Big Idea: Sustainable Campuses, Sustainable Cities


No major University in the world has been more visionary in creating a decarbonized society: UC Davis established the first Zero-Net Energy community and leads the world in sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and high-performance building research. Now, using the UC Davis Campus as a “Living Lab”, the Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities (SCSC) initiative will demonstrate how a city-sized institution can grow while fighting climate change.

Read about the initiative in the UC Davis Magazine!


As a major research institution, the UC Davis campus is well-positioned to serve as a model for any city: it operates its own landfill, wastewater treatment plant, electrical substation, and central heating and cooling plant. The infrastructure on campus serves commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. By proving climate neutrality at UC Davis, we will provide a template for campuses and cities around the world to use to accomplish a sustainable transition.

The full SCSC Case Statement can be found at the bottom of the page


D-Lab and ECO visit NCSIST in Taiwan

Goal: Establish a working relationship between UC Davis and NCSIST (National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology) to develop a high-level strategy for climate neutrality for NCSIST’s research facilities and operations.

The team visited Delta Electronics Taiwan Headquarters, a global leader in electronics manufacturing. More recently Delta has become interested in developing high-performance green buildings with a focus on thermal management and automation systems. They then visited the NCSIST exhibition center where and learned about the institute’s history, military research feats, and how some technology that has been developed by the institute has been redesigned for civilian use.

The second day the team gave a Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities presentation and broke out into groups to brainstorm project opportunities for NCSIST.

The last day Kurt, Josh, and Devon got to do some sight-seeing. Finally, the team visited the Shihmen Dam, National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-shek memorial, and Taipai 101 (Tallest green building, LEED Platinum Certified).

Supporting Teams:  Each with years of experience in energy efficiency, sustainability research, and student/community engagement.

Project Description:

SCSC will utilize the UC Davis campus as a “Living Lab”, leveraging the university’s network, infrastructure, and expertise. Through a series of targeted, project-based student courses, this interdisciplinary initiative will establish UC Davis, and in turn the UC system, as the world leader in Carbon Neutrality and Sustainability efforts.  The project-based learning opportunities provided by this initiative will prepare UC Davis students to be the future climate leaders.


The development and actions of the energy conservation office will serve as a model for a zero-cost “Campus Energy Drawdown” that will be franchised to other campuses under this initiative. The SCSC initiative will create toolkits to launch other campuses on their own roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. Funding will allow establishment of CNI modules in technical research, social/behavioral programs, and outreach such as workshops. This initiative employs the UC system as a sustainability research powerhouse to yield an indefinite cycle of energy efficiency efforts, student engagement, and public awareness.