy lab managed by the University of California) and adjunct professor at UC Davis.

Like the state of California, UC campuses rely on highly efficient power plants that burn natural gas. Since natural gas accounts for two-thirds of the greenhouse gases emitted by all UC operations, phasing it out will be critical for a carbon-neutral future.

The report’s three-step plan for weaning off natural gas entails aggressively increasing energy efficiency across all ten campuses and five medical centers; replacing natural gas with biogas in the short term; and in the long run, electrifying all end uses of energy and switching to only renewable sources.

Amplifying the report’s message is a paper published February 27th in Nature Climate Change, written by the report team, which urges the world to look to local institutions, such as the UC, for leadership in meeting carbon-reduction commitments established by the 2015 Paris Agreement. The team’s recommendations are widely applicable in the United States, given that the nation’s energy system is increasingly dependent on natural gas and will ultimately face similar challenges as it decarbonizes.

“Cities, firms and other local actors are on the frontlines of serious action to address climate change. Where they succeed the rest will follow,” said team member and lead author of the Nature paper David Victor, a professor at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. “The University of California system is poised to be one of the world’s most important leaders.”

An immediate priority for reducing the UC’s natural gas dependency is to use less of it. Already, the UC is on the leading edge of energy efficiency, and the report encourages a continued push toward “deep energy efficiency” by retrofitting more existing buildings and designing new buildings to be not only highly efficient but also all-electric, rather than reliant on gas-fueled systems.

“The cost of renewable electricity is falling, and our ability to design efficient all-electric facilities is improving,” said Meier. “We can build carbon-neutral buildings.”

Deep efficiency would also mean cost savings, freeing up money to reinvest in further decarbonization measures. The report estimates that continuing to aggressively retrofit existing buildings at all campuses could capture an additional $19 million per year of net energy cost savings by 2025, on top of the $24 million per year the UC has already achieved over the past decade from its efficiency measures.

“Economically, energy efficiency is a no brainer,” said project director David Auston, a senior fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and researcher at the Institute for Energy Efficiency, both of UC Santa Barbara.

To wean campuses off of their remaining natural gas needs, the report assessed replacing it with biogas, or energy derived from organic materials such as food and agricultural waste, certain crops and biosolids from wastewater treatment plants. While chemically identical to natural gas, biogas is climate friendlier because it is renewable – the plants that produce the carbon burned for energy also consume atmospheric carbon.

The report frames biogas as a stepping stone to carbon neutrality for the UC, rather than a long-term solution. Like its fossilized counterpart, biogas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas, which means methane emissions from gas infrastructure would still be an issue.

“We view biogas as an interim measure that buys us more time. Ultimately, it must be phased out and replaced by 100 percent electrification,” said Auston.

Complete electrification will mean converting all university buildings and facilities to electricity powered by solar, wind and other renewable sources, a conversion that is already underway at some campuses. A full transformation could unfold with time and some technological leaps – for example, advancing the technology and adoption of renewable energy storage and equipping existing buildings with heat-transferring technologies, such as heat pumps, to reduce their reliance on central heating loops.

So, can the UC achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025?

“The goal is achievable, but it may not happen the way people expect it to,” said Meier, alluding mainly to the temporary reliance on biogas to get campuses over the hump.

It will also depend on what individual campuses do. Auston called their report a “broad-brush plan” that serves as a starting point to be individualized for each campus, and a lot will depend on the allocation of resources and willingness of campus leadership to take action.

“We hope the report will generate a dialogue that will help people get their arms around these big questions,” said Auston.

The report also illustrates the value of taking a ground-level and integrated approach to developing a carbon neutrality strategy, with its incorporation of both scientific analyses and the practicalities of implementation through the involvement of researchers and facilities staff.

“We combined intellectual talent from within the University of California with practical expertise from its facilities departments to create realistic low-carbon solutions,” said Meier. “The fact that we could find solutions through that approach could be extended to the rest of the country and the world.”

Independent from the UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, the report and paper are part of the larger TomKat Carbon Neutrality Project to identify practical, bottom-up strategies for meeting the 2025 deadline. This effort was funded by the TomKat Foundation and the UC Office of the President and co-led by UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE).

“This new report is a great example of why we recently formed the University Climate Change Coalition with leading research universities across North America,” said David Phillips, Associate Vice President for Energy and Sustainability at the UC Office of the President. “It is critically important that we apply this kind of climate research knowledge locally to help our government and business partners achieve their climate goals.”

CONTACTS: Alan Meier, akmeier@lbl.gov, 510-486-4740; David Victor, david.victor@ucsd.edu, 858-534-3254; David Auston, auston@ucsb.edu, 805-570-0206

Live in a Zero Energy House this Fall

The Honda Smart Home is soliciting applications for new occupants. This unique opportunity is open to UC Davis faculty, staff or graduate students for 2018-2019.

About the Honda Smart Home:

The Honda Smart Home US, showcases technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation. The home in UC Davis West Village is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting.  A Honda-developed home energy management system and an energy efficient design will allow the occupants to use less than half of the energy of a similarly sized new home in the Davis area for heating, cooling and lighting. The home is also three times more water-efficient than a typical U.S. home.  Honda Smart Home will serve as a residence for a member of the UC Davis community. The fully-furnished home comes equipped with a Honda Fit EV battery electric vehicle for daily transportation.

In addition to showcasing Honda’s vision for sustainable, zero-carbon living and personal mobility, the home will function as a living laboratory where the company, along with researchers from UC Davis and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), will evaluate new technologies and business opportunities at the intersection of housing, transportation, energy and the environment.

Occupancy Agreement and Application:

Full details of the occupancy agreement are described in the Honda Smart Home Occupancy Agreement and Honda Smart Home Occupancy Agreement-Exhibit A, the Research Assignment.

Note that the exact content of the research can be custom tailored to fit the occupant (the downloadable Exhibit is an example).  To be considered, please read both documents thoroughly and complete this form on-line. 

For full consideration, complete the form as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, March 16th 2018 at 5:00pm. Submissions will be viewed as they come in. (Sorry, feline and canine occupants will not be considered this time.)

Important Dates:

Application (Interest Form) Due Date: March 16, 2018

Notification Date: March 23, 2018

Move-In Date: September 1, 2018

Move-Out Date: August 31, 2019


Interest Form

Honda Smart Home Occupancy Agreement

Honda Smart Home Occupancy Agreement-Exhibit A

More Information

More information about the Honda Smart Home

Honda Smart Home website

For questions or additional information please contact:

Michael Koenig

Project Leader, Honda Smart Home




California Water-Saving Drive Saved Energy, Too

By Andy Fell

California’s drive to save water during the drought had a double benefit: it saved a lot of energy as well.

This interactive website shows how California cities and water districts saved energy and water.

In April 2015, Governor Jerry Brown mandated a 25 percent cut in urban water consumption in the face of continuing drought. Water suppliers were required to report their progress to the State Water Resources Control Board. Now analysis of those figures by researchers Edward Spang, Andrew Holguin and Frank Loge at the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency shows that while the state came within 0.5 percent of the water conservation goal, California also saved 1830 GigaWatt-Hours of energy — enough to power more than 270,000 homes.

The results are displayed at the California H2Open website. You can look at statewide figures or individual cities and water districts.

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the energy savings are equivalent to taking 110,000 cars off the road, the researchers calculate.

“The scale of these integrated water-energy-greenhouse gas savings, achieved over such a short period, is remarkable,” Loge told the Los Angeles Times. The cost was competitive with conservation programs that specifically target energy use such as changing lightbulbs and appliances, suggesting that there might be plenty of scope for saving energy – and reducing greenhouse emissions – by saving another precious resource, water.

The large energy savings are possible because California uses quite a lot of energy to supply water in the first place, Spang told the Times. The state relies heavily on moving water from the wetter north to the dry south: about 19 percent of California energy demand is related to pumping, treating or moving water in some way.

More information

A silver lining from California’s drought: Water conservation led to reduced energy use and less pollution (LA Times)

Read the study (Environmental Review Letters)

Interactive website: California H2Open

UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency

UC Davis Plant & Environmental Sciences building receives 2 prominent green building certifications

UC Davis Plant & Environmental Sciences (PES) is the first BREEAM® USA In-Use Excellent rated building! BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the world’s leading environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. This building was a pilot project for BREEAM USA In-Use at UC Davis.

PES also earned LEED Gold® for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, adding to the growing list of LEED-certified buildings at UC Davis. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.

Learn more about UC Davis Green Buildings.

UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute: New Name, Enhanced Focus 

Name Change Reflects Broader Mission and a New Energy Graduate Group

DAVIS, CALIF.  December 08, 2017 – After 10 years of accelerating the development and commercialization of energy efficient solutions and training future leaders in energy efficiency, the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center has become an institute.

The institute, now named the Energy and Efficiency Institute, will help bring together the best minds across the university, state, nation, and world to realize sustainable energy solutions and strengthen UC Davis’ leadership role in energy research, education, and engagement. This new name comes with two significant additions:

  • A broader mandate to accelerate sustainable energy systems. The Institute’s roots have been, and always will be, focused on energy efficiency, but this important resource is one critical piece of a larger set of solutions needed to meet key energy goals. The Institute will continue to advance energy efficiency solutions, while also exploring integration with additional areas, such as demand response, energy management and storage, distributed generation and renewable energy, behavior interventions and economics.
  • Hosting the new UC Davis Energy Graduate Group (EGG). Launched in 2017, EGG offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in energy systems and is designed to provide the interdisciplinary training required to tackle the energy challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

Institute Will Help Solve Important Energy Challenges

“We have grown significantly over the last decade and are eager to build on our successes, given a rapidly changing energy landscape,” said UC Davis Professor Mark Modera, recently appointed interim faculty director for the Institute. “There is a need right now for innovative technologies, solutions and policies that will help shape our energy system into a safe, reliable, cost-competitive, equitable and clean societal resource. We look forward to playing a vital leadership role through our research, education, partnerships, and engagement strategies.”

The Institute has defined four important ongoing goals:

  • Empower researchers to accelerate innovation by providing essential services that support collaboration, integration, and demonstration.
  • Solve evolving, critical energy-related problems with speed and scale through partnerships with private- and public-sector stakeholders.
  • Spark action through education by creating dynamic learning opportunities on campus and beyond.
  • Extend the Institute’s reach globally by inspiring engagement through effective communication with diverse audiences.

Building on the Success of the Energy Efficiency Center

The Institute builds on the success of the Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) and its roots in energy efficiency technology commercialization. The EEC was established in 2006 with a challenge grant from the California Clean Energy Fund. It was the first university-based energy efficiency center in the United States. Since its inception, it has built a strong program through its four affiliated research centers: the California Lighting Technology Center, the Western Cooling Efficiency Center, the Center for Water–Energy Efficiency, and the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center. It has also established robust global impact efforts, collaborators, and research and education initiatives.

The EEC has leveraged a VIP Board of Advisors and collaborative industry and agency partnerships to drive new solutions, guide the development of West Village at UC Davis–the first planned Zero Net Energy community in the country–and train thousands of students and energy professionals at UC Davis and beyond.

“The EEC has vindicated the ambitious vision of its founders,” said Ralph Cavanagh, Co-Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Chair of the Institute’s Board of Advisors. “It has brought together leaders in academia, industry and the investment community to advance innovation in energy efficiency and the growing need for a trained labor force. It has also helped reinforce California’s standing as a national and international leader in energy efficiency technologies and best practices that benefit both the environment and the economy.”

UC Davis is a Global Leader in Energy

With the growth of the EEC and its transition to an institute, the development of a strong coalition of over 50 energy-related faculty from multiple disciplines, and prominent energy initiatives on campus, including the new energy graduate program, UC Davis has become a global leader in energy.

“The Institute serves as a hub for the university’s energy-related efforts, leveraging our substantial strengths in lighting, HVAC systems, buildings, water, agriculture and food production, renewable energy siting, biofuels, sustainable transportation, fuel cells, batteries and energy storage, behavioral economics, life sciences, health and well-being, and human and community development,” stated Cameron Carter, interim vice chancellor for the Office of Research, which houses the institute. “We expect UC Davis to continue its success in driving the development and commercialization of critical energy solutions in the Sacramento region, across California, the nation, and the world.”

Media resources

View and download related photos

Media contact

Alicia Loge, UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute, 530-302-5686, asloge@ucdavis.edu


New Study: Water Savings Program Results in Significant Energy Efficiency

Households that conserve water through home water reports will be pleased to learn that they may be saving money on another utility bill. A new study, Spillovers from Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Water and Energy Use, shows that when consumers are informed of their water consumption rates, not only do they conserve that resource, they become more energy efficient, as well.

In a first-of-its-kind study using a randomized controlled trial, researchers determined that programs that encourage consumers to conserve one resource end up reducing the use of other resources– a phenomenon referred to as a behavioral spillover. Using high frequency water- and electricity-use data to investigate the effects of home water reports on patterns of electricity use, researchers found that consumers saved as much as 1.5 to 2 percent of their expected electricity consumption in the summer months. This finding is novel not only because it shows that water conservation programs affect energy use, but also because the magnitude of the savings rivals that of the deployment of popular home energy reports that are focused exclusively on electricity efficiency.

“Some of the energy savings can be attributed directly to consumers’ actions to save water such as doing one less load of laundry or fewer uses of their dishwasher weekly,” said Katrina Jessoe, Faculty Affiliate of The E2e Project and Associate Professor at University of California, Davis. “But, as much as 75 percent of the energy savings we found is coming simply from consumer’s exposure to personalized water usage reports that may have resulted in people paying more attention to all of their utility bills.” In great news for grid operators, researchers also found that households participating in the water saving program tended to conserve energy between 3PM and 7PM in the summer, a timeframe that includes peak electricity demand hours both for residences in the study and the electric grid.

“The results point to the significant savings that can be gained if more utilities considered costsharing and collaborating on their conservation programs across resource types such as water and electricity,” said Gabriel Lade, Assistant Professor at Iowa State University. “When both the water and electricity savings are considered together, the cost to implement these programs becomes much more affordable.”

Researchers analyzed hourly water- and energy-consumption data and household attribute information from approximately 4,500 households randomly selected from a set of more than 7,300 households in Burbank, California.

This study was one of three that won The E2e Project’s 2016 Energy Efficiency Research Design Competition, funded by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis and Iowa State University.

Read the full working paper.

Read the policy brief.

To interview one of the authors, contact Jessica Lubetsky at Jessica_Lubetsky@berkeley.edu.