Are Southern California students and teachers breathing clean air?

The air purifier in teacher Andres’ classroom at MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana was installed in 2021. But the first time the light went red no new filters could be found, a result of supply chain woes. Now, about two months after installing a replacement, the warning signal is back.

Andres, a sixth-grade math teacher who’s taught in the same class, Room 7, for 30 years, said the air problem isn’t just about COVID-19.

“We have mold issues,” she said. “There are issues like this all over the county. Some of these schools are old.

“Teachers just want to know that the air quality is good,” she added.

The issue isn’t trivial, or misunderstood. Studies have linked dirty air inside of schools — particularly in communities with dirty air outside of schools — to a variety of health conditions and learning delays. It’s also known that a proven, cost-effective way to clean up school air is to improve a school’s ventilation system.

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UC Davis Energy News – February 2023

Energy News January 2023

Achieving Zero Emissions with More Mobility and Less Mining

Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions in the United States– making the sector crucial to decarbonize quickly to limit the climate crisis. States like New York and California banned the sale of gas cars by 2035 and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act made major federal investments in electrifying transportation. As a result, US consumers are embracing electric vehicles (EVs), with over half of the nation’s car sales predicted to be electric by 2030. This is a critical juncture. Decisions made now will affect the speed of decarbonization and the mobility of millions. Zero emissions transportation will also see the transformation of global supply chains, with implications for climate, environmental, and Indigenous justice beyond US borders.

A crucial aspect of electrified transportation is new demand for metals, and specifically the most non-replaceable metal for EV batteries– lithium. If today’s demand for EVs is projected to 2050, the lithium requirements of the US EV market alone in 2050 would require triple the amount of lithium currently produced for the entire global market. This boom in demand would be met by the expansion of mining.

[Read More]

abstract, multi-colored grid painting

Moving Forward on Grid-Friendly Campuses

With over 150 public college and university campuses in California, there is significant potential to reduce statewide peak electrical demand and the need for carbon-intensive backup generation. The UC Office of the President (UCoP) encouraged EEI to submit a $10 million proposal that will create grid friendly campuses across California.  Alan Meier and Sarah Outcault, along with a 25-person team from colleges and universities around California, will match world-renowned UC experts on advanced controls with campus facility staff who can ground them in real-world implementation constraints.  At the same time, the project will develop training resources for higher education institutions across California to prepare students for careers in a world with a highly dynamic grid.

Aerosol spray nozzle in unfinished home

Aerosol Sealing of Existing Residences

WCEC’s novel method that automates the process of sealing building leaks has now been realized as a retrofit for existing buildings. Research for the DOE Building America project in collaboration with the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment demonstrated the aerosol sealing approach on 34 existing homes in California and the Midwest. Overall, the project produced average leakage reductions of 53% and 64% for California homes and apartment units respectively, and 42% and 40% reductions for Midwest homes and apartment units.

This project also investigated a new strategy for addressing occupied homes. In this case, the nozzles are placed in the attic while setting the blower fan to negatively pressurize the space. WCEC tested this method on three townhouse apartments with very positive results showing the ability to seal over half of the leakage in all three cases. The attic sealing approach does not require extensive preparation of the home since the aerosol is produced in the attic space. This means the process no longer needs to spend valuable time either moving furniture out or placing protective plastic sheets on surfaces–significantly reducing the cost of total operation. WCEC is further developing this approach through work with the CalNEXT program which will look at applying the process to crawlspaces as well.

[Read the Conference Paper]

UC Davis Energy News – January 2023

Energy News January 2023

CLTC Researches Residential Energy & Automation (REA) Systems

The CLTC will collaborate with California’s statewide electric emerging technologies program, CalNext on REA systems.

REA systems combine home-energy monitoring features with automated appliance management and control of distributed energy resources (DER) such as electric vehicle (EV) chargers, rooftop solar panels, and stationary battery energy storage (BES).

These new systems have significant potential to advance residential energy efficiency and peak demand reductions. Other benefits include residential load flexibility in the form of complete islanding or single family homes, which can remove significant load from the grid, and discharging of stationary and mobile BES (via bidirectional chargers), which can add capacity back.

[Learn more] about how CLTC works to optimize residential energy and automation systems.

Meg Slattery at Salton Sea

Balancing a Battery-Powered Future With Energy Justice

As a new graduate student embarking on a master’s degree at the UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute in 2018, Meg Slattery was struck by how centrally batteries – particularly the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in electric cars – figured into California’s decarbonization strategy.

[Read the Article]

2023 ASHRAE Winter Conference Banner

Western Cooling Efficiency Center Researchers are Presenting Three Papers at This Year’s ASHRAE Conference in Georgia

Sunday, February 5th, Paper Session 3: WCEC’s Emily Fricke will present a paper (co-authored by Vinod Narayanan, Ph.D.) on System-Level Performance Modeling of a Sub-Wet Bulb Evaporative Chiller Coupled to a Microchannel Polymer Heat Exchanger for Residential Cooling Applications.

Monday, February 6th, Paper Session 10:  Presenting Author Subhrajit Chakraborty, P.E., of WCEC (co-authored by Mazen Daher, and Theresa Pistochini, P.E.) will discuss the Impacts from Electrification of Space Heating in Residences and Offices: A Comprehensive Study of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Combustion and Leaks across the United States.   

Tuesday, February 7th, Paper Session 19: Caton Mande co-authored this paper on Supervisory Multi-Objective Economic Model Predictive Control for Heat Pump Water Heaters for Cost and Carbon Optimization.

Energy and Buildings Journal Cover

New Published Paper by WCEC that Experimentally and Numerically Characterizes the Performance of a Novel Cooling and Heat Recovery System

Authors Subhrajit Chakraborty, David Vernon, Apoorva Jha and Vinod Narayanan analyze the potential of utilizing a novel indirect evaporative cooler (IEC) that can efficiently cool building ventilation air in the hot summer months, and be used as a heat recovery ventilator in winter months. Their laboratory testing of this equipment showed significant energy savings potential, and validated their IEC physics-based model. Ultimately, this will lead to accurate modeling of this energy saving technology over a variety of buildings and climates. [Read More]

UC Davis Energy News – November 2022

EEI Board of Directors 2022

Recently Published Conference Papers from the Western Cooling Efficiency Center

WCEC published three papers for the Summer Study ACEEE Conference. The first paper seeks to find an optimized method for controlling heat pump water heating load flexibility that will help stabilize the electrical grid and minimize operating costs to end-users.

The second paper tests a multi-function heat pump that can utilize the waste heat generated from air cooling to heat up hot water.  

The third paper demonstrates the air leakage reductions achieved with an aerosol-based sealing technology as a retrofit to existing homes.

GEM2022 banner

Watch Presentations From This Year’s Global Energy Managers Workshop

Thank you to all those who attended the UC Davis Global Energy Managers Workshop! 
We hope you enjoyed the event. For those who missed it, workshop recordings and presentation slides can now be found on our website. We hope to see you next year!

[Workshop Webpage]

CalFlexHub Symposium graphic on December 6 & 7

Free Online Event Exploring Innovations in Load Flexibility Across California – Dec. 6 & 7

Come connect with CalFlexHub’s ecosystem of multidisciplinary team of experts from many sectors—including state agencies, industry, utilities, academia, manufacturers, and non-profits—for the first annual CalFlexHub Symposium! This year’s Symposium will showcase CalFlexHub’s innovators and portfolio of projects, amplify solution-centered conversations with government and industry leaders in the space, and provide deep-dive opportunities for attendee collaboration and networking.

. [Register Now]

Energy Seminar Series graphic

Energy Seminar Series

Join us online for our Energy Seminar Series. Each week, these seminars feature an expert in specific energy related topics.

Can’t make it live? [Watch the latest recorded seminars]


Assistant or Associate Professor in Sustainable Systems School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan [Apply here]

UC Davis Energy News – October 2022

photo of identical room with different lighting temperatures
The UC Davis Global Energy Managers Workshop is less than a week away!
This Workshop hosts facility managers, students, and faculty from around the world to share best practices in campus energy management, carbon reduction strategies and community engagement. [View agenda and meet our speakers]
CalNEXT logo

Market Transformation Research Program Published Article Featured in Nature Energy


The Market Transformation Research Program team’s published article on building lower-carbon affordable housing was recently featured in Nature Energy. [Learn More]

HVAC system on a roof

WCEC Expands Energy Product Evaluations Hub website with New Products and Categories


Large commercial and institutional customers face uncertainty with performance and energy cost savings associated with purchasing advanced energy efficiency and energy storage products. The Product Evaluation Hub was created to serve as a third-party resource with application guidance, product-specific evaluations and side-by-side product comparisons to assist consumers in making informed buying decisions. [View the latest products]

photo of ASME Certificate of Recognition

Energy Seminar Series


Join us online for our Energy Seminar Series. Each week, these seminars feature an expert in specific energy related topics.

Can’t make it live? [Watch the latest recorded seminars]


Assistant or Associate Professor in Sustainable Systems School for Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan
[Apply here]

UC Davis Energy News – September 2022

photo of identical room with different lighting temperatures
UC Davis welcomed its sixth class of 14 Energy Graduate Group students. During their first week on campus, students participated in a PowerTrip orientation program to learn about the wide variety of energy-related research and policy work being conducted at UC Davis and in the Sacramento/Bay area through discussions with researchers and leaders from industry, government, public interest groups, and academia. PowerTrip is made possible by the generous support of individual donors.
[Read the student blogs]
CalNEXT logo

WCEC Published Article on the Cover of ASHRAE Journal 


Understanding refrigerant emissions from air-conditioning (AC) equipment is critical for accurately estimating its global warming impacts. This month’s ASHRAE cover article, by WCEC researchers, describes development of a primary data collection method to estimate average refrigerant emission rates of R-22 and R-410A in AC equipment by examining historical refrigerant used relative to the initial refrigerant charge of the AC equipment inventory. [Learn More]
HVAC system on a roof

CLTC Receives Funding to Demonstrate V2B Technologies for Resilient Backup Power

The California Lighting Technology Center is expanding its research capacity to lead a new effort demonstrating vehicle-to-building (V2B) mobile battery energy storage as emergency power backup at a Caltrans’ facility in Oakland, California.

This $5.3M project is funded with $3M from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge Program (EPIC) Program and $2.3M in match funds from project partners
[Learn More]
photo of ASME Certificate of Recognition

Fighting Climate Change with Heat Pumps

Western Cooling Efficiency Center research featured in an article by the Energy Institute at Haas. Replacing your home HVAC system with a new heat pump reduces carbon emissions significantly. But when should you make the change? [Read Article]

Cover of Energy Policy Journal

Energy Seminar Series

Join us online for our Energy Seminar Series. Each week, these seminars feature an expert in specific energy related topics.
Fridays, at 10:30am – 11:50am PST 
[Learn More]


Sempra Endowment Chair 
UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute 
Application Deadline: 11/30/202 
[Apply Here]  

UC Davis Energy News – August 2022

EEI Board of Directors 2022
ABC7 News Features Western Cooling Efficiency Center Research
With intense hot weather in many places around the state, abc7 News visited the Western Cooling Efficiency Center to learn about some of the innovative technologies that we are developing and testing to address climate change and energy consumption during peak use periods. [Watch Now]
Headshot of Ben Finkelor

Applications Open–Environmental Justice Leaders in Residence Program

We invite community organizers, advocates, and practitioners from across the country to apply to the UC Davis Environmental Justice Leaders in Residence Program. EJ leaders from across the country will work on a project of benefit to their community in partnership with researchers. Participants will network with elected officials, policymakers, and industry leaders. Apply by September 9th. [Learn More]
Lighting Laboratory in Mexico

Vinod Narayan Awarded UC Davis Science Translation and Innovation Research Grant

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor and Director of the Western Cooling Efficiency Center Vinod Narayan received a UC Davis Science Translation and Innovative Research grant for his team’s research on High-Efficiency Polymer Heat Exchangers for a Low Carbon Built Environment. The grant will fund the implementation of improvements on their proof-of-concept model for a heat exchange system capable of reducing electricity consumption and carbon emissions related to the cooling and heating of buildings. [Learn More]
Denmark Consulate General group photo

Student Wins Scholarship & Researchers Present at Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Three Western Cooling Efficiency Center researchers presented their work at the 2022 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings hosted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Additionally, Energy Graduate Group student Ashley DePew received the Linda Latham scholarship. [Learn More]
GreenMetric logo

UC Davis and Denmark Energy Leaders Renew Partnership

Denmark and California are recognized world leaders in renewable energy production, electrification, and sustainability. Energy Graduate Group student Brianna Dooley and UC Davis’ Program for International Energy Technologies/D-Lab director Kurt Kornbluth visited Danish partners to reignite the pre-pandemic faculty and student renewable energy-focused exchange, with hopes to leverage the synergies of top institutions in both regions to address global climate and energy challenges.
Image of R-466A Case Study

Jeremy Munday Awarded Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Grant

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Jeremy Munday received a $2.2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for his research in understanding–and possibly manipulating–the quantum-level forces that affect microtechnology and nanotechnology. The project may have implications for further developments in devices like smartphones, computers, lasers, and even vehicle airbags by advancing new forms of energy harnessed at the quantum level. [Read Article]
Energy Equity Seminar Series logo

Article Explores Feasibility of Recycled Content Standards for EV Lithium-Ion Batteries in the U.S

Lithium-ion battery recycling can reduce the life cycle environmental impacts of electric vehicles and mitigate domestic supply chain shortages. In an article published in Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Energy Graduate Group professor Alissa Kendall and Ph.D students Jessica Dunn and Meg Slattery conducted a feasibility analysis for battery recycled content standards in the US, which has the world’s third largest EV market but no policies for recycling of batteries at their end-of-life. [Read Article]

Upcoming Events

Fall Energy Seminar Series
Subin DeVar, Sustainable Economies Law Center
Friday, September 23 at 10:30 am PST
Fall Energy Seminar Series
Francesca Toma, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Friday, September 30 at 10:30 am PST
Global Energy Managers Workshop
Thursday, November 3
Stay Tuned for Additional Details


Apply by September 9, 2022
Student Research Engineer
UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center
UC Davis Student Apply Via Handshake (Job #6380813)
UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center
Apply by September 2, 2022 (Job #6380813)

UC Davis Energy News – July 2022

photo of identical room with different lighting temperatures
UC Davis Launches New Color Lab at the California Lighting Technology Center
The California Lighting Technology Center is establishing “The Color Lab” in collaboration with the Center for Mind and Brain to explore the impact of discrete color spectra on stress, mood, and alertness. The Color Lab will be available to all UC Davis researchers and partners interested in studying the interactions between discrete spectra and humans. [Learn More]
CalNEXT logo

UC Davis Joins CalNEXT Initiative


We are excited to be part of the CalNEXT partner team. This program is a statewide initiative to support new, big ideas to help California reach its decarbonization goals. In the next six years, CalNEXT aims to support the implementation of 170 projects that demonstrate the scalability and impacts of emerging electric technologies that have the potential to make significant impacts within the CA investor-owned utility energy efficiency portfolios. [Learn More]
HVAC system on a roof

Field Demonstration of a Packaged Heat Pump with Indirect Evaporative Cooling


In a new report, researchers compare the performance of a packaged rooftop unit (RTU) that combines a heat pump with an indirect-direct evaporative cooling system to the performance of a baseline RTU with gas heat and electric air conditioning. The new technology was able to maintain thermal comfort, increase outside air for human health and performance, eliminate natural gas combustion for heating, and save electricity, even when including the electricity used for heating. [Read the Report]
photo of ASME Certificate of Recognition

Ines-Noelly Tanos Receives Outstanding Student Paper Award


Congratulations to Ines-Noelly Tanos, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, who won the first Outstanding Student Paper Award at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ International Conference on Energy Sustainability for her article ‘An additively-manufactured molten salt-to-supercritical carbon di-oxide primary heat exchanger for solar thermal power generation – Design and techno-economic performance.’ [Learn More]
Cover of Energy Policy Journal

Assessing Barriers to Adoption of Residential Distributed Energy Resources


Distributed energy resources (DERs), such as energy efficiency, demand response, and home solar, are key to reducing the carbon intensity of residential buildings and combating the climate crisis. In a newly published article in Energy Policy, Institute researchers adapted Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory to develop an assessment tool for technology characteristics influencing the adoption of different DERs. [Read Article]


Student Research Engineer
UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center
UC Davis Student Apply Via Handshake (Job #6380813)

Do DIY air filters work against California wildfire smoke? What to know about cost and safety

Do-it-yourself air filters are safe, effective and can be used to protect your lungs from California wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke is harmful and can stretch hundreds of miles. The smoke from the 2021 Dixie Fire in California was felt as far as Denver, The New York Times reported. Here are two safe options, according to the University of California, Davis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

Good air filters can remove dangerous smoke particles from your home. According to the California Air Resources Board, indoor air cleaners help filter out small particulate matter that can cause health concerns.

Wildfire smoke produces harmful air pollutants that can aggravate existing health problems and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The resource board recommends using a certified air cleaner whenever the air quality index is at an unhealthy level, which you can check at The agency also says if a board-certified commercial system is not an option for your home, a DIY is an OK alternative.

“These temporary air cleaners should be used with extreme caution, and only if other air cleaning options are unavailable,” the board writes on its website. It says never leave the device unattended and only use box fans manufactured in the last 10 years (after 2012), as those fans “will have a fused plug, which will prevent electrical fires if the device is knocked over.”

Read More