UC Davis

2016 UC Solar Research Symposium

The University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) is pleased to invite you to this year's UC Solar Research Symposium.

2016 UC Solar Research Symposium
Friday, October 7th, 2016, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm 
The University of California, Davis 
Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center 
530 Alumni Lane 
Davis, CA  95616

Speakers include:

Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State 

David Hochschild, Commissioner, California Energy Commission (CEC) 

Howard Branz, Founder and Principal, Branz Technology Partners LLC 

David Gelbaum, CEO, Entech Solar 

Hamid Abbasi, Senior Technical Staff, Gas Technology Institute (GTI) 

David Phillips, Associate Vice President for Energy and Sustainability, UC Office of the President (UCOP) 

Roland Winston, UC Solar Director and Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Natural Sciences, UC Merced 

Umesh Mishra, UC Solar Co-Director and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Santa Barbara 

Matthew Law, UC Solar Co-Director and Director of the Center for Solar Energy, UC Irvine 

Alfredo Martinez-Morales, UC Solar Co-Director and Managing Director of the Southern California-Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE), 
UC Riverside 

You can register now by going to: http://ucsolar.org/2016-solar-symposium

As always, the event is open to the public and there is no charge to attend. 

About UC Solar

The University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar) is a multi-campus research institute made up of faculty and students from the University of California’s Merced, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Davis, San Diego, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Irvine and Los Angeles campuses. Headquartered at UC Merced, UC Solar develops innovative technologies that make solar energy systems more efficient, more affordable, and easier to integrate. In addition, UC solar educates and develops tomorrow’s solar energy leaders and entrepreneurs.

A different kind of March Madness

March Madness is usually associated with college basketball, but this year it also refers to the Sustainable 16 - campuses that are being honored for their environmental awareness.

Environmental software provider Enviance, Inc. and Environmental Leader said the 16 universities "exemplify excellence in environmental academics," according to this press release from Enviance. The campuses are vying to be "National Champion" in the first-ever March Madness Tournament for Environmental Studies. To qualify, they filled out a survey detailing their credentials, which was then evaluated by a panel of expert judges.

Two California schools - University of California, Davis, and Humboldt State University - are among the 16. Here and here are ways the two campuses are leading the green charge. However, they are hardly alone. This special edition from CSU Leader outlines how the California State University system is helping train the green workforce. And here is an update from the UC system.

Corporations also are getting into the act, creating sustainability departments (green teams) and pledging to reduce their carbon footprints. And then there is the military: The Department of Defense is swiftly greening up its act, in part because its dependence upon oil is deemed a security risk and because going green saves lives and money. Read more here, here and here.

Like many initiatives, the green movement will grow in fits and starts, influenced by politics and economics. Still, the cost of renewable energy such as solar is dropping so fast that parity with fossil fuels is within reach, and governments in the western U.S. have unified support of green jobs, according to this post.

How will higher gas prices and the specter of climate change fit into all this? That's something that I, a resident of California's Central Valley, would love to know. The Valley is a main character in climate expert Heidi Cullen's book, "The Weather of the Future. You think the Valley is hot and dry and has bad air quality now....

Today's young adults have a lot on their plate, but they also know they have to lead. As my favorite environmental rap superhero from Cal Poly told us: "We are at the point in time where we are on top of a mountain. If we continue our path, we will fall down and kill the earth. If we rethink our path, we can safely travel back down the mountain..."

Photos: Humboldt State University by Humboldt.edu

Greenhouse at UC Davis environmental garden by UC Davis

UC Davis launches 'green' degree program

This fall the University of California, Davis, plans to launch an undergraduate major focused on agricultural sustainability.

The official title of the bachelor of science degree will be "Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems," and officials say it will "provide students with a thorough understanding of the many issues facing modern farming and food systems, including production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management."

The green component is the emphasis on social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture and food.

“This is an exciting addition to the college that reflects a change in how we think about food and agriculture,” says Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, in a statement. “Students will gain a broad perspective of what it takes to put dinner on the table in an era of greater demand and fewer resources.”

Nine faculty members from eight departments are affiliated with the new degree program.

The major is new, but UC Davis has been covering the subject at its student farm for more than 35 years, officials say.

Continuing students already have begun transferring into the major. Freshmen and transfer students will be able to apply starting in November.

Photo: Courtesy UC Davis.

UC Davis Sets Ambitious Lighting Efficiency Goals

Lighting accounts for about 25% of all electrical use in California. With that in mind, University of California, Davis, plans to cut its lighting energy usage 60% or more by 2015.

It makes sense that UC Davis would set such an ambitious goal. After all, it is home to the California Lighting Technology Center, which develops energy-efficient lighting systems.

The objective, program officials say, is to be a model for
"virtually anyone who uses electric lights in California." In other words, everyone.

Many many campuses and state and national agencies are already using innovations developed by UC Davis, according to this press release.

The lighting project at Davis will cost about $39 million, about $4 million of which will come from the California Statewide Energy Partnership Program. The remaining $35 million will be paid through the estimated $3 million per year in cost savings. At that rate, the payback will be about 11.6 years.

Experts say that upgrades and retrofits are the most cost-effective and fastest way to cut energy bills. The upfront costs are less and properties with energy improvements are more valuable and often sell faster than comparable buildings without the advancements.

Certainly, that is true in the San Joaquin Valley, where power bills run high, incomes run low and a reduction in energy costs can lead to significant monetary savings. Energy efficiency also is a key component of Gov-elect Jerry Brown's job-creation plan.