Sharing Energy Successes

How Our Engineering Team Promotes Solutions


This quarter we’re highlighting some of the fantastic work our engineering team does with students and faculty on our campus and across the entire UC system! We sat down with engineering project manager Alex Malm to talk about the annual Global Energy Managers Workshop and the Path to Zero Net Energy class offered to students. 

The Global Energy Managers (GEM) workshop is an annual workshop held on the UC Davis campus that features speakers from across the entire UC system and around the world! Speakers discuss the steps they are taking to manage energy and increase sustainability in their facilities. The conference is a great place for speakers to highlight recent successes and share what challenges their team faced that others could learn from.  

The GEM conference started 4 years ago to build off previous UC campus energy manager collaborations. Utilities and Engineering Director Joshua Morejohn and UC Davis Assistant Adjunct Professor Dr.  Kurt Kornbluth took the initiative to set up their own workshop, where they invited all the campus energy managers across the UC system. Since then, the conference has expanded significantly to include energy managers from other campuses in California, around the US and even internationally – and anyone interested is invited to attend! The first year of the conference was in person and was then moved online due to COVID, but since restrictions have been lifted they usually host a hybrid version with both in-person and online options available! The in-person conference includes a tour component, where visitors to campus can see various facilities! Last year, the group toured the Teaching and Learning Center and the Central Heating and Cooling Plant. 

The GEM planning committee works months in advance to secure a space for the conference, decide on a theme, and brainstorm potential speakers. This year’s theme was “The Reality of Electrification Implementation”, which highlighted projects done by facilities around the world to electrify buildings. To select speakers for the conference, the committee reaches out to their professional contacts who have insight into that year’s topic. The conference hosts many UC-specific speakers, including a presentation from UCOP on UC sustainability strategy.  Andre Nelson, an Energy Project Manager here at FM leads a presentation titled  Dormitories, Stadiums, Kitchens and More: Insights from Electrifying UC Davis. There are also presentations from energy vendors, government employees who work on energy policies, and energy managers in other countries. 

One of the projects featured at the GEM conference is Dr. Kurt Kornbluth’s Path to Zero Net Energy (ZNE) class, which is a class offered at UC Davis in which students work with clients on energy and climate projects! Kurt discusses how to develop a class that can be used to solve energy problems and students from the class are invited to present on the projects they completed in the class. 

Kurt’s class is offered every spring and has been running for over 10 years! The class allows students to work with real clients that have energy-related projects they would like input on. Projects fall under three main categories: improving energy efficiency, exploring the feasibility of an energy project idea, or studying how a building or site can reduce carbon emissions. Every year, the Energy Conservation Office or Facilities Management sponsors a project for students to work on! Engineering project manager Alex Malm sponsored a project for the Green Buildings Team a few years ago, where she had students look at a feasibility study. 

Both the Global Energy Managers workshop and the ZNE class are fantastic ways in which the engineering department is marketing the work we do at UC Davis to other UCs, outside companies, and facilities around the world! At the GEM, we have shared the great work our campus has done in sustainability, including the Big Shift and the solar farm, and how that impacts the whole UC system and beyond. To learn more about the workshop, visit

The GEM workshop and ZNE class are both expected to continue well into the future! Currently, the planning committee is working to expand the GEM conference to other UC campuses, as in the past it has always been hosted by UC Davis. Thank you to the engineering team for all the work you are doing to share the steps our campus is taking towards a sustainable future! 

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