June 22, 2007
Energy center has big plans for the world
By Sylvia Wright
If a plane had hit Mrak Hall on June 5, the cause of slowing global climate change might have been set back a half century or more.
Gathered there in a conference room for the first board meeting of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center were many of the most influential people in California energy politics and policy:
the top executives of California's three largest energy suppliers;
the president of the California Public Utilities Commission;
UC Davis Professor Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, member of the California Air Resources Board, and architect of Gov. Schwarzenegger's new low-carbon standard for transportation fuels;
the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and
Art Rosenfeld, member of the California Energy Commission, UC professor emeritus and pioneering proponent of energy efficiency.
"Overnight, what were the challenges of the next century have become the challenges of the next decade," said Andrew Hargadon, the founding director of the Energy Efficiency Center, an associate professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and an expert on innovation in business and technology transfer.
"We hope to be a gathering place for all the right parties in accelerating new ventures that advance energy efficiency. We intend to get those parties around the table and get these things going."
At a reception that evening, Schwarznegger's chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, told the Energy Efficiency Center's assembled staff, faculty, students and supporters "how incredibly important you are."
"What you're doing here is the crucible, is the birthplace of where ideas become reality," Kennedy said. "And what you can do through this center is change the world. I am absolutely certain of it."
Kennedy's comments were a satisfying salute to the Energy Efficiency Center's first year of achievements.
The center was established last April in a high-profile event at UC Davis led by Schwarzenegger and Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. It is the world's first university center of excellence in energy efficiency. Its objective is to speed the transfer of new energy-saving products and services into the homes and lives of Californians.
The center's start-up funding of $1 million came from the California Clean Energy Fund, a public benefit corporation dedicated to making equity investments in clean energy companies. UC Davis is matching the CalCEF grant with $1.4 million in operating and research funds, faculty time, and office and laboratory space.
At the June 5 board meeting, Hargadon reported on the first year's successes. They include:
PG&E Corp. pledged $500,000 through the next five years for critical start-up needs such as funding for fellowships to attract and educate outstanding students.
Sempra Energy, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, gave $400,000 to establish the Sempra Energy Chair in Energy Efficiency, and $100,000 to support the EEC Climate Initiative, a series of research activities and workshops related to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, gave $500,000 to fund research at the new UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center. The center intends to substantially increase the use of innovative cooling technologies tailored to California's dry climate.
Other financial supporters gave the Western Cooling Efficiency Center a total of $750,000 and the Energy Efficiency Center a total of $50,000.
The Watt Stopper/Legrand Corp., an international manufacturer of lighting controls, gave $50,000 to the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center to establish the Watt Stopper Graduate Fellowship in Lighting Controls.
Flex Your Power, California's statewide energy-efficiency marketing and outreach campaign, gave one of its annual awards to the California Lighting Technology Center and industry partner Finelite, Inc., for their new LED-based office lighting system.
ENERGY PROGRAM PARTNERS
Many programs at UC Davis are working closely with the Energy Efficiency Center in three areas of emphasis. They and their directors are:
California Lighting Technology Center (Michael Siminovitch); and
Western Cooling Efficiency Center (Dick Bourne).
Institute of Transportation Studies (Daniel Sperling);
Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways Program (Daniel Sperling and Joan Ogden); and
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center (Tom Turrentine).
Agricultural production and food processing
California Biomass Collaborative (Bryan Jenkins);
California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (Sharon Shoemaker);
Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center (James Thompson);
Agricultural Sustainability Institute (Tom Tomich); and
UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (Tom Tomich).
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