ECO and the Path to Zero Net Energy Initiative (ZNE)

The ZNE learning initiative is a multi-disciplinary course designed to educate and engage students and faculty in energy and water conservation, sustainable campuses, and climate neutrality. Undergraduate and Graduate students work together to solve technical, economic, and sociopolitical issues on energy projects from the Energy Conservation Office (ECO). Example project topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The UC Davis campus district heating and cooling systems
  • Energy feedback and behavior analysis
  • Building energy audits
  • Feasibility study and analysis of renewable systems

With support by the UCD Energy Efficiency Center, the program began in 2012 as the “A Hands-on Approach to Energy Efficiency”. In recognition of the success of the program, realized energy and cost savings as well as the value of student involvement in energy-related campus operation, ECO began partial funding of the program which, in turn, started to include renewable energy projects, thus forming the “Path to Zero Net Energy Initiative” in 2016. With the UC-wide 2025 Carbon Neutrality Initiative, the program’s mission expanded to include climate and financing projects to support campus efforts transition to a more renewable, more efficient energy system.

The result simultaneously finds campus energy solutions and provides a professional-grade consulting experience for students, looping in staff and faculty along the way. Course syllabus and past projects can be found here.



Kurt Kornbluth

D-Lab- Director

Joshua Morejohn

UC Davis ECO- Energy Manager

Lisa Slaughter

UC Davis ECO- Graduate Student Researcher

Alan Meier

Energy Efficiency Center- Senior Scientist