Energy Efficiency Innovations for the 21st Century

Established in 2006, with a challenge grant from the California Clean Energy Fund and Professor Andrew Hargadon as founding director, the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) is the first university-based organization to focus on the transfer of energy saving technology into the marketplace.

The center partners with utility companies, private sector developers and public agencies to accelerate the development and commercialization of energy efficiency technologies in four broad sectors: agriculture and food production, buildings, transportation and, most recently, water efficiency.

Hargadon, who now serves as one of six associate directors of the growing center, traveled to Washington D.C. in May for a two-day summit that included a meeting of the Energy Efficiency Centers’ board of advisors. The diverse board is comprised of key industry, academic, nonprofit, and private sector leaders including Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute; Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy department for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Peter A. Darbee, chairman, CEO and president  of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corporation.

Hargadon described for the board the role and influence of the EEC in a national context. The board was also brought up to speed on the EEC’s accomplishments and major initiatives, including the statewide “Smart Lighting Initiative” to rollout high visibility demonstrations to help speed adoption of energy efficient lighting technology; the Western Cooling Challenge, a partnership program designed to reduce rooftop air conditioner electricity use in the western United States by more than 40 percent; and the latest about plug-in hybrid electric vehicle research.

After the board meeting, Hargadon co-moderated an Energy Efficiency Roundtable in which board members, invited guests and regulators involved in the sector discussed ways to amplify the center’s future impact at both a state and national level. Hargadon also attended a congressional briefing convened by the EEC to help profile the innovative California-based initiatives launched over the past two decades to address energy efficiency and most recently global climate change.

Hargadon, who was promoted to full professor on July 1, also leads the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship. In July the center held its third annual Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy, a five-day intensive program that drew 45 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and science and engineering faculty from major research universities in the U.S. and Denmark to learn how to push their ideas and environmentally sustainable research off the lab bench and into the world. The center will hold its Food and Health Entrepreneurship Academy at UC Davis from February 1-5, 2010.