Tahoe Research Center
UC Davis Tahoe Research Center LEED-NC Platinum (2007)

The University of California’s research efforts have helped solve some of the toughest problems in the state, nation and the world. 

In 1957, UC scientists were the first to recognize global warming, or the “greenhouse effect,” that traps solar heat in the earth’s atmosphere.  A UC chemist discovered that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were depleting the ozone layers in 1974, resulting in the 1976 ban on CFC propellants. 

In 1990, UC researchers invented a steam injection process to clean contaminated soil.

Today, the University of California continues to distinguish itself as a leader in sustainability research.  Through its wealth of knowledge, its resources for analysis and research, and its capacity for innovations the University of California is improving health and safety and has become an invaluable steward of the Earth.

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The University of California is one of the world leaders in sustainable transportation research.  The Institute for Transportation Studies is one of the largest multi-campus research institutes with robust programs.

UC Davis has created a sustainable transportation center and multiple campuses have implemented programs geared toward fuel cell research and low carbon fuel standards.


The UC Davis Sustainable Transportation Center, established in 2005, examines the different ways transportation can meet the needs of all segments of society while minimizing environmental, societal, and economic costs. The center receives funding through the California Department of Transportation and the University Transportation Center program of the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Since 2003, UC Davis and UC Irvine have run multi-million-dollar programs studying consumer acceptance and use of fuel cell vehicles. Foci are on vehicle designs that will maximize environmental benefits and consumer acceptance towards the vehicles.


In August 2007, UC researchers from Davis and UC Berkeley released a blueprint for fighting global warming by reducing the amount of carbon emitted when transportation fuels are used in California. The low carbon fuel standard, designed to stimulate improvements in transportation-fuel technologies, was commissioned by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor asked UC’s top transportation-energy experts to design a standard that would reduce carbon emissions from fuels by 10 percent by 2020.

Green Buildings

Launched in 2004, the Green Building Research Center (GBRC) identifies and advances opportunities for green building design and operations on campuses.  The GBRC provides consulting services to campuses’ capital projects and physical plan departments, and resource aid for other universities in similar efforts across the nation.


The California Lighting and Technology Center’s (CLTC’s) mission is to stimulate, facilitate and accelerate the development and application of energy efficient lighting and daylight technology.  This is accomplished through facilitating technology development and demonstrations, as well as offering outreach and education activities in partnership with utilities, lighting manufacturers, end users, builders, designers, researchers, academician and governmental agencies.

The Institute for Energy Efficiency was established on the foundation of world-leading research in technologies that impact energy efficiency.  These activities will change the way people around the world think about, produce, and use energy, while educating and training a new generation of energy technologists for the emerging energy economy.

The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) focuses on designing, testing, and disseminating renewable and appropriate energy systems.  The laboratory’s mission is to help these technologies realize their full potential to contribute to environmentally sustainable development  in both industrialized and developing nations while addressing the cultural context and range of potential social impacts of any new technology or resource management system.


The Urban Water Research Center advances the understanding of the urban water environment in order to assist people and institutions in their effort to promote health, enhance the efficient use of water resources, and protect environmental values


The mission of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute is to discover and disseminate new knowledge that contributes to sustaining natural resources and promoting social well being in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada regions of California and related regions worldwide, though integrating research in the natural, social, and engineering sciences. 

Southern California is known for being both environmentally conscious and having the worst air pollution in the nation. The Center for Environmental Research and Technology is a vital source of research into how pollution interacts with the atmosphere, and how vehicle and transportation systems can work more efficiently while doing minimal damage to the environment.

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is dedicated to increasing sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture systems.  The Center operates the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and the 25-acre Farm.  Both sites are managed using organics production methods and serve as research, teaching, and training facilities for students, staff, and faculty.

Awarded a grant in 2008, the Green Materials Program will foster research and graduate level training on the development of non-toxic products, such as electronics, plastics, lighting products, fuels, and pesticides to mitigate environmental pollutants.  The Green Materials program will bring together public health, toxicology, material science, engineering and social science experts to work on innovative approaches to reducing health and environmental hazards associated with materials used in society.

The Tahoe Environmental Research Center is dedicated to research, education and public outreach on lakes and their surrounding watersheds and airsheds. Lake ecosystems include the physical, biogeochemical and human environments, and the interactions among them. The Center is committed to providing objective scientific information for restoration and sustainable use of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The goal of the Environmental and Sustainability Initiatives is to identify environment and sustainability questions that require collaboration across disciples within the university, and to build partnerships with entities beyond the university, to provide knowledge to inform policy as well as contributing to solutions and adaptation to address present and future environmental problems.