UC Davis is like a small city.

The campus encompasses buildings of all shapes and sizes, a central heating and cooling plant, a huge solar farm, and much more. The staff members of the Facilities Management Department work around the clock to keep the whole system running.​

The Central Heating and Cooling Plant (CHCP) of UC Davis is where the real energy action happens. From this plant, our energy supply is distributed to the many buildings across campus. 


Boilers use Natural Gas to create Steam


Chillers use Electricity to make Chilled Water

The CHCP has boilers that take in natural gas to make steam. This steam is piped around the campus and used to heat our buildings. Chillers at the CHCP use electricity to make chilled water, and send it to the buildings via underground pipes, the same as the steam system.

See the CHCP for yourself in Joule's Instagram story!

Trimming Waste at the CHCP

After being used to heat and cool the air, the steam and chilled water return to the Central Heating and Cooling Plant (CHCP) as steam condensate and cold water. This is referred to by campus energy nerds as the campus steam and chilled water loopsBy returning back to the Central Heating and Cooling Plant, we're recycling our resources and running a more energy efficient campus. 

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You don't need an Instagram account to see the story.

Of the 1,200+ buildings on the main campus, 68% are metered for their energy use.


To the left is an example of an electricity meter. 

At UC Davis we primarily measure electricity, steam, and chilled water use in our buildings.

When energy use is metered, it’s measured in specific units depending on the type of energy.

For the most common energy meters on campus, electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours, chilled water is measured in tons, and steam is measured in pounds of condensate.

To get a picture of the total energy use in a building, we add up the electricity, chilled water and steam measurements. To do this, we need to convert them to the same units. We use the industry standard unit, the British Thermal Unit (Btu). ​

Ta-da! This lovely graph shows all of our energy sources stacked on each other in kBtus

Here's a Pro Tip for Energy Nerds


If you want to sound like an energy expert on campus, let's make sure you have the right pronunciation of kBtu. We've all embarrassed ourselves before. 


kBtu is pronounced“kay-b-t-YOU”; try to avoid “kah-b-TOO”. 

Wondering what a Btu is? A Btu is about 1055 joules (if you want the Euro flavor), and is the amount of energy required to heat 1 lb of water 1°F. Or put more simply, a Btu is about the heat you would generate burning a wooden match stick. So one kBtu is 1,000 matches all burning at once! ​Read more about kBtus here.

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Get all of campus' energy updates in Joules' Monthly Newsletter. 

Our goal is to improve campus comfort and energy efficiency.

Energy Conservation Office is a part of Facilities Management at UC Davis.

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