Electric Space Conditioning

Climate Neutrality and Sustainability

UC Davis is leading the way among the 10 campuses within the University of California, proactively making efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. Eight years ago, UC Davis developed the 2009-2010 Climate Action Plan—a roadmap for the journey toward a more sustainable future—which is now helping to achieve the campus’ part in the University of California’s goals. The plan analyzes campus issues around greenhouse gas emissions reductions, energy use, and energy sourcing.


“UC has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025, becoming the first major university to accomplish this achievement.”


Key Activities

Dedicated a 16.3 MW Large Solar Power Plant

In November 2015, UC Davis formally dedicated a 16.3 MW large solar power plant, the largest known of any university campus, which yearly will generate approximately 33 million kilowatt-hours for the campus, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 14,000 metric tons.

Participated in the Cool Campus Challenge

In fall 2015, UC Davis participated in the Cool Campus Challenge—an online pledge campaign that engaged nearly 20,000 staff, students, and faculty in reducing UC’s carbon footprint.

Students Worked on Campus-Based Projects

The Program for International Energy Technologies and the UC Davis Energy Conservation Office worked together to provide students in project-based learning classes with real, campus-based climate neutrality and energy policy projects campus district steam heating to hot water heating, analyzing energy storage options, analyzing potential for ocean wavegenerated energy, and assembling and reviewing complex commuting data for the campus Medical Center


“UC Davis was named the most sustainable university in the world in the 2016 International GreenMetric Global Ranking, a survey of 516 colleges and universities from 74 countries conducted by the University of Indonesia.”


Ranked First in Environmental Sustainability

UC Davis moved up two spots to place first in environmental sustainability in the 2016 international GreenMetric Global Ranking, a survey of more than 500 colleges and universities conducted by the University of Indonesia. The campus also placed eighth in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” 2016 ranking.

Launched Big Idea: Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities

In 2015, UC Davis issued a call to faculty, staff, and students for “big ideas” to serve as the foundation for a second comprehensive fundraising campaign. Interest from across the university was unprecedented with nearly 200 ideas received. The campaign steering committee evaluated these ideas and selected 13 to move forward. Dr. Kurt Kornbluth of the Program for International Energy Technologies is the faculty champion for the Big Idea “Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities.”

No major University in the world has been more visionary in creating a decarbonized society: UC Davis established the first Zero-Net Energy community and leads the world in sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and high-performance building research. Now, using the UC Davis Campus as a “Living Lab”, the Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities (SCSC) initiative will demonstrate how a city-sized institution can grow while fighting climate change. For more information on this initiative, please click here.


“These ideas have the potential to shape the future of UC Davis for generations to come and lead to discoveries that will solve both California and the world's most pressing problems.”

—Shaun Keister, Vice Chancellor, Development and Alumni Relations


For more information, please visit UC Davis Sustainability and the Program for International Energy Technologies.

UC Davis-Mexico Collaboration

In 2014, inspired by Governor Brown’s commitment to a stronger California-Mexico partnership, President Napolitano launched the UC-Mexico Initiative to bring together scholars and leaders from the University of California with those from distinguished sister institutions in Mexico to consider innovate ways to broaden and deepen connections for the benefit of all. Energy was one of the five key topics identified by the Initiative, and an Energy Working Group, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was established in 2015. UC Davis was tasked with leading the working group in Energy Efficiency.

“The purpose of the UC-Mexico Initiative is to think broadly and boldly about the complex issues that affect lives on both sides of the border, and to engage more strategically in educational and research collaborations that involve not only academia, but foundations, corporations, and governments in both the U.S. and Mexico.”

Key Activities

In 2015, UC Davis began focusing on opportunities to generate sustainable energy solutions in Mexico. In 2016, we explored collaborations by hosting and participating in events in Davis, San Francisco, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City. In 2018, UC Davis received three awards from Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER) and its National Council for Science Technology (CONACYT) to work in partnership with Mexican research institutions on energy efficiency research, development, and demonstration.

images of new lighting lab in Mexico

August 2021

The Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) in collaboration with the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) released a new progress report on the new, fully constructed of lighting lab in Mexico, CTI.

Read Report

group photo at CEC

August 2019

Representatives from the University Autónoma de Guadalajara visited California to meet with the California Energy Commission and UC Davis on the topics of telemedicine, energy efficiency, lighting, and viticulture.

group photo with CLTC director

March 2018

UC Davis received three awards from Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER) and its National Council for Science Technology (CONACYT) to work in partnership with Mexican research institutions on energy efficiency research, development, and demonstration. The three projects are investments in capacity building which will help Mexico meet its ambitious clean energy goals.

  • Project 1: UC Davis will work with the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara (UAG) to establish a “sister” lighting application research center for the development of demonstration projects of new lighting systems to improve energy efficiency. Read more about this effort here.
  • Project 2: UC Davis will work with Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM or Tec de Monterrey) to develop a consortium for 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, renewable energy, 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.

group photo in Mexico

November 29-December 1, 2016

UC Davis participated in a collaborative workshop at Casa de la Universidad de California in Mexico City to help accelerate the transition to energy efficient buildings and cities in Mexico. The UC Davis Delegation had six participants representing efficiency opportunities in lighting, HVAC systems, water-energy efficiency, whole building energy audits and retrofits, workforce development, and plug-load efficiency.

book keeping aisle

Week of August 22, 2016

Visited universities in Guadalajara and Monterrey to explore partnerships, especially those regarding the establishment of a sister lighting technology center.

narrow depth of field shot of formal dining setup

August 9, 2016

Hosted dinner for Mexico’s energy regulatory commission (CRE) delegation from Mexico.

CLTC director in Mexico

Week of July 11, 2016

A UC Davis delegation visited regulatory agencies, laboratories, and universities working on sustainable energy in Guadalajara and Mexico City. The main focus of these visits was to explore the potential of establishing a sister lighting technology center.

Golden Gate Bridge at dusk

June 1, 2016

Participated in the Subnational Clean Energy Ministerial event in San Francisco. We met with the Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell and also connected with Sergio Medina Gonazález, now appointed as head of Jalisco’s newly formed Energy Commission.

Mexico flag

May 4, 2016

Hosted visit with Deputy Secretary of Energy Leonardo Beltrán.

close up of people at a conference

March 31-April 1, 2016

Convened a Mexico-California Energy Efficiency Workshop, which included 5 different University of California campuses and labs and 12 different Mexican agencies and universities.

“UC Davis is the Disneyland of energy efficiency for researchers from around the world.”

For more information, please contact Benjamin Finkelor.

Global Impact Efforts

China Center for Energy and Transportation

The China Center for Energy and Transportation (C-CET) is the leading international center for the study of transportation energy activities in China, and the only center of its kind in North America.

students and professor designing lighting testing apparatus

Program for International Energy Technologies and D-Lab

The Program for International Energy Technologies (PIET) and D-Lab seek to accelerate the development and commercialization of low-cost, clean, and efficient technologies worldwide.

mexican flag

UC Davis-Mexico Collaboration

The UC-Mexico Initiative brings together scholars and leaders from the University of California with those from distinguished sister institutions in Mexico to consider innovative ways to broaden and deepen connections for the benefit of all. UC Davis was tasked with leading the working group in Energy Efficiency and has been focusing on opportunities to generate sustainable energy solutions in Mexico.

Collaborators

Davis Energy Economics Program

The UC Davis Davis Energy Economics Program (DEEP) supports economic research on all aspects of the energy industries, spanning fuels markets, energy consumption, electricity regulation and deregulation, vehicle markets, and emissions trading. It provides an intellectual hub through which the Davis energy economics community, industry, and policymakers gather and exchange ideas, research, and information on the challenges and opportunities facing today’s energy sector.

John Muir Institute of the Environment

The UC Davis Muir Institute’s mission is to discover, research, and solve pressing environmental and human health challenges. Their work is motivated by the unrivaled power of collaborative action and a shared, common belief that all people deserve access to clear air, safe drinking water, healthy food and a robust natural environment.

Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship serves as the nexus for entrepreneurship education and research—and as a springboard for entrepreneurial initiatives—on the UC Davis campus. To accomplish this, the Institute brings science, engineering and business students and faculty together with experienced entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders in a highly collaborative environment that blends effective theory with hands-on participation and solution-driven innovation.

Institute of Transportation Studies

The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) is the leading university-based transportation program in the world. It organizes and conducts multidisciplinary research on emerging and important transportation issues, disseminating this research through conferences and scholarly publications, and enhancing the quality and breadth of transportation education.

Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy

The UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy leverages university expertise and engages directly with decision-makers to deliver credible, relevant, and timely information and analysis to inform better energy and environmental policy.

Research Initiatives

Market Transformation Research Program

The Market Transformation Research Program conducts research at the nexus of technology, policy, and human behavior. The team leads research on technology adoption and diffusion from multiple vantage points to capture the complexity of energy transitions. The MTRP’s research focuses on occupant/user experience, stakeholder barriers and opportunities, and market outlook, considering the economic, technical and policy landscape. The team uses a multi-methods research approach, deploying tools from a range of disciplines to capture the depth and breadth of each research topic.

Wild Energy

The Wild Energy Initiative facilitates impartial research and education on interactions between energy development and Earth, including its systems and species, to address exigent sustainability issues. Wild Energy produces basic and actionable research that promotes better understanding of the ecology of energy for human use, including ecological effects, trade-offs, and synergies of energy systems. The Wild Energy Initiative is led by faculty director Dr. Rebecca R. Hernandez and serves as a critical research bridge between the Energy and Efficiency Institute and the Institute of the Environment.

Empower Procurement Product Evaluation Hub

With funding from the California Energy Commission, UC Davis is developing the Empower Procurement Product Evaluation Hub. This Hub will improve adoption rates of distributed energy resources by providing comprehensive product reviews compiled in an on-line Buyer’s Guide targeted to the needs of institutions and their procurement staff. The research team, led by UC Davis, includes Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, UC Berkeley, and Energy Solutions.

Consumer Energy Interfaces (cEnergi) Lab

cEnergi studies the potential for eco-feedback—information about resources and impacts of consumption relayed back to the consumer—to increase consumer awareness, the ability to make informed decisions, and motivation to use resources more responsibly. cEnergi designs and evaluates eco-feedback interfaces in a wide variety of applications, including in-vehicle displays to encourage fuel-efficient driving, smart home technologies that offer feedback and enable demand response, and web tools that promote electric vehicle adoption and lower emissions air travel choices.

Industrial Decarbonization

Industry is responsible for approximately one-third of all energy consumption in the United States, more than any other sector of the economy. UC Davis is working with academic and industry partners to research, identify, develop and demonstrate promising technologies and solutions that improve industrial processes, in particular those that involve heating, cooling, and treating liquids and gases.

Rural Electric Cooperatives

Electric cooperatives serve over 40 million consumers in the United States and have a rich history. The Institute is working with Dr. Keith Taylor, an expert on cooperatives in UC Davis’ Community Regional Development department, to examine how local communities can leverage the institutional structure of cooperative organizations to create local jobs, retain local capital resources, and increase investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

Climate Neutrality and Sustainability

UC Davis is leading the way among the 10 campuses within the University of California, proactively making efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. The UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute is working with Dr. Kurt Kornbluth of the Program for International Energy Technologies on advancing the Leading the Way to Climate Neutrality Initiative. This Initiative builds on the successful track record of partnership among faculty, students, staff and industry to make UC Davis a zero-carbon campus by 2025.

Food-Water-Energy Nexus

As the nation’s largest food processing state, California has many opportunities for recovering both waste heat and water in food processing operations. UC Davis researchers are advancing efforts to understand the interconnections between food-water-energy systems and identify opportunities to improve efficiency in the delivery and use of these critical resources.

Centers

California Lighting Technology Center

Established in 2004

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) stimulates, facilitates, and accelerates the development and commercialization of next-generation, energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies.

Center for Water-Energy Efficiency

Established in 2011

The Center for Water-Energy Efficiency (CWEE) researches, develops, and disseminates efficient technologies and system-based policies for the integrated conservation of water and energy resources. 

Western Cooling Efficiency Center

Established in 2007

The Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) accelerates development and commercialization of efficient heating, cooling, and energy distribution solutions through stakeholder engagement, innovation, R&D, education, and outreach.

Research

Two students cut out with painted splash background

To advance our energy system, the Energy and Efficiency Institute has built a strong research program through its Centers, Education, Global Impact Efforts, Collaborators, and Research Initiatives. The EEI integrates technical and business expertise to drive market-changing energy efficiency solutions.

Our Research Centers

Develops energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies.

Full-scale laboratories for research and development, prototyping, and product testing.

Woman in lighting lab with numerous light bulbs in a line

Develops efficient heating, cooling, and energy distribution solutions.

In-house laboratory with environmental chamber capable of re-creating 95% of California’s hot/dry climates.

students working in lab

Advances water management solutions that save both water and energy resources.

Develops strategies, technologies, and policies.

researcher explaining water filtration apparatus at a winery

Understanding Human Factors

Researcher explaining research over a whiteboard

With over 20 projects and over 30 research papers, the Market Transformation Research Program conducts research at the nexus of technology, policy, and human behavior.

Students are Integral to Our Research Success

group shot of EGG students

We host one of the leading energy focused education programs in the nation.

The Energy Graduate Group (EGG) offers graduate students a world-class interdisciplinary education in energy system studies.

EGG students work directly with faculty and staff to conduct research as part of their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Global Impact Efforts

The Institute is part of an agreement of cooperation between the Consulate General of Denmark and UC Davis to further the development of basic scientific and technological research and graduate and undergraduate education.

The California Lighting Technology Center is collaborating with the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara to establish a lighting technology and design research center known as the Centro de Tecnología de Iluminación (CTI). Funded by the Mexican Ministry of Energy, CTI will accelerate the adoption and development of energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies, and build capacity and training programs for Mexico’s lighting industry.

Using an interdisciplinary approach, the UC Davis D-Lab works with communities to address global challenges in energy, agriculture, and the environment. Students and staff work towards solutions to these challenges through experiential courses, international satellites, global outreach, and
research.