Chevron Corporation gave the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center a $2.5 million boost to create a new leadership position called the Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency.
The EEC relies completely on grants and donations from supporters. The center collaborates with researchers and inventors to encourage commercialization of new or existing energy efficiency solutions.
“We as an energy producer and consumer have a strong interest in energy efficiency,” said Chevron spokesperson Alex Yelland. “[The EEC] is very focused in advancing technologies in that field. We see that as a very unique capability.”
Two million dollars will go towards the endowment for the permanent chair. The rest will cover a startup package, which are funds used to start up a lab or buy equipment.
There will be a national search to fill the position. Executive director Ben Finkelor said chair would likely start in the fall.
“[The chair] would have to have diverse abilities – teaching, research, leadership and engaging with others in public areas,” he said. “[The chair can] come from a variety of backgrounds because energy efficiency is interdisciplinary with policy, design, business or law.“
The center works with public and private partners to support the development of products that enhance energy efficiency. Its efforts are organized into three tracks: Agriculture and Food Production, Buildings and Transportation. The EEC also provides educational programs.
“If we create a technology that sits on shelves we won’t have any impact in world. But if someone buys a product we know we are having an impact,” Finkelor said. “That’s our mission – to accelerate the development of [technology] and train leaders of tomorrow.”
Interim director Dan Sperling said the position’s purpose will be to lead and expand the center to provide intellectual leadership, encourage fundraising, build programs and raise the center’s profile.
“[EEC is] unique because of the connection between application research and commercialization,” Sperling said. “It’s an applied research center.“
The center was the first of its kind when it was created in 2006 with a $1 million donation from the California Clean Energy Fund. UC Davis matched and exceeded that amount with $1.3 million. One of the six founding supporters, Chevron announced a biofuel research partnership with UC Davis in 2006 and followed up with a $500,000 grant in 2008.
“We have an interest not just in terms of reducing our consumption but we also have a company that helps people reduce their own energy usage,” Yelland said. “[The EEC] will be able to find a nationally recognized person to help drive the center and build a reputation of resource for energy efficiency to work with nonprofits and companies like ours.“
The other Leadership Sponsors who also serve on the center’s board of advisors are Edison International, Goldman Sachs, PG&E, Sempra Energy and Wal-Mart, who each donated $500,000 in 2008 as well.
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