Moving UC Davis toward a carbon-neutral future is kind of a big deal. And the construction project that is literally laying the groundwork to help the campus get there is big, too.
In fact, we call it the Big Shift — a multiyear project on the Davis campus to shift to a new source of energy to heat most campus buildings. Instead of using natural gas to make steam, the campus will use electricity to make hot water, which, like steam, will go through heat exchangers to heat the air that circulates in buildings.
Hot water, of course, requires less energy to make than steam. The campus will see additional energy savings, more than 25 percent, by abandoning its aging steam pipelines (some sections are 75 years old) in favor of new lines for hot water.
"The new energy system will not only replace an aging system in need of renewal with a much more efficient system," said Josh Morejohn, a manager in Facilities Management, "but will also build us a pathway to carbon neutrality through the electrification of our heating system, which enables access to renewable energy sources."
Converting to hot water for heating will reduce the university's reliance on fossil fuels while immediately decreasing energy and water use — significant steps toward meeting the goal set by the UC Board of Regents for each campus to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.