As we continue to find new technologies being developed in our communities across the country, America continues to be the frontier for innovation. Many of these technological advancements are related to energy efficiency and the "built environment"—think lighting, windows, landscape, buildings software, and much more—and are being developed at colleges and universities across the U.S., on campuses like the University of California at Davis.
The UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center's (EEC) mission is to accelerate the development and commercialization of energy-efficient technologies and to train future leaders in energy efficiency. Sounds great! But why is this important? And why would Wells Fargo want to be a part of this?
To answer that, let's take a look at a few numbers. Buildings in the U.S. alone are responsible for more than:
- 40% of CO2 emissions
- 40% of energy consumption
- 13% of water consumption
- 15% of Gross Domestic Product per year [Source: USGBC.org]
What that means is there is tremendous opportunity to improve the efficiency of our current building stock. And by doing so, we reap all kinds of benefits:
- Employees and tenants are more productive.
- Health care costs are reduced from improved air quality and healthy food options.
- Jobs are created through the retrofit process.
- New technologies can be tested and deployed in the retrofit process.
- Overall energy costs can be significantly reduced for building owners.
Not bad, right?
At UC Davis, the EEC is developing cutting edge technologies and processes that can be adopted in our buildings to help tackle the energy efficiency opportunity.
And not only are they developing new technologies, but they're leading by example. The UC Davis West Village, is the largest planned net-zero community in the United States. The on-campus communities' infrastructure combines aggressive energy efficiency measures and onsite renewable energy generation to meet the building energy demands. Other onsite energy generation comes from using biodigester technology developed at UC Davis, which turns campus food and plant waste into energy through a gas capturing mechanism. All in all, about 800 students, faculty, and staff in 315 apartments are bringing life to the new campus.
So why is this important for companies like Wells Fargo?
First, we have our own footprint to manage: over 100 million square feet of Wells Fargo real estate. Not to mention we recently announced an aggressive operational goal to improve the efficiencies of our operations. As a member of the UC Davis EEC, we provided a $500k grant to support the overall mission of the Center. Our own Bill Allen, from the Wells Fargo Global CleanTech and Emerging Technology Group, was also elected to represent us on the board. This opportunity will also show us firsthand what new technologies would be relevant and promising across different geographies—from lighting, to windows, to onsite renewable energy technologies—so we may actually have an opportunity to pilot some of them in our own buildings.
Second, as one of the largest real estate lenders in the country (including being the #1 mortgage lender), we have a great opportunity to help our customers "green" their own footprints! We're working on developing financial options that will enable our customers to finance retrofits that don't include large upfront capital expenses.
At the end of the day, we hope this collaboration among corporations, university thought leaders, researchers, and young students will pave a path forward for all of us to deploy technologies for new buildings that will ultimately reduce costs, accelerate the economy, protect our planet, and increase our well-being! (Especially because, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, we spend about 90% of our time indoors.)
What do you think? Please let us know. And I hope you'll join us and learn more about this and the many other unique initiatives taking place at UC Davis!