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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

DavisFREE grant to create energy efficiency plan

The City of Davis has received a $300,000 grant awarded by the California Energy Commission to enact a two-year plan to reduce Davis’ carbon emissions completely by 2050. The Davis Future Renewable Energy and Efficiency (DavisFREE) grant will be put towards hiring technical experts to plan and execute the city’s climate action goals.

The project will be headed by the Valley Climate Action Center (VCAC), an outgrowth of the Yolo County Energy Efficiency Project (YEEP).

YEEP, a nonprofit organization that cooperates with the City of Davis, was able to show that if people are informed, they will choose efficiently for both money-saving reasons and as a duty to their community. VCAC wants to take that duty to the next level.

According to the VCAC website, their main goal is to provide quick and easy information to residents and businesses for the purpose of sensible investments that will save both their energy bill and the environment. They believe that efficiency investments are dampened mostly by barriers such as high initial cost, lack of attractive financing and lack of information on the best products, technologies, providers and methods.

For the DavisFREE Grant, the VCAC will work closely with the Cool Davis Coalition, the backbone of the annual Cool Davis Festival held in downtown Davis.

“The VCAC is the nonprofit agency heading up this project. They are a team of energy experts, members of the Cool Davis Coalition and a partner of Cool Davis,” said Chris Granger, executive director of Cool Davis, in an email.

The movement will target the Davis community and urge their collaboration with the project.

“Of course we are having a detrimental effect on the environment,” said John-Francis Caccamo, Davis community member and member of the Endangered Species Club. “Looking at the number of cars on our roads that spew out carbon dioxide, Davis could utilize rural and community areas in much more effective, energy-saving ways.”

The VCAC has broadened its focus to include measures which reduce carbon emissions of energy and water use in buildings and transportation. This would impact every individual in Davis, changing lifestyles and making community members more conscientious.

“The City received this grant to do an energy plan for the community. This will map out where all the energy we use in Davis will come from in the future,” Granger said. “They will be examining our current baseline of energy use starting from where we are now, and then examine how we will get to net-zero carbon by 2050, a goal that the City Council set in 2010.”

According to the VCAC website, another part of the project is to develop a geographical information system — a spatial analysis tool and database that will incorporate aerial imagery and property ownership with energy improvement history.

“While I respect the initiative and its goals, this seems like a lofty endeavor to me,” said Jacob South, a member of Advocates for a Better Environment (ABE). “Although I am hopeful for any environmental advances that could ripple into the industrial world, I have not yet seen anything that comes realistically close, but I would like to be proven wrong.”

The DavisFREE initiative strives to conduct research and develop Zero Net Energy Retrofit Guidelines for existing residential buildings to address the needs of a settled, low-growth community.

The project hopes to utilize PG&E analysis of energy efficiency to find candidates who would be able and willing to make improvements in their energy sources.

“This project seems to follow along the same lines as a project of SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District),” said Ben Cobbold, a UC Davis Medical Center registered nurse. “[The project] allows you to pay four to seven dollars more on your energy bill per month to utilize a certain percentage more renewable sources toward your energy usage.”

The DavisFREE initiative will utilize the current city setup of Davis and improve it slowly relative to the potential of each individual establishment. The initial $300,000 in grant money will be used to substitute renewable energy for carbon-emission consequence fuel, and in the future, be able to save that amount of money and more.


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