UC Davis, Home of CTLC, Named Nation’s Coolest School
Sierra magazine has named the University of California, Davis – home of the California Lighting Technology Center – the nation’s “Coolest School” for its integrated efforts to address climate change and operate sustainably.
The 5,300-acre campus, internationally acclaimed for its research in environmental sciences, ranked No. 1 among the 96 top colleges and universities surveyed.
“At UC Davis, sustainability is one of our core values,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “I am very proud of the students, faculty and staff who have worked so hard to make this achievement possible and to invest in a more sustainable future for our campus.”
In bestowing the “Coolest School” ranking, the Sierra Club’s official publication praised UC Davis for establishing rigorous green purchasing standards; diverting nearly 70 percent of campus trash from landfills; and offering an extensive transportation system that includes the student-run Unitrans bus service, which serves the campus and adjoining city with 49 natural-gas-powered buses that carry 21,000 riders a day, 42 miles of bike paths and more than 20,000 bicycle parking spaces.
A $39 million Smart Lighting Initiative is on track to reduce campus electrical use by 60 percent by 2015, saving $3 million on the annual electricity bill. UC Davis Smart Lighting projects are based on innovations developed or refined by the campus’s California Lighting Technology Center and implemented by UC Davis Facilities Management. Many of these technologies were developed in partnership with the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program.
As part of the initiative, UC Davis became the first campus in the nation to introduce adaptive, networked exterior lighting, a project that alone will save $100,000 annually in electricity costs. “UC Davis’s campus-wide installation of adaptive lighting has played a key role in the university’s ability to support growth on campus while improving sustainability,” said Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center (CTLC) and the Rosenfeld Chair in Energy Efficiency at UC Davis.
This summer the university unveiled one of the most advanced outdoor lighting systems in the country, a roughly $1 million network of “smart” lights that talk to each other and adapt to their environment. The new outdoor lights promise to save the university $100,000 a year on electricity, shrink its carbon footprint and make it a safer place after dark.
“Adaptive lighting means having the right levels when you need them,” said Keith Graeber, director of engineering at the CTLC. “It’s safe, secure and efficient. It’s better lighting.” Adaptive lighting adjusts light levels to suit activity levels, using such tools as occupancy sensors and multilevel lighting. The new UC Davis project wirelessly connects more than 1,400 energy efficient lights along pathways and roadways to a main control area, so that lights that once operated in solitude are now “talking” to each other as part of a seamless web.
The lighting can be scheduled and adjusted for increased or decreased levels of activity, such as during sporting events, or to guide pedestrians along preferred routes. The system senses occupants, whether on foot, bicycle or automobile, predicts their direction of travel, and lights the path ahead. The smart network also senses when areas are vacant, then dims lights enough to save energy and reduce light pollution, without compromising safety.
The projects have included upgraded fixtures in campus parking structures, and smart lighting projects in administrative offices, Shields Library, various residence halls, classrooms and bathrooms.
The California Strategic Energy Partnership Program provided $4 million to help fund the initiative. The balance will be paid for through annual energy savings.
“I am so proud that UC Davis and CLTC are partnering on finding solutions to critical issues of energy conservation,” said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, which encompasses Siminovitch’s Department of Design. “The innovations tested here will make a huge difference.”
A spectrum of sustainability
UC Davis has also established itself as a leader in environmental sustainability through:
- A Climate Action Plan that has reduced campus greenhouse gas emissions below year 2000 levels and expects to reach year 1990 levels by 2020.
- Planning that helps 85 percent of students and 46 percent of employees to use sustainable transportation (walking, bicycling, carpooling, riding a bus or taking a train) as their primary means of commuting to and getting around on campus.
- Aggressive recycling, composting and reuse efforts that in 2011 prevented 64 percent of campus waste from entering landfills annually. Aggie Stadium has won the EPA’s Wastewise Game Day Challenge diversion rate championship for the past 2 years. In 2011, the stadium diverted more than 93 percent of its waste on challenge day. Throughout the year, the stadium prevents about 80 percent of its waste from entering landfills.
- The campus spends more than 20 percent of its $5.6 million food budget for residential dining services on local products, buys organic items such as poultry and grains, and sources olive oil and tomatoes from campus farms.
Visitors to campus can take a self-guided tour of these and other sustainability highlights by downloading a map or obtaining a print version on campus. A website, Sustainable 2nd Century, launched in 2009 to celebrate UC Davis’ first 100 years, also catalogues sustainable achievements.
In another major initiative, UC Davis is taking the principles of its arboretum – ranked one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the U.S. by Stylist Home – to transition the 900-acre central campus into a public garden that features sustainable maintenance practices and native plants.
Four UC Davis building complexes are certified LEED Platinum, the highest ranking awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and more than any other UC campus. Among them is the world’s first LEED Platinum winery, brewery and food processing facility, in which a new generation of students is learning to produce fine wine, beer and food using less water and electricity. When the Graduate School of Management’s Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., Hall and adjacent conference center earned LEED Platinum, it became the first business school in California to achieve the ranking. Also certified LEED Platinum are the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Gladys Valley Hall and the Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
- UC Davis research informs state water, transportation, lighting, construction, and air-quality policies, which often influence national policy.
- UC Davis is the home base of Andrew Frank, hailed as the “father of the plug-in hybrid.” The longtime professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering built the first commercially viable plug-in hybrid.
“I’m going into my senior year, and for the past few years, I’ve seen UC Davis grow in efforts to put sustainably grown food and energy measures on campus,“ said UC Davis student Tessa Artale, director of the Campus Center for the Environment. “Not only at the administrative level, but at the student level, I’ve seen a commitment to making UC Davis a model for green universities. At UC Davis, you can take a class about sustainability, you can go on a field trip with the professor, join a club, get involved in the Student Farm. Sustainability is a really important topic, and UC Davis is a good place to learn about it.”
UC Davis drew international attention for its commitment to sustainability last fall, when it officially opened the doors to UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero-net-energy community. The 130-acre development, which will house about 3,000 students, faculty and staff, is designed to generate as much electricity as it uses over the course of a year.
Sierra Magazine’s top 10 schools of 2012
- University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.)
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
- Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
- University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
- University of Connecticut (Hartford, Conn.)
- University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)
- Duke University (Durham, N.C.)
- Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)
- University of California, Irvine (Irvine, Calif)
- Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.)
“Over the past 6 years, Sierra has been privileged to connect with and learn from traditional institutions evolving in nontraditional ways,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief. “With their ever-growing emphasis on environmental responsibility, these schools are channeling the enthusiasm of their students, who consistently cite climate disruption and other environmental issues as the most serious challenges their generation must confront, while demonstrating leadership for other civic institutions.”
The California Lighting Technology Center‘s mission is to stimulate, facilitate, and accelerate the development and commercialization of energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies. CLTC offers energy-efficient lighting technology development and demonstrations, as well as outreach and education activities in partnership with utilities, lighting manufacturers, end users, builders, designers, researchers, academics, and government agencies.
As a demonstration and education facility, CLTC helps to establish key market connections by providing practitioners the hands-on opportunity to learn about energy-efficient lighting technologies and lighting design approaches. Furthermore, CLTC coordinates outreach and support efforts with existing utility-based energy centers, offering tours, demonstration materials, and technical assistance in the adoption of emerging technologies.
About UC Davis
For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $684 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.