Irvine, Calif., Aug. 5, 2013 – A novel partnership that has transformed UC Irvine and its utility infrastructure into a model for communities and colleges worldwide has received international recognition for being “extremely innovative.”
The campus’s Field Laboratory for Energy Studies won APPA’s 2013 Effective & Innovative Practices Award for “programs and processes that enhance service delivery, lower costs, increase productivity, improve customer service, generate revenue, or otherwise benefit the educational institution.” The award was presented Friday, Aug. 2, to Campus Energy Manager Matt Gudorf at APPA’s annual conference in Minneapolis.
APPA is the world’s largest trade association for facilities management professionals in higher education.
The Field Laboratory for Energy Studies utilizes UC Irvine’s 7 million square feet of classrooms, labs, offices and residences, as well as its utility infrastructure, to demonstrate the reliability and efficiency of generating and storing power on-site. The idea is to prove that a campus – or even a city – can meet its own power needs via localized technologies linked to a “microgrid” that can function independently or when connected to a traditional centralized power grid. This has broad applications to energy security at the community level.
The research-driven partnership is led by UC Irvine’s Advanced Power & Energy Program, in collaboration with Facilities Management and Environmental Planning & Sustainability. Other participants include Siemens, MelRoK, Toyota, ETAP, UC Irvine’s Transportation & Distribution Services, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Co.
“The success of this partnership has wide-ranging implications,” said Scott Samuelsen, APEP director and professor of mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering. “By sharing resources and information, we improve the quality of our teaching and research, enhance the campus’s energy infrastructure and its energy management practices, provide more informed feedback to companies developing advanced energy technologies, and help establish a road map for policymakers and other communities wishing to improve the reliability of their local energy infrastructures.”
As APEP’s research platform, the campus is able to leverage grant funding to install and use advanced technologies prior to their adoption by the wider market. This includes such things as concentrated solar power, electric vehicles and charging stations, and high-resolution power metering, which lets UC Irvine monitor and verify energy savings as part of its strategic energy management program.
Working with Facilities Management, faculty and student researchers in APEP have access to a rich source of real-world data that can be used to develop more robust technologies and informed public policy. At the same time, campus employees gain experience in operating and maintaining the next generation of energy technologies and provide feedback from the user’s perspective.
“This concept is on the cutting edge of innovation within the facilities management profession,” said David Cain, APPA’s vice president for professional affairs and chair of its Awards & Recognition Committee. “The collaboration between UCI’s academic community and Facilities Management staff was judged to be very forward-thinking – a best practice that will be shared with thousands of institutions worldwide.”
UC Irvine won the same award in 2011 for its Smart Labs Initiative, which safely reduces energy consumption in new and retrofitted laboratories by an average of 60 percent. The campus was also one of the first-year recipients of APPA’s Sustainability Award in 2012.
About APPA: An association of more than 7,000 educational facilities professionals in the United States in Canada and abroad, APPA promotes leadership for those seeking to build their careers, transform their institutions, and elevate the value and recognition of facilities in education.
About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.
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