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.​

UC Davis buildings don’t use energy like typical residential homes, but comparing the two can give context to what it takes to power our campus. 

Compare electricity:
Your Home vs. Campus Buildings
Of the 1,200+ buildings on the main campus, 68% are metered for their energy use.


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

Above is an example of an electricity meter. 

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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